Basketball Stars of the Future

I recently attended the Crossroads of the South Exposure Camp in Jackson, MS, a camp organized and operated by Marc Rowe, who helps coach the Mississippi AAU basketball program MBA Hoops. Most of the top underclassmen in the state of Mississippi attended the camp. This is the second part of a multi-part series of interviews I did with many of the Mississippi underclassmen who attended the camp.

Torlorf Thomas - Class of 2013 - PG - 6-3 - Robert E. Lee (AL) High School - AAU Southern Phenoms

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
"I am a very good passer and can handle the ball very well. I just have to work on my consistency with balancing my scoring and passing. Sometimes, I get too one-dimensional."

How does coming to a camp like this help you?
"I get to see new people, new players and how I can improve myself against other players."

Who has sent you questionnaires?
"Alabama, Georgetown, Georgia, LSU and Florida."

How long have you played for the Southern Phenoms
"I transferred to the Southern Phenoms during the middle of the summer so I've played with them in June and July."

How long have you been playing AAU ball?
"I've been playing since the 4th grade."

How does AAU ball help your game?
"It makes school ball real easy because in AAU ball you see all kind of people. When you get back to school ball it's easy and normal."

Dennis Miles - Class of 2013 - C - 6-7 - Newton High School - AAU Southern Phenoms and Texas Blue Chips

What are your strengths and things you still need to work on?
"My strengths are rebounding, blocking shots and defense. What I need to work on is my post game and probably my dribbling skills."

How long have you been playing AAU ball?
"I've been playing since the 5th grade. I started in city league and they got me from the city league."

How does playing AAU ball help your game?
"It helps me because I get to play against that good competition and that helps me when I play for my school. I get to play against bigger men."

How does it help you against the bigger guys?
"Going against the bigger guys I know to get in front of them and make sure he doesn't post me up. If they post me up, then, most likely, I get in foul trouble."

You get to travel a lot due to AAU ball. What are your thoughts about the travel?
"I love to travel. I like to see a lot of places. I've been to Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Kansas ... a lot of places."

Do you have a favorite place?
"Probably Vegas. I like to see all the lights."

Has your AAU coach told you what colleges have expressed an interest in you?
"He said mostly Baylor and UNT. Nobody from Mississippi has because I really don't play in Mississippi that much any more."

Malik Newman - Class of 2015 - PG - 6-3 - Powell Junior High - AAU MBA Hoops

What are your strengths as a basketball player?
"I have a good mid-range shot, I can get to the goal pretty good and I can set my teammates up. Really, I can shoot from all over."

Your dad is former basketball player Horatio Webster. Do you play him very much? if so, what have you learned from him?
"Yes sir. Basically, I learned from him how to get my shot off. Also, if he hits me, how to take the bump and keep going."

You have a lot of talent. I've been told that by several AAU coaches that you are one of the best in the country in your classification. When did you realize you were a pretty good player?
"I was told that hard work pays off in the long run, so I kept working hard and I saw myself getting better and better. Now, every time I get on the court I just compete."

When you play AAU ball do you play against players that are older than you?
"Yes sir."

What benefits do you get by playing kids older than you?
"It helps me in a lot of ways because they are taller and stronger than me. Because of that, I can't just choose my moves, I have to play based on how they defend me. If they play back, then I have to learn to just take the jump shot. If they play up on me, I have to learn to get by them and finish the layup."

How does playing older guys help you against kids your own age?
"I'm already stronger than them and 9 times out of 10 I'm going to be taller than them, so I just play on the wing but I will post them up every once in a while and shoot the mid-range."

Twymond Howard - Class of 2012 - WF - 6-5 - Pearl High School - AAU MBA Hoops

I've been told that you have really improved your game over the summer. How have you improved it?
"Everybody has been telling me at the different camps that they like the way that my ball-handling has improved. And that's all that I have been working on."

Did you work much on your scoring?
"During the games I would work on my ball-handling when the defender was on me, but if I could score I took the opportunity to score. But if I didn't have the opportunity to score I passed to a teammate. But I mostly worked on my ball-handling."

What do you still want to improve?
"I still need to work on my ball-handling because I don't think I have it perfect yet."

Where were some places you traveled to during the summer?
"I went to a lot of places. I went with my school to Tennessee a couple of times and did well there. With AAU, we went to Arkansas and I did really well there. I also went to Orlando."

What schools are recruiting you right now?
"Tennessee, Kansas, Baylor, Southeast, Auburn, Wake Forest, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and a couple of things from Florida."

Who has offered you?
"Baylor, Tennessee and Mississippi State."

Do you have a favorite? If so, what are the reasons?
"My favorite is Tennessee right now. I like their up and down, run and gun style of play.

"I also like all the other schools that are recruiting me. Kansas plays about the same way (as Tennessee). Mississippi State, they are pretty good."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

Gene's Page Top Stories