Jackson, Miss. — Marc Rowe’s 1st annual Crossroads of the South event for middle school-aged players was loaded with talent from the Class of 2026. The group of seventh-graders in attendance proved to be the most dominant class of any in the showcase. The physicality and skill of these youngsters were truly amazing to watch. The morning session was reserved for drills including footwork exercises, ball-handling, passing, and 3-on-3 action. The 3-on-3 games allowed players to display the advanced I.Q. that they possess. Below are the top players in the Classes of 2026 and 2027 that we saw…
Deontae Hooper | Meridian, MS | Class of 2026
Living up to a name can be a difficult feat, and with a name like Hooper, there can be high expectations. However, this Hooper can play. The top 3-point shooter in all divisions of the camp, if Hooper was open, he shot it, and it usually went in. The five-foot-seven guard impressively converted a few shots from beyond NBA 3-point range and exudes a high level of confidence. In an effort to become an elite scorer, he must continue to work on his mid-range game and touch around the basket. Other assets that Hooper has are his length and ability to move his feet on defense.
Braelyn Bailey | Brandon, MS | Class of 2026
Bailey can best be described as, “raw”, at this stage in his development. He is not polished yet, but nonetheless, has some tools that when molded will totally change his ability to positively impact a game. At 6-foot-2, Bailey is a long, agile athlete who runs the floor well. He has a decent handle, and his frame is supported by size 14 shoes, allowing him to get to the basket with ease. His shot needs a little tweaking, but he should be able to find consistency move forward without totally restructuring it. Bailey’s motor enabled him to rebound and block shots relentlessly at the Crossroads of The South camp. With the proper training and instruction, Bailey could become a very impressive wing prospect in time.
Tyler Liles | Byrum, MS | Class of 2026
Liles didn’t waste time asserting his dominance among his age group at the Crossroads of The South event. He was the star among stars regardless of grade division. The 6-foot-3 forward was simply a man playing among boys. Displaying good hands, fluid movement, unselfish passing, and an aggressive attitude towards rebounding, he was without peer in the showcase. These skills helped his team dominate in the 5-on-5 games. Investing in his perimeter game could allow Liles to continue to be one of the bright stars in Mississippi’s Class of 2026.
Wallace “D.J.” Washington | Jackson, MS | Class of 2026
Washington is a 6-foot-2 wing prospect that can put it on the floor, play inside, and shoot the trey ball. Washington played well defensively both inside and outside throughout the Crossroads of The South camp. Although it was not in a game, Washington showed off his emerging athleticism by dunking the ball on a break. Washington has enormous potential as a prospect and he will be exciting to watch when the light comes on and he begins to fully understand and utilize his natural tools. While it was only a single day event, few shined brighter than this young man.
Kamarion Merriweather | Jackson, MS | Class of 2026
This 6-foot-2 forward was a good high-low player, capable of operating anywhere in the lane. He showed an ability to catch, shoot, drive, or pass from the foul line. Merriweather’s most impressive trait may have been his clutch shooting, converting several soft hooks in the paint. Competitive on the defensive end, he battled his opponents for space, rebounds, and was patient in recognizing good shots. Merriweather could easily develop as an inside-out threat based on his ability to move his feet, put the ball on the floor, and the feathery touch he demonstrated with his shot at Crossroads of The South showcase.
Zeon Simmons | New Orleans, LA | Class of 2027
We’d normally end the coverage with five players, but Crossroads of The South showcase camp had a pair of dynamic guards in the Class of 2027 that must be mentioned. One was Simmons, a combo guard who can play both on and off the ball. Among all the guards in attendance, Simmons was the only guard that consistently directed traffic and placed his teammates in favorable positions to be successful. In the drills segment of the event, he also showed a keen understanding and display of fundamentals. His athleticism hasn’t yet developed, nevertheless, he was able to show great feel and an understanding of how to score against more mature players.
Bryson Sledge | Lafayette, LA | Class of 2027
Sledge is the second of the dynamic duo from Louisiana that played well in the Class of 2027 division at the Crossroads of The South camp. He was the darling of the 6th and 7th-grade divisions, a relative unknown that quickly became a favorite because of his fearless scoring display. He scored from all three levels, flashing range from 3-point land, an array of floaters in the paint, and creative finishes from in-close. His quickness and confident approach allowed him to take advantage of most defenders. Sledge should become an entertaining guard to watch on the southern grassroots hoops scene this upcoming season.
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