I have been waiting on this tournament since I left last year. #DownByTheRiver brings talent from across the country to Memphis, TN. I covered the 2026 division today, and it was loaded with talent; here are standouts from day one…
Ethan Gatewood (6’7/F/2026)
Team: Misfits Elite 2026
If you follow my writings, you know that I have put a lot of ink on Ethan in the past. It was great seeing him today, as it helps me keep abreast on his development. Physically he is still imposing and bullying his way around the paint, and he continues to produce on the low block and in the paint. I might chalk it up as the time when I saw him, as it was the 8am game, but I have definitely seen Ethan play better than what he showed today. It isn’t that he played bad, but he could have totally man-handled the opposing team, but it is as though he played to the level of the competition.
Ethan’s next step may just be mentally and not just physically.
One thing he needs for the next phase of his game and to take that next jump is to have the killer instincts that all the great players have. I will be looking for Ethan to continue developing not just physically but also mentally.
Caiden Ricks (6’4/F)
Team: North Alabama Elite 2026
I have seen Caiden numerous times and have put ink on him several times. I am always looking to see development, and Caiden showed that he has been working on his game. His length is still creating problems on the defensive end of the court and on the glass.
He challenges and alters shots and makes ball-handlers think twice before attacking the paint.
Offensively, he is getting better with finishing at the rim and thru contact. I still would like to see his continued development of stepping out and showing his perimeter jumper and the development of his ball-handling skills. He is on a good trajectory, and as he continues to develop his skills, and if he has not, it is time to begin to fall in love with the gym and start getting stronger.
Deshun Tipton (5’8/PG)
Team: Chattanooga Elite 2026
One of the best PGs I saw today was DT. He has an extensive toolbox filled with tools that he put on display. He played with passion and intensity and led his squad to a hefty 45-29 victory over AYSA. He has a very good IQ for his age and plays with pace and poise. He balances facilitating and scoring, but he is very good when looking for his offense and putting up points.
He showed that he is a reliable ball-handler, makes good-decision, and takes care of the ball as he rarely turns it over.
He shows great promise, and his development is one to watch for the remainder of the summer to see just how much he can add to his game before he steps fully onto the high school scene.
Kendall Sims (5’10/CG)
Team: Memphis Bulldogs Elite 2026
Kendall had an impressive day one at #DownByTheRiver. He was a beast in transition and, when attacking, was attacking the rim relentlessly. He is a downhill attacking guard and showed his giftedness in scoring the rock. He has straight-line speed and didn’t waste motion or dribbles when the ball was in his hands. He was one of few today that looked to dominate on every possession, as he showed that he could go for big points at any given moment. He is a ten-eye player, meaning that he is a player that every player on defense has to keep an eye on when the ball is in his hands.
I know I mentioned that he looks to dominate each possession, but that was not just on the offensive end of the floor, as he looks to impact each defensive possession as well.
He has excellent instincts, moves his feet well, and has active hands on D, making him one of the best defenders at the guard spot I laid eyes on today. In the 47-33 win over Fast Five, he scored 15pts.
Braylen Moore (6’0/CG)
Team: EAD 2026
One of the most complete guards that I saw today was Braylen. He was a threat to score whenever he touched the ball, and for defenders, that was a nightmare as the ball was in his hands often. He produces numbers that stand out, and he is highly efficient when doing so. He gets downhill in a hurry but also has a hesi move that keeps defenders off-balance. He looks to put pressure on the rim in transition and out of half-court sets. When defenders attempted to play off of him and give him space to try and contain his game off the bounce, he showed his ability to knock down the trey ball and do it with range.
He is hands down the best iso scorer I saw today, and it would be challenging for me to find a player that had a better showing than him today.
He finished with 18pts in a victory over North Alabama Elite.
Ryan Wingard (6’3/SF/2027)
Team: Chattanooga Elite 2026
The thing about Ryan is I do not think he knows just how good he can be. He has the size, the length, and the tools to be a highly sought-after player in the next few years. He did not show me much from outside today, as he struggled from behind the arc, but he was absolutely a beast in the paint. As much productivity he had in the paint, I wondered why he kept settling for the three. He is a versatile player that, when he develops into the gift of his versatility, is going to be a tough cover. He is a two-way player that crashes the boards as well. During the second half of one of the games that I saw Ryan play, he moved to be the primary ball-handler and began to create off the bounce for himself and others.
When Ryan did this either on his own or at his coach leading, the opposing team had absolutely no answer for him.
He is definitely a player to keep an eye on.
Ontarious Odom (6’7/PF)
Team: Misfits Elite 2026
Ontarious stands at 6’7 and has a great physical profile for his age. He was literally overpowering the opponents on both ends of the court. In the game, I watched the opposing team had no answer for him, as no one could physically match up with Ontarious. Even though he is raw offensively and developing, his athleticism and strength make up in many areas. When he took off and dunked in transition, I realized that he has some intangibles that allow him to compete even with the limited offensive tools in his toolbox. His defense is ahead of his offense as it is with many players his age, but one thing you do not have to question about Ontarious is whether or not he is going to bring effort.
He is definitely the energy and effort guy on his squad as he played with a high motor.
Many struggled in that 8am game, but he came out ready to play, and just by playing harder than everyone else, he stood out in all areas. In the 51-23 win over Team Stark, he poured in 11pts.
Stay locked in as more is coming from #DownByTheRiver.