High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Memphis Tigers

Eighth-grader Chris Lewis is rising star

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
10:05
AM ET
Entertaining Division I offers has become old hat for members of the Milton basketball team.

The nation’s premier coaches as well as legions of evaluators have flocked to the Alpharetta, Ga., school in recent years to catch a glimpse of coach David Boyd’s wealth of talented ballers. The veteran skipper has watched as seven members from the past two season's starting lineups signed with major D-I programs.

The Eagles’ latest prospect could very well be the team’s most intriguing to date. Not because the volume of interest in him, but because he hasn’t even donned a Milton jersey yet. In fact, he’s only 14 years old and still taking eighth grade courses at Milton feeder school Northwestern.

Chris Lewis, an athletic 6-foot-7 double-double machine, received a pair of offers from New Mexico and Memphis earlier this month. And as his game continues to evolve, you can count on several more schools joining in the running for services.

“I was really surprised when I heard of the offers. My coach told my dad and my dad told me,” says Lewis. “It took me a while to take it all in, but I’m just trying to stay humble and work hard.”

The significance of an early offer and a program showing continued interest throughout a player's prep career shouldn’t be discounted. Current Milton seniors Evan Nolte (Virginia) and Shaq Johnson (Auburn) were both offered early in their careers and rewarded those schools when it came time to sign.

Lewis isn’t the only middle school hoop star college coaches have set their sights on. Eron Gordon, who is expected to attend North Central (Indianapolis) next year and is the younger brother of NBA star Eric Gordon, is another hot name. He already holds an offer from Indiana.

“It shows that (young) players are working hard, too,” says Lewis of the attention. “Yeah, it could have a negative effect, but that depends on how you take it. It should make you work harder and inspire you.”

Lewis has distanced himself from his peers with his non-stop motor and commitment on the defensive end. His penchant for swatting balls into the stands has made him a deterrent to opposing scorers both on and off the ball, and he has also made significant strides on offense with a developing mid-range game and his ability to finish above the rim.

Count Boyd, who sees shades of Dennis Rodman in Lewis' game, among those enamored with the youngster’s potential.

“He’s the first player in our program’s history to receive a scholarship this early,” Boyd said. “I was sort of surprised, but at the same time when you look at Chris, he’s been playing at a high level for the last three years. He’s always played up (in competition) and scrimmaged our varsity last year.”

Considering Lewis’ rich bloodlines, it was only a matter of time before the major programs came knocking.

His older brother Mo IV, a sophomore, was the sixth man on Milton’s Class AAAAA championship squad this past winter and his mother, Christalyn, also claimed a state title playing for Baldwin County in the late '80s. His father, Mo Lewis, starred in the NFL for 13 seasons, making three Pro Bowls during his tenure as a hard-hitting linebacker.

“He’s just doing what he’s supposed to do; going out and playing hard and the coaches are looking at his potential,” Mo said. “I tell him, ‘there’s no way they can sign you now and it doesn’t solidify where you will go. You still have four years of high school to play.’”

Not to mention an incredibly difficult summer working out with a personal trainer and hooping with the Georgia Stars 15U AAU team. Earning significant minutes with four-time state finalist Milton isn’t necessarily a given, either.

Last year’s squad captured the program’s second title in four years and finished No. 7 in the POWERADE FAB 50. And even though the cupboard was stripped with Nolte, Johnson and Charles Mann (Georgia) departing for the next level, freshmen rarely get the opportunity to start for this talent-rich squad.

“We hope he can play at a high level for us,” Boyd said. “If he gets to be as solid as his older brother, he’ll be scary.”

As good as he is on the court, Lewis might be even better in the classroom. He is a straight-A student with a fascination with robotics and hopes of being an engineer, leading Mo to affectionately label him “a nerd.”

“It’s fascinating that he is also such an excellent student,” Boyd said. “He has Duke, UNC and Harvard as his top three schools. That just tells you all you need to know about him.”

David Auguste covers high school sports for ESPNHS. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @DAugusteESPN or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.

Player Diary: Kansas visit on tap for Parker

February, 24, 2012
2/24/12
9:01
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Tony Parker | Senior | Center | Miller Grove

Parker Blog No. 1 | Parker Blog No. 2

Tony Parker, a senior at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.), is the No. 21 player in the Class of 2012 and one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation, with UConn, Duke, UCLA, Ohio State, Georgetown, Memphis, Kentucky and Kansas all in the running for his services. He has agreed to chronicle the remainder of his final season and recruiting experiences leading up to his decision through a blog with ESPNHS.

Wassup.

Since my last blog, I have won another region championship -- the third I've won out of the four years in my career under head coach Sharman White. The game was extremely tough. Both teams really came to play. Southwest DeKalb played really hard and they have two big-time players in Auburn signee Jordan Price and Memphis signee Shaq Goodwin.

This time, with it being the region championship and SWD having lost the last two times we played, they came in with a huge chip on their shoulders and played like it. We came out with a chip also because SWD beat us the year before in the region championship. So both teams had a huge chip and felt like we had something to prove, and to me, both teams proved that SWD and MG are two of the best teams in Class 4A. And when we come to play, we are very hard to beat. SWD came out strong, but in the end we came out and finished strong so we were able to escape with a close win.

My Kansas visit

Kansas is a great school and they have produced very good post players. Right now they have a dominant big in Thomas Robinson, and a commitment from Brannen Greene, who is also from Georgia. Brannen and I are cool and he makes Kansas sound great. The Kansas game this weekend is where I might use my last official visit simply because that game will have one of the best -- if not the best -- atmospheres in college basketball. With Missouri being highly ranked and coming off a loss and Kansas still trying to prove themselves as a dominant team, I think it would be a showdown between two hungry teams.

On Hearing Negative Things About UCLA...

It really doesn’t affect my decision to go to UCLA. Everyone has a bad experience with every school on their list and how they don’t like the coach and what he does and does not do. ... You have to filter out the reasonable stories and the outrageous ones. It really won't faze me because I've been to UCLA and I know what it's about. It's like when everyone says Coach K is "stuck up," but I've met him and know him. I know what is true and what is not. That talk doesn't matter to me.

Thanks again, ESPN and ESPNHS

Oh, and congrats to coach White (who had a baby) on his new addition.

Make sure to follow Tony on Twitter: @Tonyparker32.

Player Diary: Tony Parker, All-American

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
5:03
PM ET
Parker MG 1Ryan Gibson/ESPNHSMiller Grove center Tony Parker is the No. 21 player in the ESPNU 100.
Tony Parker | Senior | Center | Miller Grove

Parker Blog No. 1

Tony Parker, a senior at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.), is the No. 21 player in the Class of 2012 and one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation, with UConn, Duke, UCLA, Ohio State, Georgetown, Memphis, Kentucky and Kansas all in the running for his services. He has agreed to chronicle the remainder of his final season and recruiting experiences leading up to his decision through a diary with ESPNHS.

Wassup!

I’m coming off a great week of basketball!!! I made the Jordan Brand Classic roster for the East team. This is a great accomplishment for me and my family, and it really shows what hard work and character can do for a basketball player. A lot of great players and NBA stars have played in this great event, so I’m extremely excited to represent my family, school, community and state.

I have also been so blessed to make the leader of all high school All-Star games as I was also selected as a McDonald's All-American. It’s a big honor. I’m blessed for this accomplishment and my parents, family, coaches and teammates are very proud of me for making such a prestigious event.

Last Friday, we played against Southwest DeKalb. This game is probably the biggest game in Georgia. We have played twice (this year) and it has sold out both times. The rivalry is big time! It's a great basketball environment and the atmosphere is a great representation of one of the best rivalries in Georgia history.

Everybody wants to see the matchup with me and Shaq (Goodwin), which has been compared to the Dwight Howard-Randolph Morris matchups (in the early 2000s). Plus, our schools absolutely have no love-lost between each other, so it was trending on Twitter the night before!

There was so much hype around the game. It’s crazy and we all love the atmosphere and the support from the community. We won the first matchup by six in a very hard-fought game that went down to the wire. This game didn’t go into overtime like the last one because we finished this one in regulation (59-53).

My teammates really came out strong and played a really good game. Christian Houston, Justin Colvin, Tony Evans, and Brandon Morris really came to play and it showed. We look forward to possibly seeing Southwest again in the region tournament They beat us in the championship last year, so we have to come ready to play.

Southwest has a really good team and a short memory because they forget every loss and come out like they have won every game. We really have to match their intensity (if we meet again).

Thanks again, ESPN and ESPNHS

Make sure to follow Tony on Twitter: @Tonyparker32.

Player Diary: Meet the other Tony Parker

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
1:08
PM ET
Parker MG 1Ryan Gibson/ESPNHSMiller Grove center Tony Parker is the No. 21 player in the ESPNU 100.
Tony Parker, a senior at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.), is the No. 21 player in the Class of 2012 and one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation, with UConn, Duke, UCLA, Ohio State, Georgetown, Memphis, Kentucky and Kansas all in the running for his services. He has agreed to chronicle the remainder of his final season and recruiting experiences leading up to his decision through a diary with ESPNHS.

Wassup!

I’m Tony Parker, a 6-foot-9 senior center at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.). I play for the Sharman White, a great high school coach who has really pushed me to be a great basketball player. I love the game of basketball. It has given me a ton of recognition and attention to my community and school. This sport has made me grow as an athlete and as a man. It has allowed me to travel all over the world, and I’ve won two gold medals (Argentina and Germany) while playing for my country. The gold medals were and still are the best achievements in my career.

I have a great support system in my dad, Virgil, my mom, Hazel, and my sisters Jasmine and Kelsey Parker. I also have a great girlfriend in Destinie Gibbs, who attends McEachern [the No. 3 team in the POWERADE FAB 50 ESPNHS girls' basketball rankings]. She is currently committed to Ole Miss and, yes, she is a good basketball player who has never beat me in shooting (although she claims she hasn’t lost, ha ha).

OK, time for what you all have been waiting for: My recruitment.

So far it's going great! My schools are pretty consistent, and I have great coaches and staffs recruiting me in Ohio State, Duke, UCLA, Georgetown, Memphis, Kentucky, UConn and Kansas. Those are all great programs with a lot of championships and NBA players to boast. These schools have all seen me play numerous times. Recently, Coach K was at our game vs. St. Anthony. I played absolutely horrible without question. St. Anthony's coach Bob Hurley did a great job of making sure there was more than one player (sometimes more than two) around me to keep me at bay. It really worked! But I watched film and learned from my mistakes, so in the near future I won’t have to worry about that problem because I’ve seen it before. Duke and Ohio State coaches make it a point to come see me during the season and I do appreciate them coming. It doesn’t faze me much because I know I still I have to play hard regardless.

My coaches said Big John (former Georgetown coach John Thompson Sr.) was at my game last Saturday versus Dunwoody. Having him at one of my games is an absolute honor because he is a great coach and man. He has done a lot for basketball, and my family really appreciated him coming because they grew up watching Georgetown in their neighborhood. If you were a good basketball player, Georgetown was the place to be.

UCLA is a great place and L.A. is a great city! They have two recruits in Jordan Adams (Oak Hill Academy) and Kyle Anderson (St. Anthony), both of whom I've known since seventh grade. We all have good chemistry and are close friends, so they do try to recruit me. I know I would have two close friends there if I were to choose UCLA.

Kentucky is a great basketball state and they are crazy about the Wildcats in Lexington. I'm also very close with UK commit Alex Porythress, who was my AAU teammate this past summer on great Georgia Stars. He also tries to recruit me to Kentucky of course and I have played with him a lot, so our chemistry is unbelievable which gives them a good shot.

Memphis is close to home and they have signed Shaq Goodwin, a close friend who has been playing with and against me for years. We know each other like the back of our hands. Memphis, the city is absolutely crazy about the Tigers, which is also a plus.

In my spare time I love NBA 2K12. I am an absolute beast with the new Clippers. I enjoy playing point guard with Chris Paul because I’m a point at heart. I am very close with my young bro "little" Julius Randle. He is a great kid and was my roommate at the Nike Global Challenge. I have had a lot of success in high school (three consecutive state championships and currently working on No. 4) simply because I feel like success is in hard work and without hard work you will never be successful. God has blessed me with knowing the difference between working hard and hardly working. Thank you ESPNHS. Until next time!

Make sure to follow Tony on Twitter: @Tonyparker32.

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