OTR Hoops: Alabama Breakout Players (Class 1A-7A) – February 3, 2024
This is the first installment of weekly recap of impactful players at each level of basketball, 1A though 7A, in the hoops hotbed of Alabama. Every week a player from each classification will be highlighted based on his performance throughout the 2023-2024 season.
By: David Hinds
1A- Rayshon Coleman – 6’1 – PG – Florala – 2025
Rayshon can’t be mentioned without discussing his high-level football ability. He essentially takes all of those skills from the gridiron and translates them to the basketball court. The quarterback on the floor is more than adept at organizing his team as a coach on the floor while still seeking out his own offense. The big guard is built like a running back and attacks gaps the same manner in which a running back attacks the hole created by his offensive lineman. Rayshon is a dog on the defensive end where he uses his quick feet and strong upper body to stymie every opposing team’s best player.
2A- Mica Merriman – 6’4 – CG – Gaston – 2025 (Pictured Above)
Mica Merriman is a true combo guard with good positional size for all levels. A lot of young guys nowadays like to use the “combo guard” label but it truly fits with Mica. He is just as comfortable on the ball as he is off the ball, Mica is a rare breed. On the ball, he is a heady guard with the ability to reach the paint at will and has a willingness to play off two feet to exploit the defense. Off the ball, Mica does a great job utilizing space as he is skilled at spotting up as a three-point threat. Mica is also an incredibly smart cutter, and it is obvious from watching him that he has a tremendous basketball IQ.
3A- Emmanuel Clarton – 6’5 – PG – Sumter Central – 2025
Clarton is a big-bodied lead guard that is wired to score. He has carried the load offensively, leading his Sumter Central squad to a respectable 5-2 record against some heavy hitting opponents. Emmanuel has shown the ability to do more than simply score the ball as he has accepted a leadership role on his team and continues to evolve into a consistent shot-creator at the point of attack.
4A- Jaeden Harris – 5’9 – PG – St John Paul II – 2024
The best word to describe Jaeden’s game is dynamic. The diminutive guard is impossible to stay in front of and that translates to both winning and the stat sheet. He is a true leader is helping carry his team to a respectable record early in the season while averaging well over 20ppg and 5apg. Jaeden is at his best with the ball in his hands and the option to blow by his defender or set his man up for one of his signature off-the-dribble trey balls.
5A- Jaylen Blackwell – 6’6 – SF – Madison Academy – 2025
Jaylen is a Swiss army knife of a player with excellent positional size for both the high school and college game. The first thing you notice when he steps on the court is his advanced frame. Kids his size don’t grow on trees, and he makes great use of his bulk/height combination. An extremely strong upper body allows him to exploit mismatches as smaller wings/guards have no chance of keeping him away from the basket, while bigger wings/forwards are left to dry on an island with no hope of keeping Jaylen from blowing by for layups or his easy mid-range pullup.
6A- Raymon McCants – 6’4 – SG – Shades Valley – 2025
Raymon “Ray-Ray” McCants has the potential to emerge as a top 3-level scoring threat in the entire
state. Long regarded as a top-tier 3&D prospect, he has expanded his game tremendously over the last calendar year. Ray is now utilizing his unique combination of speed and length to his advantage at all levels of the court while still maintaining his signature defensive tenacity. One aspect of his game that stands out to me is his inability to give up on plays. It has become every night viewing for Ray to get a chase down block that the average player would have long given up on.
7A- Caleb Harrison – 6’9 – PF – Huntsville – 2024
Caleb Harrison, a Samford commit, is almost unanimously heralded as the best true post prospect in the state of Alabama for his class. The true 6’9 big is a terror with his back to the basket where he has every post move in his bag from the baby hook over either should to the dream shake and everything in between. In a recent matchup with Montverde Academy Caleb showed that he is more than capable of succeeding against true high-major talent and has continued to steamroll his 7a competition. Caleb is a joy to watch at the high school level where top tier post play is so hard to find.
February 17, 2024
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