Covington’s scholar athlete Alexis Johnson making the grades, aiming to impress scouts

AJIn case you don’t know her, allow Alexis Samantha Johnson to introduce herself.

For starters, Johnson a senior multi-sport athlete at Covington High School, an institution that is approximately 30 minutes from Memphis.

She is an honor student who is well on her way to graduating in the top 10 percent of her graduating class in the spring.

Aside from having a monumental impact in the classroom, she has become a fixture for the Lady Chargers’ cross country team.

She has routinely provided favorable contributions for Covington’s track and field squad.

GO GETTER --- As far as athletics go, Alexis Johnson works out virtually “daily” to fine-tune her mechanics, most notably her basketball fundamentals. According to the 5-foot-9 combo guard, now is not the time to become complacent, considering she’s doing everything she deems necessary to make a favorable impression upon college scouts and recruiters.

GO GETTERAs far as athletics go, Alexis Johnson works out virtually “daily” to fine-tune her mechanics, most notably her basketball fundamentals. According to the 5-foot-9 combo guard, now is not the time to become complacent, considering she’s doing everything she deems necessary to make a favorable impression upon college scouts and recruiters.

As if that’s not enough of a thorough introduction, she is the catalyst of a streaking Lady Charger basketball team that could very well find itself vying for a state championship sometime next month.

“She’s the type of kid who doesn’t want to sit around and not do anything,” said Nacquia Smith Johnson, Alexis Johnson’s mother, during a telephone interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Sunday. “She’s a true competitor.”

Let alone one who, as she tells it, doesn’t shy away from the notion of what she aspires to do when she sets foot on a college campus this fall.

Surely, Alexis Johnson is optimistic mightily in that she will continue to fortify academic excellence at the collegiate level.

As for engaging college athletics, she’d be the first to tell you that embarking upon such a commendable feat will only add to what figures to a memorable college experience.

In a nutshell, this vibrant, assertive student athlete who boasts an array of resiliency appears destined to go full throttle even at the college level just as she has done for a majority of her prep career.

“Playing sports in college is a dream for me, because I have been doing it my whole life,” Alexis Johnson said. “I wouldn’t want all of my hard work and dedication to (sports) to be for nothing. I want to prove to everyone who has ever doubted me and said I can’t do it. Nothing is impossible for me to accomplish.”

TRUE GENIUS --- Johnson is an honor student who is well on her way to graduating in the top 10 percent of her graduating class in the spring.

TRUE GENIUSJohnson is an honor student who is well on her way to graduating in the top 10 percent of her graduating class in the spring.

Covington basketball coach Katrisha Glass echoed Alexis Johnson’s dauntless declaration on Monday prior to her team’s afternoon practice.

“Alexis Johnson is a young lady whose character is what one would like to see in every child that they come across,” Glass said. “I have coached Alexis for the last four years in basketball, and her hard work, dedication, and perseverance is what has left a lasting impression on me.”

All things considered, her resiliency and willingness to persevere are what college scouts and recruiters ought to take in account as it pertains to expressing interest in Alexis Johnson, Glass acknowledged.

Alexis Johnson trains regularly with Team Penny AAU hoops guru Jevonte Holmes as well and with Mid-South area trainer Frank Harris.

“Alexis’ zeal to want to be the best makes her stand out from the rest of her peers,” said Glass, whose team (17-4) is first in the Region 15-AA standings heading into Tuesday night’s game at Liberty Tech in Jackson. “She is not only a great athlete, but she is also an excellent student. She is very deserving of any (scholarship) that is offered to her. Whatever Alexis sets her mind to, she will achieve it. Her humbleness and willingness to help out her teammates are qualities that will help her excel not only in sports, but also in life.”

MOM KNOWS BEST --- “She’s the type of kid who doesn’t want to sit around and not do anything,” said Nacquia Smith Johnson, Alexis Johnson’s mother, during a telephone interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Sunday. “She’s a true competitor.”

MOM KNOWS BEST“She’s the type of kid who doesn’t want to sit around and not do anything,” said Nacquia Smith Johnson, Alexis Johnson’s mother, during a telephone interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Sunday. “She’s a true competitor.”

As far as athletics go, Alexis Johnson works out virtually “daily” to fine-tune her mechanics, most notably her basketball fundamentals. According to the 5-foot-9 combo guard, now is not the time to become complacent, considering she’s doing everything she deems necessary to make a favorable impression upon college scouts and recruiters.

“A college that chooses me will inherit an athlete that will not give up and will do whatever it takes to get to the top,” Alexis Johnson said.

Not bad for a solid introduction.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Rosa Fort lineman Kylon McMullen’s stock rising as he aims to impress scouts

Kylon3TUNICA, Mississippi — Fortunately for Kylon McMullen, he’s still got time.

He’s still got time to tone up on his 6-foot-2, 280-pound frame.

He’s still got time to enhance his speed in the 40-yard sprint.

He’s still got time to upgrade his mechanics on both sides of the ball.

Most importantly, he’s still got time to improve his recruiting stock as he readies for what he hopes will be a memorable senior campaign next year.

As it stands, McMullen, a junior offensive guard for Rosa Fort High, has yet to generate any scholarship offers from four-year colleges, although many whom have followed his football prowess believe that will likely change in the coming months.

For starters, Rosa Fort coach Edwin Norwood and his staff are working intensely to help increase McMullen’s stock, mostly doing the necessary things to expose their standout lineman in various camps this spring and well into the summer.

STOCK RISING? Rosa Fort football coach Edwin Norwood and his staff are working intensely to help increase Kylon McMullen’s stock, mostly doing the necessary things to expose their standout lineman in various camps this spring and well into the summer. By then, McMullen and the Lions coaching staff are confident things will begin to work out in McMullen’s favor

STOCK RISING? Rosa Fort football coach Edwin Norwood and his staff are working intensely to help increase Kylon McMullen’s stock, mostly doing the necessary things to expose their standout lineman in various camps this spring and well into the summer.
By then, McMullen and the Lions coaching staff are confident things will begin to work out in McMullen’s favor.

By then, McMullen and the Lions coaching staff are confident things will begin to work out in McMullen’s favor, in large part because, well, he’s still got time.

“No college offers right now, but hopefully that will change by next season,” McMullen told sports journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “My coaches are working on the camps I will attend this spring.”

As he implements the essential strategies he believes will draw rave reviews from college scouts and recruiters, McCullen has a forthright message to those are contemplating sending his letters of interest to his mailing address in the foreseeable future.

“I would like for them to know that I am a great listener, a hard worker on and off the field, and a good team player,” McMullen said. “I have been working out every day…Monday through Friday to get ready for next season.”

In the process of working intensely on his mechanics, most notably his weaknesses, McMullen fortunately has taken on a solid supporting cast besides the Rosa Fort coaching staff.

His uncle, Darrelle Steele, has proven to be one of his grandest supporters ever since McMullen began playing competitive football.

As far as Steele is concerned, that his nephew has yet to acquire any official offers is indicative of how much his talents have been overlooked in recent years.

STAR WATCH --- McMullen (No. 54) is ranked as the 60th overall recruit in Mississippi by MaxPreps for the Class of 2017.

STAR WATCHMcMullen (No. 54) is ranked as the 60th overall recruit in Mississippi by MaxPreps for the Class of 2017.

Whichever college lands McMullen, Steele said, it will be inheriting a player whose reputation is such that he possesses a wealth of resiliency on the gridiron, let alone a player who harbors a winning attitude.

WATCH KYLON IN ACTION: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1034561083295311&id=100002242879696

“When he was in sixth grade he was bigger than the other kids,” Steele said of McMullen, who is ranked as the 60th overall recruit in Mississippi by MaxPreps for the Class of 2017. “I told him he should go out for football. So he started playing in seventh grade.”

As he tells it, Steele has been blow away by his nephew’s talents ever since.

“My immediate reaction was, ‘Man, if he keeps putting in work he could be the first in the family to go to college and play sports,’” Steele said. “What normally goes through my head (on game day) in the stands is, ‘Man, he’s going to be a beast.’”

All of which is why many who have followed his rise to a prep football standout believe McMullen’s best day are well ahead of him.

“They will be inheriting a great learner and a hard worker,” said McMullen, reiterating what kind of player colleges will ultimately acquire. “I want to be the first person in my family to play college football.”
More than anything, he’s still got time to improve his recruiting stock as he readies for what he hopes will be a memorable senior campaign next year.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Memphian Cameron Payne as good as advertised in his first season with OKC

INVOKING PAYNE --- Oklahoma City Thunder reserve rookie point guard Cameron Payne has played a key role in team's season-best seven-game winning streak. His eight points on 4 of 10 shooting helped propel the Thunder to a 109-106 come-from-behind win Friday night Dallas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

INVOKING PAYNE — Oklahoma City Thunder reserve rookie point guard Cameron Payne has played a key role in team’s season-best seven-game winning streak. His eight points on 4 of 10 shooting helped propel the Thunder to a 109-106 come-from-behind win Friday night Dallas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)


 


 

DALLAS — After Cameron Payne’s midrange jumper with 9:25 remaining in the fourth quarter had given the Oklahoma City Thunder a 12-point lead and forced the Dallas Mavericks to burn a timeout, among the first individuals to emerge from the bench to meet the rookie was Thunder star Russell Westbrook.

Much to the delight of Payne, Westbrook met him with an emphatic chest bump as if to suggest the reserve point guard had provided the surging Thunder with the spark they desperately needed in extending their undefeated streak to seven games with a 109-106 win Friday night in Dallas’ American Airlines Center.

That Payne has continued what undoubtedly has been a favorable stretch for the native Memphian and former Lausanne Collegiate School star has exceedingly benefited not just him, but an OKC team that is currently third in the ever-so-tough Western Conference.

Just as he has done in recent weeks since Thunder first-year coach Billy Donavan installed Payne as a backup to the veteran Westbrook, the ex-Murray State star appeared rather dauntless, thus demonstrated resiliency during arguably a pivotal stretch in Friday’s game.

Six of his eight points (on 4 of 10 field goals) came after a lethargic first-half in which the Thunder shot an unsatisfactory 45 percent from the field and trailed, 56-48, at intermission.

While in the locker room, Payne admittedly thought it necessary to reflect on why Donovan felt compelled to increase his role on a veteran team that is a legitimate threat to come out of the West.

“I just took what the defense gave me,” Payne told MemphiSport following Friday’s game. “I knew going into halftime, I said I need to be more aggressive. And my teammates made it easier for me to get good looks. I just came out more aggressive and, like I said, the defense got us running, got us in the flow of the game. They picked up the pace. Our second unit picked up the pace and then we got easy baskets.”

Westbrook, as it turned out, wasn’t the only All-Star on the roster who was pleased with Payne’s latest outing.

Eight-year veteran Kevin Durant was also brought to smiles when asked to assess the OKC prized rookie’s performance.

“They were huge,” Durant said of Payne’s contributions that essentially helped OKC ease out to the final margin. “They were huge. He was aggressive all night. They trapped him out there at half court. And I told him to take that as a compliment when teams start to trap you because that means you’re doing something well. He’s playing well. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and we’re going to need that from him going down the line.”

While in the locker room at the half Friday, Payne admittedly thought it necessary to reflect on why Donovan felt compelled to increase his role on a veteran team that is a legitimate threat to come out of the West. “I just took what the defense gave me,” Payne told MemphiSport following Friday’s game. “I knew going into halftime, I said I need to be more aggressive."

SHIFTING GEARS — While in the locker room at the half Friday, Payne admittedly thought it necessary to reflect on why Donovan felt compelled to increase his role on a veteran team that is a legitimate threat to come out of the West.
“I just took what the defense gave me,” Payne told MemphiSport following Friday’s game. “I knew going into halftime, I said I need to be more aggressive.”

During his pregame availability session with reporters, Donovan wasted little time praising the continuous stellar play of Payne, who was taken 14th overall by the Thunder in last year’s draft after two remarkable seasons at Murray State.

“I thought it’ll be a good opportunity to see what he can do and he’s really done a good job,” said Donovan, explaining why he named Payne the backup floor facilitator to Westbrook. A lot has been said about our second unit. We’re trying to get a more cohesive unit that plays better together. Cameron has given us a really nice boost coming off the bench.”

As the season progresses, Payne acknowledged his primary objective will remain the same.

That is, he’s destined to learn all he can while he can as he continues to steadfastly heed the advice of Westbrook, one of the league’s premiere point guards.

“He came out on the court and gave me a chest bump,” said Payne, recalling the sequence that took place after he scored his final basket Friday. “You know, that means a lot to me to see Russ do that. I really appreciate stuff like that.”

Given his dazzling play through 29 appearances, it’s safe to assume the Thunder admire the stuff he’s brought to the team in this, his first professional season.

 

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Harding Academy’s Antonio Chew, Jr. rated among top recruits by Maxpreps for Class of 2017

Antonio Chew, Sr. is a rising Mid-South-area entrepreneur as owner of the 901 South Tire Shop/Grillmaster Chew’s BBQ And Catering.

Chew1Aside from attracting a slew of Mid-Southerners to try his assortment of delectable barbecue meals, Chew, Sr. has become quite instrumental with regards to ensuring that his son, Harding Academy athlete Antonio Chew, Jr., generates the essential exposure as it pertains to landing a college athletic scholarship.

“Coaches are always telling me that he’s one of the most underrated, but hardest hitting (defensive) linemen in the (Shelby-Metro) area,” Chew, Sr., told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview.

FATHERLY LOVE --- Antonio Chew, Sr. is a rising Mid-South-area entrepreneur as owner of the 901 South Tire Shop/Grillmaster Chew's BBQ And Catering.  Aside from attracting a slew of Mid-Southerners to try his assortment of delectable barbecue meals, Chew, Sr. has become quite instrumental with regards to ensuring that his son, Harding Academy athlete Antonio Chew, Jr., generates the essential exposure as it pertains to landing a college athletic scholarship.

FATHERLY LOVE — Antonio Chew, Sr. is a rising Mid-South-area entrepreneur as owner of the 901 South Tire Shop/Grillmaster Chew’s BBQ And Catering.
Aside from attracting a slew of Mid-Southerners to try his assortment of delectable barbecue meals, Chew, Sr. has become quite instrumental with regards to ensuring that his son, Harding Academy athlete Antonio Chew, Jr., generates the essential exposure as it pertains to landing a college athletic scholarship.

Though his 5-foot-11, 240-pound frame is considered “undersized,” according to several recruiting analysts, the general consensus regarding Chew is that this lineman is durable and versatile in that he possesses the resiliency to play on both sides of the ball, a key attribute he hopes college scouts and recruiters will take into account as the 17-year-old prepares for Spring practices.

“I work out five days out of the week, and sometimes six or seven,” Chew, Jr. said in assessing his routine offseason conditioning sessions.

In addition to his seemingly tireless offseason drills, Chew, Jr. doesn’t shy away from the notion that acquiring a football scholarship is indeed high on his list of objectives in the foreseeable future.

To his credit, he appears to be on track to ensuring that his long-awaited dream becomes a reality.

That’s because according to Chew, Sr., his son has garnered interest from Kentucky Christian University and Shorter University, a list that is expected to increase, considering Chew, Jr. has one more year of high school eligibility remaining.

“I had an interesting (2015) season…probably my second-best season,” said Chew, Jr., who helped steer Ryan Derrick’s Harding-coached team to a 10-3 finish that was highlighted by a stellar postseason display.

While the heroics of lineman rarely show up on the stats sheets, Chew, Jr. certainly held his own in emerging as the catalyst of Lions defense that recorded two shutouts this season.

Chew. Jr., Tennessee’s No. 61 overall prospect for the Class of 2017 by Maxpreps.com, performed masterfully on both sides of the ball for a Harding squad that will rely on him heavily next season to have a monumental impact.

Once again.

As Chew, Jr. tells, he’s certainly up for the challenge, especially after a season in which he’s managed to draw rave reviews from college scouts and recruiters.

“Whatever college offers me will be investing in a smart, talented, and hard-working young man,” Chew, Jr. said. “Playing football period was a dream of mine, and ever since I started playing, I wanted to go up to the next level.”

STOCK RISING --- According to Chew, Sr., his son has garnered interest from Kentucky Christian University and Shorter University, a list that expected to increase, considering Chew, Jr. has one more year of high school eligibility remaining.

STOCK RISING — According to Chew, Sr., his son has garnered interest from Kentucky Christian University and Shorter University, a list that expected to increase, considering Chew, Jr. has one more year of high school eligibility remaining.

His long-awaited dream, by and large, appears destined to come full circle — a development that would surely bring even more smiles — and business — to the family’s rising entrepreneur.

“Playing at the college level has been something I wanted to do since I was young.”

Stay tuned.

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: Could American Athletic Conference schools soon come calling for Dallas’ Otis Blanton?

DALLAS — Richardson (Texas) Pearce High’s football team recently wrapped up a season mired by unfavorable results, considering the Mustangs dropped seven of their last eight outings and limped to a 3-7 finish.

OtisStill, all wasn’t lost for Pearce running back Otis Blanton, who was as good as advertised for a player who boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate level.

A speedy 5-foot-7, 160-pound athlete, Blanton enjoyed a pivotal junior season in which he finished the campaign as Pearce’s leading rusher.

In making a career-best nine starts, Blanton demonstrated time and again that he possesses the mechanics to put his football smarts on display at the next level, having compiled 655 yards on a team-high 144 carries while producing six touchdowns.

Add to the fact that his 4.5 yards per carry were second only to teammate Hank Hughes, and it’s no wonder he had drawn rave reviews from Mustang coach Randy Robertson and his staff.

By and large, it was because of his assertiveness and keen desire to progress since spring and summer drills that Blanton had gone to great lengths to ensure this would be the season he generates the attention of college scouts and recruiters.

WORK HORSE --- In making a career-best nine starts, Richardson (Texas) Pearce running back Otis Blanton demonstrated time and again that he possesses the mechanics to put his football smarts on display at the next level, having compiled 655 yards on a team-high 144 carries while producing six touchdowns. (Photos submitted by V. Abron)

WORK HORSE — In making a career-best nine starts, Richardson (Texas) Pearce running back Otis Blanton demonstrated time and again that he possesses the mechanics to put his football smarts on display at the next level, having compiled 655 yards on a team-high 144 carries while producing six touchdowns. (Photos submitted by V. Abron)

Mission accomplished.

According to Blanton, who also spent time at the cornerback position, he garnered interest from Baylor, North Texas, and Texas Tech, a list he hopes will expand in the foreseeable future.

“The reason I love football is because I love to compete with other people,” Blanton told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “And I love the game and it keeps me out of trouble.”

A crafty, efficient student athlete who has assumed the businesslike approach both on and off the field, Blanton acknowledges amongst his chief ambitions as he prepares for offseason workouts and summer 7-on-7 camps is to do whatever is necessary to ensure Pearce atones for its lethargic 2015 showing.

A team that will return the nucleus of its starters, the future for Blanton and Co. certainly appears bright.

“I am very happy that he decided to stick with football, because there were other sports in mind, but we talked about (football) and he has stayed with it,” said Vincent Abron, Blanton’s father. “His coaches have been very helpful, especially his position. I will say that he has helped Otis come a long way along with the (Robertson).”

Besides his coaches entrusting him to assume the bulk of the reps in what appeared to be a progressing rushing attack this season, Blanton relishes the fact that his family exemplified solid support during what was a pivotal junior season.

STOCK RISING? According to Blanton, who also spent time at the cornerback position, he garnered interest from Baylor, North Texas, and Texas Tech, a list he hopes will expand in the foreseeable future.

STOCK RISING? According to Blanton, who also spent time at the cornerback position, he garnered interest from Baylor, North Texas, and Texas Tech, a list he hopes will expand in the foreseeable future.

“My dad and my big sister and my niece are my biggest fans,” Blanton said. “They have been to all of my games.”

As for the life lessons his coaches and family routinely offer, Blanton said such inspiration undoubtedly has made a world of difference in a year in which he was as good as advertised.

So much for a losing record.

“They always tell me to work hard and stay focused and stay out of trouble,” Blanton said. “(With football), I’ve got to keep my family close.”

A trend at least three colleges have already taken into account.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki applauds Golden State’s record; relishes his latest milestone

NBA SOUTHWEST DIVISION REPORT

MEMPHIS — In the wake of the Golden State Warriors having carved out more history Tuesday night, among the NBA players who congratulated the world champs was Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki.

DYNAMIC DIRK --- Even in the wake of the Mavs’ 110-96 loss at Memphis Tuesday night in FedExForum that resulted in Dallas’ second straight defeat, Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki had no idea he had reached yet another milestone to his Hall of Fame career when he became the 17th player in NBA history to record career 1,600 three-pointers.  (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

DYNAMIC DIRK — Even in the wake of the Mavs’ 110-96 loss at Memphis Tuesday night in FedExForum that resulted in Dallas’ second straight defeat, Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki had no idea he had reached yet another milestone to his Hall of Fame career when he became the 17th player in NBA history to record career 1,600 three-pointers.
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

“They have a heckuva team,” Nowitzki, the 18-year veteran, told MemphiSport.com following the Mavs 110-96 loss at the Memphis Grizzlies. “I mean, they have everything you need. They have length. They have shooters. They have defenders. They’re really, really deep.”

Not to mention a team that erased a record that stood a little more than two decades.

With Tuesday’s 111-77 lopsided win against the Los Angeles Lakers in Oakland, the Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start the regular season by reeling off 16 consecutive wins, a feat that eclipsed 15-0 starts by the 1948-49 Washington Capitols the 1993-94 Houston Rockets.

What’s even more astounding is that the Warriors’ remarkable early-season display was highlighted by a 50-point drubbing of a Grizzlies team that has advanced to the postseason five consecutive seasons.

“You know, they’re a good team,” Nowitzki said. “Steph (Curry) is playing unbelievable basketball. But not only him. Like I said, they have a great, deep team and they defend. They have lineups to switch up everything.”

GOLD RECORD --- In the wake of the Golden State Warriors carving out more history Tuesday night, among the NBA player who congratulated the world champs was Nowitzki.  “They have a heckuva team,” Nowitzki said. “I mean, they have everything you. They have length. They have shooters. They have defenders. They’re really, really deep.” (Photo by Noah Graham/Getty Images)

GOLD RECORD — In the wake of the Golden State Warriors carving out more history Tuesday night, among the NBA player who congratulated the world champs was Nowitzki.
“They have a heckuva team,” Nowitzki said. “I mean, they have everything you. They have length. They have shooters. They have defenders. They’re really, really deep.” (Photo by Noah Graham/Getty Images)

As for which team will pose as a threat and deal the Warriors their first regular season setback since a 103-100 loss April 7 at the New Orleans Pelicans capped a two-game winless streak is anybody’s guess.

That’s because four of Golden State’s next five games are against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year, meaning the team that could likely end the historic streak is the Toronto Raptors, who host the defending champs Dec. 5.

Still, whichever team manages to disrupt the Warriors’ impressive undefeated streak, it will have to play arguably its best game in some time against a team that plays this Run-N-Gun, high-powered brand of basketball the sports world hasn’t witnessed in some time.

“They can adjust to every stone that’s thrown at them,” Nowitzki said of the Warriors. “And that’s why they are the champs. They’re very deep and very good.”

DIRK REACHES ANOTHER MILESTONE

Even in the wake of the Mavs’ loss at Memphis Tuesday night in FedExForum that resulted in Dallas’ second straight defeat since reeling off a season-best five consecutive wins, Nowitzki had no idea he had added yet another milestone to his illustrious Hall of Fame career.

With 7:53 remaining in the fourth, a running 3-point jumper off an assist from Raymond Felton allowed Nowitzki to become the 17th player in NBA history to record 1,600 career three-pointers.

According to the 37-year-old German, he acknowledges such a feat comes during time in which he feels he’s playing efficient basketball.

Nowitzki, who entered Tuesday’s game leading the NBA in 3-point efficiency at 53.3 percent, connected on 2 of 5 from outside the arc against the Grizzlies.

“You know, it’s been a long ride,” Nowitzki, the Mavs all-time leading scorer, said of his latest accolade. “This is season 18 and, fortunately, I’ve been healthy. You know, there were actually years where I wasn’t shooting the ball as well as I wanted to. And this year, I’ve been having a decent rhythm and hopefully I can keep it up. You know, 1,600 threes, that’s a lot of threes, and hopefully there’s a few more to come.”

 

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

 

 

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: University of Houston among AAC schools eyeing Cedar Hill’s Xavier Hall

CEDAR HILL, Texas — In case you don’t know him, allow Xavier Hall to introduce himself.

For starters, Hall is senior middle linebacker for a perennial power Cedar Hill team that is amongst the finest in Texas.

STAR WATCH --- As arguably one of the Cedar Hill's most efficient and durable pass rushers who has built a reputation for providing fits to the opposition, Xavier Hall has gone to great lengths to boost his recruiting stock, considering he is currently ranked as the 14th best high school linebackers in Texas, according to Maxpreps.com. (Photos submitted by J. Hall)

STAR WATCH — As arguably one of the Cedar Hill’s most efficient and durable pass rushers who has built a reputation for providing fits to the opposition, Xavier Hall has gone to great lengths to boost his recruiting stock, considering he is currently ranked as the 14th best high school linebackers in Texas, according to Maxpreps.com. (Photos submitted by J. Hall)

As arguably one of the Longhorns’ most efficient and durable pass rushers who has built a reputation for providing fits to the opposition, Hall has gone to great lengths to boost his recruiting stock, considering he is currently ranked as the 14th best high school linebacker in Texas, according to Maxpreps.com.

Add to the fact this resilient athlete — the nation’s 91st overall player for the Class of 2016 by Maxpreps — has improved immensely in the offseason, and it’s no wonder that Hall appears well on his way to signing a National Letter of Intent less than three months from now.

National Signing Day is February 3.

As Hall, 6-foot, 195-pounder tells it, given he has been afforded the golden opportunity to put his skills on display for a tradition-rich Cedar Hill program is amongst the greatest factors that has given way to his drawing rave reviews from a host of college scouts and recruiters.

“My family always says don’t be scared to go after what I want and I should know how to get it on my own,” Hall told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “Being a football player is exciting. It keeps me busy and there is never a dull moment, especially having my own decorated locker and being a part of an (animated) locker room.”

While establishing camaraderie with teammates has contributed mightily to his success on the field, whether his final prep season ends with a state championship or not, Hall doesn’t shy away from the notion that playing football on Saturdays around this time next year is undoubtedly his No. 1 priority. Hall3

After all, as far as he’s concerned, he senses he’s done the necessary things to sway colleges to extend to him a full ride scholarship.

“(Football) was the first sport I played and found a liking for it,” Hall said. “And also I felt it would be my gateway out of what people call the hood. My family has been very supportive of me and my choice of playing football. They always push me to my limit and tell me to strive for excellence.”

Fortunately for Hall, it’s safe to assume that a few colleges have discovered the true talent he has become since bursting on the high school scene four years ago.

That’s because according to Hall, the University of Houston, Southeastern Oklahoma State, Langston University, Lamar University, and Cisco Jr. College are amongst the schools that have expressed interest in him as his prep career draws near.

SUPER MOM --- Among Hall’s biggest supporter is his mother Jontil Hall, who has become a fixture at virtually each of her son’s games. In assessing her son’s career at Cedar Hill, Jontil Hall acknowledges she’s mostly impressed at how well-disciplined he’s been in what undoubtedly is a pivotal season for Xavier.

SUPER MOM — Among Hall’s biggest supporter is his mother Jontil Hall, who has become a fixture at virtually each of her son’s games. In assessing her son’s career at Cedar Hill, Jontil Hall acknowledges she’s mostly impressed at how well-disciplined he’s been in what undoubtedly is a pivotal season for Xavier.

Cedar Hill (9-1) plays Carroll (8-2) Friday night at 7:30 in the second round of the Texas Class 6A playoffs.

Among Hall’s biggest supporter is his mother Jontil Hall, who has become a fixture at virtually each of her son’s games. In assessing her son’s career at Cedar Hill, Jontil Hall acknowledges she’s mostly impressed at how well-disciplined he’s been in what undoubtedly is a pivotal season for Xavier.

“I wasn’t surprised to know he would play in high school because he played in middle school and also throughout pop warner (recreational league),” Jontil Hall said. “Words can’t express the happiness I feel for my son. Being a single mother hasn’t been easy, but very well worth it. I thank God that my son has kept a level head throughout all the struggles and cards he has been dealt.

Also, I’m proud to say that I’ve never had to go to school for any class skipping, disruptions, or fighting. My visit to school has only been for football. That’s a blessing.”

A blessing that, fortunately for Xavier Hall, appears likely to continue on Saturdays around this time next year.

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: Horn Lake OL Nikolas Dean’s sights set on National Signing Day

WAR EAGLE --- Horn Lake High senior linebacker Nikolas Dean’s parents, Byron and Neketta Dean, said that while their son has endured his share of challenges during the course of his high school career, they are mostly impressed by how he has gone about assuming the businesslike approach for a player who’s auditioning for a full ride athletic scholarship. (Photos by N. Dean)

WAR EAGLE — Horn Lake High senior offensive lineman Nikolas Dean’s parents, Byron and Neketta Dean, said that while their son has endured his share of challenges during the course of his high school career, they are mostly impressed by how he has gone about assuming the businesslike approach for a player who’s auditioning for a full ride athletic scholarship. (Photos by N. Dean)

Although the 2015 season did not turn out the way Nikolas Dean had envisioned, the Horn Lake High offensive lineman nnow has his sights set on something that could very well set the tone for his young life for the next four years.

National Signing Day.

A 6-foot, 230-pound senior, Dean enjoyed a stellar career for the Eagles, although his final prep season ended with Horn Lake limping to a 2-10 finish.

Still, during a high school stint whereby Dean enjoyed success virtually on both sides of the ball for coach Brad Boyette’s squad, he’s confident he will fulfill his long-waited dream of putting his football skills on display at the collegiate level.

According to Dean, who is ranked as the 105th best player in tradition-rich Mississippi according to Maxpreps.com, he has generated interest from several schools, most notably Mississippi State, Jackson State, Grambling State, University of Memphis, and Ole Miss, among others.

National Signing Day is February 3.

When asked to assess his career his Horn Lake, Dean, a Carbondale, Illinois native, said he senses he had done enough to persuade college coaches to grant him the opportunity to play next Fall.

STELLAR AUDITION --- A 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior, Horn Lake's Nikolas Dean enjoyed a stellar career for the Eagles, although his final prep season ended with Horn Lake limping to a 2-10 finish.  Still, during a high school stint whereby Dean enjoyed success virtually on both side of the ball for coach Brad Boyette’s squad, he’s confident he will fulfill his long-waited dream of putting his football skills on display at the collegiate level. (Photos submitted by N. Dean)

STELLAR AUDITION — A 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior, Horn Lake’s Nikolas Dean enjoyed a stellar career for the Eagles, although his final prep season ended with Horn Lake limping to a 2-10 finish.
Still, during a high school stint whereby Dean enjoyed success virtually on both side of the ball for coach Brad Boyette’s squad, he’s confident he will fulfill his long-waited dream of putting his football skills on display at the collegiate level. (Photos submitted by N. Dean)

“I love football because it’s a sport that has always come naturally to me,” Dean told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I love the contact of the sport. I really know the sport and I have passion for it.”

Dean’s parents, Byron and Neketta Dean, said that while their son has endured his share of challenges during the course of his high school career, they are mostly impressed by how he has gone about assuming the businesslike approach for a player who’s auditioning for a full ride athletic scholarship.

Byron and Neketta’s son, Nakobe Dean, is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound freshman linebacker for Horn Lake.

“I’m happy because he’s happy,” Neketta said of Nikolas Dean. “It’s been challenging, but I’ve always told him to keep God first and that he can do all things through Christ and to remember that he’s a champion and not a contestant. He was born to succeed and he possesses the heart and passion (for football).”

RAVE REVIEWS --- According to Dean (nO. 71), who is ranked as the 105th best player in tradition-rich Mississippi according to Maxpreps.com, he has generated interest from several schools, most notably Mississippi State, Jackson State, Grambling State, University of Memphis, and Ole Miss, among others.

RAVE REVIEWS — According to Dean (nO. 71), who is ranked as the 105th best player in tradition-rich Mississippi according to Maxpreps.com, he has generated interest from several schools, most notably Mississippi State, Jackson State, Grambling State, University of Memphis, and Ole Miss, among others.

All of which is why the Deans believe the possibility exist that they will be watching their son play football on Saturdays around this time next season.

As Nikolas’ mother’s tells it, her son’s body of work as an efficient athletic speaks for itself.

“Nikolas began playing football at the age of five,” Neketta Dean explains. “I was excited about his enthusiasm, energy, and love for the game. Every weekend was and is monopolized with games, events, and activities surrounding football. It was tiresome, especially working full time up to 50 hours-plus a week at times and having to attend the games. Nevertheless, our presence was a highlight for him and encouraged him to play harder.”

Now with National Signing Day a little more than two months away, Nikolas Dean and his family are now waiting with great expectancy to see which school will ultimately extend to him an offer to suit up in a college football uniform next fall.

Let alone set the tone for his young life for the next four years.

“My parents have always encouraged and supported me to strive at being successful in everything I do,” Nikolas Dean said.

Something about which several college scouts have already taken into account.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Here’s 41 sporting moments as sports journalist Andre Johnson turns 41

AndreDALLAS — For the past three-plus decades, sports have played a majestic role in my life.

In fact, sports, for me, have become a way of life.

MOM AND MJ --- In November 2002, I passed up the chance to watch Hall of Famer Michael Jordan play in his next-to-last NBA season when the Washington Wizards played at the Memphis Grizzlies. I felt compelled to pass the pair of tickets to my mother, who said to me after that game, “I can always say I had a chance to watch (Jordan) play.” (Getty Images Photo)

MOM AND MJ — In November 2002, I passed up the chance to watch Hall of Famer Michael Jordan play in his next-to-last NBA season when the Washington Wizards played at the Memphis Grizzlies. I felt compelled to pass the pair of tickets to my mother, who said to me after that game, “I can always say I had a chance to watch (Jordan) play.” (Getty Images Photo)

A lifestyle, of sorts.

A trend that, in assessing the overall landscape of my life, practically personifies the person I’ve become.

Sports, this inspiriting, galvanizing movement that customarily inspire athletes to become empowered through dedication, accountability, and leadership, are what immeasurably fueled my desire to engage in a rather competitive industry whereby I would be afforded the opportunity to meet and interact with athletes from various walks of life.

Fortunately for me, my dream, thanks in large part to sports, has come full circle, a fantasy that has given way to an assortment of memories, most notably personal ones during which I’ve savored throughout the course of professional sportswriting career.

That said, as I commemorate my 41st birthday on Saturday, I share with you 41 memorable sports moments, according to yours truly.

 

  1. Passing up the chance to watch Hall of Famer Michael Jordan play in his next-to-last NBA season when the Washington Wizards played at the Memphis Grizzlies. I felt compelled to relinquish the pair of tickets to my mother, who said to me after that game, “I can always say I had a chance to watch (Jordan) play.”
  2. Wrapping each wall in my bedroom with magazine photos of NBA players as a junior high schooler in the late 1980s. I knew at the time that someday I’d interview those same players.
  3. Witnessing the San Francisco 49ers thoroughly dispatch the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl 19, 38-16.
  4. Owning my very first authentic NFL football as my mom handed it off to me like a quarterback to running back on my 10th birthday.
  5. Fielding arguably the worst whipping of my life when, on my 15th birthday, I caught the wrath of my mom for throwing a temper tantrum and ripping apart my nightstand. Surely, this isn’t a sports moment in any shape or form. But in a way, it certainly seemed like it, considering I ran around our three-bedroom apartment like an Olympic gold medal sprinter while trying to elude mom’s extension cord.
  6. Watching Michigan edge Seton Hall in overtime in the 1989 NCAA Men’s Basketball championship game as Glen Rice embraced the ball at game’s end and unleashed tears of joy.
  7. Watching Joe Montana’s game-winning touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining in Super Bowl 23.
  8. Watching the 49ers race to a 27-3 halftime lead and completely dismantle the Denver Broncos, 55-10, in Super Bowl 24.
  9. Witnessing sentimental favorite and the No. 11 seed Loyola Marymount basketball team pulverize Michigan, 149-115, in the second round of the NCAA tournament following the death of Hank Gathers.
  10. The Buffalo Bills losing four consecutive Super Bowls.
  11. The 1984-85 Memphis State men’s basketball team advancing to the school’s second Final Four.
  12. “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison and Louisville upsetting Duke in the 1988 NCAA championship game.
  13. Anfernee “Penny” Hardway and Treadwell High versus Anthony Douglas and cross-town rival East.
  14. The 1986 New York Mets.
  15. Watching the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series with my paw paw, Edward Johnson, Sr.
  16. Watching Dallas’ World Class Championship Wrestling at the break of sunrise every Saturday with grandpa.
  17. Watching Memphis’ Championship Wresting every Saturday morning with my paw paw and uncles.
  18. Witnessing the Memphis State basketball team win the Metro Conference basketball championship in 1987 against Louisville in the always hostile Freedom Hall.
  19. Witnessing pro wrestler Jerry Lawler become world champion for first time in his illustrious career on May 9, 1988 over Kurt Henning.
  20. The Kansas City Royals’ 11-0 shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series.
  21. Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers losing four times to the Cincinnati Bearcats during the 1991-92 season.
  22. Penny Hardaway losing his final college game where his NBA career began (in Orlando).
  23. Steve Young engineering the 49ers to a 49-26 win over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl 29.
  24. The scene of Michael Jordan crying on the locker room floor while blanketing the game ball after winning his first NBA title following the death of his father.
  25. Len Bias’ shocking death two days after the 1986 NBA Draft.
  26. Magic Johnson announcing his retirement from the NBA on November 7, 1991 after learning he had acquired the AIDS virus.
  27. Attending Monday night wrestling virtually every week with my uncle, Darryl Crawford.

    H-TOWN --- How can I forget when I covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in what was my third full season of covering the league?

    How can I forget when I covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in what was my third full season of covering the league?

  28. Covering my very first sporting event as a sports intern for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper in May 1996.
  29. Partaking in my second sports internship for The Commercial Appeal in May 2000.
  30. Assuming a full-time job a sports reporter for The Commercial Appeal in August 2000.
  31. Interviewing Laila Ali during her fight in the Mid-South in June 2002.
  32. At the request of Jerry Lawler, meeting the Hall of Fame wrestler over lunch in March 2010 for an exclusive interview that lasted more than two hours.
  33. Covering Kobe Bryant on the night he became the Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time leading scorer in March 2010.
  34. Covering the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.
  35. The 2007-08 Memphis Tiger basketball team.
  36. John Calipari vacating Memphis for Kentucky or, as he said, “the Notre Dame of college basketball.”
  37. Mario Chalmers breaking the hearts of Tiger fans with a game-tying 3-pointer that forced overtime in the 2008 NCAA final.
  38. The Los Angeles Clipper’s historic comeback from 27 points down to shock the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA playoffs.
  39. The Grizzlies reaching the Western Conference Finals the following year.
  40. Relocating to Dallas in April 2014 to cover Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks.
  41. Thanking God in advance for allowing me to stick around to witness and savor more sporting moments.

 

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle described Flip Saunders’ death as a ‘dark day’ in the NBA

REMEMBERING FLIP SAUNDERS (1955-2015)

DALLAS — Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle wasted little time paying homage to Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders following his team’s two-hour practice Monday morning.

“Flip was one of those guys who was a great and intense competitor, always did it the right way,” Carlisle said while addressing reporters. “And as competitive as he was and as great a coach he was, he had no enemies in this league.”

FABULOUS FLIP --- Flip Saunders, who returned to Minnesota for a second stint last summer and compiled more than 1,000 victories during a professional coaching career that spanned more than three decades, died Sunday of cancer at the age of 60. Saunders’ death comes just three days before the Timberwolves’ season-opener at the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Nam Y. Huh/AP)

FABULOUS FLIPFlip Saunders, who returned to Minnesota for a second stint last summer and compiled more than 1,000 victories during a professional coaching career that spanned more than three decades, died Sunday of cancer at the age of 60. Saunders’ death comes just three days before the Timberwolves’ season-opener at the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Saunders, who returned to Minnesota for a second stint last summer and compiled more than 1,000 victories during a professional coaching career that spanned more than three decades, died Sunday of cancer at the age of 60.

Saunders’ death comes just three days before the Timberwolves’ season-opener at the Los Angeles Lakers and two days after the team announced he would not return this season as he continued to battle his dreaded disease.

Saunders announced in August that he was being treated for Hodgkin lymphoma during which doctors described it as “very treatable and curable.” Saunders, in fact, said at the time he had planned to remain the Timberwolves’ head coach and president of basketball operations.

However, after enduring a setback last month that led to him being hospitalized, the team turned the coaching duties over to interim Sam Mitchell while Milt Newton assumed the general manager responsibilities.

In assessing Saunders’ coaching career that also included stints with the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, Carlisle ironically liken Saunders’ style of coaching to the late Chuck Daly, the former Pistons coach who led the franchise to back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990.

“He reminded me a lot of Chuck Daly,” Carlisle said. “He was innovative. He was creative. He was a great coach that coached a lot of different kinds of teams, and he was an impact guy as a GM as well.”

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Saunders was also part-owner of the Timberwolves, although he is widely known for his 35-year coaching tenure.

With the emergence of a young Kevin Garnett, Saunders guided Minnesota to its first-ever playoff berth in 1996-97, his first full season as an NBA head coach. The following year, he led the Timberwolves to their first-ever winning campaign, then helped propelled the team to a franchise-record 50 victories in 1999–2000, a feat they repeated two seasons later. (Getty Images Photos)

With the emergence of a young Kevin Garnett, Saunders guided Minnesota to its first-ever playoff berth in 1996-97, his first full season as an NBA head coach. The following year, he led the Timberwolves to their first-ever winning campaign, then helped propelled the team to a franchise-record 50 victories in 1999–2000, a feat they repeated two seasons later. (Getty Images Photos)

Saunders assumed his first NBA job when he joined the Timberwolves in May 1995 as general manager, working alongside former college teammate Kevin McHale. Seven months later, he was named the team’s head coach, replacing Bill Blair after Minnesota had gotten off to a dismal 6-14 start.

Two seasons later (1996-97), with the emergence of a young Kevin Garnett, Saunders guided Minnesota to its first-ever playoff berth in his first full season as an NBA head coach. The following year, he led the Timberwolves to their first-ever winning campaign, then helped steer the team to a franchise-record 50 victories in 1999–2000, a feat they repeated two seasons later.

LASTING IMPRESSION ---When asked how Saunders’ legacy will be remembered, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle paused briefly then said, “He’s one of the most respected coaches in history. Getty Images Photo)

LASTING IMPRESSIONWhen asked how Saunders’ legacy will be remembered, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle paused briefly then said, “He’s one of the most respected coaches in history. Getty Images Photo)

Consequently, Saunders was fired midway through the 2004-05 season during which the Timberwolves had failed to advance to the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

However, following coaching stints in Detroit (2005-2008) and Washington (2009-2012), Saunders rejoined the T-Wolves organization last summer before his health began to decline.

Saunders, whose professional coaching career began in 1988-89 with the CBA’s Rapid City Thrillers, led the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals during the 2003-04 season.

When asked how Saunders’ legacy will be remembered, Carlisle paused briefly then said, “He’s one of the most respected coaches in NBA history. There’s no doubt about that. He experienced great success. And he helped build that Minnesota franchise, really, from the depths of the lottery to a team that was in the Western Conference Finals.”

With the NBA regular season set to begin on Tuesday, Carlisle described Saunders’ passing as a “dark day” for the NBA.

“But we’ll all look back at all of the great things he did and all of the wonderful things he stood for and we’ll learn from his example,” Carlisle said.

The Mavs will wear lapel pins throughout the season in Saunders’ memory, Carlisle said.

Dallas’ season-opener is Wednesday night at 9 CST at Phoenix, the first of a three-game road trip.

 

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.