There was talent on every court at the Pepsi National Basketball Championships in Hernando, MS, as all you had to do was walk in, find a court, take a seat, and enjoy the display. Overall the shooting from beyond the…
There was talent on every court at the Pepsi National Basketball Championships in Hernando, MS, as all you had to do was walk in, find a court, take a seat, and enjoy the display. Overall the shooting from beyond the arc was not that good, and to make it worse, I cannot count the number of times players were shooting the trey ball and turning around, mimicking one of the best that has ever done it before. Needless to say, those actions left me shaking my head, but some players were locked in and letting it fly and staying in their technique. Those are the players I would like to introduce to you as the #PepsiNationals Bomb Squad…
Sydney Thompson (5’5/CG/’26)
Team: Memphis Bulldogs (Terry) ’26
Sydney is small in size but plays with a lot of heart. One might question his size, but he is a player that showed a lot of promise as he was highly productive in many aspects of the game throughout the weekend. He is quick off the bounce and knows how to change gears and change direction, leaving defenders guessing his next move. He finishes well in the paint as he has runners and floaters in the toolbox. He played with a lot of passion as his team played up one grade division, and Sydney did not back down to any of the older guards, but he competed with a lot of energy and effort. He has a lot of duties on his squad, and scoring is part of it as he has a knack for scoring the rock, which includes his ability to knock down the trey ball. He was absolutely phenomenal from behind the arc and made some huge threes in crucial moments in a couple of games. As he enters his freshman year in high school, he may be forced to settle in at the PG spot, but what a luxury to have a PG that can score the rock the way that Sydney can.
He was absolutely phenomenal from behind the arc and made some huge threes in crucial moments in a couple of games.Terry J. Drake
Carey McClain (5’10/G |F/’26)
Team: Team S.I.N.A ’26
Carey is listed as guard/forward, but as he enters high school, he should be able to settle into a traditional shooting guard role, pending his growth over the next 12 months. He can really stroke the rock from behind the arc, and his shooting kept his team in contention against DAWGS Elite. Had Team S.I.N.A. been able to keep feeding Carey, they could have been right there in the end with a chance to pull it out. Carey shot the ball with a lot of confidence and had an aggressive mindset when looking for his scoring opportunities from behind the arc. He will have to develop his ability to move without the ball more as he made himself an easy guardable target at times by standing still. As he stays in the lab, he can develop into an excellent shooter that will be known as ‘that’s the shooter’ as coaches like to yell throughout the game.
He can really stroke the rock from behind the arc, and his shooting kept his team in contention against DAWGS Elite.Terry J. Drake
Trey Gilliam (5’4/SG/’27)
Team: Jaylo Sports United
Trey was absolutely dynamic from behind the arc in his team’s game against Wildcat Nation. This was one of the most exciting games on day two at #PepsiNationals, as it was a back-and-forth contest with both teams making huge plays going down the stretch. None more significant than the three-point show that Trey put on in the second half. His shooting left defenders running at him every time the ball touched his hands and, at times, multiple defenders running at him, leaving their assignment. Trey had the crowd on their feet as he was letting it fly and draining timely buckets from behind the arc. He was amazing to watch, and if he can continue to stay in the lab and set a schedule where he can make anywhere between 250-500 treys every day, pending his school schedule and other family dynamics and priorities, he is going to be a player to keep an eye on as one of the top shooters in MS.
None more significant than the three-point show that Trey put on in the second half.Terry J. Drake
Ashton Cook (5’8/SG/’28)
Team: LevelUp Elite ’28
Ashton finds his way on the bomb squad as he was knocking down the trey ball throughout the weekend. His overall game is still developing, but he has some foundational skills that he can build upon. His ability to shoot the trey, if he continues to work on it, can become something he can use as his calling card. For now, it is essential that Ashton continues to work on his fundamentals and build his game around his mastery of those fundamentals.
His ability to shoot the trey, if he continues to work on it, can become something he can use as his calling card.Terry J. Drake
Jumarion Joyner (5’2/PG/’27)
Team: Jaylo Sports United
Jumarion is a small but gritty player. He can handle the rock, and his ability to orchestrate is remarkable. He kept the offense fluid, got his teammates involved, was active on the defensive end of the floor, and was basically the driver of the squad. His handles were on point, and he displayed his ability to change pace, change direction, and get out of tight situations without turning the ball over. Along with all that, he was getting it done from behind the arc. He showed that he could make the trey off the bounce and in c&s opportunities. He definitely earned his spot on the bomb squad with his ability to knock it down from deep. I encourage JJ to always remember that as the PG, he will be looked upon as the coach on the floor, and his body language will either infuse passion or deflate the atmosphere of his team. Way too many times, he was verbally complaining about fouls and leading with negative energy. He has too much talent and leadership potential to lead negatively. I encourage him to work on being the one consistent positive piece on the floor, regardless of what is going on within the flow of the game. He is going to need that skill on his journey.
Along with all that, he was getting it done from behind the arc.Terry J. Drake
Keegan Keeton (5’2/Combo Guard/2028)
Team: D5 Global
I have put ink on Keegan before, and every time I see him at a tourney or camp, he forces my pen. He is an absolutely amazing shooter from behind the arc and is already getting strong consideration of being pulled up and playing varsity basketball as a 7th grader next season. He gets the bomb squad leader award for the #PepsiNationals as he hit the game-winning three in the championship game. His range continues to increase as he is pulling from behind the NBA arc and hitting nothing but the bottom of the net. There is no questioning his shooting ability, but he has to continue working on his ball-handling as he will be face guarded, denied the ball, and whatever else teams can do to keep the ball out of his hands. With that understanding, he will have to be able to utilize his cutting action and create his shot off the bounce in order to produce when teams take his three-point looks away. Undoubtedly he continues to improve his three-point skills and is developing into one of the best shooters in the state of AL.
He gets the bomb squad leader award for the #PepsiNationals as he hit the game-winning three in the championship game.Terry J. Drake