Coaching, talent power East High as top team in nation

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The East High School Mustangs are making their mark on this high school basketball season.

The team ranks number one in the country according to MaxPreps.

"We have a lot of great athletes and players, and we also have a great coaching staff, and together it's just a great combination," point guard Alex Lomax said.

East High is led by head coach Penny Hardaway, a former star at University of Memphis and in the NBA.

"I think we're still the underdog, no matter if we're number one," small forward Chandler Lawson said. "We still have to go out and play with a chip on our shoulder."

Assistant coach Sorrell Valentine said they have no issue with pushing players on the court and in the classroom.

"We don't have that problem with these kids," Valentine said. "They are very humble. They come from good parents and they've been taught well."

At East High, despite the challenges students face in the community, they said there is a focus on academics, arts, and athletics. Players said that's exactly what pushes them to strive for excellence.

"They'll never let us get away with anything, never let us get content, and always push us hard everyday," Lomax said.

Coach Valentine said Alex Lomax is a name to remember--a rising basketball star.

"We call him A-Lo," Valentine said. "That's his nickname. They say he was going to be one of the winningest players, and he's living it out."

Valentine calls himself a student of the game and said working alongside former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway is inspiring.

"Sitting there and listening to him and seeing the passion, because this something that he really doesn't have to do. He's giving back," Valentine said.

Shelby County Schools tweeted their appreciation to the team on Twitter:

"We are one big brotherhood," Lomax said. "I love each and every person on the team and wouldn't want to replace them with anyone."

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