By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Proud South Side Scrapper alum Julian Resse knows the impact basketball can have on a child.
The game brought Resse from the streets of South Memphis to the campuses of Lane College and Jackson State. And once his playing days were over, the father decided to share the game he loves with his children and their peers. After 8 years of coaching in the Millington area on the recreational and YMCA levels, Resse joined forces with friend and former Hamilton standout Rodney McGhee to take over the Millington Scrappers AAU program for ages 14 and 15.
“There isn’t a lot for our kids to do after school out here,” Resse said. “A lot of them came up to me and said, ‘Coach can you help me to do something productive.’
“I wanted something come competitive,” he added. “So we formed this to help these kids have a competitive outlet. We want them to get better so it can spill over to the high school.”
While Resse handles most of the on-the-court activities for the Scrappers, McGhee organizes most of the travel, schedules and public relations. McGhee said it was important to bring a new identity to the Millington Scrappers.
“The Millington Scrappers are basically a group of young men from the Millington area,” McGhee noted. “Most have played middle school and high school basketball. We’re here to advance their knowledge of basketball and the high school game. We’ve been dealing with them for about a year now.
“Our mission statement is to raise young men into better young men,” he continued. “We don’t call them boys or nothing like that at practice. We stressed this with our parents at meetings. We address them as young men. It’s more than just basketball. We teach them how to tie ties. We’re teaching them, ‘Hey this is what the real world has to offer.’”
The Scrappers call Millington’s First United Methodist Flame Center home. But the players have traveled across the Mid-South for games. The program started off slow losing game in blowout fashion.
Lately the Scrappers are living up to their name by winning the Sudden Death Tournament and finishing second in another. McGhee said the new-found success on the court is nice, but he wants his 30 kids to learn life lessons in the process of winning.
Most of the Scrappers games are played in Coach Resse’s old stomping grounds of South Memphis. The children have been exposed to poverty and poor living conditions of their Shelby County neighbors to the South.
“Yes, basketball is what we do,” McGhee said. “But it’s more than just basketball. We tell them everybody doesn’t get to go pro or everybody doesn’t get a college scholarship.”
McGhee said obtaining college scholarships for the players is just one of the long-term goals of the Scrappers. Resse said he would love for one of the immediate benefits to be players who could help the hometown Millington Trojans succeed.
“I have folks like Rodney Newsome calling me up and inviting us to his tournament,” Resse said. “We’re started to get that kind of attention. That means are players are getting better and that’s only going to help them once they get back to their high school teams.”
The Scrappers work on the fundamentals of the game and building team chemistry Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Flame Center.
“It was a blessing to get the church,” McGhee said. “One of our players reached out to the Youth Minister here Mr. Kyle (Bomar) and he was generous to us.”
With the community support growing for the Millington Scrappers, McGhee said more is needed to keep the program going in the right direction.
“We’ve got our parental support,” he said. “But we’re trying to reach out and get more of a community support.
“Millington there’s nothing, no gym here for us to go to,” McGhee concluded. “We’re even trying to get with the Mayor and try to get some kind of sportsplex for kids now and even kids in the future.”
The Millington Scrapper 14s are Rodney McGhee, Derek Hall, Bobby Macklin, Jamerio Jones, Devonte Nelson, Tyler Townsend, Taylor Townsend, Christian Parker, Cameron Kraft, Taveon Colier, Hunter Klutts, Dcoryan Alexander and Cameron Hayes. The Millington Scrapper 15s are Dylan Mix, Carter Weakley, Darnell Nelson, Bobby Fields, Shajuan Jones, Lawrence Chambers III, Kenny Harris, Marvin Greer, Davdrix Cleaves, Shemar Sneed, Landon Malik McNealy and Nichloas Montessi. The Millington Scrapper coaches are Julian Resse, Rodney McGhee, Jonathan Boyland and parent assistant coaches Richard Jones and Patrick Jones.