Five former Texas high school basketball players to watch in 2024 men's Sweet Sixteen

Arizona Athletics

Share or Save for Later

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Save to Favorites

The state of Texas led the nation with six NCAA tournament teams at the beginning of March Madness. Houston is the only representative left in the Sweet 16. Don't fret - there are still plenty of Texans to watch compete for the national championship. 

Here are the best Texas high school basketball alumni to watch this week. 

G Jamal Shead, Houston, Manor HS

Houston was a Top 10 preseason team with some question marks off a crushing Sweet 16 defeat, losing stars Marucs Sasser and Jarace Walker and entering arguably the toughest basketball conference in America in the Big 12. That was before Jamal Shead ascended to the conference MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, the only athlete in the nation to rank among the top 20 in assists per game, steals per game, and assist-to-turnover ratio. Shead is the focal point of a swarming Houston team that's No.1 in the nation in scoring defense.

That defense, however, blew a 10 point lead in the final 90 seconds against Texas A&M to allow overtime. Houston gutted out a 100-95 win with four of five starters, including Shead, fouled out. Head coach Kelvin Sampson called it the most satisfying win of his career. Can the Cougars emotionally rebound for a bout with four-seed Duke, riding high after a 38-point thrashing of James Madison? Houston look to exorcise the demons from last year's Sweet 16 on Friday at 8:39 p.m.

F Harrison Ingram, North Carolina, St. Mark's School (Dallas)

Forgive UNC fans if they have whiplash. Two years ago, North Carolina reached the national championship game. Last year, they were the first preseason No.1-ranked team to miss the NCAA tournament altogether. Now, they've returned to the Sweet 16 with much of the same core from two years ago. But key additions through the transfer portal, such as Harrison Ingram, are making the difference in March.

Ingram, who won Pac -12 Freshman of the Year at Stanford in the 2021-22 season, has averaged 12.2 points and 8.8 rebounds at forward playing alongside center Armando Bacot. The All-ACC third team selection also has range, converting 5-of-7 three-point attempts in the second round win over Michigan State. Dallas-area prep basketball fans have expected a deep March run for Ingram since he became the Texas Private School Player of the Year at St. Mark's School as a junior and earned McDonald's All-American status.  

North Carolina faces four-seed Alabama at 8:39 p.m. on Thursday.

F Jaedon LeDee, San Diego State, The Kinkaid School (Houston)

Something inside Jaedon LeDee unlocked, a certain switch flipped, before the 2023 Mountain West Conference Tournament. Before that time he was a transfer who'd played one year at Ohio State and started one game over two seasons at TCU who'd never average six points a game. Then he earned All-MWC tourney team and helped lead San Diego State to a Cinderella national championship run. This season, he's averaged 21 points and eight rebounds en route to a First Team All-Mountain West designation. 

It'll be a national championship rematch for San Diego State when they tip off against UConn Thursday at 6:39 p.m. The Huskies are considered even better than their national championship squad from last year, earning the tournament's No.1-overall seed. They're threatening to be the first back-to-back champ in nearly 20 years. LeDee will need a legacy performance if the Aztecs are to pull the upset. 

LeDee was a four-time all-state selection at The Kinkaid School in Houston 

G Rylan Griffen, Alabama, Richardson HS

Thursday night's contest between four-seed Alabama and one-seed North Carolina will be a heavyweight bout between the Tar Heels' defense and Crimson Tide offense. North Carolina is sixth in the nation in defensive efficiency according to KenPom, while Alabama is fourth in offensive efficiency. Rylan Griffen is four players on Alabama scoring in double-figures, and they'll need all that firepower to take down North Carolina.

Griffen is just two years removed from earning District 7-6A Offensive MVP honors at Richardson, averaging 20.6 points per game as the Eagles ascended into the nation's top-ranked public school team. Griffen is now trying to help Alabama reach their first ever Final Four. 

G KJ Lewis, Arizona, Chapin HS/Duncanville HS

When KJ Lewis was 10 years old, he drew a picture denoting he'd play basketball at the Unviersity of Arizona. Then, he became a Mr. Texas Basketball finalist at El Paso Chapin and transferred to Duncanville as a senior and led tht team to a 29–1 record. Thursday, he'll suit up for Arizona in the Sweet 16 when they tip off against six-seed Clemson at 6:09. Talk about manifesting.

Lewis is a key role player for Arizona, averaging 18.1 minutes per game with six points, three rebounds and two assists a night. The Wildcats face a Clemson squad in the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history and riding high after upsetting three-seed Baylor.

This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.

Sign In
Don't Miss Any Exclusive Coverage!

We've been the Bible of Texas football fans for 64 years. By joining the DCTF family you'll gain access to all of our exclusive content and have our magazines mailed to you!