Photo by Chris Todd

By Robert Wilson

         Raymond’s 6-foot-9 senior center and Mississippi State commitment Eric Paymon gets most of the headlines and Mississippi Association of Coaches named him the MHSAA Class 4A Mr. Basketball for this season.

         But when asked who his MVP in last week’s two game stretch was to win the 4A state championship, Raymond coach boys basketball coach Tony Tadlock was quick to answer.

         Mekhi Strong.

         The 6-foot-3 senior forward averaged 16 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3 blocked shots to lead Raymond to semifinal and championship victories in the Boys State Tournament last week at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.

         For his outstanding performance last week, Strong has been named the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Week.

         Strong had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots and was injured late in the third quarter and didn’t return in Raymond’s 66-53 victory over Choctaw Central in the semifinals and had 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in Raymond’s 53-28 victory over McComb in the championship game.

         “Mekhi is a straight dawg. He’s a high motor kid that is a winner,” Tadlock said. “Mekhi is super athletic, and he uses that to his advantage. He’s an elite defender that takes great pride in stopping his guy each night.

         “Mekhi always does a great job of being the spark to our runs when teams press. We would put him in the middle of the other team’s press, and he made it look super easy. He did a great job of doing that during the second half in both games last week.”

         Strong averaged 13.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.5 blocked shots and helped Raymond to a 31-4 record – the most wins by an MHSAA team this season – and its fifth state title in the last eight years and eighth consecutive state championship game appearance.

         Strong has offers from East Mississippi Community College, Hinds CC, Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, Pearl River CC, and Southwest Mississippi CC.

         Strong is the son of Alexis McCullah and Coldy Strong. Alexi played basketball at Hinds AHS and Coldy graduated from Hinds AHS. Strong’s older sister Breannah McCullah played basketball at Raymond High and won a state championship. She also played basketball at Mississippi Gulf CC, Tennessee State and University of Mobile. Strong’s younger sister Londynn McCullah is in the fourth grade. Vivian Johnson is Strong’s grandmother.

This is the last Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Week this season. Mississippi Scoreboard would like to thank all the coaches who sent in nominations for their players this season to Robert Wilson. He really appreciates it. There are about 40 high schools in Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties and having coaches submit nominations makes the selection process easier. 

Previous Players of the Week

Week One: Mike Williams, Jackson Academy

Week Two: Dylan Rowe, Madison Central

Week Three: Eric Paymon, Raymond

Week Four: Ashton Magee, MRA

Week Five: Morris Hammond, Ridgeland

Week Six: Michael Wallace, McLaurin

Week Seven: Mason Williams, Jackson Academy

Week Eight: Avery Thomas, Terry

Week Nine: Eric Paymon, Raymond

Week Ten: Dylan Rowe, Madison Central

Week Eleven: Larrson Calhoun, St. Andrew’s

Week Twelve: Mike Williams, Jackson Academy