STL Knights Begin New Year As Winter Jam Champs

by Spencer Pulliam

January 7 2020

DALLAS, TX — The sixth-grade division was the youngest that I was able to watch at the HYPE Sports Winter Jam and tournament director Brandon Ray did not lead me astray when he stated that it was likely the deepest division in terms of national-caliber talent.

Going head-to-head against a loaded field featuring shoe-sponsored organizations such as Drive Nation (Texas), HHBC (Texas), Pro Skills (Texas), Team Griffin (Oklahoma), Woodz Elite (Arkansas), and more, it was the STL Knights (Missouri) that were crowned Platinum Division champions from the Class of 2026.

The St. Louis-based squad was impressive from start to finish and should find themselves in contention for a top-ten national ranking when the initial list is released in the coming weeks. Platinum Division semifinalists, Next Page Force (Arkansas), as well as Gold Division champions, Cy Fair Elite Austin (Texas), also deserve special mention as the most accomplished teams without a shoe sponsor in attendance for the 2020 HYPE Sports Winter Jam.


Helping lead the St. Louis Knights to the Winter Jam title was Devin Houston. Standing 6-foot-0, the event’s MVP is a do-it-all player, capable of playing any position on the court when competing against his Class of 2026 peers. He has already built a reputation for himself both locally at Grace Chapel Lutheran School, and nationally within his class, as a talented athlete. He’s certainly ahead of the curve physically and is crafting his perimeter skills with the hope that his talents translate to the next level.


Although his team was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Platinum Division, 6-foot-2 forward Frederick Smith was perhaps the most intriguing prospect I watched from the Class of 2026 at the HYPE Sports Winter Jam. Under the tutelage of former Team Penny program director, Chris Campbell, the Memphis, Tennessee native is suiting up for CEBA (Campbell Elite Basketball Academy) this season.

As far as projections are concerned, Smith appears to have tremendous upside, and showed promise throughout the weekend due to his willowy frame and fluid athleticism. His father, Fred Smith, Sr. played at Oral Roberts University and later with the Harlem Globetrotters, where he once held the record for the world’s highest dunk, at 11-feet-11 inches. Thus, it’s easy to understand why there is some excitement for the younger Smith’s potential, assuming he continues working diligently to improve his game.


Spencer Pulliam

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