It already has been a busy summer for the Sandy’s Spiel staff. Bre Singleton & Rameen Forghani join Kyle Sandy to give their analysis on Georgia Tech, Georgia State, UGA and Johns Creek team camps.
By Trent Markwith (@TMarkwith14)
I was able to see the Gainesville squad at both Georgia State early on Friday and then at Georgia Tech on Saturday and Sunday. Although they were without KJ Buffen, the team was still impressive and showed why they were an Elite 8 team this past season. I loved the game of Xavier Bledson, a big guard with terrific passing ability. Bledson also absorbs contact easily when he drives inside, displayed confidence shooting from the outside this weekend, and plays with an edge about him.
To go along with Bledson, the Rosser twins (Jarred and Jarrel) really used their length and athleticism well on defense, in transition, and on the offensive glass. Bailey Minor is another key player for the Red Elephants. Minor provides toughness and a nice inside-out game for the team at the forward spot with good touch around the basket and a smooth shot from deep. When all 4 of these guys get going and fulfill their roles, Gainesville is a tough team to stop. Expect Gainesville to be a contender for a state championship once again with their surplus of versatile weapons.
The Warriors only had 7 players available for most of Saturday but that did not stop them from being one of the most active and energetic teams at the camp. North Atlanta has gained a big-time addition in Messiah Thompson, who went to NAHS his freshmen year before transferring to Pebblebrook for his sophomore season. Thompson is a shifty guard with quick handles and solid overall scoring ability for his size. He also plays feisty defense and gets out in transition whenever possible; his pace set the tone for the North Atlanta team and the others followed suit.
The Warriors were missing one of their leading scorers from last season, Dominic Ham, but 2019’s Josh Johnson and Andrew Robinson stepped up in his absence. Johnson and Robinson have similar games on the wing for North Atlanta. They both have good athleticism and strength that they use to attack the basket and rebound for this under-sized Warriors team. Johnson may have an edge in scoring between the two right now, but they will both give nice boosts to this team because of their activity and toughness. It would help if a few other players emerge for the Warriors as most teams will try to key in on Thompson, who will be the go-to guy. It will be interesting to see how this team develops before the winter.
Holy Spirit Prep
The reigning GISA state champion came to GT without 3 main players and faced some of the bigger GHSA teams in attendance. Although it’s just summer league, HSP proved that they can hold their own against these teams, which some have doubted. The Cougars got a huge pickup with Anthony Edwards, a 2020 guard who is one of the leading scorers on the 16U UAA circuit. Edwards has good size at 6’5” and everything looks effortless for him on offense where he dominates opponents with an impressive combination of athleticism, power, and touch.
The Cougars have another stud in 2018 Kamani Johnson, a 6’8” forward who has been on the rise since coming to Georgia. Johnson displays a lot of versatility for his size; he can post-up effectively, slash from the wing, and push the ball himself in transition. If Johnson continues to develop as an outside shooter, it will be scary.
2019 guard Kye Jeremiah will also be a key contributor for HSP this year. Holy Spirit is trying to mold Jeremiah into a PG, which could be a good spot for him with his size and strength. If you combine Jeremiah’s attacking ability with more experience and instincts at the point position, he could be a very nice prospect. Pairing these 3 with George Maslennikov and Miles Wallace (both out this weekend) will form a core group that will spell trouble for any GISA team.
Leading returning scorer Arusha Hunter was dominant for the Falcons throughout the weekend, as expected. Hunter had a full offensive skill-set on display at Tech, highlighted by his ability to draw contact on drives and get to the free-throw line at will. With one of their main guys in Mekhail Bethea being hampered by injury, other players also stepped up for the Falcons.
I was intrigued most by Quincy Ademokoya and Reggie Horton for Dacula. Ademokoya created some buzz by moving in from Illinois and showed he will be a nice piece on the team. After a rough game against North Atlanta on Saturday, Ademokoya responded with a strong game on Sunday. At 6’6”, he hit multiple corner 3’s and used his length to rebound and slash from the wing for finishes at the basket. Horton may lack size but the guard was not afraid to go inside amongst bigger players. Horton exhibited some very impressive athleticism when he attacked by elevating, hanging, and adjusting for difficult layups multiple times. Dacula has firepower on the perimeter that will be a problem for opponents this upcoming season.
The Bulldogs have 3 players with excellent scoring ability in Damarcus Johnson, Eli Lawrence, and Jonathan Young. Johnson runs the point for TC and while he is lethal from outside, he also knows when to mix it up inside to create for himself and his teammates. Lawrence has good size on the wing for the Bulldogs and is efficient with his scoring opportunities. The smooth lefty has a quick release off the catch and also utilizes mid-range shots off the bounce where he elevates for easy looks.
Young is a new member of the team and caught the attention of many during the weekend with his play. Young comes in to form a dangerous backcourt duo alongside Johnson, he has good shooting ability and showed that he can put it on the floor and penetrate as well.
Zach Morgan is another player to keep an eye on for the Bulldogs team. Morgan is a forward with a strong, athletic frame that provides toughness and rebounding for TC. He also was not afraid to put the ball on the deck himself and if he can become another viable scoring option for the team, that would be huge. With their current weapons, Tri-Cities will not have any problem putting up points this season.
I made it out to Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Here are the camp’s biggest takeaways.
The Return of the Messiah
Messiah Thompson was one of the top performers at camp. The 5-foot-9 2019 point guard started his career at North Atlanta before transferring to Pebblebrook for his sophomore season. Now back home at North Atlanta, Thompson resumes the role as lead dog. Thompson plays with a chip on his shoulder and is the unquestioned engine for the Warriors. He posted 18 points, five assists and three steals in a blowout win over Harrison and followed up with a 17-point showing against Dacula. Thompson has a good feel for the game and court vision which allows him to make his teammates better. He scored from beyond the arc and when attacking the basket.
North Atlanta should be much improved from their 7-18 mark not just because of the return of Thompson, but the addition of fellow Pebblebrook transfer Andrew Robinson, who brings energy at 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4 junior Joshua Johnson who was mightily impressive in his first impression. Josh is extremely active and athletic which helps him finish around the basket and rebound. He had 11 points and eight rebounds against Harrison. The nucleus of 2019 players could have North Atlanta competing in Region 7-AAAAAA sooner rather than later.
Quincy Ademokoya suited up for Dacula after recently transferring in as a highly touted 2020 prospect from Illinois, but it was easy to see that Ademokoya is not yet a finished product, though he showed flashes of a solid skillset. He was passive in Dacula’s 54-53 win over North Atlanta. The 6-foot-6 wing finished with three points, seven rebounds and two assists. Both Dacula and Ademokoya are still in the feeling out process as to where he best fits in. Once he finds his role and synergy with his new teammates, Ademokoya should be able to gel. He is in good hands with Dr. Russ Triaga and an established core of Falcons.
One player who had no trouble taking charge was 2018 shooting guard Arusha Hunter. Hunter has continued to rise his game to the next level. After averaging just 4.2 points per game as a sophomore, Hunter turned in 17.3 a night his junior season leading to Class AAAAAA Most Improved honors. Against North Atlanta the 6-foot-2 scorer poured in 26 points, assaulting the basket. Hunter went 16-of-18 from the foul line, crafting his way into the paint at will. With Mekhail Bethea sidelined with a leg injury, Hunter shined and got buckets when needed.
See Ya Seniors
Four seniors with major experience and a combined 29.8 points per game between them have left the Southwest DeKalb program. The mass exodus is quite ponderous, but Southwest has more than enough to be competitive with talent dripping from the Class of 2020.
Point guard KD Johnson is a fierce competitor that makes all the plays down the stretch. Johnson seemingly has a magnetic pull to the rim, always finding a way to slice and dice his way to the cup and finish strong. Johnson has the chance to be one of Georgia’s best finishers by the time he’s a senior. While he is a respectable three-point shooter, if he can improve his stroke even more, it will be tough to stop him.
Eugene Brown III is still a gazelle on the floor and looks taller every time I see him. Brown is about 6-foot-3 and has a chance to squeeze at least two more inches out of his frame. Brown can handle the ball in transition and covers ground quickly with his long strides. Playing key minutes as a freshman alongside Johnson will bode extremely well over the course of the twosome’s career.
6-foot-6 rising junior James Glisson III showed promise in the Panthers’ 47-44 comeback victory over St. Pius. Glisson finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Senior Demarion Johnson will be asked to provide leadership on a young team. He was active against St. Pius, using his 6-foot-3 build to snag nine points and five rebounds.
Same old St. Pius
With nearly everyone back from last year’s Class AAAA state runner-up roster, St. Pius is still one of Georgia’s most efficient offenses that maneuver with precision cuts and passes. Everett Lane looks ready to grab ahold of the No. 1 option title if there is one in St. Pius’ balanced attack. Lane has thrust his way into the discussion as one of the best shooters in the Class of 2018.
Floor general Matt Gonzalo enters his junior season and continues to orchestrate the offense at a high clip and handle opposing ball pressure. He is the type of player who won’t wow you with big numbers, but if you see him in person you will truly be able to appreciate what he brings to the table.
The Golden Lion forwards had a nice weekend. Zach Ranson played above the rim and finished around the hoop. Rising junior Patrick Snipes caught my eye with his work out of the post, facing up and using his quickness to get by defenders and create advantages.
Milton is looking to restore their momentum after an interesting season resulted in just a 14-14 record, but good enough to steal a Region 5 title away from Lambert. Gone is Duke-signee Alex O’Connell, meaning the keys to the car officially belong to rising sophomore point guard Christian Wright. Wright had just six points against St. Pius, but he showed he could turn the corner and get in the lane when he felt like it. Teams will surely key in on slowing him down this year meaning Donaven Hairston will have to step up. The 2019 point guard is slight of frame but still can sneak past defenders and score in traffic. He turned it on in the second half against St. Pius, scoring 17 of his game-high 18 in the frame.
Cherokee County’s Finest
Etowah is now the team to beat in Cherokee County after peaking at the right time and capturing a Region 4-AAAAAAA championship and a Sweet 16 berth. Coach Jason Dasinger takes over as head coach and will look to continue to ride the momentum that Milton head man Allen Whitehart put in motion. Dasinger inherits a very good group headed by Jaxon Etter, Adrian Cohen and Julian Baldwin.
Etter, a late blooming 2019 who really came out of nowhere last year, is a steady 6-foot-3 guard with deceptive quickness. He works all levels of the floor and can score the ball. Etter uses controlled dribbles, backdowns and head fakes to ensure he gets clean looks. He poured in 23 points and five rebounds in a 52-51 loss vs. Tri-Cities.
Cohen is a 6-foot-5 wing that has been putting it all together and has a chance to stamp himself as a Low Major prospect with a good senior season. His three-point shot is now a weapon after diversifying his game from just being a slasher.
Baldwin was not in attendance at camp meaning Carter Ingersoll took his minutes. The rising senior is an old school post that uses positioning and body control to score inside. He takes his time and is methodical while working the pivot and showcases some nifty post moves. He finished with 11 points and nine rebounds against Tri-Cities.
Tri-Cities can shoot the ball when they are on. The surprise Class AAAAAA quarterfinalist used a difficult Region 5 to prepare themselves for the state tourney. The Bulldogs have some firepower coming back and see some new faces join the roster as well.
DaMarcus Johnson is a microwave scorer at point guard. The 2019 shooter can catch fire from deep. He is 6-foot on a good day but makes the most out of his size with his quick burst and ability to create his own shot. To play at the next level, Johnson will need to continue to work on making his teammates better.
One teammate who should easily benefit is 6-foot-4 senior Eli Lawrence. The lanky lefty is lights out when he gets going. He dropped in 15 points in a win over Etowah. Lawrence will be joined by Jon Young, who was fabulous in the first half, scoring 16 of his 18 points. Young was on fire, drilling threes and scoring off the bounce. He will benefit from Johnson and Lawrence’s scoring threat. Young is now on his third school entering his senior year. He began at Westlake and bounced to New Manchester for his junior season before coming to Tri-Cities.
6-foot-7 Zachary Morgan brings an interesting dynamic to the Bulldogs. He is a grown man inside strapped with muscle. He didn’t get many opportunities to score the ball, but he showed he could face up and attack the hoop. Defensively, he can alter shots and clean the glass.
Part 4 📜: God’s Plan 🙏🏽
Tre Gomillion is a 2018 guard out of Aquinas High School in Augusta, Georgia. He averaged 20 points, 13.6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals as a junior and was named Class A-Private Second Team All-State. This is his off-season journal. This is The Process.
Everybody in life faces adversity, lately I have been challenged a little more than usual. In the past few weeks, I found out some family health issues dealing with my sweet grandma , my uncle , and today … I found out some issues with me.
Today is the day that I went in for my follow-up appointment dealing with my knee. No more than 2 weeks ago while working out I felt a pop in my right knee, I went to the doctor the following day which they later set me up for an MRI. As the pain in my knee went down and the swelling went down it was time for the results. And on June 12, 2017 the doctors told me that I have a decent size tear in my meniscus.
It was hard to swallow, but as the doctor explained the options to heal it, I realize more and more that this all apart of God’s plan. All I can do now is stay positive and just trust the process, trust God’s plan. Because at the end of the day, there’s way worse situations I can be going through. Now it’s time to recover and come back stronger than I’ve ever been.
By Trent Markwith (@TMarkwith14)
With the departure of some 2018 players, SWD sported a very young team at GT this weekend. Even with this youth, SWD looked pretty good and had nice wins over Milton and St. Pius. SWD looks to be led by KD Johnson, who has been making some noise with the GA Stars on the travel circuit. Johnson is a fiery competitor and exceptional athlete who gets to the basket whenever he wants, he is a prospect to keep an eye on in Georgia’s 2020 class. Along with Johnson in the backcourt is Eugene Brown III, another 2020 guard. Brown is a long, wiry player who displayed a nice offensive skill set with solid ball-handling and finishing in transition, and an effective jumper. SWD also has two productive forwards in James Glisson and Demarion Johnson. Glisson provides a big body down low, has a soft touch around the basket, and stays active on the glass on both ends. Johnson is a tough player who plays with a lot of energy and excels in his role on this team as someone who doesn’t demand the ball much but defends, rebounds, and finishes inside. This SWD team could definitely have a successful year as their young players continue to develop and mature.
This weekend, Milton was led by three different players who all had impressive moments throughout the camp. Christian Wright, Ulyric Linton, and Donaven Hairston all look ready to have solid seasons for the Eagles. Wright (2020) and Hairston (2019) share ball-handling responsibilities in the backcourt and are both confident with the ball. Wright has a crafty handle and mature body for a 2020 player, which he uses to get inside for either fancy finishes or kick-outs when the defense collapses. Hairston is a speedy guard that can score in bunches with finesse inside and perimeter shots off both the dribble and catch. Linton (2018) was aggressive the entire weekend; the strong, left-handed wing was consistently looking to get inside and finish through contact in each of Milton’s games. Others who saw a lot of time were Evan Hurst, Vince Graves, and Brady O’Connell. Hurst, a 2020 guard, has a smooth game and provided some scoring for the Eagles. Graves and O’Connell both give good length and athleticism to the team; look for new coach Allen Whitehart to get more out of them in terms of activity and intensity. Milton definitely missed the production and energy of JP McGhee this weekend but expect Coach Whitehart to have this squad prepared for 2017-18 as they become more disciplined and find their identity.
St. Pius X
The Golden Lions played like you would expect from a state runner-up at Tech. Pius is one of the most well-rounded, fundamental teams that you will see in Georgia and that was on display this weekend. Highlighted by crisp ball movement and unselfishness on offense, Pius was able to get quality looks throughout the camp. They also played suffocating full-court defense that you might not expect from a team in early June, this pressure surprised teams and forced them into frequent turnovers. It seems like this team will be led by scorer Everett Lane and facilitating PG Matt Gonzalo, but there are many other capable players on the Pius team that will give quality minutes. Zach Ranson, Brian Gonzalo, Troy Stephens, Niko Broadway, and Patrick Snipes will all produce for the Golden Lions as well. I was most impressed with the energy and chemistry that Pius plays with. There aren’t any players with their own agenda on this team, things flow smoothly because it doesn’t matter who scores and each player wants to see the others do well. The entire team, whether on the bench or in the game, is loud and you can sense energy being given off from one player to another. These traits keep Pius intense and locked in the whole game, it easy to see why they have been one of the better programs in Georgia for a while now.
Coming off a region championship and Sweet 16 appearance, Etowah is looking to follow up with success again this season and showed the potential to do so over the weekend. New coach Jason Dasinger is one of the most intense coaches you’ll see and he has his guys playing with great effort. The Eagles were led by versatile backcourt players Jaxon Etter and Adrian Cohen, both are bigger guards that can handle the ball. Etter is fearless going to the basket and gets there with ease due to his combination of speed and strength. Etter has also improved as a shooter since I saw him in the spring, hitting multiple mid-range shots and threes. Cohen is a well-built slasher who excels in transition and is starting to develop a reliable outside shot. In the frontcourt, Julian Baldwin is a long, athletic player who rebounds well and finishes with ease off of put-backs and drop-offs. With Baldwin gone on Sunday, Carter Ingersoll picked up his play and had a good day. Ingersoll showed good post moves and footwork inside, to go along with a nice short corner jumper. Ingersoll may be somewhat undersized for a post player but he is an excellent rebounder and understands how to score down low. Etowah’s offensive skill paired with their defensive energy should have this Eagles team poised to make a run at another region championship.