2016-17 Preseason State Rankings


  1. Wheeler
  2. Pebblebrook
  3. Westlake
  4. Norcross
  5. Newton
  6. McEachern
  7. Shiloh
  8. Berkmar
  9. Collins Hill
  10. Tift County


  1. Jonesboro
  2. Gainesville
  3. Langston Hughes
  4. South Paulding
  5. Allatoona
  6. Heritage-Conyers
  7. Dacula
  8. Alexander
  9. Alpharetta
  10. Brunswick


  1. Columbia
  2. Miller Grove
  3. Cedar Shoals
  4. Buford
  5. Eagle’s Landing
  6. Warner Robins
  7. New Hampstead
  8. Southwest DeKalb
  9. Fayette County
  10. Riverwood

Class AAAA

  1. Henry County
  2. Sandy Creek
  3. Upson-Lee
  4. St. Pius X
  5. Thomson
  6. North Clayton
  7. LaGrange
  8. Westover
  9. Perry
  10. Cartersville

Class AAA

  1. Pace Academy
  2. Westside-Macon
  3. Liberty County
  4. Jenkins
  5. Morgan County
  6. Cedar Grove
  7. Greater Atlanta Christian
  8. Lovett
  9. Islands
  10. Crisp County

Class AA

  1. Thomasville
  2. South Atlanta
  3. Dublin
  4. Monticello
  5. Vidalia
  6. Callaway
  7. Butler
  8. Banks County
  9. Swainsboro
  10. Chattooga

Class A-Private

  1. Greenforest
  2. North Cobb Christian
  3. Southwest Atlanta Christian
  4. Holy Innocents’
  5. St. Francis
  6. Lakeview Academy
  7. Tattnall Square Academy
  8. Aquinas
  9. King’s Ridge Christian
  10. Whitefield Academy

Class A-Public

  1. Wilkinson County
  2. Crawford County
  3. Turner County
  4. Calhoun County
  5. Taylor County
  6. Hancock Central
  7. Manchester
  8. Quitman County
  9. Lincoln County
  10. Hawkinsville


Class AAAAAAA sees Region 2 open up No. 1-2-3 and for good reason. No. 1 Wheeler has undeniable talent. If Coach Doug Lipscomb is able to keep everyone focused, the Wildcats have more than enough firepower to capture their seventh state title…if not, it will be an unmitigated failure, even with how strong the rest of the state is. Super sophomore Terry Armstrong has already transferred back to Michigan. No. 2 Pebblebrook and defending state champion No. 3 Westlake won’t go down without a fight and don’t be surprised if either one of them is back in the state championship. No. 4 Norcross has all of its starters back and is a year wiser and year stronger. The Blue Devils’ blend of size and guard play will make them a difficult out. Don’t sleep on No. 5 Newton. The Rams might not have the size and length of the teams in the top four, but they have just as good of guard play if not better. Ashton Hagans, JD Notae and Isaiah Miller all have a killer mentality and have proven they can play with the big boys. No. 6 McEachern is young but talented with a sophomore class led by Isaac Okoro and Babatunde Akingbola. Unlike the teams in the Top 5, McEachern has a fairly favorable region and has a realistic chance to run the table. No. 7 Shiloh will be in a battle for the Region 8 title with Newton and Grayson. The Generals will lean on a sturdy defense and an experienced backcourt. In at No. 8 is Berkmar, who has the juice with Indiana-commit Al Durham, NJIT-commit Zach Cooks and Jay Estime to knock off anybody in the state if they get hot. The one question will be interior size when the Patriots get deep into the state playoffs. Always steady No. 9 Collins Hill avoids Norcross being in their region but instead will deal with a slew of competitive teams that have all improved. The No. 10 spot has been in flux leading up to finalization of the polls. No. 10 Tift County gets the nod now that 6-foot-6 post Preston Horne is back healthy. The Blue Devils will be tested right away however, playing Class AA No. 1 Thomasville on the road on Nov. 19.  If the Blue Devils trip up, there is a host of teams vying to crack the rankings headlined by the likes of Milton, Grayson, Parkview and more who are on the fringe of solidifying themselves as top programs in Georgia.

Void of a defending state champion, Class AAAAAA will hopefully sort itself through the year but right now spots 2-10 look close to interchangeable with each team having their own strengths and weaknesses. Jonesboro will sit atop the perch to begin the season large in part that every game they play in, they will have the best player on the floor in five-star senior wing MJ Walker. The defensive minded group headed by Coach Dan Maehlman will likely remain one of the toughest teams to score on in the entire state.  Hall County’s Gainesville slots in at No. 2. The Red Elephants have length with three players standing 6-foot-6, a core of good shooters and an overall wide open offense with Coach Benjie Wood teaching and holding everyone accountable on the sidelines. If each player buys into their own specific role, there is no reason the Red Elephants shouldn’t enjoy a deep postseason run. No. 3 Langston Hughes should be in-line for one of the biggest turnarounds in the state behind D-I commits Khalil Cuffee (SE Missouri State) and Derrick Cook (Northeastern) along with new arrival, 6-foot-6 guard Landers Nolley II. The Panthers will be in a dog fight in Region 5 with No. 4 South Paulding and No. 8 Alexander with Mays, Tri-Cities and more all looming. The Panthers come in at No. 3 above the rest of their region foes due to their upside of being able to score the ball. No. 4 South Paulding returns all of its key pieces except for all-time leading rebounder Anthony Brown, who is replaced by freshman Knowledge Ruben. Kane Williams (Georgia State) and JaCori Wilson carry the load on offense for a team that hangs its hat on defense. A consistent third scorer will be the key to their success. Coach Markus Hood and his staff have made overlooking Allatoona one of the most foolish things a basketball analyst can do, but the Bucs do have a lot of pieces to replace around junior guard Trey Doomes as they open up ranked No. 5. Allatoona will always have a premier defense year in and year out. Tyler Jackson and Mike Johnson will have major responsibilities their senior year in the backcourt and must take some of the scoring burden off Doomes’ shoulders. No. 6 Heritage-Conyers has a chance to really flourish in its new home with the Augusta schools. They will be challenged, but the Patriots are the clear cut favorite to take the No. 1 seed out of Region 3. No. 7 Dacula has the versatile guards to get into the state playoffs and make some noise. They will run neck and neck with Gainesville for a top seed out of Region 8. All of No. 8 Alexander’s top scorers return and the Cougars have built some depth over the summer. They are in tough region yet again but will have every opportunity to rise to the occasion and establish themselves as a Top 10 team. No. 9 Alpharetta is trending in the right direction and has put together a great offseason. Once football players Ellis Merriweather and Carlos Carriere join first-year head coach Jason Dasigner on the hardwood, the Raiders have a chance to take off in a region that is very winnable. No. 10 Brunswick graduates some big pieces, but the biggest, 6-foot-8 College of Charleston-commit Kymani Dunham, is still in the picture. He will need help around him, but if he gets it, the 2014-15 state champions could once again play a factor come March.

The balance of power in Class AAAAA runs through Region 5 with Columbia, Miller Grove and Southwest DeKalb battling each other. In a virtual coin flip, No. 1 Columbia gets the top spot over No. 2 Miller Grove. Miller Grove boasts a plethora of guards and strong depth while Columbia has more length and size 1 through 5. The return of five-time state championship coach Dr. Phil McCrary inches the Eagles over Miller Grove who sees seven-time champion Sharman White head to Georgia State while Rasul Chester steps in as head coach. Expect these two teams to trade blows throughout the season and jockey for the No. 1 ranking. Region 8 gives Region 5 a run for its money with Cedar Shoals and Buford. No. 3 Cedar Shoals quietly enters the season as a team no one wants to face led by 6-foot-5 wing Phlan Fleming (Charleston Southern) and perimeter scorer Snipe Hall. The Jaguars clawed their way out of the toughest region in 5A last year will need to hold off a new look No. 4 Buford who now showcases one of the most talented rosters in the state. Sustained success is in the future for Buford with a powerful sophomore class. Coach Eddie Martin may have the Wolves ahead of schedule and we will know right away as Cedar Shoals is as good a measuring stick as it gets. No. 5 Eagle’s Landing has a chance to atone for their early state playoff dismissal last year. Transfers Brandon Thomas and Mohammed Abubakar have bolstered the Eagles’ outside and inside game in a manageable region. No. 6 Warner Robins relies on a trio of strong junior guards who will need to step into the limelight now that Marquez Callaway is gone. With 6-foot-8 Donovan Brown graduated, the Demons’ one weakness on paper is a lack of true game-changing size. No. 7 New Hampstead has one of the best scorers in the state in 5-foot-7 lefty Oronte Anderson, who poured in 22.1 points per game last year. The Phoenix return their top seven leading scorers. No. 8 Southwest DeKalb will be paced by guards Darius Hogan and Mandarius Dickerson. The Panthers will be battle tested come state playoff time. No. 9 Fayette County will lean on Furman-commit Noah Gurley and senior guards Austin Nesmith and Phillip Young to steer the Tigers back into the state playoffs. No. 10 Riverwood enters life without Kohl Roberts and will become a little more perimeter oriented with capable senior guards Elijah Jenkins (Embry-Riddle) and Charnchai Chantha pacing the attack. Morrow was set to debut in the Top 10, but with Leviticus Glover and Stanley Henderson – two of the Mustangs’ top three leading scorers out for the season with knee injuries – the Stangs took a hit.

No defending state champions reside in Class AAAA, truly making it a wide open, up for grabs type grouping. With that being said, Henry County opens up at No. 1. The Warhawks have two D-I guards in Javon Greene (George Mason) and Damion Rosser (New Orleans) and have versatile experienced athletes around them in Kovi Tate and Seth Brown.  No. 2 Sandy Creek is loaded with young talent. Elder statesman Evan Jester will need to be Coach Anthony McKissic’s leader on and off the court. The Patriots might have the most long term talent in the state in Class AAAA.  No. 3 Upson-Lee has something to prove after a first round exit last season. Junior scoring guard Tye Fagan has burst onto the scene this offseason with teammates Zyrice Scott and Travon Walker with the Middle Georgia Supersonics. Mercer, VMI and Chattanooga have all started asking about Fagan. With a strong system in place with some grueling wars now in the rearview mirror, St. Pius X debuts at No. 4 and finds itself in a much friendlier region than it was in last year. It might take a second for the Golden Lions to replace the leadership and scoring of Kerney Lane and Christian Merrill, but once they do Pius should gain a full head of steam heading into the state playoffs. No. 5 Thomson is stacked with experienced guards that will be interchangeable on the perimeter. The Bulldogs should be one of the Augusta area’s top programs this year. No. 6 North Clayton has a senior class that has won on every level. With Ahsan Asadullah (Lipscomb) anchoring the Eagles inside, North Clayton should be a handful for other opponents who can’t match their athleticism outside and length in the post. Region 4 looks tough with No. 1 Henry County, Eastside, Salem and Woodward Academy in the mix. Region 5 puts three teams into the Top 10 with No. 2 Sandy Creek, No. 7 LaGrange and No. 10 Cartersville. Both the Grangers and Hurricanes will have their standout quarterbacks on the hardwood. Laperion Perry is an experienced scorer and has a pair of 6-foot-6 forwards inside while Cartersville is led by tough guard Jaylon Pugh and footballers Avery Showell and 5-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Cartersville will be put to the test in a region which requires plenty of travel and a major step up in competition. No. 8 Westover has lethal guard play between Kris Gardner and Jordan “Snow” Brown. Both can fill it up from the perimeter, Brown especially with his endless range. No. 9 Perry loses Georgia State-signee Chris Clerkley inside as a shot blocking specialist, but the real catalyst of the offense Damion Bagley is back along with steady guard Jake Smith.

As wide open Class AAAA is with no perennial powers in the field, Class AAA is the exact opposite. Three reigning state champions will try to defend their titles against a deep pack of proud programs. No. 1 Pace Academy, the defending Class AA champs, open at No. 1 behind Wendell Carter Jr. and Isaiah Kelly. Those two alone make the Knights as scary as nearly anyone in the state. Championships however are usually won with guard play. Pace will need seniors Barrett Baker and Mark Sommerville to hold their own against some tough competition. No. 2 Westside-Macon gets the advantage over No. 3 Liberty County, the defending AAAA champs. Trey Foster could be an X-factor alongside Khavon Moore and Kentrevious Jones. Liberty County slips to No. 3 with the loss of Richard LeCounte, who is said to be forgoing his senior season to enroll early at Georgia for football. The loss of a freak athlete that averaged 20 points and 5 rebounds is a big deal in a tightly contested Class. Auburn-commit Davion Mitchell and Will Richardson will need to find a consistent third option. No. 4 Jenkins brings toughness from Savannah and still has Trevion Lamar and Zion Williams, two winners, in the fold. Defending Class AAA champion Morgan County comes in at No. 5. Alec Woodard and Tyrin Lawrence will need to grow on their strong freshmen campaigns. No. 6 Cedar Groves has a nice core still in place, but if Oklahoma State football commit Jelani Woods decides not to play his final year, the Saints will be without a commanding 6-foot-8 presence. If he does play, he composes of a nice inside-out duo with sophomore guard Devon Barnes. Looking on paper, No. 7 Greater Atlanta Christian is the runaway favorite to run the table in Region 7, but Dawson County, North Hall and East Hall shouldn’t be counted out as potential landmines. Travel could be an issue, but if the Spartans remain focused they have a nice cohesive group to gain momentum heading into the state playoffs. No. 8 Lovett is in Region 5 with No. 1 Pace and No. 6 Cedar Grove; not an easy task. The Lions will scrap and claw for a top three seed but have to maintain separation from the likes of Westminster and Redan who have talent to shake things up a little. No. 9 Islands could play spoiler in Region 3 vs. Jenkins. All-time leading scorer Justin Cave is back for his senior season along with a very experienced backcourt headlined by sophomore Trae Broadnax. No impactful size may be a deterrent for the dark horse Sharks. No. 10 Crisp County sneaks into the final spot. The Cougars are in a manageable five-team region and return their top three scorers including senior Quentavious Dean who averaged 18.3 points per game.

The stranglehold over Class AA by private schools is finally defunct thanks to the new shuffling around of the classifications. The spotlight turns to South Georgia as No. 1 Thomasville is now the heavy favorite to win it all after dominating last year before running into Pace Academy. 6-foot-8 Reggie Perry is only a junior but has committed to Arkansas. Sophomore Titus Wright is a massive 6-foot-9. The Bulldogs lose a host of experienced guards, but if Coach Benjamin Tillman can plug in some competent ball handlers and shooters, Thomasville will be in great shape. No stranger to slaying the dragon however, No. 2 South Atlanta finds itself in a wildly friendly Region 6 after a great year in Region 4-AAA. The Hornets were the only team in Georgia to defeat Greenforest last year and won’t be afraid if they ever run into Thomasville’s front line. Speed, shooting, length, athleticism: Coach Michael Reddick has it all once again. Unlike the Thomasvilles and South Atlantas of the world, No. 3 Dublin doesn’t have great size and instead relies on its jitterbug guards to initiate the offense, the state’s best last year. Juniors Kameron Pauldo and Torian Holder are the engines. No. 4 Monticello took a deep run last year and has a lot of their pieces back including the Purple Hurricanes’ top two guards. 6-foot-5 Malik Crawford has a chance to shine this year in place of De’Miria Glover. No. 5 Vidalia has become a powerhouse but still is in search of their first state title. Junior guard Tahj Jones powers the Indians into the Top 5 to open the season. Braylon Sanders is a potent scoring guard at No. 6 Callaway. The Cavaliers are in a nice position now that they have dropped from Class AAA. No. 7 Butler relies on Head Coach Cervantes Boddy to put each piece in the right place. The Bulldogs don’t have huge size, but they do have very athletic forwards in DeAndre Barton and Will Lambert that can help on the boards. Butler has grown a deep and dependable backcourt as well. No. 8 Banks County sits in an interesting Region 8 with No. 4 Monticello. The Leopards have experience at the AAA ranks and bring down with them two physical presences in the paint in Kahmal Wiley and Dylan Orr, two blossoming double-double threats. Creeping into the Top 10 are No. 9 Swainsboro and No. 10 Chattooga. Swainsboro will add fuel to the fire with their burgeoning rivalry with new region foe No. 5 Vidalia while Chattooga remains the team to beat in Region 7 behind Isaac and Isaiah Foster.

The best team in the entire state last year was Class A-Private No. 1 Greenforest and they will be the heavy favorite to repeat as state champs. The addition of Mo Merritt to the North Cobb Christian frontline gives them enough length to be a force as the No. 2 team in the state. Merritt brings a toughness to pair with high scoring wing Demiere Brown. Florida-commit DeAndre Ballard has plenty of firepower around him for No. 3 Southwest Atlanta Christian to make some waves across the state. A potent bucket getter like Ballard makes SACA a dangerous team when clicking on all cylinders. Sliding in at No. 4 is Holy Innocents’. The Golden Bears’ trio of Jules Erving, Cole Smith and Richard Surdykowski should fare well in their new region, even though it consists of No. 1 Greenforest and No. 3 Southwest Atlanta Christian. If the Bears can stay healthy, they could compete for a high seed come state tournament time. It is a reloading year, not a rebuilding year for No. 5 St. Francis. The Knights might go through some growing pains early on in the year, but freshman Dwon Odom has a chance to be a star and thrive in the high school game. Couple him with senior Wallace Tucker and some more young pieces and St. Francis will likely challenge rival No. 2 North Cobb Christian for the Region 6 title. Coming out of Hall County with nearly every single player returning from last year’s record-setting season, No. 6 Lakeview Academy has the cohesion and team chemistry to trouble teams outside of Region 8 and play spoiler come state tournament time. No. 7 Tattnall Square plays in Region 7 with four other ranked schools (Private: No. 8 Aquinas, Public: No. 1 Wilkinson County, No. 6 Hancock Central, No. 9 Lincoln County). All five schools will likely cannibalize each other, leading to modest overall records, but each team is dangerous in their own right, Tattnall leaning on explosive scorer Calvin Slaughter on the wing. No. 8 Aquinas has people talking in Augusta and looks ready to take the rest of the state by storm. Tre Gomillion will be the heart and soul of the Fighting Irish and now he finally has running mates with the same tenacity and talent with Trent Bowdre, Dejuan Hill and Jelani Shakir all ready to make major contributions. No. 9 King’s Ridge can cement itself as a program on the rise behind experience in Sean Flanigan, Kameron Dozier and Hank Blain. Rising sophomore Eric Coleman is 6-foot-6 and can shoot the ball from distance as a matchup problem. On paper, No. 10 Whitefield Academy looks down, but senior guard Isaiah Hart is a fearless leader that will keep the Wolfpack as a tough out. If youngsters like Dylan McLean and Andrew Thomas-Brown can step up, Whitefield should piece together a nice season and float in the Top 10. If not, they could be on the outside looking in at the rankings.

You can’t pick against the most dominant Class A-Public program until they are knocked off their perch. That’s why Wilkinson County opens at No. 1 as the Warriors begin their quest for state title No. 9 and fourth in a five year span. Clarence Jackson leads the charge while 6-foot-6 power forward Greg Couson continues to recover from a torn ACL. New to the Class A-Public scene is No. 2 Crawford County. The non-stop motor of 6-foot-6 senior Marcal Knolton will now terrorize a new field of teams. He averaged 20 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per game last season. No. 3 Turner County returns seniors Tamarrion Terry and Jarvis Hall. Terry posted 20.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.8 blocks per game last year. Terry should carry the Rebels to another region championship this season. No. 4 Calhoun County tries to climb the mountain top again after winning a state title in 2014-15. 6-foot-6 junior Rashun Williams might be the most intriguing prospect in the state in A-Public with his raw athleticism. If he develops a consistent jumper, he could become unstoppable in the lowest classification in the state and power another deep Cougar run. Lyn-J Dixon and John Corbin make up a nice one-two punch for No. 5 Taylor County, who also adds Nuke Lucas into the mix from Northside-Warner Robins. Dixon is an uber-athlete that can overwhelm opponents when slashing into the lane. No. 6 Hancock Central graduates four starters but still has Devojia Tucker in the mix. Players from the freshmen and junior varsity level will determine whether the Bulldogs remain one of the state’s best or not. In at No. 7 is Manchester. The drop to Class A-Public helps but a lot graduates from last year’s Class AA state runner-up. It will be on the shoulders of Jahnile Hill and Jerquavion Mahone to carry the Blue Devils. If 6-foot-8 Deylon Parham suits up, he could be the X-factor. No. 8 Quitman County is a team on the rise. Laqueveus Nelson enters his sophomore season after averaging 24 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, earning Region Player of the Year honors. Junior Shahee Billings averaged 16 points and 10 assists. Senior Ja’Darian Gibbs is the third head, adding 12 points and 6 rebounds per game. The Hornets should have some sting this season. Reigning Class A-Public Player of the Year 6-foot-7 Ahmad Rand paces No. 9 Lincoln County. The triple-double machine helped the Red Devils to one of their best seasons in school history. Maciah Gunby runs the point as a lethal shooter from distance. If both can stay focused, Lincoln County will find itself back in the Elite Eight with a shot to go even further. If not, Rand’s senior season will be a disappointing end to a standout career. No. 10 Hawkinsville is one of the stingiest defensive teams in the state and returns CJ Smith to lead the scoring attack.

For complete analysis of each and every team in the state, visit the class-by-class team preview pages.

7 thoughts on “2016-17 Preseason State Rankings”

    1. Make a run at it Goat.
      Really a weak effort on your part. Pre-season rankings are not exactly easy to predict. The amount of time that went into what Sandy did was tremendous. His breakdown of every region, with each top team’s analysis and their top players, took a tremendous amount of research.
      It’s amazing guys like you make comments like you do. It’s one thing to try and give examples of why you disagree, but to make such a pointless, baseless comment pretty much shows everyone something.

  1. Dublin had a couple big guys move in so the statement that they rely on jitterbug guards is incorrect this year.

    1. Kam Pauldo scored 45 points in their scrimmage. He is a jitterbug guard. That’s a lot of points. They will rely on their guard play still, but size will help.

Comments are closed.