Cobb SSA Fall League Recap

Alpharetta 58, Kell 44

Kell really struggled to get FGCU-commit Brian Thomas the ball
Kell really struggled to get FGCU-commit Brian Thomas the ball

With a handful of important football players not in attendance, Alpharetta led wire-to-wire against Kell. 6-foot-4 senior Garrett Davis got the Raiders off to a quick start, scoring all six of his points in the first half. Davis, a dirty-work type of player, not only found baskets in the paint, but helped defend Florida Gulf Coast-commit Brian Thomas while giving up nearly four inches and 30+ pounds.

Davis along with 6-foot-3 junior forward Ryan Jenei kept a body on the 6-foot-8 big man throughout the game and didn’t give him any easy looks. Thomas was held to six points, 11 rebounds and four blocks as the Raiders forced the Kell guards to try and beat them.

Alpharetta held a 14-6 lead and took off once Westlake transfer Brandon Barron was inserted into the game. The 5-foot-10 sophomore point guard took over in the first half scoring 12 of his game-high 15 points.

Barron created off the dribble, showing a quick first step to get past defenders.

Barron got to the basket, stopped on a dime from the mid-range and even floated a teardrop over the elite shot blocker Thomas. Once Barron came in off the bench, the Alpharetta offense really started to click as he got open looks for Jenei, who hit two threes in the first half and finished with 10 points.

The Raiders held a 34-22 lead at the half and never let Kell back into the game. Junior point guard Jahwan Smith totaled seven points and three assists and Caelon Ball got hot down the stretch, hitting two late threes and finishing with 10 points and four rebounds but it wasn’t enough. Alpharetta’s guards protected the ball and won their individual battles on defense as the Raiders came away with 10 steals led by senior guard Jaylen Young’s five. Young also added six points and five rebounds. Senior David Swillum netted nine points and battled on the glass with seven rebounds.

Junior RJ Pass provided steady guard play and senior Tariq Latchison gave Alpharetta a boost with his hustle off the bench.

Kell could not establish Thomas inside, but it wasn’t all his fault. Too many entry passes were thrown away errantly either too high or too low. Whenever Thomas did get a clean ball, Alpharetta crashed down and physically put a body on him. For the Longhorns to build on their 16-win season, working on getting the ball to Thomas on the low block will be a priority. Feeding Thomas will help loosen up the perimeter defense to give players like Ball, Smith and Demetris Page open looks.

 Lovett 69, Woodstock 59

Dylin Hardeman created opportunities for others, picking up 5 assists
Dylin Hardeman created opportunities for others, picking up 5 assists

Both Lovett and Woodstock were far from full strength thanks to football season with the Wolverines missing juniors Dominic Hewitt, Noah Frith and Sid Mesumbe while 6-foot-4 D-I hopeful guard senior Tyreke Johnson and junior Quentin Doby were not there as well. Lovett was missing a handful of football players too, highlighted by sharpshooter Crawford Schwieger, Nick Jackson, Peyton Ringer and Evan McKown out, meaning only sophomore point guard Ryan Greer was on the floor with any significant varsity experience.

Greer proved to be more than enough for the Lions.

The super sophomore tormented Woodstock with a silky touch and a red-hot motor that saw him collect eight rebounds in the first five minutes of the game alone. Greer finished with 32 points (20 in the second half), 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. His poise with the ball and all-around winning mentality consumed the game.

Greer scored from all over the floor, but he’s at his best attacking the basket. He’s not afraid to mix it up with the bigs inside and has crafty finishes around the hoop. While his mid-range game was on point all night, Woodstock hung around and never let in.

Georgia Tech baseball-commit 6-foot-6 left-handed senior Brant Hurter came out firing. He scored nine points in the first half with his soft touch from the block and the high post and finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Lions held a 27-22 advantage at the half before Greer and senior Ryan Pate turned on the afterburners. Pate, a seldom used guard last year, put on a shooting display in Schwieger’s absence, playing Greer’s right-hand man knocking down three first half threes and finishing with five on the night en route to 20 points, five rebounds and three steals. The two combined for 31 points in the second half.

At the 9:50 mark it looked like the Lions were going to race away from the Wolverines but instead Woodstock’s role players took aim. Sophomore Chris Carroll bombed a three followed by a Nate Garner triple, making it 51-45 with nine minutes to play. Greer pushed the Lions ahead 56-45 with 7:23 to play and managed to hold off Woodstock.

Both teams have used the Fall League to build depth and it shows.

Pate looks like a valuable piece from the perimeter when he’s on target, giving Greer another option next to Schwieger from deep. Woodstock received 11 points apiece from Carroll and Garner, a junior. Cameron Crowe struggled early, but came on strong late, the 6-foot-6 forward finishing with nine points and five rebounds. Dylin Hardeman wasn’t hunting his shot in Johnson’s absence and instead helped out in other ways with a team-high five assists.

GHSA Class A Preview

Class A

Denotes Private School

Region 1

Seminole County (19-8)2A
Calhoun County (18-10)
Randolph-Clay (18-10)
Quitman County (17-11)
Mitchell County (14-11)
Stewart County (13-11)
Terrell County (13-14)
Pelham (8-12)2A
Miller County (5-17)
Chattahoochee County (5-21)2A
Webster County (3-21)
Baker County (1-25) 

It has been a whirlwind two going on three years for Seminole County. The Indians captured the Class AA state title in 2014-15 after posting a 28-3 season. The entire team returned last year making Seminole County a logical favorite to repeat or take another deep run behind human video game Jordan Harris and Anfernee King. Harris, a left-handed pogo stick who is now playing for UGA, led the state in scoring last year at 30.5 points per game while averaging 11.4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3.6 steals and 2.4 blocks. King, who I anointed the Robin to Harris’ Batman act, was just as important, posting 18.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 5.3 steals and 1 block per game. Things didn’t go as planned during their swan song season however as the Indians lost four of their final five games including tumbling to the No. 4 seed and having to face Crawford County in the opening round of the state playoffs, a rematch of the 2014-15 state final. The Eagles got their revenge, ending Harris and King’s illustrious careers in devastating fashion, 95-64. With Harris and King both graduated and head coach Kevin Godwin stepping down, Seminole County is looking for direction. Without a head coach in place and no sort of feeder system in place, the Indians will need to hire a strong head coach with a vision of how to keep the Indians competitive. Justin Washington will be a leader his senior season. The 6-foot-4 post has good footwork and will have to shoulder more of the scoring burden after averaging 6.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Tyreke and Tyjuan Daniels will be asked to orchestrate the offense in their final seasons. Sophomore Quadre Davis has worked hard over the summer and could debut on the varsity this season as an important ball handler. Youngster Terryan Bryant holds promise in the backcourt as well after being invited to CP3 Camp and Fab Frosh Camp.

Calhoun County has a blossoming star in 6-foot-6 junior forward Rashun Williams. The bouncy athlete has raw tools that are continuing to be polished. He played with the 16U Georgia Stars over the summer where he caught the eyes of those in attendance. Right now still primarily an energy guy that plays above the rim, once he shores up his jumper Williams could be an intriguing D-I prospect. The Cougars won the state title in 2014-15 but lost to Turner County in the Elite Eight last year, 69-47.

Randolph-Clay took home the Region 1-A title defeating Calhoun County 62-49, but were defeated in the opening round of the state playoffs by Lincoln County, 87-79 in overtime. The Red Devils blew an 11-point lead with 1:57 to play. Randolph-Clay loses leading scorer, post Cody Brown (14.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg) to graduation. They do however return their next four top scorers in seniors Kevin Brown (9.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 spg), Raheem Price (8.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Trajan Evans (7.5 ppg, 1.8 spg) along with junior James Mock (8.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

Quitman County took a 69-59 loss to Turner County in the opening round of the state playoffs. The Hornets were a fairly young group last year and return senior Ja’Darian Gibbs, junior Shahee Billings and sophomore Laqueveus Nelson to a potent backcourt. Nelson earned Region 1-A Player of the Year honors as a 6-foot freshman, pouring in 24 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. He was named First Team All-Region along with Billings.  Billings, the owner of a 3.8 GPA, chipped in 16 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals a night. Gibbs went for 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists and was a Second Team selection as well was rising 6-foot-1 sophomore Tyrece Henderson.

Mitchell County graduates just one player off last year’s team that missed out on the postseason. The Eagles had some good moments throughout the season, their best win coming against Class AAAA quarterfinalist Westover, 66-62. Senior Armone Burkes is a player to keep an eye on. The 6-foot-4 lefty wing is a lethal shooter from deep. Burkes nailed 47% of his threes while averaging 11 points and adding 5 rebounds and 3 assists a night. He spent his summer with the Georgia Canes.

Stewart County slipped into the playoffs as the No. 16 seed but was quickly dispatched by No. 1 Treutlen, 91-53. Four seniors graduate, but the Knights did have Curtis Johnson, Trevion Flowers and Antwon Gilbert spend time on the varsity as freshmen. Marquis Warren, Aaron Bradley and Joseph McCarthy enter their final season.

Electrifying athlete DeTravion Bishop powers Terrell County. The 6-foot-3 senior is a four-star football athlete that plays quarterback for the Greenwave. He has committed to Auburn, but is also an exceptional basketball and baseball player. Joining him is senior RyKirus Ross and junior Rodney Gardner as Coach John Davis’ top options on offense.

Guards Kymoski and Quayshaun Johnson leave voids in the Pelham backcourt. Rising senior Cassius Allen stands 6-foot-4 as the Hornets’ tallest player. He was a Second Team All-Region selection and should see the offense run through him more now that the Johnsons have

Miller County will rely on two-time Second Team All-Region selection DeAndre Nash, a 6-foot-3 post entering his senior season. He leads a senior class which holds five veterans.

Chattahoochee County drops down to Class A after not having much success in AA. The Panthers had an interesting influx of youth last season, suiting up five freshmen, four being over 6-foot. Rising sophomore Andre De’Shong is the Panthers’ tallest player at 6-foot-3. Senior guard Marquel Fordham and junior Brett Thornton are tiny (5-5, 5-7) but effective guards.

The Webster County Bobcats were a young group last year. Their top eight scorers all return. As a sophomore, DeMarcus Hardy paced the Bobcats with 17.6 points per game. Rising junior Jeremiah Williams added 12.7 points while senior Jacob Campbell is coming off an 11.2 point per game season. 6-foot-2 sophomore Jabayous Greene showed potential on both ends of the floor last year, averaging 8.2 points as a freshman.

Baker County’s only win came via forfeit against Chattahoochee County last year. The Bears lost by an average of 54 points per game making them the worst team in the state last year. The team’s tallest player, 6-foot Devonta’ Foster has graduated. Rising senior 5-foot-2 Jerahmeel Moore led the Bears in scoring at 10.7 points per game. Baker County’s next leading scorer is junior De’Undre White who netted 2.5 points on average. Only two seniors played on last year’s team which fostered just nine players on its roster.


Region 2

Turner County (23-7)
Atkinson County (18-8)
Clinch County (17-11)
Wilcox County (14-13)
Telfair County (13-13)
Irwin County (8-14)
Lanier County (8-18)
Echols County (4-19)
Charlton County (1-22)

Behind two-sport star Tamarrion Terry, Turner County ripped off 14-straight wins at one point and entered the Class A-Public state tournament as the No. 2 overall seed. The Rebels fell in the Final Four to Hancock Central, 68-66. The double-double machine is back for his final year. At 6-foot-3, Terry averaged 20.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.8 blocks. His top running mate will be senior Jarvis Hall, a guard that averaged 11.2 points.

Atkinson County enjoyed a strong season before running into eventual state champion Wilkinson County in the first round, losing 71-39. Atkinson County rebounded from 7-16 to 18-8. The loss of lead guard Ladarien Spencer hurts the senior reliant Rebels heading into 2016-17.

Clinch County earned a playoff berth after winning just nine games the year prior. A loss to Calhoun County in the opening round 57-47 sealed the Panthers’ fate. A talented group returns for Coach Terrence George.  6-foot senior, Jerrod Jones, is a cornerback and receiver on the football team. He led the Panthers in scoring (13.4) and rebounding (7) while chipping in 3 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Rising junior guard Jacques Holmes posted 10.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists. A potential X-factor is sophomore Trezman Marshall. The grown man is a star football running back with SEC offers. At 6-foot-1, 206-pounds, Marshall is a physical presence when attacking the hoop. He averaged 6.8 points and 4.9 rebounds.

Wilcox County lost to Taylor County in the state playoffs, 61-46 in Round 1. The Patriots will need to replace Team Captains Antwan Benjamin and Jamaad Peavey. Benjamin was a stalwart inside defensively.

Telfair County captured its best record in years and loses just three players from last year’s team. Six rising juniors suited up last season and be asked to pair with four seniors to continue the Trojans’ slow upward climb towards consistency.

Irwin County turns to seniors Ja’Quan Daniels, Khian Wynn and Jamie Gaskins to get back on track. Daniels is 6-foot-4 while Gaskins, a transfer from Coffee a year ago, is 6-foot-6. Sophomore guard Javon Stanley saw major minutes as a 6-foot-1 freshman.

After getting Dougherty a $1,000 fine and a postseason ban for playing two illegal players last season under his watch, Lanier County rolls the dice with new head coach Ty Randolph. Rising juniors Keyontae Williams and Jay Foster will be asked to steer the Bulldogs offense. Williams averaged a team-best 12.5 points at point guard while Foster added 11.1 points from the wing. Sophomore TyQuan Baker should see big minutes in his second season after scoring over 6 points a night.

Echols County graduates Paxton King, a top scoring option and will need to replace much of the backcourt. Rising sophomore Zyhamorian Brown holds some intrigue as a 6-foot-4, 225-pound post.

Charlton County’s only win came against Lanier County 63-59, but the Indians were fairly competitive. Out of their 22 losses, six were by single digits. 5-foot-7 Ethan Sauls is back for his final season as an important member of the Indians backcourt.


Region 3

Treutlen (26-4)
Savannah Christian (14-9)
Woodville-Tompkins (15-11)
Montgomery County (15-13)
Portal (13-12)
Calvary Day (10-13)
Johnson County (10-17)
Jenkins County (8-18)
Wheeler County (7-17)
Claxton (7-18)
Emanuel County Institute (6-16)
Savannah Country Day (5-21)
McIntosh County Academy (2-23)2A 

Treutlen earned the No. 1 seed in Class A-Public heading into the postseason, but the Vikings were defeated by Wilkinson County in the Final Four, 69-56. The Vikings overwhelmed opponents with their athleticism and high scoring offense (79 ppg) on most nights before meeting their match. Treutlen loses some big pieces in Titus Benjamin and Elijah Johnson. Forward T.K. McLendon will try to continue Treutlen’s success his senior season as a 6-foot-3 energy guy. McLendon was an All-Area Honorable Mention selection along with Johnson and Benjamin.

St. Francis dumped Savannah Christian in Round 1 of the Class A-Private state tournament, 95-43. Five-star California wide receiver Demetris Robertson is gone after leading the Raiders in scoring (14.9) and rebounding (7.5). Juniors Justin Anderson (8.4 ppg) and Kadari Mitchell (7.6 ppg) will be asked to step up in Robertson’s absence.

Head Coach Chris Willis turned Woodville-Tompkins from a 2-23 team in their inaugural season in 2014-15 to a 15-11 squad last year, just missing out on the A-Public playoffs. Willis will be in search of a new go-to guy this year as Edwaun Johnson graduates after averaging a team-best 15.8 points.  Senior center Julius White is the Wolverines’ returning leading scorer and rebounder, posting 6.6 points and 4.4 rebounds. Junior point guard AJ Hassel could be in line for a breakthrough year along with sophomore guard Charleston Willingham. Both averaged over 5 points per game in 2015-16.

Montgomery County should improve on last year’s 15-win season as most of its core comes back. A strong junior class leads the way headed by Team Captain Daveaun Coglin. Joining him are Jahleel Wilson, Clayton Harvey and Shaw Robinson. Sophomore guard DaQuan Jackson provides scoring in the backcourt as well.

6-foot-2 junior center Ronald Williams headlines a young Portal Panthers team. Williams averaged 7.9 points, 9 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.8 blocks. Sophomore forward Connor Washington returns with experience. The backcourt takes a blow as Team Captain and leading scorer Darius Huff (13 ppg) graduates.

Calvary Day hopes that Preston Crisp can power the Cavaliers for the next three years. The 6-foot-1 sophomore guard saw steady playing time as a freshman and proved to be a consistent scorer. Luke Baham is a big loss as a do-it-all forward.

Malik Pierce will be a leader for Johnson County entering his senior season. Brothers Kenvondrick and Brandterion Rawlings have opened up an opportunity for Pierce to be among the Trojans’ leading scorers in 2016-17.

Quinton Sweet takes over as head coach at Jenkins County where the War Eagles feel like they can sneak up on some teams this season. Senior point guard Andrew Ellis is steady with the ball in his hands and can stretch defenses with his three-point shooting. He had a busy offseason, attending Georgia Southern Camp and also getting invited to ScoutsFocus Elite 80 Camp with ESPN’s Reggie Rankin. Sophomore Vic Mincey moves into the GHSA ranks and should provide quickness and shooting to Jenkins County’s backcourt.

Wheeler County graduates Mike Kinsey and EJ Eady from a 7-win team. 5-foot-8 junior guard Torrence Parker is an explosive athlete that stars on the football team as well. Center Isaac Phillips and guard Jaquan Bryant enter their final seasons.

Claxton graduates leading scorer Tahje Boyd who averaged 13.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Outside of Boyd, nearly everyone returns from a team that consisted heavily of sophomores and freshmen. Juniors Shy’Rik Furman and Deveon Brewton will be asked to carry the load on offense. Furman at 6-foot-4 averaged 7.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1 block per game as a sophomore. Brewton chipped in over 5 points per game from his guard spot. Junior Craig Powell along with sophomores Norea’ Hunter and Quincy Anderson figure to play a prominent role in 2016-17.

Emanuel County Institute hands over the offense to rising sophomore Eric Dixon and junior Greg Jordan after graduating Willie Johnson, Kaleb George and Juwaun Brown. AJ Johnson should also play a big role his senior season.

Assistant Coach Hughes Barber slides over a seat to try and turn around Savannah Country Day. He replaces Roger Hodge who bolted to coach the College of Costal Georgia’s women’s team after one season. Barber had great success at Riverside High School in North Carolina where he compiled a 75-13 record as the girls coach. Leading scorer Evans Baird returns for his senior season after averaging 10.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals. Baird is a streaky shooter that can carry Savannah Country Day if he gets hot. Point guard Parker Stone will be asked to step up his senior season after averaging 5 points per game.

McIntosh County Academy should be more competitive this year as they move into a friendlier region and return their top four scorers who will now be seniors. Quarterback of the football team Dustin Anderson is a Team Captain. He led the Buccaneers with 11.6 points and 1.6 steals per game. Quan Drake appeared in only 10 games to start the season, but was effective averaging 9.7 points, 3 assists and a team-best 3.4 steals per game. Martin McRae, another Team Captain, chipped in 6.9 points while Dehkal Mitchell notched 6.5 points per game.


Region 4

Crawford County (25-4)2A
Manchester (25-6)2A
Taylor County (21-8)
Macon County (17-8)2A
St. Anne-Pacelli (17-10)
Hawkinsville (17-10)
Central-Talbotton (17-10)
Marion County (15-14)
Dooly County (10-15)
Greenville (10-17)
Brookstone (7-20)
Schley County (4-21)

Half of Class AA’s Final Four teams now reside in Region 4-A. Possibly Class AA’s most exciting team over the past two seasons, Crawford County, has now dropped to Class A where they will lean heavily on Marcal Knolton after graduating a stellar senior class. William Jarrell powered the Eagles to a state championship appearance in 2014-15 and a Final Four trip last year where they bowed out to eventual state champion Pace Academy, 61-51. Jarrell, or simply known as “Pooh Bear”, poured in 25.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 4.7 steals and 3.9 blocks per game as a 6-foot-5 senior wing. Third-leading scorer Monkeize Moore is gone as well after the guard averaged 16.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 3.9 steals. Everything falls on the broad shoulders of Knolton this year. The 6-foot-6 workhorse post is all over the court as a rough-and-tumble energy man. He averaged 20 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per game as a junior. He gets one more season to terrorize Middle Georgia in the paint. Expect seniors Damien Saffold and Keron Bluford to make major contributions now that Jarrell and Moore have graduated. Saffold pitched in 10.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.8 steals on average. Bluford has waited patiently for his time to come and now will get every opportunity to make an impact. Bluford is a tough-nosed blue collar scrappy guard that will get after it on defense and push fast breaks. Crawford County has built its chemistry over the years playing with the Middle Georgia Supersonics during the summer.

Manchester made a surprise trip to the Class AA Championship after starting the season off 1-3. The Blue Devils ran the table in Region 5-AA and rode their momentum all the way to the state finals where they were outclassed by a bigger and better Pace Academy team, 65-43. Long-time coach Curtis Noble is gone after a 49% contract request was not met by the superintendent. Noble leaves with over 300 wins, four Final Four appearances, a 2007 state championship and seven region titles since joining Manchester in 2003.  Replacing his big shoes is Dr. George McElroy,  a Shaw High School assistant. On the court, the Blue Devils lose a lot as well with Demarcus Addie graduating as the team’s best player. Cardarian Brown and Travion Sullivan’s toughness in the backcourt will be missed as well. Juniors Jahnile Hill and Jerquavion Mahone need to become leaders and consistent in their play. Mahone, 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, brings grittiness in the paint while Hill is an active defender that is best in the open floor when pacing fast breaks. 6-foot-8 senior Deylon Parham is expected to play this year. He could be an interesting piece if everything comes together for him.

Taylor County receives a new head coach in the form of Gerald Tranquille, who comes from Blountstown, FL. He will have horses to turn to in junior Lyn-J Dixon and senior John Corbin. Dixon, a star running back on the football team with offers stemming from the SEC, is a dynamic guard that soars to the rim at 5-foot-11. His pure athleticism can overwhelm opponents when slashing to the basket. Corbin stars at forward, beating teams in the paint and from the mid-range. Nuke Lucas moves in from Northside-Warner Robins for his senior season. The Vikings fell to Hancock Central in the Elite Eight, 70-60.

Macon County looks for a new head coach and a new go-to guy on offense as 6-foot-5 forward Marquel Wiggins has signed to play at Georgia College & State this year. Wiggins pumped in a dominant 24.3 points and 13 rebounds per game his final season. A pair of junior guards seem like the logical options to take the reins in Clayton Jenkins (14.1 ppg) and Traveon Mathis (9.6 ppg).

St. Anne-Pacelli celebrated their best season in school history as the Vikings took a trip to the Class A-Private Elite Eight where they ran into St. Francis who eliminated them 105-79. Things will be very different in Columbus as Head Coach Alan Griffin departs to become White County Athletic Director and Vikings core-four Tre Sudberry, Triston Wells, Armon Prophet and Dre Bowman all graduate. Out of the team’s 68.7 points per game, the quadruplets combined to average 63.5 points. Sudberry went for 22.8 points, Wells 17.1 points, Prophet 14.5 points and 9.2 assists and Bowman, who played just 10 games before season ending injury, 9.1 points. Rising senior Trevor Rice, a 6-foot-4 guard, will need to anchor the offense as the Vikes rebuild.

Hawkinsville fell to No. 1 seed Treutlen in the Elite Eight of the Class A-Public state tournament 62-55 after knocking off Central-Talbotton in Round 1. The Red Devils relied on their defense to slow teams down and nearly did so enough against high-scoring Treutlen. Hawkinsville should heat teams up again this year as CJ Smith and brothers Javon and Desmon Singletary all return. Smith, a 6-foot-1 senior, led the team in scoring. Javon enters his sophomore season after placing second in scoring while Desmon, a junior, was often a third option. Senior Lance Pitts joins the trio in the backcourt after being a Team Captain along with Smith last year.

Leading scorer Djimon Edge (14.3) graduates from Central-Talbotton but the Hawks do return most of their core. 6-foot-3 junior forward Zytavian Hill averaged 12.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals. JaQuavious Smith, a 6-foot-4 guard, went for 11.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.4 steals as a versatile sophomore. Senior Xavier Searcy goes 6-foot-3 and brings energy in the paint, averaging 7.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.

Quietly kept as one of the most explosive scorers in Middle/South Georgia, Lorenzo Smothers leaves a massive hole in the Marion County lineup. The 5-foot-8 two-sport star that inked to play football at Itawamba Community College poured in 25.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals per game his final season. Even with Smothers’ graduation, the Eagles still have firepower with junior Jalen Tullis, sophomore Josh Rodgers and seniors Tyrese Brown and Hykeem Walton. Tullis, 5-foot-6, dropped in 15 points per game. Rodgers, 6-foot-1, is actually Smothers’ younger brother. Smothers took home Class A-Public Best Scorer honors while Rodgers earned Sandy’s Spiel Best Freshman recognition after averaging 12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks. Brown averaged 11.8 points and Walton, 6-foot-1, pitched in 9 points and 4.8 rebounds a night.

Dooly County needs to replace Adrian Kenney (15.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and his production this upcoming season. 6-foot-2 junior guard Jar’Quavius Brown should have a breakthrough season after averaging 12.6 points per game. Senior Tyjae Taylor has nice size at the guard position as well standing 6-foot-1. He averaged 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds but will need to develop a three-point shot to pair with Brown’s improving touch.

Greenville went from a last second shot away from winning the state title in 2014-15 when they finished 28-3, to sinking to 10-17 without a playoff berth. On paper things don’t look much more promising as 10 seniors graduate from last year’s team. The only returner with any real sustainable varsity experience is 5-foot-10 junior guard Cornellius Reeves who averaged 6.1 points.

Brookstone struggled to find any consistency last year but has a chance to gain their footing with their top four scorers all returning. Senior shooting guard Jamie Sheek looks to improve upon his team-best 10.2 point per game average. 6-foot-2 junior center Sutton Eggena was a nice presence on the glass, picking up 8.5 rebounds a night while scoring 7.3 points. Junior Trey Lingo tossed in 6.4 points on average and 6-foot-5 senior center William Reeves went for 6.2 points and 7.9 rebounds.

Schley County is set to return all five of their starters in seniors Ja’Marcus Scott and Tyree Hawkins, juniors Calvin Sims and Christian Arnett and sophomore Noah Hammons.


Region 5

Greenforest Christian (30-2)
Our Lady of Mercy (21-6)
Holy Innocents’ (20-10)2A
Southwest Atlanta Christian (18-9)
Landmark Christian (15-10)
Wesleyan (15-11)2A
Paideia (13-13)
W.D. Mohammed (12-15)
Drew Charter (7-10)
Mt. Vernon Presbyterian (9-14)
Galloway (9-15)
Fulton Leadership Academy (4-18)
Eagle’s Landing Christian (4-19)
Atlanta International (3-21)
Strong Rock Christian (1-24) 

Greenforest Christian captured their second state championship in school history last year as they overpowered St. Francis 78-66 in Coach Larry Thompson’s first season. The Eagles were the most dominant team in the entire state of Georgia regardless of classification. Their only in-state loss came via South Atlanta at the BCB MLK Classic, 62-57 while Ikey Obiagu ailed. Speaking of Obiagu, the 7-foot four-star center enters his senior season and is regarded as the best shot blocker in the entire nation. Joining him again will be seniors 6-foot-8 Victor Enoh (Memphis), 6-foot-10 Abayomi Iyiola and 6-foot-1 point guard Justin Forrest. Forrest was the unsung hero of the team last year. While Greenforest’s size usually got all the attention, it was actually Forrest who led the team in scoring at 19.8 points. His running mate John Ogwuche was second at 13.6 points, but he is now at New Hampshire. Stepping in to replace Ogwuche is senior guard David Quimby from Dougherty. Quimby turned on the after burners this offseason and has thrust himself into the conversation as one of the more explosive scorers in the state. He should have a productive final season and is starting to hear from D-I coaches after setting nets on fire with his ability to score from deep. Even with their scoring prowess on the perimeter with senior Jandan Duggan still in the mix, the Eagles’ X-factor is their defense. They allowed just 45.4 points per game while scoring 76.75 – an average margin of victory of 31 points. Greenforest doesn’t allow baskets inside and refuses to give up second chance points. 6-foot-9, 260-pound junior Mohammed Abdulsalem helps the interior as a space eater that gobbles up rebounds at an alarming rate off the bench.

Our Lady of Mercy was a scrappy group of guards coached by Tony Caruso. The Bobcats fell to Greenforest in the Region Championship 76-61 then were defeated in the first round of the state playoffs, 85-79 by St. Anne-Pacelli. Engineer of the offense Cedric Labat graduates after posting 19 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3 steals per game. Seniors George Haynes and Robert Chery will see the offense run through both of them. Haynes averaged 10.7 points and 5.6 rebounds while Chery, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound tight end and safety on the football team, is coming off of a 10.5-point, 7.8-rebound per game season as a top interior presence.

Holy Innocents’ isn’t necessarily thrilled to be stuck in Class A with Greenforest instead of all their longtime rivals, but the Golden Bears will make due with a strong senior core. 6-foot-5 slashing forward Jules Erving continues to blossom. A smooth and bouncy athlete, Erving won Class AA Most Improved Player by raising his averages to 12 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists per game. He has put on some more muscle over the summer and could have a real coming out party if he extends his offensive repertoire to the three-point line. Someone who already has the art of the three-point stroke down is baby-faced assassin Cole Smith. The 6-foot guard averaged 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. In the opening round of the state playoffs, he hit a buzzer beating whirling three from 30-feet out to stun No. 1 seed Model on the road, 54-51. The Golden Bears got revenge against Swainsboro in Round 2 in South Georgia 61-58 before falling to Crawford County in the Elite Eight, 61-51. Seniors Ibrahim Shabazz and Richard Surdykowski also return to Coach Terry Kelly’s starting lineup. Surdykowski battled injuries down the stretch last year that caused the 6-foot-7 post to miss much of the season including the Bears’ postseason run. Surdykowski was just one of a handful of Golden Bears that was hampered with injuries which included now graduated 6-foot-7 Brent Duncan and Mykel Tubbs. Tubbs is now healthy after missing last year with a torn ACL. With a slasher in Erving, a deep ball dynamo in Smith, a ball handler in Shabazz and a post presence in Surdykowski, Holy Innocents’ has a very nice group that should fare well in A-Private.

Southwest Atlanta Christian had ups and downs all year last season with their season ending with a thud against Tattnall Square Academy in the first round of the playoffs, 55-51. The Warriors are set to return their top seven scorers – all seniors – headlined by Region 5-A Player of the Year and Florida-commit DeAndre Ballard. The silky 6-foot-6 wing got buckets last year, averaging 23.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.4 steals. 6-foot-4 Isaiah Cotton (9 ppg, 4.2 rpg), 6-foot-3 Johnathan King (7.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.7 spg) and 6-foot-6 Ronald Elloie (6.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg 1 bpg) represent a tall lineup that gives Ballard weapons. Long and lanky 6-foot-9 Josh Scott must improve his senior season after chipping in 4.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. Koby Isaac transfers in from Norcross where he suited up on the varsity as a freshman but didn’t see much burn. The 6-foot-2 guard should push to start at point guard right away and already holds interest from numerous D-I programs.

The fun-&-gun three-point happy team Landmark Christian never hit its stride last year, missing out on the postseason. Stat sheet stuffer Zach Allen is now at Covenant College after posting 24.6 points, 8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. The focus now turns to senior guard Collier Schultz. At 5-foot-11, Schultz averaged 14.9 points, 6.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 steals while splashing in 67 threes at a 34% rate. Coach’s son Micah McAllister averaged 9.1 points as a freshman three-point specialist, hitting 65 at a 37% clip. 6-foot-6 Wix Patton enters his senior season as a post presence that contributed 6.3 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Adam Griffin slides over a chair to try his hand at head coach of Wesleyan. Jason Morrison graduates his 11.2 points per game, meaning junior Christian McLean has the green light after leading the team in scoring at 13.9 points while grabbing 5.8 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 guard put together a nice offseason and is expected to be front and center of the Wolves attack. 6-foot-6 senior Grant Frerking has good bloodlines and recently won the Baylor Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award for starting his Johns Creek business Metro Atlanta Pine Straw and Mulch, LLC, two years ago. The Atlanta Timberwolves AAU player will provide leadership.

Paideia picked up an 8-3 Region 5-A record last year but never quite clicked on all cylinders. Forwards 6-foot-6 Addison Owen (Rice Walk-On) and 6-foot-7 Robbie Holley leave opportunity to be had in the paint. Senior guard Solomon Burt-Murray has promised a big season at the Snake Pit and will shoulder a bigger load now that First Team All-Region selection Jordan Hollins has graduated. 6-foot-2 Jalen Essick is expected to play a large role this year as a versatile junior forward.

WD Mohammed placed two players on the All-Region team last year in Mahbu Abdul-Kadir and Tareef Sabree. Sabree returns as a 6-foot-1 senior wing that will likely lead the Caliphs in scoring.

Drew Charter brings back their best player from a year ago, senior JaJuan Harris. The 6-foot-4 forward averaged 17 points per game and was an All-Region selection.

Mt. Vernon Presbyterian loses senior Khalid Wilkins to Sandy Creek. 6-foot-4 senior power forward Tahj Keeton showed flashes of dominance at times last year. He racked up a handful of double-doubles last year and should see even more this season. 6-foot-2 guard Chase Howell enters his final season as the Mustangs’ lead guard. 6-foot-7 junior Cam Bennett is improving his offensive game and looks to stay healthy. The Mustangs have some more size with 6-foot-6 senior Brooks Langley as well. Three new faces join the fold and should contribute right away in juniors Corey Myart Jr., Oliver Oden and Ward Phillips. Myart, 6-foot-7, comes in from Duluth with all the physical intangibles to breakout. Both Oden (6-foot-3) and Phillips (6-foot-1) come from the homeschooled circuit. Oden averaged 16.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals while Phillips chipped in 9 points per game and hit 45 threes with North Atlanta Christian Flight.

Galloway loses its starting point guard and shooting guard but return their other three starters and a roster that accounted for 70% of their scoring and 82% of the Scots’ rebounding. Seniors Alden Richards and Wyeth Coombs will be counted on to pace the offense. Richards, a 6-foot-4 post, averaged 10 points and 9.7 rebounds per game last year. Richards lives at the foul line but is also comfortable facing up out of the post. Coombs, 6-foot-2, averaged 10 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals. His versatility allows him to guard up to four positions. The Scots held their own on defense last year but their shooting failed them. They will need to improve on their 31% from the field.

Everyone returns for Fulton Leadership Academy including 5-foot-9 senior Tyrese Berrymon, an All-Region selection. He will need help from the likes of Kendall Turner, Derrick Stroud II and others for FLA to hold their own in a tough region. Rising junior Tyree Bronner provides size (6-foot-4) and physicality (210lbs) that will be needed against the likes of Greenforest and Southwest Atlanta Christian’s length.

Derrick Mason takes the Eagle’s Landing Christian job after spending time as Associate Head Coach at Emmanuel College. In place already is rising senior Kenneth McCullough-Lomax, a Team Captain in 2015-16.  Sophomores Daylin Coleman and Mekhi Cameron earned playing time as freshmen in the backcourt. Coach Mason is already trying to reshape the culture of the program by building a family first mentality and working hard. Sandpit training along with yoga classes should have the Chargers fit for tipoff in November.

Seniors Ivan Lopez and Jack Doyle join with junior Connor Cohen to provide experience for Atlanta International.

Strong Rock Christian maintains its patience with a young group. Sophomores Brayden Eidson, David Green and Demetrius Knight suit up with senior Nicklas Mam in search of a region win this year.


Region 6

North Cobb Christian (23-5)
St. Francis (23-8)
Christian Heritage (19-7)
Whitefield Academy (20-11)
Walker (18-9)
Darlington (18-10)2A
Bowdon (16-13)2A
King’s Ridge (15-12)
Gordon Lee (13-13)2A
Mt. Zion-Carroll (12-12)
Excel Christian (12-14)
Pinecrest Academy (11-16)
Mt. Pisgah (8-19)
Fellowship Christian (6-20)
Mt. Paran (4-20)
Trion (4-21) 

North Cobb Christian dominated its sub-region before being blown out by St. Francis in the Region 6-A Championship, 88-64. In the state tournament the Eagles romped Christian Heritage 71-50 before blowing a huge early lead against Stratford Academy and falling 67-57 in the Elite Eight. Top dog offensively, 6-foot-5 senior wing Demiere Brown will power the offense again. The bulky forward scores inside and out and is tough to handle once he gets a head of steam charging down court. Will Crumly is back for his final season as a 6-foot-7 shooter that likes to float around the perimeter. Rising junior guard Hunter Norman saw a lot of time last year especially when now graduated Nick Flemming was hurt. Norman has put together a nice offseason and looked very comfortable scoring the ball. North Cobb Christian was loaded with length last year, but one of their main weaknesses was true toughness in the post. They will receive that in bouncy 6-foot-7 senior transfer Mo Merritt, who comes aboard after starring at Sprayberry. Merritt brings a high motor and strong rebounding to the table. In order for North Cobb Christian to take a deep run, Merritt will have to anchor the paint defensively.

St. Francis’ quest for a three-peat as state champions was denied last year by Greenforest Christian, 78-66. McDonald’s All-American Kobi Simmons (Arizona) has graduated along with Chance Anderson (San Francisco) and Anthony Showell (13.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Juniors Dylin Hardeman (Woodstock) and Will Richter (Johnson-Gainesville) along with seniors Avery Showell (Cartersville) and Jordan Ferguson (Norcross) have all transferred, leaving senior Wallace Tucker as the most experienced player and assumed leader of a now young and inexperienced bunch. Tucker averaged 5.1 points and 3 assists per game last year. Stepping out of the shadow of five D-I players over the past two seasons, it’s now Tucker’s turn to pace the offense but he will have help in the form of highly-touted freshman guard, 6-foot-2 Dwon Odom. Odom is a freakish athlete that thrives in the open floor. Right now much of his game is centered around attacking the rim and trying to tear down the hoop. Once he adds a consistent three-point stroke to his arsenal, Odom could be destined for big things. Another strong freshman is Chase Ellis. Standing 6-foot-3, Ellis is more of a powerful forward than a high-flyer. He poured in over 1,000 points during his middle school career. 6-foot-2 sophomore Sean Paradise and 6-foot-7 senior Drew Smith should see expanded roles in Coach Drew Catlett’s system.

Christian Heritage improved from 11-13 to 19-7 last year, taking a trip to the state playoffs where North Cobb Christian beat them for the third time. A strong nucleus returns for Coach Tyler Watkins. Four starters are back with senior Tristan Blackwell and junior Sam Dindoffer composing a steady backcourt that can hit from deep. Blackwell’s quickness and defense helps balance the Lions’ attack. 6-foot-4 senior Cal Paige brings a scoring threat to the low post. The most intriguing Lion is centerpiece Christian Koneman. The 6-foot-7 junior was an All-Area Second Team selection after averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds. Koneman is comfortable putting the ball on the deck and has the ability to stretch defenses with his three-point shooting. Defensively he alters shots with his long arms. Koneman has joined the football team for the 2016 season, which bodes well for adding strength to his 190-pound frame. He played with 16U Chattanooga Elite Navy and is a sneaky prospect up in North Georgia if he gets stronger and attacks the glass.

Whitefield Academy takes a blow with Brendon Myles now at Florida A&M after averaging 20.1 points and 11.4 rebounds and 6-foot-7 junior Tyson Jackson transferring to Creekside. The Wolfpack will be extremely young with nine of their 11 players set to be either sophomores or freshmen. Still in place is 5-foot-10 giant Isaiah Hart. The tough guard plays bigger than his size, averaging 20.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.7 steals as a junior. Hard working 6-foot-4 post Jimmy McCarthy has a nose for the ball. The rising senior averaged 5.2 points and 6.2 rebounds. Sophomore Dylan McLean has a chance to establish himself in the Whitefield Academy backcourt. 6-foot-4 freshman Andrew Thomas-Brown will also play a big role providing size and potential for Coach Tyrone Johnson. The Wolfpack are coming off a Final Four appearance in which rival St. Francis stopped them 81-58, avenging an earlier 75-73 loss.

Walker goes back to the drawing board now that all-everything 6-foot-10 center Robert Baker is off to Harvard. Baker meant the world to the program, posting 21.6 points, 13 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 2 blocks per game his senior season. Also gone is Spencer Palladino, a nice second option that averaged 12.3 points. Senior Sam Bush returns the most experience after pitching in 11.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a junior. 6-foot-3 senior Jake Shore should improve on his 4.9 point per game average as a dangerous three-point shooter. A nice stable of youth is in place for Coach Bryce Brickhouse as Walker rebuilds. Sophomore Darius Garvin projects to be a stingy perimeter defender, freshman Omar Cooper comes from good bloodlines (Te’a Cooper, Sharife Cooper), freshman Chandler Baker stands 6-foot as an athletic forward and brother of outward bound Robert and freshman Burke Chebuhar has a chance to see the floor as a lefty guard.

Darlington drops down from Class AA after taking a trip to the postseason, getting beat by Pace Academy 70-48. Kyle Tackeberry, the Rome News-Tribune’s Co-Player of the Year, must be replaced. The South Carolina-Aiken signee averaged 18 points and 6 rebounds. Coach Timothy Garrett has a nice core in place with seniors Elijah McKoy and JT Mumber as well as sophomore forward JD Hull. Hull arrived to the varsity level and made a big splash as one of the Tigers most consistent scorers in 2015-16, earning All-Area Second Team honors. The addition of 6-foot-6, 215-pound quarterback Cameron Evans brings size inside for the Tigers his senior season as he transfers over from Chattooga.

Bowdon slides down into Class A and will look to build on a Class AA state playoff berth. The Red Devils fell to Union County, 56-51. Senior wide-body CJ Brewer went out with a bang in his final high school game, posting 23 points and 19 rebounds after averaging 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. Bowdon’s top scorer is back in senior Octavius Meadows. Meadows, 6-foot-4, won Times-Georgia All-Area Newcomer of the Year after pouring in 17.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2 steals per game in his first season playing varsity. 5-foot-8 Honorable Mention junior Zach Ledbetter averaged a third-best 7.9 points last year and is a willing three-point shooter.  Tay Sheppard is the team’s third returning starter. The senior averaged 4.1 points per game. Jamal Wyatt and Tristen Smith are expected to see major playing time in their final seasons.

Coach Scepter Brownlee will likely hope for a little addition by subtraction at King’s Ridge after losing Ellis Merriweather to Alpharetta and 7-foot center Tolu Jacobs to the West Coast. New opportunities are to be had as the Tigers don’t graduate anyone from last year’s team. Sean Flanigan missed last year with a knee injury but is now healthy. The 6-foot-2 senior guard can get to the basket and has the strength to finish through contact. Fellow senior guards Kameron Dozier and Hank Blain bring experience to the table and will soften the loss of Merriweather. King’s Ridge has an interesting piece in 6-foot-5 Eric Coleman Jr. The growing sophomore did good things last year as he was able to affect the game in a multitude of ways. He is a stretch forward that can get red hot from deep but also punish smaller defenders in the post.

Gordon Lee is the third team to make an appearance in Region 6-A after putting together a .500 record in Class AA. Hank Norton, Walker County Player of the Year, is a major loss. The University of the South (D-III) signee averaged 15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Tucker Bradley is now at Auburn playing baseball after pumping in 15.2 points per game. He and Brandon Lewis were both named to the All-Area team their final seasons. Lewis chipped in 11.8 points and 5.6 rebounds. Caleb O’Neal was an Honorable Mention pick, but he too was a senior. Head Coach Alex Disbrow will search for answers in Year 3. 6-foot-5 junior Jacob Dyer and 5-foot-11 junior Kanaan Derryberry return with varsity experience.

Mt. Zion-Carroll finished 12-12 overall and 5-5 in Region 6. The Eagles should improve on those numbers as all five starters return including Times-Georgian All-Area First Team selection junior C.J. Ackles. The 6-foot-1 cornerback and wide receiver on the football team is joined by fellow junior T.J. Cagle along with seniors Jace Jordan, Christian Corn and Thomas Brown to round out Coach Joey Marinelli’s starting five.

Not only does Excel Christian lose Head Coach Matt Sanders to North Cobb as an assistant, but the Eagles see Bartow County Co-Player of the Year Darius Thrower graduate along with All-County picks Caleb West and Chris Hale. Thrower averaged 18.8 points and 5.4 rebounds, while West chipped in 12.2 points per game and Hale over 9 a night. Fourth option Latrel Jones leaves behind his 8.6 points as well, meaning Excel Christian will need to find a new identity. 6-foot-3 senior Joseph Cuomo and sophomore Hunter Johnson return as two of the most experienced players on the roster.

Terrance Vinson takes over as head coach after serving as an assistant for Pinecrest Academy. The Paladins are yet capture a winning season or state playoff berth since entering the GHSA in 2010-11. 6-foot-2 senior John Crone enters 2016-17 as the team’s leading scoring after posting 11.1 points per game. Kent Tagge, a 6-foot-2 senior, brings a rebounding presence to the Paladin frontline.

With Brandon Younger now at Wheeler, leading scorer sophomore guard Quinn Richey will have the green light at Mt. Pisgah. At 6-foot-4, the lethal three-point shooter (40%) averaged 14 points per game. He played travel ball with the CMA Celtics and consistently lit up unassuming opponents. The Patriots will need to find pieces to surround Richey with as the team’s next five top scorers are all gone. Doug Able enters his first year as Head Coach, coming over from Notre Dame, MD.

Former Duke Blue Devil and Atlanta Hawk Roshown McLeod takes over Fellowship Christian after compiling a 35-24 record at Johnson Ferry Christian Academy. All Sub-Region selection Mitchell Keim has graduated. Seniors Jack Hardin and Cameron Thomas will lead from the backcourt with junior Casey Barham a skilled passer.

Mt. Paran sank to 4-20 in Coach Greg Phillips’ first season. 6-foot-3 senior Holt Shannon is coming off a 12.3 point per game season; the Eagles’ leading scorer. 6-foot-4 junior Kellum Rowan is a three-sport athlete playing both baseball and football. He led Mt. Paran in rebounding last year with 5.1 per game to go with his 5.1 points. Senior guard Kody Kington did some nice things last year, chipping in 4.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

Trion’s Jarrett Gill and Jarrett Pierce provide a scoring punch for the Bulldogs. Gill, 6-foot-3, enters his junior season as a lethal shooter from distance. Pierce is a multidimensional athlete that plays basketball, baseball and football.


Region 7

Wilkinson County (26-6)
Hancock Central (24-7)
Stratford Academy (21-6)
Lincoln County (17-8)
Tattnall Square Academy (18-10)
First Presbyterian Day (14-11)
Aquinas (11-8)
Georgia Military College (12-10)
Washington-Wilkes (12-13)2A
Twiggs County (9-15)
Greene County (10-17)2A
Mt. de Sales Academy (8-15)
Warren County (6-19)
Taliaferro County (2-16)
Glascock County (0-17)
Lake Oconee Academy (First Year) 

Wilkinson County, the preeminent powerhouse in Class A-Public, won its eighth state championship in 2015-16 by beating Region 7 rival Hancock Central 55-42. The Warriors’ size across the board is a problem for its opponents. 6-foot-9 German import Jonathan Baehre signed to play at UNC Asheville, but 6-foot-7 rough-and-tumble post Greg Couson is back for his senior season. The bruiser is all about power, disregarding the finesse. He mauled his way to a 16-point, 18-rebound double-double in the state championship against Hancock’s smaller frontline. Couson, however, tore his ACL this offseason and must be monitored carefully especially with his physical style of play. 6-foot-5 junior guard Clarence Jackson claimed interest from Florida State, Mississippi State and College of Charleston back in March which has likely expanded since then. Jackson’s versatility caused issues in A-Public as he averaged over 13 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Dr. Aaron Geter’s son, Aaron Geter III, is a 6-foot-2 senior guard that was third on the team in scoring last year. If Couson is fully healthy, Wilkinson County is a heavy favorite to play for state title No. 9.

Hancock Central was the only Class A-Public school to beat Wilkinson County last year, defeating the Warriors 70-62 in the regular season. Actually, the Bulldogs have been a thorn in Wilkinson’s side, winning four out of their last six meetings before losing in the state championship. Four starters from last season’s runner-up team graduate including key cogs Alex Brooks on the perimeter and Phillipe Scott inside. Senior guard Devojia Tucker will likely see the offense run through him while Coach Anthony Webb tries to groom some inexperienced contributors around him. The Bulldogs do have some size and talent coming up through the Junior Varsity.

Stratford Academy was as good as any Class A-Private team in the state – except for Greenforest. In a battle of Eagles, Greenforest ended Stratford’s season in the Final Four, 78-62. Head Coach Jamie Dickey has stepped down making way for Sean Sweeney, a Georgia Southwestern Assistant, to take over. The Eagles will be reloading as the potent backcourt trio of Quintez Cephus, O’Showen Williams and James Mitchell graduates. Cephus was set to play ball at Furman before switching his focus to the gridiron where he signed to play at Wisconsin. 6-foot-7, 243-pound post Nate Brooks had been rumored to have transferred for his senior season, but is expected to remain an Eagle and be Sweeney’s top option. Another strong forward, junior Tobe Umerah, goes 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and holds SEC offers in football as a defensive end. He is a strong interior defender alongside Brooks. Good things are expected out of 6-foot-2 junior guard Tyler Jordan who will see more time this season along with 6-foot-1 sophomore Christian Palmer and 6-foot-5 junior Nathan Hunt.

Focus and guard play will be deciding factors for Lincoln County as the Red Devils come off their best season in decades. Entering Year 3, Coach Wesley Wuchte has brought stability and accountability to the sidelines. The Red Devils rallied from down 11 with 1:57 left to score their first playoff win in nearly 30 years with an 87-79 overtime victory over Randolph-Clay. The party was spoiled in the Elite Eight however, Wilkinson County stopping Lincoln County 76-39. The graduation of high scoring guard Zach Crite and big man Von Holloway will leave the Red Devils searching for toughness. Senior Zae Gartrell is an elite perimeter defender and Ty Elam is a sparkplug guard. Lincoln County will go only as far as junior point guard Maciah Gunby and 6-foot-7 senior Ahmad Rand take them. Rand was named A-Public Player of the Year after exploding onto the scene, averaging 15 points, 13 rebounds and 8 blocks per game while shattering the school-record for most triple-doubles in a career. A handful of Low Major D-I schools have checked in on the elite shot blocker along with Lincoln Memorial. Gunby showed flashes of college potential over the summer with his three-point shot. Gunby and the rest of the backcourt must continue to strengthen their ball handling when faced with pressure. Both Rand and Gunby can be among the top 1-2 punches in the state for Class A-Public if they stay focused. Rising freshman Zy Wright will push for major playing time. The 6-foot youngster’s mom is the all-time leading scorer in Lincoln County High School history and played D-I basketball.

Coach Jarvis Smith graduates Aubrien Kemp but Tattnall Square Academy returns high-scoring guard Calvin Slaughter for his senior season. Slaughter, 6-foot-2, is an explosive scorer (18 ppg) that will have the ball in his hands every possession. The Trojans have size with 6-foot-7 senior Jimmy Marshall. He was a Second Team All-Region selection after averaging 10 points and 8.5 rebounds. His versatility of being able to play on the block and from the wing presents issues for opponents. Joining him inside is senior Sean Brown, an undersized hard working post that averaged 10 points and 7 rebounds. Logan Fink, a 6-foot-3 junior guard, has a chance to make an impact after coming on strong late last season. The Trojans are expected to be among the top teams in the region yet again in 2016-17 coming off a 55-51 win over Southwest Atlanta Christian in Round 1 of the state playoffs and a 78-48 loss to Greenforest in the Elite Eight.

An exceptional five-man nucleus of juniors loses a key piece at First Presbyterian Day. Leading scorer Champ Dawson (10.8 ppg) has transferred to Warner Robins. Armaun Smith has more than enough skill to carry more of the load. The 5-foot-10 guard was an All-Area Honorable Mention selection after posting 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game. 6-foot-5 forward Maurice Gordon plays wide receiver on the football team and is a strong athlete on the hardwood. Gordon averaged 9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. He had success playing with the Middle Georgia Supersonics this offseason. Titus Moore (6.8 ppg) and Henry Middlebrooks (6.5 ppg) round out the class of 2018 standouts with 6-foot-6, 285-pound sophomore Wesley Wilson coming off a 4.4 point and 3.9 rebound per game campaign.

Due to a deep state playoff run to the Class A-Private state championship in football, Aquinas had to cancel a handful of its early season games. This year the Fightin’ Irish look locked and loaded to become one of the best teams in the Augusta area. Tre Gomillion, a 6-foot-3 wrecking ball of an off guard, powers the offense. The junior is built like a linebacker and can play every position on the court due to his strength. He averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds with his physical style of play. Gomillion played exceptionally well at Kennesaw State Elite Camp and made a name for himself outside of the CRSA. Gomillion gets a hard-nosed running mate in junior Trent Bowdre who transfers in from Grovetown. Bowdre is a junkyard dog on defense harassing ball handlers. Offensively the lefty excels at attacking the rim. 6-foot-5 Dajuan Hill moves in from Cross Creek and gets a chance to earn playing time on the varsity as another physical dirty-work player.  Junior point guard Jelani Shakir is back in Augusta after starting his career in the Grovetown pipeline, but spending his high school career in Texas at Harker Heights this past season where the 5-foot-10 playmaker was named All-Area Co-Newcomer of the Year after helping the Knights to a 26-7 season. He played on the Adidas circuit for Urban ASAK Elite.

The inside-outside duo of Alex Moss and Luke Lawson leaves Georgia Military College in search of scoring and rebounding. Moss, 6-foot-6, gave team’s trouble with his size, pulling down 8.9 rebounds and netting 11.4 points per game. Lawson was one of the state’s highest scorers, averaging 23.9 points his final season. Malik Foston becomes the go-to guy on offense. The 6-foot sophomore with a funky looking shot averaged 10.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

Washington-Wilkes drops from Class AA to A-Public and has made a coaching change in the process, hiring Terrence Pendleton, a young first time coach that played football at Jacksonville State before most recently being a Graduate Assistant. The Tigers have a tall and athletic group, especially at the A-Public level which makes them a dark horse to cause a few teams some problems with their roster consisting of three players over 6-foot-4 set to return. The graduation of DeAndre Harris hurts dearly however. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound forward averaged 15.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Youth will be served as junior Raekwon Binns along with sophomore DeAndre Lester figure to see a lot of action. Binns, 6-foot-2, averaged 7.7 points and 3.7 rebounds while Lester, 5-foot-11, chipped in 5.5 points.

Twiggs County has a steady backcourt led by three seniors. Zuri Brown quietly emerged as one of the best passers in the classification after he recorded five double-doubles averaging 12 points and 8 assists per game. Juwan Brown and Cortavius Ates were the main beneficiaries with Brown netting 12.8 points per game and Ates, 12.7 points. Junior forward Dylan Loyd averaged 6.9 points per game and will be asked to hit the glass harder now that leading rebounder Ramondez Stephens (5.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) has graduated. Andrew Johnson steps in to coach the Cobras.

After finishing 23-6 in 2014-15, Greene County sunk to 10-17 last year and now tries their hand at A-Public. With a new head coach in place, Steve McNease, the Tigers attempt to rebuild themselves into a vaunted powerhouse. Seniors Quinn Champion and Quintravious Bennett provide experience. Rising sophomores Anton Kilpatrick and C’Darius Kelley saw valuable time as freshmen. Kilpatrick, a defensive tackle on the football team standing 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, will anchor the post.

Baseball standout Adam Leverett leads Mt. de Sales. The 6-foot-4 senior averaged 10.5 points and 5.7 rebounds last season. Outside of Leverett, much of last year’s team is gone. Linebacker on the football team Will Pounds will likely see an increased role his senior season after chipping in 3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Duane Hunter replaces Jim Massey as head coach.

Warren County turns to a new head coach to build the program. Guard play was a strength last year but both top scorers graduate. Senior Car’Drez Slocumb does most of his damage in the trenches on the gridiron. He is a space eater in the paint. A young group has now aged but still has a ways to go to climb into the middle of the pack.

Taliaferro County has an athletic shooter in junior Tyreke Williams. The 6-foot-1 combo guard needs help around him in order for the Jaguars to be competitive.

Over the past six seasons, Glascock County has failed to total 10 combined wins. A new coach assumes leadership in an attempt to fix a team that averaged under 43 points per game while allowing 75.

Lake Oconee Academy enters its first year of varsity play. Michael Brooker sets the tone as head coach after spending time at First Presbyterian Day, most recently in 2014. The former North Carolina Tar Heel turns to junior guards Ka’Jarius Harris and Emmanuel Mills to key a fast pace style of play that looks to push in transition. 6-foot-4 sophomore post Bryson Jackson anchors the paint for a defense that will throw multiple looks at opposing offenses.

Region 8

Lakeview Academy (25-5)
Hebron Christian (20-9)
Athens Christian (15-9)
Riverside Military Academy (14-10)2A
Prince Avenue Christian (13-10)
Tallulah Falls (13-13)
Towns County (12-14)
Athens Academy (8-17)
Providence Christian (7-19)
George Walton Academy (2-22)
Commerce (0-23)

Lakeview Academy put together its best season in school history taking a trip to the Elite Eight where a sour second half did the Lions in, seeing a 22-all tie at halftime result in a 59-39 defeat to Whitefield Academy. Lakeview will be head and shoulders above the rest in Region 8 again this year as only assist-man Daniel Fadool has graduated. Coach Todd Cottrell’s team is littered with veterans in seniors Josh Randolph, Tre Gober, Carter Reeves and Matt Rowland while junior Drew Cottrell saw time in the backcourt. Randolph is a strong 6-foot-2 guard that is best attacking the basket with his football strength. Gober provides spacing on the perimeter for big men like Reeves and Rowland to work. Reeves is a wide body 6-foot-5 post with good footwork inside while Rowland is rounding into form as a late blooming 6-foot-8 post that has seen small colleges show interest this summer.

Hebron Christian just couldn’t get over the Lakeview Academy hump last year, losing four times. The Lions fell 65-48 and 57-54 in the regular season before dropping the Region Championship 71-44 and of course, seeing Lakeview just six days later in the opening round of the state playoffs, losing one more time in heartbreaking fashion, 82-76 in overtime. The coaching staff has left for Prince Avenue Christian, giving way to Central Gwinnett assistant Derrick Heberling to take over as head coach. The Lions graduate their top two scorers in Luke Crawford (14.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Kobe Wharton (13 ppg). Rising senior John Stewart was third in scoring at 7 points a night. Seniors Wesley Warbington and Connor Almon will valuable pieces to the Lions’ backcourt.  Also part of a large senior class are Austin Smith, Drew Oliver & Tyler Pritchett. They will provide size and toughness. Junior Troy Allen (football team’s quarterback) and sophomore Alex Calvert are great athletes that will provide a different speed for more up tempo play. Junior guards Tanner Welch and Caden Luke (transfer from Michigan) will provide solid depth in the backcourt.

Athens Christian returns a bulk of its main contributors headlined by 6-foot-4 junior post Richard Jibunor who averaged 13 points and 13 rebounds and was both an All-Region and All-Area selection. Junior Cody Boyd earned All-Area Honorable Mention as a 6-foot-1 guard. The Eagles have some nice talent coming up through the pipeline in the freshman class with Boyd’s younger brother, 6-foot-4 Jarrett Boyd and 6-foot guard Tyler Johnson. The group played together in the Team Strong program this offseason.

Riverside Military had success in Class AA, improving from 6-16 to 14-10, clinching a state playoff berth for the first time in eight years. The Eagles finished first in Region 8 during the regular season at 9-3, but slipped to Rabun County 63-60 in the region title game. In the playoffs, Temple eliminated Riverside in the first round 50-40. All-Area Second Team selection and First Team All-Region pick Davis Short has graduated after averaging 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. It’s now time for the Thompson brothers to take the reins. Juniors Javon and Juwan placed second and third in scoring. Javon, 6-foot-2, averaged 12.7 points while Juwan, 5-foot-9, chipped in 10.1 points.

Prince Avenue sees a change in leadership as former region foes at Hebron Christian, head coach Will Cantrell and assistant Brandon Jones, take the helm. Three All-Area Honorable Mention picks are back in place. Guards senior Noah Campbell and sophomore Mack Simmons will be important in leading the backcourt. Both play on the football team and will need to get in basketball shape as soon as their season on the gridiron completes. Senior guard Sam Todd has played well over the summer at the Suwanee Sports Academy Fall League along with 6-foot-4 rising junior Dalton Meeler. Todd joined Simmons and Campbell on the Honorable Mention list last year.

Coach Jim Van Hooser has experience and fire power at Tallulah Falls led by his son, Michael. The 6-foot-4 senior wing averaged 17 points and 5.2 rebounds while hitting 47 threes (33%) and making 124 free throws (78%). Josey Keene presents another mismatch problem. At 6-foot-5, Keene averaged 13.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks. He hit 48 threes (26%) and shot 70% from the foul line. Senior Michael Weidner will be asked to orchestrate the offense at guard after averaging 8.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2 steals per game.

Towns County is set to return 6-foot-3 All Region 8-A selection Will DeVries for his senior season and Region Honorable Mention selections Major Moss and Zach Davenport for their senior and junior season, respectively.

Team Captain Jacob Hudson looks to follow up on a Second Team All-Area junior campaign last year for Athens Academy. The 6-foot-2 forward averaged 15.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Sophomore guard Payton Bowles IV netted 7.2 points per game as a freshman while Jack Murrah pitched in 6.1 points per game his ninth grade season. 6-foot-2 senior Matt Mosley (6.1 ppg) should see a bigger role now that Connor McCleary has graduated. New head coach Ed Wilson takes over after a successful run at Frederica Academy which saw him earn GISA Coach of the Year honors in 2009, 2011 & 2012.

Providence Christian returns just one starter, junior point guard Mitchell Miller whose calling card is his defense. 6-foot-2 junior Connor Allen split time in the starting rotation, earning 11 starts last season. Sophomore guard Parker Trump saw the floor as a freshman and will be counted on over his next three seasons. Junior Adam Doty and Senior Wycliffe Lovelace are the elder statesmen of a young group that will look to speed teams up and get out in the open floor.

George Walton Academy has a large senior class expected to return. 5-foot-10 guard Cason Brown should be among Coach Adam Lord’s top scoring options with 6-foot-2 Frank Samuelson bringing some size to the table.

Commerce went winless last year with a young group. Dual-sport athletes like juniors Kyre Ware and Jamecus Cox will try to stop the Tigers’ downward trend. Senior Tristan Boyer will be asked to provide leadership. Coach Andrew Williams is optimistic on his sophomore class consisting of Chandler Martin, Caleb Mason, Jaylen Dorsey and Justin Rucker.