HoopSeen hosted their annual Fall Preview on 10/21. Kyle Sandy was able to catch up with Zyrice Scott; Upson Lee (0:56), TJ Boykin; Maynard Jackson (4:03), Cam Armstrong; South Paulding (7:15), Jalyn McCreary; Kennesaw Mountain (11:21), Eric Coleman Jr.; King’s Ridge Christian (18:06); Ahmir Langlais; Parkview (22:33); TJ Stargell; Miller Grove (29:25); & Mason Bierster; Horizon Christian Academy (33:10).
Following an unpredictable opening season ofClass AAAAAAAbasketball, No. 1 McEachern will hope for calmer waters as Georgia’s top classification’s front-runner. The Indians won 29-straight games only to fall to eventual state champion Tift County in the Final Four 56-49. The 2019 class adds 6-foot-8 Jared Jones of Pebblebrook to pair with Isaac Okoro and Babatunde Akingbola – the GHSA’s best frontcourt – with Sharife Cooper now in Year 2 and Brandon Suggs a senior in the backcourt. The Indians are the cream of the crop on paper and the closest thing resembling a “super team” which was all the rage last year. State Runner-Up Norcross holds the No. 2 ranking. It has now been four years since the Blue Devils’ last state title in 2013. The development of senior JoJo Toppin, junior Lakeside-DeKalb transfer Issa Muhammad and sophomore Brandon Boston will determine how far Norcross goes, with Kyle Sturdivant and Dalvin White as savvy veteran locks in the backcourt. Kevon Eskridge provides a microwave three-point shooter from Columbia, strengthening Norcross’ 2020 class. Though last year didn’t go as planned, No. 3 Wheeler has reason for optimism with Coach Larry Thompson taking control of the program. Region 2 will still be ultra-competitive, but it is no doubt depleted compared to last year’s star power. The Wildcats have a chance to seize control of the region with their frontcourt of Brandon Younger, Austin Johnson and EJ Montgomery. The middle of the rankings should be a jumbled mess all year long as the playing field looks extremely even with Gwinnett County squeezing a host of teams into the picture. Grayson gets the early nod at No. 4 due to the amount they return, most notably Gwinnett’s second leading scorer, Travis Anderson (Charleston Southern). Much like last year, it might take a little while for the Rams to hit their stride with 6-foot-6 double-double man Kenyon Jackson likely to miss the beginning of the season with football, but once he returns, the Rams have a chance to snatch Region 8, but it won’t be easy with No. 5 Shiloh and No. 7 Newton still in the picture. Shiloh might have the most next-level talent with the additions of Class AAAAAAA Freshman of the Year Toneari Lane and the return of 6-foot-7 guard Elias King. Newton benefits from Ashton Hagans’ change of heart to stay in Covington, but he will be without top running mate Colby Rogers who transfers to New Jersey, leaving the Rams looking for a No. 2 scoring option. No. 6 Mountain View continues to trend in the right direction after winning Region 6, Class 7A’s most balanced region. Nahiem Alleyne’s transfer may be what the Bears need to take their statewide legitimacy to the next level as he now joins an extremely experienced roster headed by Troy-commit Spencer Rodgers. Fellow Region 6’ers No. 8 Duluth and No. 10 Collins Hill have plenty of fire-power to make it a season-long tug-o-war with Discovery and Peachtree Ridge also looming. The Wildcats bring back their top three scorers highlighted by one of the state’s best pure shooters, Adam Flagler. Collins Hill has picked up some new faces to go along with 6-foot-7 wing Justin Lee (Northern Illinois) and 6-foot-5 bruising stretch-forward Chris Parks (Queens). Mandarius Dickerson and Quincy Carter should provide an instant lift offensively, both coming from Southwest DeKalb. Building depth behind these four will be crucial to the Eagles’ longevity. 2019 wing Elijah Wilson has impressed and sophomore Alec Oglesby looks ready to contribute on the perimeter at 6-foot-4. No. 9 Meadowcreek was hampered by the injury bug all year. A full season of a healthy Jamir Chaplin along with bigs Amari Kelly (Duquesne) and Cory Hightower sets up for a potential dark horse to make some noise in the state tournament. Consistent guard play around Chaplin will be extremely important. Dequarious Nichols has proven he can be counted on at point guard.
Class AAAAAA is up for grabs, but it feels like the Top 2 are the most complete teams and they just so happen to be in the same Region, Region 8. No. 1 Gainesville has unfinished business. The Red Elephants return everyone but backup center Ross Tipton and swingman Mike White. They romped their way to a 28-2 record, but saw a lead at home in the Elite Eight slip away against No. 3 Langston Hughes, who avenged a season opening 74-57 loss, winning 72-69 and going on to win the state championship. While Gainesville returns everything, highlighted by KJ Buffen (MTSU), the Rosser twins, Bailey Minor and Xavier Bledson, Langston Hughes loses all top contributors outside of Landers Nolley (Virginia Tech) and Jaylen McCluney. Nolley has proven he can carry a team by himself, but will have all targets on his back this season. Tyler Smith, 6-foot-6 225 pounds, brings a toughness to the Langston Hughes interior and will be asked to score to take some of the load off Nolley. Junior guard Tyrel Morgan could play a factor this year in balancing the Panthers backcourt. Sandwiched in between Gainesville and Langston Hughes is No. 2 Dacula. The Falcons went 0-3 vs. Gainesville, losing 79-53, 63-59 and 89-84, but much like the Red Elephants, Dacula has nearly everyone back, plus a few new toys. Joining junior Mekhail Bethea and Class AAAAAA Most Improved Player Arusha Hunter (Clayton State), is 6-foot-6 sophomore Quincy Ademokoya and electric scoring guard Brenden Tucker. Once the two mesh into Dr. Russ Triaga’s system, the sky could be the limit for the Falcons and also give them enough ballhandlers to weather Gainesville’s stifling press. Coming in at No. 4 is Region 5’s second team, Tri-Cities. The Bulldogs had an up and down season last year but peaked at the right moment, taking a trip to the Elite Eight where Allatoona ended their Cinderella run. Known for their extensive offensive sets and stingy defense, Tri-Cities has a high-powered backcourt in 6-foot-4 senior Eli Lawrence and junior microwave DaMarcus Johnson. Jon Young, a transfer from New Manchester, will help in the backcourt as well if eligible. Powerful 6-foot-7 center Zachary Morgan is an intimidating presence that can clear opponents out of the paint. Region 1 boasts No. 5 Coffee, a team that could take off this year. The Trojans finished an unspectacular 16-10 (6-3) last season but turned it on in the state playoffs, upsetting Heritage-Conyers 77-71 in overtime and losing at South Paulding in overtime 90-82. Junior Jayce Moore might be one of the best players in South Georgia as he leads an athletic and scrappy Trojans group which is slated to return its top five scorers. Senior Dalrone Donaldson and 6-foot-6 junior MacKenzie McFatten are two X-factors. After two slim years according to their standards, No. 6 Tucker could be poised to regain their mojo. A core of senior Trevon Flowers along with juniors Nicholas Watson, Jevon Tatum and 6-foot-5 post Nathaniel Ogbu, could be good enough to take the region over from Stephenson and No. 8 Jonesboro. The Cardinals won’t go down without a fight however as a healthy Miles Black and Jamari Smith have a chance to finish their high school careers on a high note with another Region title. No. 7 Alpharetta dominated Region 7 outside of a few costly slipups which saw the Raiders go 2-3 to finish their 25-4 season. Eric Blair takes over as head coach and has a strong nucleus in place with Brandon Barron, RJ Pass and Ryan Jenei. While they should open up as a slight favorite over No. 10 Cambridge to win the region, the Raiders will see more out of region tests, most notable in the Lake City Classic. The Bears of Cambridge come off a 19-10 record and return their top dogs. High motor do-everything guard Kamar Robertson enters his junior season along with David Banks and Bryce Boutelle, giving Coach Chip Flemmer a versatile backcourt. Anchoring the paint is shot-blocker Kyler Ingram. The coast will debut No. 9 Bradwell Institute in the rankings. 2019 guards Isaiah Scott and Simon Steele join senior Khalyn Weekley in their move from First Presbyterian Christian Academy to Bradwell to join JaVonte LeCounte. LeCounte has experience playing with both Scott, a wiry All-State 6-foot-4 GISA guard, and Steele, a ball-handler. Weekley is the straw that stirs the drink, a physical 6-foot-3 point guard who also earned GISA All-State honors.
With the beginning of the state’s newest dynasty potentially on the horizon, No. 1 Buford holds the top spot in Class AAAAAas their quest to repeat tips off. Georgia’s best true point guard, Lipscomb-commit Alex Jones, orchestrates one of the state’s most efficient offenses with Marcus Watson as the centerpiece and Donell Nixon and David Viti as lethal options. Chasing the Wolves are Georgia State-commit Nelson Phillips and No. 2 Warner Robins, who Buford disposed of in the Elite Eight, 94-72. The rise of Phillips to the elite level and the aggressive play of Jacolbey Owens makes for a team that plays with a chip on their shoulder. The entire roster played together over the summer with the Warner Robins All-Stars and slayed shoe-team after shoe-team. The importance of Jaydon Norman, Jaron Zanders and Jam’l Dillard inside can’t be overstated, while Champ Dawson handles the ball-handling duties. State Runner-Up No. 3 Cedar Shoals has retooled their roster with three talented sophomores. Standouts as freshmen at Athens Christian, 6-foot-5 forward Quincy Canty and point guard Tyler Johnson, are two of the best young prospects in Athens, while Demeterius Glenn brings his scoring touch over from Clarke Central. Veteran sparkplug Jai’vanni McDavid will bring energy on both sides of the ball from his guard position. No. 4 Miller Grove hasn’t gone back-to-back years without winning a state title since the 2007 & 2008 seasons; the school’s third and fourth years of existence. To raise another banner, the Wolverines will diversify their scoring attack to rely on more than just one option. 2019 guard Maurice Harvey looks like the next Division-I recruit out of the DeKalb County powerplant, while seniors Lorenzo Anderson and Shiloh-transfer TJ Stargell provide stability in the backcourt. Big men Jermon Clark and Kevin Paige have a chance to establish themselves as the premier low post tandem in Class AAAAA. No. 5 Columbia didn’t quite live up to expectations in Dr. Phil McCrary’s return to the sidelines and now will bank on some addition by subtraction to compete for a Region 5 title with Miller Grove, Southwest DeKalb and Lithonia. The Eagles lose 2020 volume shooter Kevon Eskridge (Norcross) and 6-foot-7 senior TJ Boykin (Maynard Jackson) to transfer but return a healthy and hungry Lorenzo McGhee along with 6-foot-7 sophomore Josh Taylor. Shooting guard Keondre Kennedy has transferred in from North Clayton for his senior season to provide perimeter scoring. No. 7 Southwest DeKalb and No. 9 Lithonia are both young but have playmakers. The Panthers will turn KD Johnson loose his sophomore season at point guard after four rising seniors transfer out. Johnson is arguably the state’s best 2020 point guard and one of the most tenacious competitors. Fellow sophomore Eugene Brown III continues to grow physically and with his skillset. James Glisson stands 6-foot-7 in the post and welcome addition DJ Brittian comes in from Grady, giving Coach Eugene Brown an uber-athletic backcourt. Lithonia came of age in the postseason and took a surprise trip to the Elite Eight at 13-17 where they fell at Cedar Shoals 59-52. Brison Rockcliffe heads into his junior season as a crafty point guard with Sydarius Stinson and Tasim Sams flanking him. Slotting in at No. 6 is Eagle’s Landing. The Eagles’ Sweet 16 exit was a premature elimination for a talented team. Now that Mohammed Abubakkar has graduated, Coach Elliott Montgomery can focus on letting his guards run the show. Christopher Hood and Tarrence Evans are versatile wings that support leading scorer Mercer-commit Brandon Thomas. No. 8 McIntosh is back in the state-wide picture with Cole Guenther and Starr’s Mill transfer Zach Pina leading the way. With another guard in the fold, the 6-foot-7 Guenther should find more open looks along the perimeter. Junior Bruce Carpenter and senior Chaz Hardin, who led the team in scoring last year, return exponentially more seasoned. The Battle of the Bubble intensifies even more as Peachtree City rival No. 10 Starr’s Mill joins McIntosh in the Top 10. The Panthers have a dynamic frontcourt with senior Drew Hudson and junior Nate Allison, who both could see upticks in production with Pina across town. The void at point guard however, will need to be filled.
Georgia’s heaviest favorite to repeat as state champs is Class AAAA’sNo. 1 Upson-Lee. The Knights emerged from the pack last year in an unpredictable Class AAAA season and finished as the state’s lone undefeated team at 32-0. Every key piece returns outside of Mikey Smith (Albany State), who is replaced by sharpshooter Cameron Traylor. Tye Fagan (MTSU), the Class AAAA Player of the Year, is flanked by Zyrice Scott while 6-foot-5 Travon Walker, possibly the most important player to the team’s defensive success, is back for his junior season to anchor the paint. The addition of 6-foot-3 wing Jarrett Adderton should pay dividends. The junior from West Orange, Florida is an athletic piece. The Knights play a much tougher non-region schedule this season and will receive everyone’s best shot year-round. State Runner-Up No. 2 St. Pius brings nearly everything back as well, as they search for another crack at the Knights, who held on 53-48 in front of a capacity crowd at McCamish Pavilion. Junior point guard Matt Gonzalo has run Coach Aaron Parr’s offense and defense to a T, but now may be able to hunt his own shot more frequently throughout the season. Everett Lane canned seven three-pointers in the state title game and can catch fire at any moment. The inside play of Zach Ranson and Kennedy Willis will be crucial. Ranson, a 6-foot-3 junior, is the team’s best rebounder and most physical player while the 6-foot-8 Willis has looked good over the summer and may develop into a sleeper for Low Majors. Troy Stephens is a scoring guard to keep tabs on as well. The Golden Lions blitzed No. 3 Sandy Creek last year in the Final Four 87-68 and the Patriots have turned the reigns over to former Kennesaw State Owl Jon-Michael Nickerson, who has seen previous success at the high school level with Excel Christian. Jarred Godfrey, Chris Porter and Kam Miller all bring their own diverse skillsets to a solid backcourt. The Patriots will lean heavily on prospects TJ Bickerstaff and Xavier Brewer to finally blossom into All-State caliber players. Both 6-foot-7, Brewer, a senior, is a streaky three-point shooter while Bickerstaff holds D-I offers but must assert himself his junior season now that he is the presumed No. 1 scoring option. Now in Year 3, former Laney head coach Buck Harris has No. 4 Baldwin in the title hunt. The backcourt consists of junior Donte Justice and seniors Brenden Robertson and Rodney Walker. Justice was an All-Region First Teamer that led the Braves at 16 points per game. Robertson is a high-motor shooting guard that plays hard and flies all over the court. Juniors Zae Simpson and Justin Webb also enter the fold coming over from Georgia Military College. With the right tutelage, the 6-foot-6 Webb could turn into a college level player. Don’t forget about junior point guard Torez Hicks, a defensive-minded ballhawk that does what it takes to win. To live up to their potential and high billing, No. 5 Cartersville must find a way to beat teams outside of North Georgia. A First Round exit at Marist soured what should have been a sweet season. Furman-commit Jaylon Pugh is a Top 3 2018 point guard in Georgia and a threat to launch from two steps over half court. TJ Horton and Perignon Dyer have to take pressure off Pugh and unorthodox forward Isaac Gridley has to battle in the paint. Region 4 was a revolving door of front runners but this year it looks like No. 6 Salem might be able to take a hold of the group. Point guard Montez Swann and 6-foot-6 forward Tehjuan Powell welcome three important transfers to the program. 6-foot-5 physical small forward Tabias Long comes in from Southwest DeKalb, 6-foot-6 junior Avante Lederer moves from Heritage-Conyers and 6-foot-2 junior Lance Smith makes his way over from Woodland-Henry. They will have to hold off No. 8 Woodward Academy, who got a shot in the arm by landing one of the highest touted 2020 big men in the nation, 6-foot-10 Walker Kessler. The Class A-Private All-State Honorable Mention selection from Landmark Christian averaged 15.1 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3 blocks per game as a freshman. He joins Class AAAA Freshman of the Year 6-foot-5 Jacorrei Turner and 6-foot-8 2019 power forward Kevin Powell to form the classification’s best long-term frontcourt on paper. Coach Anthony Thomas needs to find an answer at point guard to replace Julian Cameron. No. 7 Westover has a potent backcourt in Kris Gardner and Jordan “Snow” Brown. Gardner stuffed stat-sheets as a talented scorer and passer while Brown did his best work from deep beyond the three-point line but has improved his ability to get into the lane and finish. Senior Camryn Weston has had a strong offseason as well. 6-foot-7 freshman Isaac Abidde could make an immediate impact and provide the Patriots with a post presence and shot blocker that the team lacked last year. If Cam Holden can get any sort of quality help throughout the season, No. 9 Mary Persons could make a bid to push Upson-Lee in Region 2. The 6-foot-5 Holden averaged 26 points, 11 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.2 steals and 1.9 blocks as a junior. He must keep his emotions in check and not let them get the best of him as he is a trash talker and a hot head with a propensity for collecting technicals. The Bulldogs lose their second-leading scorer but return the rest of their top six scoring options, highlighted by sophomore guard Dee Morton who averaged 7.2 points in his first high school season. The bottom of the Top 10 in Class AAAA last year was a kiss of death, with teams struggling to stay afloat in the rankings from week to week. The first team to get a crack at becoming a mainstay in 2017-18 will be No. 10 Richmond Academy. Region 3-AAAA First Teamer DT Stephens is back to pace the Musketeers in scoring, but will have to get into basketball shape quickly as he has avoided the hardwood this offseason to focus on the gridiron. Big men Vontrez Roberts and Lucas Thomas have the size to crash the glass and score inside. The transfer of sharpshooting sophomore Tyshun Briscoe will hurt, but Second Team All-Region pick Jacobi Wood is a 5-foot-8 spark plug.
Grit and toughness carried No. 1 Morgan County to a Class AAAstate championship appearance last year and three of their five starters return to try and finish the deal this season. The Bulldogs were undersized and finally met their match in the title game against Wendell Carter, but Coach Jamond Sims has a sweet-shooting backcourt with some scrappy defenders. The 2019 trio of Stevin Green, Tyrin Lawrence and Alec Woodard are the straws that stir the drink. Green, 5-foot-9, flies around the floor and has a knack for coming up with big plays defensively while the pair of 6-foot-3 guards can fill it up offensively, especially Woodard from three. No. 2 Johnson-Savannah has the quickness and the size to take a deep run in the state tournament. UGA-commit Amanze Ngumezi is a mismatch nightmare at 6-foot-8 with the ability to knockdown the deep ball. Junior guard Shamar Jones led the Atomsmashers in scoring last season and will team-up with the Bowles: Eleik, E’Maury and Elavian. They will have to hold off No. 6 Jenkins, who has dominated Savannah for the past five seasons. The Warriors retool with the additions of 14.9-point-per-game scorer Matt Sams and 6-foot-7 junior Lamont Sams. The former Savannah Bluejacket and Johnson-Savannah Atomsmasher will join bouncy senior Tyrone Scott and three-point bomber Tre Mays. No. 3 Cedar Grove returns its go-to guys in junior guard Devon Barnes and senior forward Jamari Dean. New to the fold is Maynard Jackson transfer Keshun Byrd, a guard that averaged 10.1 points and 3.4 assists as a junior. Also in is 6-foot-6, 250-pound power forward Tworn Seals. The junior is now at his third high school in three years and might end up sticking to football. The Saints have a chance to seize Region 5 now that No. 8 Pace Academy has graduated Wendell Carter. 6-foot-5 forward Isaiah Kelly (Yale) will have to prove he can lead a team. 6-foot-9, 230-pound soccer player Jonathan Rushton is a mountain of a man in the paint. Junior guard Myles Todd could emerge as an extremely important cog for the Knights’ success. There should be plenty of motivation for a bounce back season for No. 4 Greater Atlanta Christian, who flopped to end the year, losing to East Hall in the Region Championship and then upset by Lovett in the opening round of state. Point guard Hunter McIntosh now enters his junior season with a large 2019 class following his lead including Ben Sheppard, who has grown from 6-foot to 6-foot-4. Roy Dixon is a dangerous shooter and Chris Hinton is a load on the low block with Shawn Ohuabunwa improving his game at 6-foot-7. Khavon Moore gets one final shot at going out with a bang at No. 5 Westside-Macon. The Seminoles tried to load the deck last year with a strong senior class, but an in-season transfer and a double-overtime Elite Eight loss to Pace Academy ended hopes of bringing Macon a championship. The onus will be placed on Greg Holloway and Omar Jones to provide support of Moore from their forward positions. Freshman shooting guard Javian Mosley may be able to carve out some rotational minutes. Coach Joe Dix has No. 7 East Hall in a great position to make some waves in Class AAA with a young group coming to fruition and a couple transfers in to help out. Sedrion Morse will provide senior experience along with Johnson-Gainesville move-ins Qua Butler and junior Kylan Curry, who have seen big minutes. Luke Cooper and Luke Holtzclaw are shooters while Imre Earls may make an impact as a freshman. No. 9 Long County brings back everyone including Reggie Wilkes, who returns to the area after winning a region title at Long County Middle School four years ago before serving a stint as head coach at Adairsville. Henry Blair, Terry Smith, Christian Bass and Ryheim Izzard compose a reliable core for a team in win-now mode in Region 2, that sees Liberty County lose Will Richardson to Oak Hill Academy. Khy Collins is a physical guard that can make plays on the perimeter. One of North Georgia’s most consistent programs, No. 10 Calhoun, will look to keep the ball rolling. The 2016 and 2017 graduating classes leave a massive void but seniors Kaylan Aker and Porter Law have winning in their bloodlines. The late season emergence of 6-foot-5 forward Davis Allen could lead to a breakout junior season.
Class AA was a forgone conclusion last year with South Atlanta racing to the title, but this year, its Swainsboro who will open up at No. 1. The Tigers got pounded by 35 points in the state title game but three crucial starters return in seniors Jaylan McKinney and Eddie Roberts along with junior Jamil Watkins. McKinney, 5-foot-8, averaged 26.8 points per game last year as a First Team All-Stater. Roberts is a blossoming 6-foot-6 forward that plays above the rim and averaged a double-double while lastly, 6-foot-4 Jamil Watkins is a dangerous wing. Swainsboro has one of the best nucleuses in the classification, but they must develop depth behind their starters to go the distance. The Tigers played just six players in their normal rotation a year ago. No. 2 Glenn Hills jumped from 3 wins to 16 last season and may be on the verge of taking the next big leap thanks to a few transfers now sprinkled into the mix. The anchor inside is 6-foot-8 post Timmy Sellers who currently claims a South Carolina State offer. Sophomore Tre Whitehead is an explosive 6-foot-5 wing with one of Augusta’s highest ceilings. Glenn Hills’ guard additions are the most important to the Spartans being able to take the next step. Seniors Isaiah Bauman and Tim Williamson are aggressive on both sides of the ball and will bring a swagger to the Glenn Hills backcourt. No. 3 Banks County will be a dominant force out of Region 8 yet again. Darius Bonds orchestrates an offense that likes to pound the ball inside with 6-foot-7 Dylan Orr and inside-outside scorer Carl Cleveland, Coach Mike Cleveland’s sophomore son. Gabe Martin brings shooting from the perimeter as well. Defending state champion No. 4 South Atlanta gears up for a quick reload but will have to go through some early growing pains as seven seniors graduate. Jalen Stegall and Dondre Barnes give Coach Michael Reddick a savvy backcourt that can score the ball. Freshman power forward Julius Lymon looks to be next in a long line of strong Hornet big men. No. 5 Thomasville has disappointed in back-to-back years in the state playoffs with blowout double digit losses. Mississippi State power forward Reggie Perry has been regarded as a five-star recruit, but he has yet to lead his team to a Final Four appearance in one of Georgia’s classifications with the least amount of Division-I opposition. He along with 6-foot-9 Titus Wright will have to finally get over the hump and live up to their potential. The growth of guard Vonterius Woolbright and swingmen Quindarius Thomas and Luke Wallace may determine whether the Bulldogs can make a deep run or not. No. 6 Dublin will go as far as Kameron Pauldo will carry them. The diminutive guard averaged over 27 points per game last year and helped guide the Irish to the Final Four. Running mate Torian Holder is a reliable ball-handler that may be asked to score some more this season after coming up big in Pauldo’s early round absence during their state playoff run. Coach Paul Williams will need some others to step up around them. Bruising post Bruce Guyton brings his football toughness to the hardwood, but lacks height at 6-foot-2. No. 7 Jeff Davis didn’t crack the rankings at all in 2016-17, finishing behind Swainsboro in the Region 2 regular season standings. Now that Class AA Freshman of the Year Ja’Queze Kirby is year older, the Yellowjackets are a viable option to make some noise. The 6-foot-5 forward led Jeff Davis in scoring (14.8), rebounding (11.7), assists (3.3) and blocks (3.2). He has some help returning as well in second leading scorer senior Kirese Manley along with Chandler Davenport and Tae Thomas. No. 8 Laney’s grasp over the rest of the competition in Augusta may finally be slipping, but their proud tradition won’t let them go down without a fight in Region 4. Donald Henley Jr. is the ring leader at point guard, a true speed merchant that can change games with his ability to create transition opportunities. DJuan Griffin helps pace the backcourt with a nice jumper and blow by ability. PJ Walker gives some scoring punch on the wing as well. Laney’s defensive pressure will still give opponents fits, even if they don’t have a Christian Keeling or a Zep Jasper on the roster as dynamic next level stars. Any team with Ashton Bonner on its squad cannot be counted out, that’s why No. 9 Monticello is still a threat. Bonner sees CJ Adams and Matthew Lawson graduate beside him, meaning Malik Crawford will have to emerge as a consistent scoring option. The physical and athletically gifted 6-foot-5 forward now enters his junior season. If he is able to, the Hurricanes shouldn’t see much of a drop-off from their 20-win campaign. If he isn’t, Monticello could be hovering around .500. Rounding out the trio of Region 4 teams in the Top 10 out of Augusta is No. 10 Butler. Mardrez McBride is a proven downhill scorer with highlight capabilities. Now he will have to prove he can not only lead a team in scoring, but as a floor general and leader of men as well. Keith Littles is a fellow senior guard that should help McBride out in both areas. A breakout season could be in the mix for Jyheem Rollins, a wing that played well over the summer heading into his junior season.
Class A-Privateis as open as it has been in five years as Greenforest and St. Francis have traded winning state titles, St. Francis in 2014 & 2015 and Greenforest in 2013, 2016 & 2017. The upper echelon of the classification is no longer loaded with four to five D-I players on each of the top two rosters, which could lead to some surprise contenders popping up. With that being said, St. Francis opens as the No. 1 contender albeit being one of the youngest teams in the field led by sophomores Dwon Odom and Chase Ellis. Juniors CJ Riley, a knockdown three-point shooter, and Sean Paradise, the ultimate glue guy, round out Coach Drew Catlett talented bunch. 6-foot-4 senior wing Caleb Snyder is a nice shooter while freshman point guard Madison Durr is a highly touted playmaker with size. The only thing the Knights don’t have is a true impactful post presence on the low block. Defending state champion Greenforest earns the No. 2 spot but has question marks surrounding the program like never before. Two-time state championship winning coach Larry Thompson has left for Wheeler and is replaced by understudy Rory Griffin. Four D-I players graduate and battery ram 6-foot-9, 260-pound center Mo Abdulsalem has exhausted his eligibility and will be playing at the next level this year instead of graduating high school in 2018 as originally expected. So who’s left? Rumors have swirled about the latest batch of imports to join the program and last anyone has heard is that the Eagles have two new players from the Senegal. If true, they join junior wing Terrell Sanders, who returns with the most experience after averaging 2.7 points per game. Greenforest does have three other confirmed transfers in Christian Jackson (Fulton Leadership Academy), Cam Chavers (Parkview) and Kaleb Jenkins (Shiloh). It could end up being a boom or bust year for Greenforest with all of the uncertainty. No. 3 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy is quickly rising onto the state’s radar. In his first year as head coach, Derrick Mason turned the Chargers around from a 4-19 team sputtering to find traction into a 20-7 state playoff squad. Even with all of the success, it was a bit of a revolving door in McDonough this summer as JeKobe Coleman transferred and so did 6-foot-8 junior Malachi Rhodes, but luckily for the Chargers, Rhodes reneged on Langston Hughes and returned to ELCA. KJ Jones and Trevon Reddish have moved in. Jones comes in from Luella while Reddish moves from Carrollton and should instantly become ELCA’s best guard; an explosive junior. The Chargers have a good batch of young players that could help the program solidify itself as one of the best in the evolving landscape of Class A-Private. No. 4 Aquinas finished 26-2 a year ago with their only in-state loss coming against St. Francis in the Elite Eight. The Fightin’ Irish return their entire roster minus All-State Honorable Mention point guard Jelani Shakir. All-State shooting guard Tre Gomillion will see the offense turn to him for big buckets and rebounds. 6-foot-4 guard Daniel Parrish and 6-foot-7 forward Chris Williams bring length on defense. Getting production inside and handling on-ball pressure defense will determine Aquinas’ success. No. 5 Wesleyan began playing their best ball coming down the stretch last year, finishing 11-3 over their final 14 games. Christian McLean led the Wolves from his shooting guard position and has played his way into the Division-I discussion. Junior Grant Summers and Whitefield Academy transfer sophomore Micah Smith will play important roles in Coach Adam Griffin’s backcourt. The team that eliminated Wesleyan in the state playoffs? No. 6 Lakeview Academy. The Lions lose a good chunk of their Final Four team but do return sharpshooting brothers and Coach Todd Cottrell’s sons, Drew and Adam. Evan Pitts is a proven commodity at forward and Jack Blackburn is one of a handful of guards who have heard their number called over the past years. The Lions will need to replace their two most explosive athletes in Tre Gober and Josh Randolph. No. 7 North Cobb Christian loses all of its scoring punch with three crucial seniors graduating, including unstoppable force Demiere Brown (Kilgore College). The reigns are now handed over to point guard Hunter Norman. Norman has improved each season and will now be tested as a leader and a scorer his senior year. Seniors Myles Hamilton and Nate Perrin will have to provide more consistency now that their roles will be increased. Junior Chas Savage and sophomores Myson Lowe and 6-foot-7 forward Caleb Crumly are the future. No. 8 Stratford Academy finished 10-13 a year ago, but should be much improved with Region 7-A First Teamer Nathan Hunt back as a 6-foot-5 senior forward along with 6-foot-3 junior point guard Devin Butts. Butts turned some heads over the summer as a Middle Georgia playmaker to keep an eye on. New to the fold is highly touted freshman point guard Jaden Harris, who decided on staying at Stratford Academy instead of moving north. No. 9 King’s Ridge Christian turns to junior forward Eric Coleman Jr. to lead the Tigers into statewide contention. The 6-foot-6 forward has gotten better every year and now is one of the classification’s elite players. Once just a long wing with a pretty stroke, Coleman has added the ability to handle the rock and get to the basket along with a toughness inside on the low block, making him a threat to score from all over the floor. He has underclassmen help in 6-foot-4 sophomore wing Sterling Johnson and playmaking freshman point guard Sutton Smith. No. 10 Holy Innocents’ will see old players in new roles after graduating the core of Cole Smith, Jules Erving and Richard Surdykowski. Sneaky-productive wing Alex Hyatt heads into his junior season as the team’s leading returning scorer, averaging 8.2 points per game in 2016-17. Fellow junior Todd Ennis is an inside-outside 6-foot-5 forward that can knock in the three-ball while senior point guard Matt Meadows will be tasked with controlling the flow of the game. Josh Smith, 6-foot-4, is a fresh face coming in from Rockdale County. A versatile sophomore, Smith is a forward that can play all over the floor for Coach Adrian Collins. Don’t be surprised if he is among the team’s leading scorers this season.
No. 1 Calhoun County has unfinished business after falling short in the Class A-Public state championship. The Cougars return their entire roster including the classification’s best player, South Florida-commit Rashun Williams, an aggressive 6-foot-6 wing who has improved by leaps and bounds. Juniors Roney Moore and Juwaun Wiley provide scoring and quickness on the perimeter. Freshman Tykevious Curry should inject an instant boost as a 6-foot scoring guard. Coming off a Final Four appearance, No. 2 Macon County has all the pieces in place to challenge for its first state title. Senior Clayton Jenkins is one of the best scorers in the class, pouring in 22.3 points a night as a fearless three-point shooter that can get into the lane off the bounce. Forwards Trey Brown and Makevion Bonner are potential X-Factors. Brown, a 6-foot-4 senior wide receiver, is a tough rebounder and the Bulldogs’ best inside presence. Bonner is a lanky 6-foot-4 junior who possesses a versatile skillset. If he keeps his motor running high, Bonner can wreak havoc on both sides of the ball as a defender and slasher. Sophomore guard Lakeviyon Walker is a tough-nosed 5-foot-11 dynamo that plays bigger than his size. He picked up his play in the second half of the season. Walker rebounds well for his size and can get hot from deep. The best duo in Class A-Public belongs to No. 3 Central-Talbotton. The Hawks are led by All-State seniors JaQuavius Smith, a 6-foot-5 wing, and 6-foot-4 forward ZyTavian Hill. Smith attacks the hoop with a downhill approach, but also can stretch the defense out from deep. Smith might have more polish and skillset than Hill, but it is the rugged man-child that is the engine for Central-Talbotton. Hill has one of the best motors in the entire state of Georgia and plays with extreme toughness and physicality. He churned in double-double after double-double with the Middle Georgia Raptors while playing with Smith. The tandem will have a huge final year together, but to compete for a state title it will come down to the role players. Someone will have to step up as a third scoring option. No. 4 Wilkinson County is in search of a three-peat and their fifth title in six years, dominating the Class A-Public division since it’s split from Private in 2013. The Warriors lose a bevy of their guards meaning the trio of Devin Jones, Brandon Mayes and Jaylen Lamar must step up. Known for their size, Wilkinson County’s strength is still their frontcourt with 6-foot-6 forward Clarence Jackson and 6-foot-6 center Tylan Grable. Jackson isn’t afraid to do the dirty work, rebounding well and chipping in all over the statsheet while Grable is an intimidating force in the paint. No. 5 Treutlen’s only loss came in the Elite Eight against Macon County in overtime, 67-62. The Vikings have gone 101-10 over the past four seasons with two Elite Eight and two Final Four exits to show for it. Six seniors graduate from last year’s 27-win team. Treutlen’s championship window might be shrinking just a bit, but junior guard Arkavious Lovett will be tasked with keeping it open as long as possible. With just three seniors and seven freshmen on their roster, No. 6 Wilcox County finished 20-10 last season. Football standout Desmond Tisdol enters his sophomore season after averaging 15.3 points per game. Fellow 2020’s Jordan Brown and Elijah Howard averaged 12.5 and 11.5 points per game, respectively. No. 7 Montgomery County emerged from the traditionally weak Region 3, taking a trip to the Elite Eight and pushing Treutlen to the brink in their first matchup of the season. The senior trio of big-time scorer Daveaun Coglin, Jahleel Wilson and Shaw Robinson lead the Eagles into battle. No. 8 Pelham was streaky last year, winning their first five games, losing their next seven, then winning eight straight in region play before losing to Terrell County in the Region 1 Tournament and getting shutout of a state playoff spot at 14-9 overall, but 12-3 in region. The Hornets challenged themselves, playing bigger local competition like 7A Lowndes (L: 45-42, 53-32), 6A Valdosta (L: 59-53) and 2A Thomasville (L: 53-34; 62-55). The Hornets return everyone but Cassius Allen. Ke’Monterius Byrd, Dewaun Jones and Jake Delegawl have experience leading the team in scoring while 6-foot-6 senior Willie Kemp is a shot blocker that was named Defensive Player of the Year in Region 1. No. 9 Woodville-Tompkins turns to Lenny Williams as head coach after the young program set a school record in wins last season at 16-11, however for the second straight year Montgomery County ended their season in the Region 3 Tournament. The Wolverines lose just one senior and see Charleston Willingham, Jordan Walker and Deante Green return for their junior seasons after going 1-2-3 in scoring. Senior point guard AJ Hassel had a strong summer while 6-foot-3 junior Preston Crisp is name to familiarize yourself with on the coast. First year head coach Tyler Wright leads No. 10 Mt. Zion-Carroll into the Top 10. The Eagles will be up against it. They play in Region 6, which houses nearly all private schools, meaning there will be hardly any room for error if they want to stay in the rankings and eventually make the state playoffs. The good news is Region 6A-A is down this year with North Cobb Christian rebuilding, Darlington losing star Elijah McKoy and Christian Heritage in need of finding pieces to surround Christian Koneman. Mt. Zion has a lethal one-two punch in the backcourt returning in 1,000-point scorer CJ Ackles and deadly shooter TJ Cagle, both seniors. Both will be counted on to do the heavy lifting and navigate Mt. Zion through Region 6 turbulence with Class A-Private No. 1 St. Francis looming on the B-side of the region. Quality depth and consistent role players will determine whether the Eagles take flight or see their wings clipped as seven seniors have graduated.
It finally might be time for a changing of the guard in Class AAAAAAA, but there is hardly any guarantee. On paper, No. 1 Westlake might be the team to beat and the one that finally knocks McEachern from their throne. Only two seniors graduate from last year’s roster and an influx of All-State transfers join Texas Tech wing Taylor Hosendove. 6-foot-1 wing Simone Lett moves in from Pebblebrook while 6-foot swingman Shekinah Howard transfers from Hapeville Charter. Senior guard Anastasia Warren and 6-foot-2 junior post Paris Mullins were both Region 2 First Team selections. Keep a close eye on 5-foot-8 freshman point guard Raven Johnson. The blue-chip prospect already holds offers from the likes of Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Georgia and Miami. Johnson will be accompanied by fellow freshman Brianna Turnage, a 6-foot wing that also holds High Major D-1 offers. Georgia’s highest classification has been dominated by No. 2 McEachern, the Indians winning four straight titles and five of six. Somehow, someway, Coach Phyllis Arthur has always found a way to reload. This year’s team will rely on Indiana-commit Chanel Wilson and future Kennesaw State Owl Jewel Smalls. State Championship hero Victoria Agyin is also back for her senior season. Junior post Kemia Ward is a banger inside that has worked on extending her range to the three-point line. Adidas All-American and Georgia Tech-commit Jasmine Carson has transferred in. Only Nia Lee graduates from No. 3 Collins Hill. Purdue-commit Bria Harmon enters her junior season as point guard for the Eagles. Interior play has always been a strength for Collins Hill with 6-foot-4 Jada Rice entering her senior year and 6-foot-3 junior Javyn Nicholson, a UGA-commit, anchoring the frontline. No. 4 Norcross will have an uphill climb to return to the state finals after seeing Taylor Mason (Miami) and Vanessa Blagmon (South Florida) graduate while the third member of their backcourt, Pittsburgh-commit Tehya Lyons, is out for the season with an ACL tear. Seniors Raven Etheredge and Breanna Ettrick will see increased roles their senior seasons. Senior forward Devyn Wilson is a strong rebounder while junior forward Tionna Carter might have the highest upside inside. No. 5 Colquitt County is the class of South Georgia, powered by one of the highest scoring duos in the state, seniors Za’Nautica Downs (22.9) and Diamond Hall (18.4). The Packers have their top seven scorers back from their breakthrough 23-win Elite Eight team. Only two seniors depart from a scrappy No. 6 Newton team that won 20 games. Scoring guard Lexii Chatman is a dynamo that now has not only Jurnee Smith to help score the ball, but Diamond Swift moves in from neighboring Rockdale County. Senior Takiya Cotton rounds out a veteran backcourt. No. 7 North Forsyth is ready to roll with their entire starting five back to challenge Lambert. Caroline Martin was an All-Region pick as a freshman, averaging 12.3 points per game. Senior forward Cassie Markle earned the same honors. Amber Jones and The King’s Academy transfer Catherine Shope provide scoring on the perimeter; Shope a GICAA All-State selection that averaged 21.1 points per game. No. 8 Brookwood loses Gwinnett County’s scoring and rebounding leader in Texas A&M center N’dea Jones, but the Broncos are still loaded with length heading into 2017-18. Junior Kierra Adams is a versatile forward at 6-foot that can bring the ball up the floor and attack the rim. Hannah Farr (5-10), Malia Grace (6-1) and Selma Kulo (6-4) compose a trio of long sophomores that should impact games in the paint this year. 5-foot-11 senior wing TaylorAnn Cushenberry is another interesting piece that first-year head coach Carolyn Whitney can use all over the floor. No. 9 Cherokee has a veteran backcourt in junior Olivia Herrera, senior Laiken Wade and junior Lacie McCoy. The Warriors play a nice non-region schedule that should prepare them for a state tournament appearance. No. 10 Lambert will try to defend their Region 5 crown following a spectacular 26-3 campaign, their best in school history and an 11-win increase from 2015-16. Region Player of the Year M.E. Craven tore her ACL and will forgo her senior season of basketball to focus on getting healthy for soccer, as she is an Auburn-commit. Fellow seniors forward Jaleah Greene and shooter Summer Edwards will be asked to step up. The Longhorns swept North Forsyth last year 3-0 by a total of nine points.
Class AAAAAA will be a dog fight all season long, but three teams slightly standout above the rest heading into the year. Health played a massive role in how the classification shook out last year, with major injuries to standouts across numerous teams deciding their respective team’s fate and state tournament path. No. 1 Northview came of age last season, posting a school-record 28 wins before going cold against Harrison in the Final Four. Star forward Shannon Titus is now at Mercer, but versatile 2019 twin towers Ashlee Austin and Maya Richards are back to anchor Coach Yarbrough’s frontline. Austin, 6-foot, has seen her recruitment take off with Mid-Major schools, highlighted by High Major Ole Miss being the first to pull the trigger with an offer. A notably strong rebounder, Austin is a handful on offense with her ability to put the ball on the deck and also stretch teams out to the three-point line. Richards, 6-foot-1, is one of the most physical players in the state, a true bull-in-a-china-shop on the low block. She overpowers defenders with her aggression, but has shown a tendency in the past to pick up silly fouls with her strength. The game should slow down for sophomore point guard Asjah Inniss in her second year at the helm of the Lady Titans. The athletic guard picked up her first offer over the summer from Delaware. Now with improved depth on the bench, outside shooting will determine whether Northview can become an elite team or not. Senior Megan Cistulli is a streaky shooter while freshman Eden Sample is regarded as one of the top incoming freshmen in the state. No. 2 Winder-Barrow is as dangerous as ever and saw their chances at a state title disappear when the nation’s No. 1 ranked 2018 post, 6-foot-5 Olivia Nelson-Ododa, went down with a season ending knee injury. Now healthy, Nelson-Ododa gets a chance at unfinished business. The Bulldoggs fell in the 2015-16 state championship in heart breaking fashion 49-48 to Southwest DeKalb before seeing injuries derail 2016-17. Nelson-Ododa is automatic around the rim with a soft touch and the basketball IQ to keep the ball high on rebounds out of the reach of defenders. She can knock down the outside shot and on defense, is an elite shot blocker. Kimberly Garren steps in for Brandon Thomas as head coach and has a state championship-caliber roster. Senior Latrice Perkins (College of Charleston) and junior Chellia Watson are experienced wings that can score the ball and round out Winder-Barrow’s big three. No. 3 Lovejoy was ahead of schedule last year – erupting for 26 wins and a Final Four appearance with a team anchored by fabulous freshmen – truly a scary thought. Now that the cat’s out of the bag and the 2020 class is a year older, expectations are through the roof for the Wildcats. Point guard Genesis Bryant took Class AAAAAA by storm with her mature beyond years play, earning All-State Honorable Mention. Bryant and 5-foot-11 wing Anaya Boyd have seen their recruitment explode over the summer heading into their sophomore seasons. Clemson, Georgia and West Virginia have all offered Boyd while Bryant claims a Jacksonville State offer with ACC and SEC interest. 6-foot-3 senior forward Kayla Brown is an athletic piece that is picking up steam heading into her final year under Coach Cedric King. No. 4 Harrison’s late rally wasn’t enough in the state championship, losing 52-51 to Mays. Four important seniors graduate including Rice-signee Sydne Wiggins, who was in-and-out of the lineup all year long due to an early season injury. Seniors will once again play a huge role for Harrison. UAB-commit Audrey Jordan will be a go-to option this year for the always balanced Hoyas. The forward is a knockdown three-point shooter that can craft her way to the basket with a variety of backdowns and spins. Harper Vick flourishes in the open floor, but is a dangerous three-point shooter as well. Mae Willis and Sarah Woghiren are athletic slashers that can get in the lane and play solid defense when called upon. All-in-all, the Hoyas will have a battled-tested group that will try to navigate their way to a Region 6 title after going 15-0 in the regular season, but getting upset by Creekview in the championship, 54-38. Hot on Harrison’s tail will be No. 5 Sequoyah. The Lady Chiefs return their entire roster except for fifth-leading scorer, Lauren Schletty. As the theme went for many Class AAAAAA contenders, Sequoyah also saw a major injury, leading scorer Alyssa Cagle going down with a season ending ACL tear on January 21. Cagle, now a senior, has worked tirelessly to be ready for the start of the season. The playmaker with a knack for hitting the big shot will go to war with fellow seniors Peyton Satterfield, one of the best three-point shooters in program history, and Colby Carden, a fiery off-guard. The late season addition of Sydney Rosant gives the Chiefs a fourth head to the scoring attack. Much of the rebounding and interior defense onus will be placed upon 5-foot-9 junior Emily Seres. No. 6 Douglas County turns the reigns over to junior forward Amari Robinson after Arsula Clark’s departure for UL-Monroe. 5-foot-11 senior forward Sayah Brooks should have an opportunity to pick up the slack. With six seniors gone, the Tigers will be in a tussle with defending state champion No. 9 Mays to win Region 5. The Raiders were swept by Douglas County and fell to the No. 3 seed heading into the playoffs after an upset 55-54 loss to New Manchester, but got the last laugh by riding Kennesaw State Owl Kamiyah Street to the title. The nucleus of Natoria Hill, Chardae Bell and Kyra McWhorter will be relied upon heavily to keep Mays in the state playoff picture. No. 7 Creekview is the third Region 6 team to crack the poll and the defending region champs. A defensive-minded team, the Grizzlies fell to Lovejoy in the Sweet 16, 35-32. Agile 6-foot-1 post Allison Luly is now at Belmont but Creekview still returns its leading scorer in senior Kennedy Cater and sophomore post Emily Wilkie. Coach Roger Nolan is respected as one of North Georgia’s best X’s & O’s minds and will always keep the Grizz competitive. No. 8 Forest Park was led by 2019’s Sarah Matthews and Alana Denson in scoring while 2020 guard Jasmine Jacob finished third. The young core comes off a 16-11 season in which the Panthers missed out on the postseason. Freshman center Senia Feagin is a 6-foot-4 difference maker in the low post. The power big earned rave reviews over the summer. No. 10 Alpharetta pushed Northview to the brink twice in Region 7 and gave Mays a run for their money in Round 1, losing 58-54. Freshman Chandler Davis led the team in scoring, but has since transferred to St. Francis. Junior point guard Croix Bethune will go back to being the engine that runs Coach David Walden’s team. Her speed, decision making and perimeter defense gets the Raiders going. Twin sisters Gogo and Juju Maduka crash the boards hard at 6-foot, and as a pair, alter countless shots inside. Junior Kendall Phillips is another long forward at Walden’s disposal. Juniors Jalyn Tillerson and 6-foot three-star prospect Grace Knutsen will play important roles. Knutsen’s size and outside shooting can give opponents mismatch problems.
No. 1 Buford routed their way to a Class AAAAA title last year, winning in the postseason by an average of 30 points per game. Michigan State-commit Tory Ozment was masterful in the state championship game and will lead the Wolves one last time before heading off to East Lansing. Fellow senior Audrey Weiner committed to Air Force in September. Sophomore guard Tate Walters looked good over the offseason while Coach Gene Durden still has length inside in 6-foot-3 physical post Jessica Nelson and 5-foot-10 Cambridge transfer Sierra Sieracki. No. 2 Flowery Branch was swept in three Region 8 meetings with Buford losing 53-44, 51-46 and 53-38. The Lady Falcons almost had a chance for a fourth showdown with the Wolves in the state title game, but ran out of gas late and lost to Southwest DeKalb 66-63 in the Final Four. Star forward Taniyah Worth (Alabama) heads into her senior season as a do-everything wing and one of the best players in the state. Worth has proven she can carry a team, dumping in 33 points in their season ending loss to the Panthers. With 6-foot-1 post Julianne Sutton now at North Georgia, Coach Courtney Newton might elect to play a faster pace style with Emmanuel College-commit Lexie Sengkhammee controlling the tempo. Caroline Wysocki, Ashley Woodroffe and Ashley Scott round out an experienced backcourt. Freshman forward Ashlee Locke, 6-foot-1, is one to watch over the next four years. No. 3 Eagle’s Landing burst onto the scene last year with a 26-4 record and a trip to the Elite Eight. 5-foot-8 senior guard Ashley Foster is a Western Carolina-commit while fellow 2018 point guard Kiera Howard has some of the quickest hands in the state, scooping up 6.2 steals per game as a junior. The play of Reyonna Hopkins and Sahara Wells inside along with blossoming sophomore wing Jaleah Storr may determine the ceiling of the Eagles. Senior guards Taylor Brown and Ansley Barge along with bruising 6-foot-1 post Elexus Bell have No. 4 Carrollton in a position to flirt with the 30-win mark again after going 29-2 with an Elite Eight exit at the hands of Flowery Branch, 61-46. The Trojans have been one of the winningest programs over the past decade with a state championship coming in 2009. Incoming freshman point guard De’mauri Flournoy is the next big thing in West Georgia and will have the Trojans playing at a high level even after this year’s seven-man senior class graduates. Region 5 All-Region picks Alina Shoemake, Kennedi Manning and Iyanna McMillan are all set to return with 6-foot-2 Ole Miss-commit Iyanla Kitchens anchoring the paint for No. 5 Arabia Mountain. Only one player graduates for the Rams opposed to Region 5 rival No. 6 Southwest DeKalb who sees their big three of Jada Walton (Texas A&M), Chantz Cherry (Stony Brook) and Ogheneruona Uwusiaba (Central Florida) all move onto the next level. Junior Lanee Edwards and senior Michaela Bennefield return with the most experience. No. 7 Bainbridge was sneaky good last year, finishing with a 19-9 record. Now that Region 1 power Warner Robins has graduated a bulk of its scoring from a 27-2 roster, the Bearcats might be able to seize control of the region if they hold off the Demonettes and the intimidating frontline of Harris County. Though it will be no easy task, Bainbridge can rely on one of the best players in South Georgia, Nadia Marshall. The 5-foot-9 forward averaged 20.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.3 blocks as a junior. The Bearcats bring back their top five leading scorers and see just one player graduate. If the likes of seniors Tytianna Roseborough and Tyra Smart along with sophomore post India Parris can take their game to the next level, Bainbridge could be a tough out come state tournament time. No. 8 Villa Rica has great cohesion with everyone but shot blocking specialist April Battle back. Coach Tammy Norred steps in after a wildly successful three-year stint at Haralson County where she went 74-14. She will be tasked with getting the Wildcats over the hump in the state playoffs. Villa Rica has been one-and-done the past two years, bowing out in the first round. Last year the Wildcats lost at Arabia Mountain 52-45 after slipping to the No. 3 seed following an upset loss to Cass in the Region 7 tournament. Norred will have her most talented roster in years as she inherits 6-foot-2 four-star 2019 forward Deasia Merrill, a 22.8p/10.4r/5.8a/2.8s/1.9b per game wrecking ball. Senior wing Jaila Orozco is a lethal three-point shooter that can also bang on the boards while Emerald Parham is a savvy 2018 guard and Aliyah Hindsman, a talented sophomore. No. 9 Maynard Jackson takes a big blow with an important 2017 class graduating, but Coach Michelle Powell has always found a way to keep the ball rolling. Leading scorer Jamila Mitchell and defensive specialist Tamara White are both back. White, 5-foot-3, pilfered 6.8 steals per game as a junior. Dyniste Taylor rebounded well last year and will be asked to control the paint now that 6-foot-6 Dominique Banks has graduated. No. 10 Dutchtown has a chance to carve out space as one of the top teams in Region 4 behind Eagle’s Landing. 5-foot-10 senior Jordan Maney was trouble on the low block averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs get a massive boost along the frontline with ELCA transfer 6-foot-1 junior India Bellamy joining Maney down low. Bellamy was a First Team All-Henry County selection after averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds. The ability to stretch the floor will be in question now that 42% three-point shooter Asia White has graduated. Senior Mariah Holder and junior Kennedy Freeman must keep defenses honest and keep them reluctant from packing in the paint to slow down Maney and Bellamy.
The balance of power in Class AAAA remains located in West Georgia, but it has solely swung to State Runner-Up, No. 1 Carver-Columbus. The Tigers lost in overtime to rival Columbus in an instant classic in front of a sold-out McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, 68-67. Senior guards Mariah Igus and Alycia Reese return as Coach Anson Hundley’s leading scorers, with junior Ja’nya Love-Hill coming off a 25-point outburst in the title game. Carver’s only weakness last year was a lack of impactful size inside to stop Columbus’ SEC duo of Tatyana Wyatt (Kentucky) and Ariyah Copeland (Alabama). That won’t be a problem this year now that 6-foot-3 sophomore Olivia Cochran has moved in from Hardaway. As a freshman, Cochran earned All-State Second Team honors after averaging 17.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. On paper, Carver-Columbus looks to be head and shoulders above the competition. The rest of Class AAAA will have to sort itself out. No. 2 Spalding will open the season in the two-hole following a trip to the Elite Eight where they fell to eventual state champion Columbus by 28. All-State Honorable Mention pick Kiana Banks enters her senior season at forward. Corriana Evans looks to capitalize after a strong freshman campaign in which she averaged 10 points and 7.7 rebounds. Junior Aniaya Jester was third in scoring at 9.6 points per game. No. 3 Henry County has the best player in the classification in Auburn-commit Brooke Moore. The All-State First Teamer poured in 24.1 points per game while adding 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3.4 steals. Her ability to take over games should lead to the Warhawks being able to build off their Elite Eight run. Senior Janaya Wadsworth will play an important role as second in command. Janiyah Jones brings in a scoring presence as a 5-foot-8 wing from Whitewater. No. 4 Jefferson sees Abbie Franklin (North Georgia) move to the next level, but left behind is a more than competent eight-man senior class. Trevecca Nazarene-commit Jazmin Allen is a double-double machine inside that helped the Dragons to the Elite Eight. Guards McKenzie Tyner and McKenzie Ulmer will pick up the slack left behind by Franklin. No. 5 Luella played a strong schedule last year seeing the likes of Lovejoy, Griffin, Henry County, North Clayton, Spalding, Eagle’s Landing and Morgan County in the regular season, posting a sub-par 2-8 record. In the state playoffs, the Lions defeated Perry on the road 68-54 before dropping at Jefferson 70-45. Overall, Luella finished 17-11 and with a year of taking their lumps against top level opposition, but still managed to clinch a Sweet 16 berth. The Lions should be battle-tested enough to get over the hump and contend with their top four scorers all returning. Seniors Kamya Hollingshed and Zaria Bankston can fill it up with junior Imani McNeal and sophomore Keely Brown doing damage as well. The Lions will have to build depth behind their big four in order to compete all season. Finishing at just 15-15 last season, No. 6 Madison County came out of nowhere to upset their way to an Elite Eight appearance. No longer flying under the radar, the Red Raiders return everyone from their Cinderella season. Jordan Bailey enters her junior season at center after posting 19 points and 9 rebounds per game. Senior point guard Adryanna Maxwell added 14 points per game while Sydney Armstrong heads into her junior season following an All-Area Honorable Mention campaign. No. 7 Northwest Whitfield loses three seniors, most notably Region 6 Player of the Year Bria Clemmons, a two-time All-Area Player of the Year selection. The playmaking point guard leaves behind seniors Holly Heath, Nicole Bates, Rylee Maret and Hallie Brooker as veterans that will try to keep the Lady Bruins’ winning tradition alive in North Georgia. Opposite of Northwest Whitfield, much of the supporting cast is gone, but potent point producer Anna McKendree is still in the navy and silver of No. 8 West Hall. The senior scoring specialist pumped in 31 points in a Sweet 16 loss to Columbus, 50-47. The high-volume shooter will once again average over 20 points per game this season but to play at a high level in college, she will need to focus on giving more consistent effort on the defensive side. All-Region 5 selections Aryan Dozier and Chnairiea Strozier enter their senior seasons at No. 9 LaGrange. Center Shania Woodward will need to be replaced but she is the only player gone from last year’s 18-12 season. The Grangers scored a 46-43 First Round win at home over Marist before falling on the road at Cross Creek in respectable fashion, 44-35. No. 10 Baldwin loses its leading scorer but brings back options two through five. Senior Akirah Robinson is a versatile guard that filled up the stat sheet with her defensive prowess. The development of juniors Crystal Corley and Arecia Williams along with sophomore center MiKayla Waller will determine whether the Braves can take over a Region 3 that has seen plenty of turnover.
Region 3 ran roughshod over the competition in Class AAA, leading to a showdown between Savannah rivals, No. 1 Beach and No. 4 Johnson-Savannah, their fifth meeting of the year. In the end, Beach raced out to an early lead and never looked back, scoring a dominant 59-44 state title victory. Both the Bulldogs and Atomsmashers’ only losses came against each other, Beach going 29-2 and Johnson-Savannah 27-3. Though they don’t have as much D1 talent as other schools in the classification, the state title will still run through Beach. With leading scorer Judasia Hills graduated, Coach Olufemi Gordon still has a physical and aggressive team that loves to crash the offensive glass led by senior Jabrekia Bass. Sophomore guard Madison Evans paces the offensive and defensive attack while seniors Tatiannya Morris and Maryyana Page buy into their roles. Beach landed All-State wing NaTeari Chaney from Savannah. If she is healthy, Chaney provides a dynamic scoring option that posted 20.5 points and 8.8 rebounds a game for the Bluejackets. Johnson-Savannah might take a step back this year with Alexis Pierce (Jacksonville) and Olivia Owens (Iona) off to play college ball, but Sy’Marieona “Bubbles” Williams and 6-foot-5 post Giana Copeland are still game changers. Bubbles is a spunky 5-foot-3 guard that can bomb from three and coming off a 16-point-per-game junior season. Copeland is long, lanky and raw, but she has improved every day since first stepping foot on campus. She is beginning to see her recruitment pick up after blocking 6.4 shots per game. Junior guard J’mya Cutter should have a breakout year with a full season at Johnson under her belt. She averaged 11.1 points per game. Talent-wise, No. 2 Greater Atlanta Christian is the best team in the classification. They were clipped in controversial fashion in the Final Four by Beach in overtime, 56-47. Auburn-commit Robyn Benton is one of the best players in the state and also in the entire nation, ranked a five-star prospect as the No. 6 guard in the country. Forward Caria Reynolds is headed to Hofstra while Taylor Sutton is Middle Tennessee State bound. No. 3 Central-Macon has a ton back from their 21-6 team that lost to Beach 46-45 in the Elite Eight. Experience will be aplenty for the Lady Chargers. Power-post Jada Clowers is a big body at 6-foot-2 that can control the paint with her scoring touch and rebounding. Defensive specialist Jenya Wilder brings toughness and Tyleia Williams is the team’s leading scorer at 15 points per game. 2015-16 leading scorer ReNesha Goolsby is back after missing last year with an ACL tear and 5-foot-11 center Nakaiya Samone provides another post presence for Coach Sheila Toombs. No. 5 Franklin County put together a 20-7 season but didn’t quite reach their potential with a 53-52 loss at home to Ringgold in the first round of the playoffs. Coach John Strickland takes over the program, coming in from Blackman, Tennessee with everyone back from last year’s roster. Sisters Mya and Asia Jones have been dynamite since starting their careers at Commerce and now will try to go out with a bang. Ivey Ginn is another tough scoring guard with size that gives the Lions one of the best trios in the classification. No. 6 Monroe exited earlier than expected when they were upset in the Sweet 16 by Dawson County. Seniors Alissa Jones and Kelsey Davis along with sophomore Denver Bryant will be the straws that stir the drink this year for the Tornadoes. Levi Wigley takes over for Tammy Norred at No. 7 Haralson County, who returns All-Region 6 selections Alexis Boykin and Tori Causey. Shooting guard Claire Robinson is the third spearhead of the veteran senior class. The Rebelettes fell to Peach County in the Sweet 16, 56-55 after leading for the entire length of the game except for the final three seconds, losing on a game-winning layup. Long-time head coach Steve Sweat put together another masterful coaching job when the season was on the line for No. 8 Dawson County. The Lady Tigers finished just 12-18 after facing a grueling non-region schedule, but it paid off in the long run with a surprise trip to the Elite Eight. Dawson County has a chance to ride their late season momentum into 2017-18 as the entire roster returns. Juniors Kaylee Sticker and Anna Lowe team up with seniors Abi Chatham and Cadey Ayers to share the scoring duties. Sophomore Marlie Townley showed promise in her first varsity season. No. 9 Cedar Grove leans on senior forward Jayda Jackson. The All-Region 5 pick averaged over 16 points and 9 rebounds per game. Seniors Gemini Wilson and Leanna Ramos also were All-Region. Ramos stuffed the stat sheet averaging 7.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 5.8 steals per game as the Saints’ engine. No. 10 Lovett was Dawson County’s initial victim in the First Round of the state playoffs. Region 5 Player of the Year Quinn Barry has graduated along with All-Region pick Janie Salmon, but Sydney Johnson enters her junior season at guard. Most importantly, Stanford-commit Jenna Brown, a blue-chip five-star prospect, is back after missing all of the 2016-17 season. She can immediately turn Lovett into a contender now back at full strength.
No. 1 Laney is locked, stocked and loaded for another state title run in Class AA. The Wildcats will be the heavy favorites to repeat as champs with Alabama-commit De’sha Benjamin still in the red & white. Benjamin’s size and versatility is the cornerstone to Coach Otis Smart’s relentless fast-pace full court pressing style of play. Long and athletic wings Jhessyka Williams and Jaiden Hamilton round out the Laney big three. State Runner-Up No. 2 Rabun County pushed Laney to the limit, 85-76, before seeing their comeback fall short. The balanced LadyCats lose a few key pieces including 1,000-point scorer Savanna Scott (North Georgia), but juniors Brooke Henricks, Georgia Stockton and sophomore Laken Stiles have already proven they can excel at the highest level. The trio combined for 38 points in the championship. No. 3 Fitzgerald lost in the Elite Eight at Rabun County 70-54. Leading scorer Kirstin Crook is one of South Georgia and Class AA’s top guards. Crook averaged 17 points per game and will be counted on to set the tone. Sophomore guard Trinity Jones along with juniors De’Quasha Thornton, Keyara Boone and Hayleigh Ross are all a year older with important experience under their belt. Region 2 has been hit hard by graduation, but No. 4 Swainsboro is set to return its top four scorers including junior Dynesha Brown who averaged 16.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 steals per game. Juniors Charlsey Kelly and Aaliyah Hughes along with senior Chloe Moore will support Brown on both sides of the ball. The Tigers faltered in the region tournament, slipping to the No. 4 seed after losing to Bryan County and Jeff Davis. Swainsboro saw its season cut short with a 70-44 loss in the opening round of state at Laney. Region 8 will be a war behind Rabun County as No. 5 Banks County and No. 8 Putnam County look ready to put a little pressure on the LadyCats. Banks County was the only team in the region to hand Rabun County a loss last year, winning 49-45 after losing in overtime 63-62 and before dropping the Region 8 title game 78-67. The Leopards were upset by South Atlanta in the first round of state 68-62. Only three seniors are gone from last year’s team. The Leopards have size and skill in junior post Jaycie Bowen, a banger that can score around the basket at 5-foot-11. Maddie Thomas and Amber Williams suit up at the forward positions. Allison Smith, who has recovered from a torn ACL, is a versatile scorer that can go inside and out. Putnam County might have the most dynamic player in the region in 5-foot-7 senior forward Rykia Pennamon. The Region 8 Player of the Year averaged 17.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists. She is the unquestioned leader of a War Eagle team that returns its top seven players. For the first time in years, No. 6 Model might be flying under the radar just a bit. Since star center Victaria Saxton stepped foot on campus in 2014-15, the Blue Devils have gone 79-10. Last year as a junior, Saxton powered Model to a Final Four berth but her 21 points weren’t enough as the Blue Devils were eliminated by eventual state champion Laney 65-49. Saxton has one last season to capture a ring, but it will be difficult with All-Region picks Bailey Upton and AnnaGrace Turrentine graduating. Second Team selection Kyla Reynolds heads into her junior season at guard. The Blue Devils remain the heavy favorite in Region 7, with No. 7 Dade County trailing behind. The Wolverines were swept by Model, 63-48 and 53-44. A misstep against Armuchee led to Dade County taking the No. 3 seed. They defeated Callaway 58-30 on the road before losing to Bleckley County 45-43. Only Hannah Monday graduates, leaving fellow All-Region First Teamers Tori Reed and Raven Stone to carry the load. The seniors bring size at 6-foot and 5-foot-10. Six 2020 prospects look to breakthrough their sophomore seasons. On paper, it looked at times as if No. 9 Dodge County could be able to take a run to the state championship, but instead an upset loss to Heard County 56-55 in the Sweet 16 after losing to Bleckley County in the Region 3 title game sent the Indians home early. Leading scorer Tierra Hamilton and third-leading scorer Jurnee Powell have graduated, giving way to junior forward Destanee Wright to bust out after averaging 12.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.9 steals. Wiry junior wing Europe Brown should see an uptick in her offensive production. No. 10 Berrien finished an unassuming 16-13 coming out of Region 1, but made a statement come tournament time with a 57-38 drubbing of Washington County before losing by 34 in the Sweet 16 to Model, buried by a 33-2 run. Treyonna Boone, Devinity Jackson and Mikayla Alexander are back for a Berrien team that graduates just one player.
Class A-Private will be a three-team race again with State Runner-Up Holy Innocents’ getting the first crack at No. 1 to open the year. The narrative across the classification is the turnover among top rosters, as a star-studded 2017 class is now gone. The Golden Bears’ return the most out of the top three contenders, with just three players graduating. Veteran experience led by Georgia-commit Kaila Hubbard and Penn bound forward Kennedy Suttle gives Coach Nichole Dixon two of the class’s best players. Holy Innocents’ will need to replace three starters to fit in with Hubbard and Suttle. Sophomore Jada Farrell saw the most time off the bench last year and was the only sub to get on the floor in the Golden Bears’ 51-48 loss to Region 5 rival No. 2 Wesleyan in the state championship, a game in which Holy Innocents’ led by as many as 17 points and led for over 26 minutes, only trailing for the final minute and 56 seconds. The Wesleyan Wolves undergo a major overhaul of their roster with eight seniors graduating including McDonald’s All-American, Mikayla Coombs (UConn), and much like the Golden Bears, will need to replace three starters. The Wolves fell to Holy Innocents’ twice during the regular season, but took care of business when it mattered most, winning the Region 5 title and state championship. A mix of seniors and underclassmen will be charged with helping the Wolves repeat. Point guard Amaya Register is committed to play at Old Dominion while shooter Sutton West is off to Furman after the season concludes. The 2020 class and 2021 incoming freshmen will have opportunities to assert themselves in the Wesleyan rotation. Sophomore AC Carter is a physical post presence that gave Coach Jan Azar good minutes last year while Izzy Larson and Lauren Hill look to be developing into reliable options. Freshman Paige Lyons is the younger sister of Norcross standout Tehya Lyons, a future Pitt Panther. Lyons is an exciting playmaking guard with a bright four years ahead of her. Two All-Americans weren’t enough for No. 3 St. Francis to three-peat as state champs, the Knights losing 63-61 to Holy Innocents’ in the Final Four. Four Division-I standouts depart from the roster, but the Knights have attempted to reload by landing a trio of new faces in 6-foot-2 junior Jordan Isaacs (North Paulding) and sophomores Chandler Davis (Alpharetta) and Kennedi Philson (Chattahoochee). Davis led Alpharetta in scoring as a freshman shooting guard while Philson is a long 6-foot forward with upside. Sophomore Amirah Abdur-Rahim should fill the void left behind by Maya Dodson (Stanford) as a 6-foot-2 versatile forward that can disrupt offenses. She averaged 8 points, 4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as a freshman. Senior Arynn Eady, 6-foot-1, is a College of Charleston-commit. Guards Kennedy Powell, Olivia Swanston and Eliza Snyder will try to replace Taja Cummings (Georgia Tech) and Nichel Tampa (Western Kentucky). Snyder, a sophomore, transferred in mid-season last year from Cambridge and has all the makings of a D-1 recruit. No. 4 Landmark Christian improved from 13-14 to 22-5, powered by rising junior Elizabeth Gibbs. The War Eagles got 16.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game from Gibbs along with 14 points and 6.4 rebounds a night from 2019 wing Paige Aronhalt, but Landmark Christian was knocked off in the Sweet 16 by Pinecrest Academy, 69-65. One senior graduates from No. 5 Stratford Academy, who went 20-6 with a 52-36 Sweet 16 win over Aquinas before losing to Holy Innocents’ 78-39 in the Elite Eight. Dynamic athlete Aysha Roberts will need to be replaced. Sophomores Mary Elaine Mitchell and Nadia Reese excelled as freshmen and will get a chance to take on even bigger roles in Year 2. Much like Stratford, No. 6 Fellowship Christian graduates just one senior and returns Colorado-commit Cameron Swartz to the backcourt. The 5-foot-11 wing was a Second Team All-State pick and a Region 6 First Teamer. Swartz is an agile athlete that can score at all three levels and can carry the Paladins, who went 14-10 with a 49-42 First Round loss at Aquinas. Second Team All-Region selection Sadie Schulz solidifies the backcourt. No. 7 Greenforest fell in the Sweet 16 to Lakeview Academy, 59-55. The Eagles finished 12-9 after going 27-1 in 2015-16. Forward Uloma Enyogasi is gone but Memphis-commit Joy Nnamani is back. The 5-foot-9 wing averaged over 13 points and 11 rebounds per game while adding 4.8 steals and 1.3 blocks. Senior point guard Taylor Riggins averaged 11.7 points and 3.3 steals. Region 8 will be an interesting race between No. 8 Prince Avenue Christian and No. 10 Lakeview Academy. The Lions had their best run in school history, going 26-5 and taking a trip to the Final Four for the first time since 2005 behind prolific scorer Hanna Grogan and 2017’s Christen Copeland and Ryann Moody. Now that the trio has graduated, Lakeview Academy’s stranglehold over the region may loosen. The pressure will be on the likes of Kennedy Payne, Maddie Blackburn, Sadie Thrailkill and sophomore Maddy Towles to continue the Lions’ winning ways. Upstart Prince Avenue Christian recorded its best record in over a decade, improving from 12-13 to 21-8. The Wolverines lost both meetings with Lakeview Academy, losing 50-26 in the regular season, but cutting the gap to 41-34 in the Region 8 championship. Prince Avenue fell in the Elite Eight to Wesleyan 63-31 before the Wolves defeated Lakeview 77-35 in the Final Four. The young Wolverines have their top two players returning in sophomore guard Ansley Hall and junior Madison Britt. As a freshman, Hall earned First Team All-Region honors along with an All-Area selection after averaging 14.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Her play has helped put the Wolverines on the map as a playoff contender. No. 9 Pinecrest Academy sees the school’s all-time leading scorer Margaret Metz graduate after leading the Paladins to their first state playoff win in the GHSA, but little sister Regina is back for her senior season after dropping in 18.6 points per game. Depth will be a glaring issue for the Paladins who come off a 21-7 season with wins over Savannah Country Day and Landmark Christian in the state playoffs.
Class A-Public’s No. 1 Pelham rumbles into 2017-18 after capturing the school’s first title since 1997 by beating Telfair County 60-42; the Hornets winning their four playoff games by an average of 30.5 points. Pelham loses some firepower headlined by Clemson-signee Destiny Thomas, but leading scorer Mahogany Randall is back for her senior season along with 6-foot-3 shot blocker Willeshia Kemp. Pelham must replace three starters. No. 2 Telfair County proved to be a scrappy opponent for powerful Pelham, but a 4-of-33 shooting night from beyond the arc gave the Trojans no chance at the upset. Junior guard India Wells led the team in scoring last year at 14.9 points per game. NyAsia Howard chipped in 10 points per game as a junior while rising junior Brandy Mackey added 8.6 on average. Tyshiana Rozier’s scoring will need to be replaced. No. 3 Wheeler County played Pelham the toughest in the state tournament before falling in the Final Four, 81-67. Senior guard Brianna Hinton played the role of catalyst, averaging 12.2 points, 4.5 assists and 3.1 steals. She will be tested this year even more now that 6-foot-4 Second Team All-State center Lakaitlin Wright has graduated after averaging a double-double. Senior Mlya Mackey likely will see the interior play fall on her shoulders now. At 5-foot-7, Mackey collected 7.1 points and 7 rebounds per game, but wasn’t a rim protector like Wright, a dynamic that will be sorely missed. Sameria Bryant has a chance to take a big step forward in her sophomore season after playing big minutes as a freshman. Wheeler County isn’t the only beast looming in Region 3. No. 4 Woodville-Tompkins and No. 5 Treutlen both call the basketball rich region home. Woodville-Tompkins split with Wheeler County 1-1, while Treutlen was swept in three games by the Bulldogs from Alamo. In their only meeting, the Wolverines lost at home to Treutlen 61-59. All-State junior guard Jazmin Grayson did it all last year for Woodville-Tompkins, averaging 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 5.5 steals. The 5-foot-7 playmaker will need to pick up the slack left behind from Savanna Walker. Rising sophomore Antalazia Baker averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds while junior Charde Hutchinson and 5-foot-11 senior LaNaya El-Amin do the dirty work on the glass. All-State First Teamer Le’Andrea Gillis is one of the best players in the entire classification and gives the Treutlen Vikings an opportunity to win every time out. The 5-foot-9 senior averaged 20.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 4.5 blocks. The Vikings return their entire roster including junior Kayla Blackshear and senior Denesha Beacham. Treutlen fell to Wheeler County in the Elite Eight 42-38 while Woodville-Tompkins lost to Telfair County in the Final Four, 62-60. Following a run of Region 3 schools in the 3-5 spots, Region 4 takes slots 6-8. No. 6 Marion County could be a dark horse to take a deep run this year after graduating just two players from last season’s 23-6 Elite Eight team that lost 59-49 to Woodville-Tompkins. 5-foot-7 sophmore guard Jameisha Williams and 5-foot-11 senior Torriunna Myers power a lengthy lineup. Twin sisters Ashley and Ansley Whitley head into their junior seasons as 5-foot-11 shot blockers. Senior point guard Kamille McCannon is the smallest on the roster at 5-foot-2, but is a sparkplug scorer. No. 7 Macon County will try to keep momentum from their 18-8 season rolling, but they will have to do so with a new head coach in place after Quantavias Allen left for the Lovejoy boys job. A strong core remains intact for the Bulldogs however as All-State First Teamer Jasmine Larry is back for her senior season after pumping in 22.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4.4 steals per game. Senior Erykah Skinner stands 6-foot-2 and is coming off of a year in which she posted 10.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. The inside-out duo also sees Fredreaka English back for her junior season. Can having the best player on the court at all times win you a championship? No. 8 Greenville has one last opportunity to see if it’s possible with Mississippi State-commit Brittany Davis. The reigning Class A-Public Player of the Year is the most feared player in the classification. At 5-foot-9, Davis hung 36 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 5.7 steals and 2.4 blocks per game – video game numbers. Davis scored 32 of her team’s 35 points in Greenville’s 75-35 Elite Eight loss to Pelham. The Patriots’ second leading scorer at 12.9 points per game, Munyana Colton, has graduated, leaving Greenvile in dire need of someone that can score the ball. Senior Talencia Toney is the Pats’ leading scorer behind Davis, after averaging 3.3 points per game. Davis took over 40% of her team’s shots last year. Region 2 places two tough teams at the bottom of the poll in No. 9 Turner County and No. 10 Wilcox County. The two squads were as even as it gets, with Wilcox County going 2-1 vs. the Rebels, picking up wins 55-54 and 60-54 in double overtime before losing 40-37 in the Region 2 tournament. Turner County gets the slight edge over the Patriots to open the year thanks to the dynamic duo of Zakiyah Office and Miya Byrd. Office, a 5-foot-8 senior, is a Preseason All-State First Team selection following her breakout 2016-17 season in which she averaged 24.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 steals. Long term, Byrd, a 5-foot-7 sophomore point guard, might have the highest ceiling. As a freshman she tallied 11.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 4.4 steals a night. Her size, body control and vision is a rare combination to find at the Class A-Public level. She’s someone that D-1’s should begin tracking. The final cog to the Rebel attack is 5-foot-10 center Aerial Hamilton, who put up 8.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game as a junior. Wilcox County counters with senior Trajata Colbert, a 6-foot-1 center that gobbles up double-doubles. Sophomore post Asia Montgomery teams up with Colbert inside for the post-game-minded Patriots.
FIRST TEAM G – Ashton Hagans, Newton, Jr.
G – Isaac Okoro, McEachern, Jr.
G – Elias King, Shiloh, Jr.
F – Jalyn McCreary, Kennesaw Mountain, Jr.
C – EJ Montgomery, Wheeler, Sr.
SECOND TEAM G – Sharife Cooper, McEachern, So.
G – Jamir Chaplin, Meadowcreek, Jr.
G – Travis Anderson, Grayson, Sr.
F – JoJo Toppin, Norcross, Sr.
F – Kalu Ezikpe, Discovery, Sr.
FIRST TEAM G – Mekhail Bethea, Dacula, Jr.
G – Landers Nolley, Langston Hughes, Sr.
G – Jayce Moore, Coffee, Jr.
G – Khalyn Weekley, Bradwell Institute, Sr.
F – KJ Buffen, Gainesville, Sr.
SECOND TEAM G – KJ Jenkins, Creekview, Sr.
G – Brenden Tucker, Dacula, Jr.
G – Brandon Barron, Alpharetta, Jr.
F – Khadim Samb, Sprayberry, Sr.
F – Tyson Jackson, Creekside, Sr.
FIRST TEAM G – Alex Jones, Buford, Sr.
G – Nelson Phillips, Warner Robins, Sr.
G – KD Johnson, Southwest DeKalb, So.
F – Marcus Watson, Buford, Jr.
F – Kavonte Ivery, Stockbridge, Sr.
SECOND TEAM G – Maurice Harvey, Miller Grove, Jr.
G – Jalen Mason, Woodland-Henry, Jr.
G – Brandon Thomas, Eagle’s Landing, Sr.
G – Jacolbey Owens, Warner Robins, Sr.
F – Terrance Boykin, Maynard Jackson, Sr.
FIRST TEAM G – Jaylon Pugh, Cartersville, Sr.
G – Tye Fagan, Upson-Lee, Sr.
G – Kris Gardner, Westover, Sr.
F – Cam Holden, Mary Persons, Sr.
C – Travon Walker, Upson-Lee, Jr.
SECOND TEAM G – Jordan Brown, Westover, Jr.
G – Jarred Godfrey, Sandy Creek, Sr.
G – Donte Justice, Baldwin, Jr.
C – Walker Kessler, Woodward Academy, So.
C – De’Undra Singleton, Stephens County, Sr.
FIRST TEAM G – Hunter McIntosh, GAC, Jr.
F – Khavon Moore, Westside-Macon, Sr.
F – Jaylin Williams, Brantley County, Jr.
F – Isaiah Kelly, Pace Academy, Sr.
F – Amanze Nguzemi, Johnson-Savannah, Sr.
SECOND TEAM G – Devon Barnes, Cedar Grove, Jr.
G – Shamar Jones, Johnson-Savannah, Jr.
G – Tyrin Lawrence, Morgan County, Jr.
G – Alec Woodard, Morgan County, Jr.
C – Carlos Curry, Dougherty, Sr.
FIRST TEAM G – Kameron Pauldo, Dublin, Sr.
G – Jaylan McKinney, Swainsboro, Sr.
G – Ashton Bonner, Monticello, Sr.
F – Ja’Queze Kirby, Jeff Davis, So.
F – Reggie Perry, Thomasville, Sr.
SECOND TEAM G – Jalen Stegall, South Atlanta, Sr.
G – Mardrez McBride, Butler, Sr.
F – Malik Crawford, Monticello, Jr.
F – Dylan Orr, Banks County, Sr.
C – Timmy Sellers, Glenn Hills, Sr.
FIRST TEAM G – Dwon Odom, St. Francis, So.
G – Tre Gomillion, Aquinas, Sr.
G – Quinn Richey, Mt. Pisgah, Jr.
F – Eric Coleman, King’s Ridge, Jr.
F – Malachi Rhodes, ELCA, Jr.
SECOND TEAM G – Christian McLean, Wesleyan, Sr.
G – Trevon Reddish, ELCA, Jr.
G – Drew Cottrell, Lakeview Academy, Sr.
F – Chase Ellis, St. Francis, So.
F – Christian Koneman, Christian Heritage, Sr.
FIRST TEAM G – Clayton Jenkins, Macon County, Sr.
G – JaQuavius Smith, Central-Talbotton, Sr.
F – ZyTavian Hill, Central-Talbotton, Sr.
F – Rashun Williams, Calhoun County, Sr.
F – Clarence Jackson, Wilkinson County, Sr.
SECOND TEAM G – Jah’Nile Hill, Manchester, Sr.
G – Malik Foston, Georgia Military College, Jr.
G – Jar’Quavius Brown, Dooly County, Sr.
G – CJ Ackles, Mt. Zion-Carrollton, Sr.
C – Tylan Grable, Wilkinson County, Sr.
The voice recorder app on PC threw us a curveball during Coach Jamie Brooks’ interview but cleared up in time for Coach Ander Galfsky; bear with us!
Jamie Brooks, Head Coach of Andrew College in Cuthbert, GA, opens the episode discussing what it’s like to build a Junior College program from scratch as the Fightin’ Tigers head into Year 1 after over a decade long hiatus of Men’s Basketball. Campbell University Director of Basketball Operations Ander Galfsky stops by at the 25:54 mark to talk about his coaching path and what it means to be a DBO at the Division I level.