HoopSeen Tip-Off notes

Meet BJ

BJ Wright - Perry High School
BJ Wright

Walking out of the gym on Sunday afternoon after a fun day at the HoopSeen Tip-Off, something caught my eye on Court 4. That something was 6-foot-7 2021 forward BJ Wright of Perry High School. Playing with the 16U Middle Georgia Ballers, who don plain all-red uniforms, Wright’s strong build caught my eye and when I found out he was only a freshman this season, I knew I had to stay.

It wasn’t the best litmus test, a 29-point blowout win, but the raw tools were too much to ignore. Wright scored 13 points on a bevy of highlight dunks. Wright plays more on the wing with some trips to the block, giving him elite size at his age and position. He had one nice assist on a pick-and-roll slip which provided a glimpse into what his potential might be.

With all young players, college ball is still in the distant future, but that future will come quick. Wright has the god given body and natural skills to become an interesting prospect. He will need to continue to work on his craft and more importantly, everything else away from basketball. If he can put school first with basketball a close second, it will be very fascinating to see what the narrative is surrounding Wright come 2021.

Henry County height

LayPonius Davis
LayPonius Davis

Coming off of an extremely successful 18-11 campaign with a state playoff berth in Year 1 under Coach BJ Thomas, the War Hawks have even more reason for optimism, and that’s not even taking into account that their top two scorers are set to return.  The 2020 class holds two potential breakout candidates on the varsity level in 16U Georgia Impact frontcourt mates 6-foot-6 LayPonius Davis and 6-foot-4 Jeqhuan Carter.

They might not set the world on fire, but they will be usable pieces for Coach Thomas. Davis is a long shot blocker that also posts up well. He will need to get stronger and work on keeping rebounds high, but his size and willingness to run the floor bode well. He had 4 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 3 blocks in a win.

Jeqhuan Carter
Jeqhuan Carter

Carter is the physical garbage man inside. What Davis might lack in bulk, Carter makes up for with his bullish presence in the paint, most notably on the glass. He collected 15 points and 13 rebounds. Though he doesn’t have the elite leaping ability right now, Carter could provide a similar skill set that ‘17 Kovi Tate brought to the table during Henry County’s 2017 Final 4 run.

Super Smash Bro Kirby

Ja'Queze Kirby
Ja’Queze Kirby

2020 6-foot-6 forward Ja’Queze Kirby isn’t pink and isn’t round, but he can float above the rim just like his video game predecessor. The Class AA First Team All-Stater has long been known for his electric athleticism, but this weekend with 16U Upward Stars SE he showed more than just his hops. Kirby piled in his customary 20 points but drilled four three-pointers in the process. Defensively he moved his feet well and came away with two blocks. Kirby is one of the state’s best prospects and the gem of South Georgia. It’s easy to see how he stuffs stat sheets on a nightly basis at Jeff Davis; it’s harder to understand how he hasn’t received a scholarship offer yet – that will change soon.

15U War Eagles Elite

Derek McDonald - Marist
Derek McDonald

Marist’s 2021 group has some talent moving up the pipeline in the form of 5-foot-11 point guard Luke Benson and 6-foot-2 forward Derek McDonald. Benson is a crafty ball handler with poise and a little cool swagger. He gets some nice elevation on his jump shot and can pull-and-pop from the mid-range. McDonald is the workhorse. Already physically strong and to no surprise a football player, McDonald plays a 3/4 role as one of the tallest players on the team. He uses his strength to his advantage to attack the glass and finish drives. He is a high effort player that likes to stick his nose into the action. He has range to the three-point line but will need to solidify the shot as he gets older to make it a true weapon in his arsenal. He scored 16 points in a 45-43 OT loss.

17U SBC Select impresses

Donell Nixon
Donell Nixon

Led by 2019 5-foot-9 point guard Donell Nixon (Buford), SBC Select finished their weekend at the HoopSeen Tip-Off 3-0. Nixon scorched nets all tournament, drilling three after three. He nailed five in a win over the Greater NE GA Warriors, where he finished with 19 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals. His passing may have gotten a little overshadowed playing with Lipscomb-signee Alex Jones the past two seasons, but make no mistake, the dynamic dynamo can dish it out. Wofford, East Tennessee State and Rutgers have all shown interest.

Teammate Grant Van Beveren will see an uptick in his recruitment heading into his senior year. The 6-foot-6 post from Chattahoochee is a sturdy big man that knows how to use his body. You can pencil him in for 10+ rebounds a night. Offensively, Van Beveren showed he can knock down the straightaway three and even pull up off the dribble.

Elberton’s Elite

AJ James - Elbert County
AJ James

Elbert County pieced together a 23-5 record and a trip to the Sweet 16 in Class AA. All-State Honorable Mention 6-foot-3 2019 forward AJ James played a massive role in the Blue Devils’ 9-win increase. James reminds me of current Piedmont Lion and former ’17 Lakeview Academy Lion, Josh Randolph. James is athletic and physical and plays all over the floor for his teams, usually positions 3-5. James bangs inside for the Blue Devils during the regular season, but his wing prowess was on display this weekend with the Greater NE GA Warriors. James posted 11 points, 11 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocks.

I love how he attacks rebounds. Maybe most impressive, is his fearless post defense. James is used to giving up size on a nightly basis and has had wars with 6-foot-7 North Georgia-signee Dylan Orr of Banks County. He had to tussle with big man Grant Van Beveren this weekend and give him fits with his blend of strength and quickness and ability to not foul when denying deep post position. James is a great glue guy that can help teams win on both sides of the ball at multiple positions.

Unsigned 2018 Seniors

A scouting report on some of the GHSA’s top remaining unsigned seniors

PG

  1. Jacolbey Owens (Warner Robins)
    + Elite level athlete that plays above the rim
    + Finishes through contact
    + Has improved his three-point shot tenfold from his junior season
    + Not afraid of the spotlight; Clutch in crunch time
    + High energy
    * Can continue to improve his point guard prowess
  1. Jarred Godfrey (Sandy Creek)
    + Elite size (6’4)
    + Scores over smaller defenders
    + Can score off the bounce
    + Soft mid-range touch
    + Patiently waited behind D-I guards
  1. Khalyn Weekley (Bradwell Institute)
    + Elite size (6’4)
    + Physically strong
    + Attacks downhill
    * Needs to solidify his outside shot
  1. Dwight Murray (Pebblebrook)
    + Shooter
    + Played against elite competition
    + Patiently waited behind D-I guards
    + Quick
    + Leader
    * Lacks size (5’11)
  1. Kris Gardner (Westover)
    + Playmaker
    + Scores at all three levels
    + Strong ball handler
    + Scoring-minded PG that also distributes
    + Quick hands on defense
    * Needs to make sure not to over dribble

Other Notables
Nick Edwards (Grayson); Kameron Pauldo (Dublin); Jah’Nile Hill (Manchester); Jay Jefferson (Troup County); Dalvin White (Norcross)

SG

  1. Tye Fagan (Upson-Lee)
    + Scores from all three levels
    + Improved consistency of three-point shot
    + Best post-up guard in class
    + Smooth athlete
    + Plays the passing lanes
    + Shot blocker
    + Can affect games without scoring
    + Court vision
    + Loyal
  1. Eli Lawrence (Tri-Cities)
    + Good size (6’5)
    + Tye Fagan-lite
    + Southpaw that can shoot the three & elevate to finish through traffic
    + Strong rebounder
    + Lets the game come to him
    Can continue to improve his playmaking with the ball
  1. Brandon Younger (Wheeler)
    + Elite size (6’7)
    + High upside
    + Can play multiple positions
    * Streaky; good in many areas but not great
  1. Adam Flagler (Duluth)
    + Elite shooter
    + Mid-range
    + Decision making
    + Can create off the dribble for teammates
    * Average height (6’2)
  1. Daniel Parrish (Aquinas)
    + Good size (6’3)
    + Can play either 1 or 2
    + Court vision
    + Passing in traffic
    + Plays passing lanes
    + Willing rebounder with good hands
    * Can be a streaky three-point shooter; must stay aggressive

Other Notables
Grant Howard
(Pebblebrook); Tim Williamson (Glenn Hills); Tre Gomillion (Aquinas); Adrian Martin (Lanier); Christian Jackson (Greenforest); Mandarius Dickerson (Collins Hill)

F

  1. KJ Buffen (Gainesville)
    + Versatile with size (6’7)
    + 7-foot wingspan
    + Plays with energy
    + Active on glass
    + Can put the ball on the floor when needed
    + High ceiling. Still maturing after missing bulk of junior season. Younger than most of his grade.
    * Will need to improve outside shot to play on perimeter
  1. Jamari Dean (Cedar Grove)
    + 6’6
    + Elite second leap on offensive glass
    + Workhorse inside
    + Finishes through heavy contact on low block
    + Mid-range game
    + Interior passing
    * Could be a tweener. Good enough shooter/slasher to steal minutes at the 3. Defensively can handle switches on multiple positions.
  1. Clarence Jackson (Dublin)
    + 6’7
    + Does the dirty work inside
    + Likes to rebound
    + Slasher
    + Versatile defender
    Needs to improve outside shot
  1. Brandon Suggs (McEachern)
    + 6’7
    + Defensive-minded
    + Length
    + Played elite competition
  1. Cole Guenther (McIntosh)
    + 6’7
    + Three-point shooter
    + Shot-blocker
    + Has improved ball handling
    + Length
    Struggled with consistency from three (29%)

Other Notables
ZyTavian Hill (Central-Talbotton); Drew Hudson (Starr’s Mill); Greg Holloway (Westside-Macon); Jarred Rosser (Gainesville); Jarrel Rosser (Gainesville); Kerry Richardson (Elite Scholars)

Post

  1. EJ Montgomery (Wheeler)
    + 6’10 All-American
    + Length to rebound anything in his area
    + Post scoring
    + Outside shot
    + Can handle the ball
    + Consistent
    * Improved his toughness. Can always get stronger mentally and physically.
  1. Timmy Sellers (Glenn Hills)
    + 6’8
    + Athletic
    + Handles the ball; can create own fast break
    + Euro step
    + Shot blocker
    + Still improving
    Not an overly elite rebounder. A little unorthodox. Needs to stay aggressive.
  1. Carlos Curry (Dougherty)
    + 7’0
    + Rebounding
    + Willingness to shoot from the outside
    + Mobile
    * Still raw. Can be timid around the rim. Can shy away from contact. Hasn’t seen D-I competition during high school career at Dougherty.
  1. Kevin Paige (Miller Grove)
    + 6’8
    + College body
    + Rebounder
    + Shot blocker
    + Has improved steadily over career
    + Decent footwork around the rim
    * Physical space eater whose defense is ahead of his offense.
  1. Alex Johnson (Lowndes)
    + 6’8
    + Late bloomer
    + Can handle the ball on the perimeter
    + Range stretches out to three-point line
    + Post defense
    * Will continue to improve as he gets stronger. Best basketball ahead.

Other Notables
De’Undra Singleton (Stephens County); Bryce Brown (Archer); Tylan Grable (Wilkinson County); Tyler Culbreth (Lee County); Jermon Clark (Miller Grove); Ja’Quez Hicks (Heritage-Conyers); Kennedy Willis (St. Pius X); Ta’San King (South Gwinnett); Brandon Favors (Westlake); Julian Baldwin (Etowah)