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Players To Watch For In Class AAAAAA

Region 1-AAAAAA

Tift County – Sr. G Tyrie Jackson, Jr. F Preston Horne

Lowndes – Sr. F Brandon Benjamin, Jr. G Octavious Fudge

Lee County – Jr. G Jalin Wimberly, Jr. G Tyler McConnell

Colquitt County – Jr. G Tory Ponder, So. G Cam Singletary

Valdosta – Sr. G Brandon Sharper, Jr. G John E Slater

Region 2-AAAAAA

Lovejoy – Sr. G James Mays

Tucker – Sr. G Javier Russell, Sr. F Adonis Green, Sr. G Amir Butcher, Jr. G Kenton Eskridge

Lakeside – Sr. G Sean Atwater, Sr. G Bennett Fahsel

Alcovy – So. F Darnell Jefferies, Sr. G Jovon Rosse

Rockdale County – Sr. G Jalen Jordan, Sr. G Adam Ellis

Newton – Fr. G Ashton Hagans, Jr. G JD Notae, Sr. G Jaquan Simms

Region 3-AAAAAA

Westlake – Jr. F Chuma Okeke, Sr. G Raquan Wilkins, Jr. G Daniel Lewis, Jr. PF Michael Durr, Sr. F Ronald Bell, So. G Jamie Lewis

Pebblebrook – Sr. G Jared Harper, Jr. G Collin Sexton, Jr. G JJ Smith

Langston Hughes – Jr. G Khalil Cuffee, Jr. G Derrick Cook, Sr. G Justin Jones

Douglas County – Sr. F Brandon Robinson, Sr. G Reece Anderson, Sr. G Kalen Clifton

Newnan – Sr. G Khalil McCoy, Jr. G Nick Parks, Sr. PF Jannson Williams

East Coweta – Jr. C Elafayette Stone, Sr. F Kendall Alford

Campbell – Sr. G Laz Walker, Sr. G Mike Olmert, Sr. F Randy McClure

South Cobb – Sr. G Justin Holliday, Sr. G DorQuincy Jordan, Sr. F Mandell Whitley, So. G Trevin Wade

Region 4-AAAAAA

McEachern – Sr. G Darius Jones, Sr. G AJ Jones, Sr. F Bryce Smith, Fr. F Isaac Okoro

Hillgrove – Jr. G DeMeirre Black, Sr. G Brandon Williams

Osborne – Jr. F Ravion Thornton, Jr. G Kaylan Davis

Marietta – Sr. G KhayVonn Benson, Sr. F Cordarius Jackson

North Paulding – Sr. F Dylan Autenrieth, Jr. F Chad Terrell, Jr. G Ethan Reid

Harrison – Sr. F Austin York, Sr. G DJ Rowe, Jr. G Tate Coston

Kennesaw Mountain – Sr. G Marcel Ellis, Sr. C Brian Vonck

North Cobb – Sr. G Myles Lake, Sr. G DJ Render, Sr. G Ricky Shearman

Region 5-AAAAAA

Walton – Jr. G Junaye Colon, Sr. G Jeremiah Bivins, Sr. G Demetrius Richardson

Roswell – Sr. G Matt Gonda, Jr. G Xavier McKinney

Woodstock – Sr. G Marcus Foo, Jr. G Tyreke Johnson, So. G Dominic Hewitt

Etowah – Sr. G Ryan Grigsby, Sr. G Daniel Hogue

Cherokee – Sr. G Kash Jackson, Jr. F Phillip Cirillo

Wheeler – Sr. PF Romello White, Sr. G Cam Jordan, Jr. G Darius Perry, So. F Reikan Donaldson,  Sr. F Al-Wajid Aminu

Lassiter – Sr. G Diego Valer, So. G Christian Jackson

Milton – Sr. F Chris Lewis, Jr. F Alex O’Connell, Jr. G Kendrick Summerour, So. G Justin Brown, Sr. PF Kyrin Galloway

Pope – Sr. F Drew Miller, Sr. G Mitchell Hollis

Region 6-AAAAAA

North Forsyth – Sr. G Chad Bureau, Sr. G Nick Cunningham

Alpharetta – Jr. F Carlos Carriere, Jr. G David Swillum, Sr. G Keishon Kershaw

Chattahoochee – Sr. G Myles Drye, Jr. F Patrick Troman, Sr. G Ja’von Douglas

Northview – Sr. F Aly Fall, Sr. G Jeremiah Shields, Sr. F Garrett Stewart

Lambert – Sr. G Tanner Hall, Sr. F Ross Morkem, Sr. F Connor Mannion, Jr. G Andrew Melms

Centennial – Sr. F Adam Saeed, Sr. F Darrian Brown

Habersham Central – Sr. G Mason Kinsey, Jr. C Austin Frady

Johns Creek – Sr. G Mark Lancaster, Sr. F Ian Joseph

West Forsyth – Sr. F Kel Pruitt, Sr. F Jeremy Magee, Sr. G Cooper Evans

South Forsyth – Sr. G Chandler Strall, Jr. F Evan Cole

Region 7-AAAAAA

North Gwinnett – Jr. G Adam James, Sr. G Colby Leifson

Meadowcreek – Sr. F Shadiah Toppin, Sr. G Travontay Taylor, Jr. F Anyeuri Castillo

Peachtree Ridge – Sr. G Milz Tatum, Jr. F Connor Heyward, Sr. G Jeremiah Starks

Mountain View – Fr. F Brandon Green, So. G Spencer Rodgers, Sr. G Nick Hayes

Collins Hill – Sr. G Kai Lambert, So. PF Chris Parks, Sr. PF AJ Cheeseman, Sr. F Teshaun Hightower

Duluth – Jr. F Jalen Hodges, So. G Adam Flagler, Sr. C Obinna Ofodile, Sr. G Javis Diaz, Fr. C Alex Powell

Norcross – Jr. F Rayshaun Hammonds, Jr. F Lance Thomas, So. G Dalvin White, Fr. G Kyle Sturdivant, Sr. G Chris Curlett

Mill Creek – Sr. G Miles Riley, Sr. G Charles Botchway, Jr. F Christian Mancillas

Region 8-AAAAAA

Dacula – Sr. F Kevon Tucker, Sr. G Derek St. Hilaire, Sr. G Demari Edwards

Central Gwinnett – Sr. G Adnan Antonio, Sr. G Azaviar Kufour

Berkmar – Jr. G Al Durham, Jr. G Zach Cooks, Jr. G Jay Estime, Sr. C Robert Hill

Archer – Fr. G Brenden Tucker, Sr. G Darrion Taylor, Sr. C Rhiann Mann

Brookwood – Sr. G Sean Agnant,  Jr. G Bubba Parham, Sr. G Micah Kinsey, Jr. G Trae Higginbotham

South Gwinnett – Sr. F Xavier Johnson, Jr. G D’ontay Torrence

Shiloh – Sr. F Josh Okogie, Sr. G Malik Chandler, Sr. G Darnell Rogers, Jr. G Greg James, Sr. G Khalil Richard, Jr. PF Thurman Massenburg

Grayson – Sr. G Austin Dukes, Sr. G Alphonso Willis, Sr. F Trevian Sconiers

Parkview – Sr. F Nasir Walker, Jr. G Aaron Rowe, So. G Cameron Chavers

GHSA Basketball Transfer Recap and Overview

As there is every year, there was some major offseason movement among some of the best basketball programs in the state of Georgia. Unlike football, there is an AAU circuit that plays nearly year round with the best players in the area joining forces to make a run at Nationals. Playing with players from other schools gives players a chance to bond with one another and learn each other’s game. The success on this summer circuit sometimes prompts players to decide to transfer to be able keep playing together. Where it hurts the schools where they transfer from, it helps build powerhouse programs elsewhere. It truly has turned into the Wild Wild West during the offseason, with the entire outlook of programs changing with the loss or the import of one or more transfer(s).

Here is a rundown of some transfers I have heard through the grapevine and a summary of what the addition means. If you know of anymore or any that are incorrect, please shoot me a tweet @KyleSandy355 or leave a comment or an email at Ksandy@Scoreatl.com. Thanks!

Class AAAAAA

SO Chris Parks – 6’6” 210 lbs – (5A Lanier to Collins Hill)

SR Romello White – 6’8” 215 lbs – (IMG Academy, FL to Wheeler)

SR Darnell Rogers – 5’2”135 lbs – (Indian Land, SC to Shiloh)

JR Collin Sexton – 6’2” 160 lbs – (Hillgrove to Pebblebrook)

JR Chuma Okeke – 6’7” 210 lbs – (Langston Hughes to Westlake)

SR A.J. Cheeseman – 6’6” 210 lbs – (Duluth to Collins Hill)

JR Kendrick Summerour – 5’9” 155 lbs – (5A Kell to Milton)

JR Greg James – 6’4” 162 lbs – (Alpharetta to Shiloh)

SO Reikan Donaldson – 6’2” 160 lbs – (1A Calvary Day to Wheeler)

JR Zach Cooks – 5’8” 140 lbs – (Norcross to Berkmar)

SO Justin Brown – 6’0” 165 lbs – (Northview to Milton)

SR Kyrin Galloway – 6’8” 200 lbs – (4A Buford to Milton)

JR Jay Estime – 6’5” 180 lbs – (Peachtree Ridge to Berkmar)

SR Al-Wajid Aminu – 6’6″ 185 lbs – (Coral Gables, FL to Wheeler)

SR Ronald Bell – 6’5″ 175 lbs – (5A North Atlanta to Westlake)

SR Teshaun Hightower – 6’5″ 180 lbs (3A Towers to Collins Hill)

SR Reece Anderson – 6’2” 185 lbs – (5A Chapel Hill to Douglas County)

JR David Swillum – 6’0″ 175 lbs – (Milton to Alpharetta)

SR Keishon Kershaw – 6’2″ 175 lbs – (Milton to Alpharetta)

SR Khalil Richard – 5’11” 165 – (St. Frances, MD to Shiloh)

SR Robert Hill – 6’9″ 240 lbs – (Duluth to Berkmar)

JR Elafayette Stone – 6’8″ 245 lbs – (Copperas Cove, TX to East Coweta)

JR JJ Smith – 6’4″ 195 lbs – (E.E. Smith, NC to Pebblebrook)

JR Thurman Massenburg – 6’7″ 210 lbs – (Home School Augusta to Shiloh)

SO Trevin Wade – 5’11” 155 lbs – (Hillgrove to South Cobb)

SO Landers Nolley – 6’4″ 175 lbs – (Lovejoy to Curie, IL)

JR Brandon Blair – 5’10” 155 lbs – (Shiloh to Duluth)

SR Amir Butcher – 6’2″ 170 lbs – (Norcross to Tucker)

Class AAAAA

SR Aaron Augustin – 5’11” 170 lbs – (6A Peachtree Ridge to Miller Grove)

JR Tae Hardy – 6’3″ 150 lbs – (Southwest DeKalb to Miller Grove)

SR Cameron Cox – 6’3″ 170 lbs – (Creekview to Sequoyah)

SR Isaac Kellum – 6’4″ 170 lbs – (Fayette County to McIntosh)

SR Tyler Scott – 6’10” 215 lbs – (Gainesville to Greenville, SC)

SR Colin Young – 6’3” 185 lbs – (3A Laney to Miller Grove)

SR Marquis Traylor – 6’5″ 180 lbs – (Knob Noster, MO to Houston County)

JR D.J. Young – 6’1″ 180 lbs – (6A Milton to Discovery)

SR Madison Williams – 6’3″ 170 lbs – (SCISA Augusta Christian to Academy of Richmond County)

SR Chris Stone – 6’0″ 155 lbs – (GISA Augusta Prep Day to Evans)

SR Jo’el Grant – 6’0″ 165 lbs – (SCISA Augusta Christian to Evans)

SR Khamron Gordon – 6’2″ 195 lbs – (1A Aquinas to Cross Creek)

SR Theo Benn Jr. – 6’0″ 180 lbs (6A Berkmar to Discovery)

SO Chima Ogboi – 6’3″ 175 lbs (1A Mt. Paran to Allatoona)

Class AAAA

SR Jacara Cross – 6’6” 220 lbs – (3A Cedar Grove to Lithonia)

SO Alex Jones – 5’9” 155 lbs – (6A Alpharetta to Buford)

SO D.J. Brittian – 6’0″ 160 lbs – (5A Miller Grove to Grady)

SO Kris Gardner – 6’1″ 170 lbs -(6A Lee County to Westover)

SR SanAntonio Brinson – 6’7” 200 lbs – (1A Aquinas to Thomson)

SO Corderius Hastings – 6’0″ 165 lbs – (Griffin to The Potter House, FL)

JR Kovi Tate – 6’4″ – 218 lbs – (5A Woodland-Stockbridge to Henry County)

Class AAA

SO Lamont Smith – 6’1” 185 lbs – (4A Buford to East Jackson)

JR Zion Williams – 5’8” 155 lbs – (Savannah to Jenkins)

SR Dylan Curry – 6’4″ 165 lbs – (Oak Hill Academy, VA to West Hall)

SO Gabe Bryant – 6’8″ 225 lbs – (Dorman, SC to Dawson County)

SR Ric’Quail Smoot – 6’8″ 230 lbs – (Butler to The Potter House, FL)

SR Jalen Holbrook – 6’2″ 170 lbs (1A Aquinas to Butler)

SO Travis Anderson – 5’10” 165 lbs – (2A Holy Innocents to East Jackson)

JR Nick Hargrove Jr. – 6’0″ 170 lbs – (GCAA Bible Baptist Christian to Southwest)

SR Korbian Bell – 6’7″ 220 lbs – (5A Morrow to South Atlanta)

Class AA

SO Isaiah Kelly – 6’8” 195 lbs – (SCISA Augusta Christian to Pace Academy)

SR Alex Perry – 6’6″ 190 lbs – (Maclay, FL to Thomasville)

Class A

SR Anthony Showell – 6’2” 165 lbs – (6A Duluth to St. Francis)

SO Cameron Gardner – 6’3″ 180 lbs – (3A Hephzibah to Aquinas)

SO Gerald Merriweather – 5’7″ 140 lbs – (3A Hephzibah to Aquinas)

JR Demiere Brown – 6’4″ 200 lbs – (5A Hiram to North Cobb Christian)

Class AAAAAA Impact Transfers:

One player might shift the balance of power in 6A and especially in Region 3. Chuma Okeke and his 22.8 points and 8.3 rebounds shift from Langston Hughes to Westlake. Hughes was primed for a big season chock full of juniors. An astronomical 12 sophomores suited up last year for coach Rory Welsh and it was Okeke along with guard Khalil Cuffee (18.2 ppg) that ran the show as super sophomores. Now Cuffee will have to shoulder the complete load with Okeke gone. The highly sought after forward joins an already talented roster that stumbled to a 13-15 record in 2014. Big man Michael Durr, shooting guard Raquan Wilkins and point guards Danny and Jamie Lewis along with Okeke make the Lions one of the most intriguing teams for a huge rebound season. Westlake has also added North Atlanta stand-out Ronald Bell. Bell can play both forward positions and has a high motor which he uses to go after loose balls and rebounds.

The Tigers added a strong combo guard in Reece Anderson, who will join an already potent backcourt. Anderson was a key contributor last season for the Chapel Hill Panthers and now will slide in to play with highly sought after swingman Brandon Robinson. Anderson is a big physical guard who has improved his handle and jumpshot throughout his high school career. Anderson will be relied upon to produce in the ultra-competitive Region 3-AAAAAA, which is home to state runner up Pebblebrook, the reloaded Westlake Lions and the talented young Langston Hughes Panthers. Anderson was an honorable mention selection in Region 4-AAA as a sophomore in 2014 and has the upside to garner similar honors or better his senior season.

Collins Hill picked up some great size inside to help add to a team that could use some toughness in the low post. Chris Parks and AJ Cheeseman will bring just that. Parks averaged 8.0 points and 5.2 rebounds as a freshman with Lanier. Cheeseman knows Collins Hill well, as his Duluth Wildcats split a pair with the Eagles during the Region 7 regular season. Cheeseman averaged 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds as a junior.

The Eagles also nabbed Teshaun Hightower from AAA Towers High School. The combo guard has great athleticism and can become a big time scorer in the right system. Last season as a junior he averaged over 12 points per game and has yet to reach his ceiling. He has nice lift on his jumper and should start to rack up the scholarship offers with a productive senior season. Hightower broke out with a big summer circuit and was originally set to join Grayson High School before settling on Collins Hill.

Shiloh added some dynamic players to its backcourt in Darnell Rogers and Greg James. Rogers averaged over 28 points per game in South Carolina and became a YouTube sensation for his acrobatic and jaw dropping play as the smallest player on the floor. He played with new teammate Josh Okogie on the AAU circuit on Team CP3 and decided to follow him to Georgia to play their senior season together. James is strong outside shooter with nice size and is receiving looks from low to mid-major programs.

The Generals added another dynamic guard with Division-One talent in Khalil Richard. A strong guard who banged home 45% of his three-point attempts last season, Richard announced on Sept. 15 that he committed to Siena. At St. Frances Academy as a junior he averaged 12.9 points per game and 3.0 assists. He joins Darnell Rogers and Greg James at Shiloh, a team that lost just one game in-state as they finished 28-4.

Hillgrove took a major blow in losing Collin Sexton. The rising junior was a major piece to Hillgrove’s 23-win season and was a big-game performer when the Hawks needed him the most. He will join last season’s state runner up Pebblebrook, who needs to reload after losing Ty Hudson (Clemson), Derek Ogbeide (UGA), Trhae Mitchell and glue guy Kevin Murph. Sexton will team up with Auburn-bound point guard Jared Harper and will form one of the best back courts in the state.

The Pebblebrook Falcons swooped in late in the transfer scene and landed a potential game changer in the already deep Region 3-AAAAAA picture. Jatrious “JJ” Smith has transferred from E.E. Smith, NC. The four-star guard who is a Top 50 national recruit, was originally slated to play at Word of God Christian Academy in North Carolina according to the Fayetteville Observer , but today (10/7) Shun Williams of OnTheRadarHoops broke the news that the ultra-talented scorer is coming to Georgia. Last season as a sophomore he averaged 19.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. ACC and SEC schools have been hot after the guard, who gets to the line at will, averaging almost six freethrow attempts a game last year. Smith played with the Southern Stampede of the EYBL which sported the likes of Al Durham (Berkmar) and Jay Estime and Zach Cooks who transferred to Berkmar to play with Durham this year. The addition of Smith makes Pebblebrook the owner of arguably the most talented backcourt in a a state that has seen the balance of power shift with each move. Smith, Jared Harper (Auburn) and Hillgrove transfer Collin Sexton are a lethal trio for coach George Washington.

The big winner of all this moving-and-shaking has to be Milton, who vaults itself back into state prominence if all the pieces come together. Kendrick Summerour brings his slick And-1 type handles to the Eagles after averaging 14.1 points and 4.1 assists as a sophomore at Kell. Justin Brown averaged 15.1 points a night as a freshman at Northview, while Kyrin Galloway brings size inside. This new trio will team-up with Harvard bound big man Chris Lewis and the rapidly improving Alex O’Connell.

Although Milton added a plethora of talent this offseason, they also lost some key pieces that saw a lot of time on the court last year. Senior Keishon Kershaw and junior David Swillum will bring their abilities to Alpharetta. Kershaw started half the season for the Eagles and provides energy on the perimeter. Swillum led the JV team in scoring and has been groomed to make a contribution right away in his first season playing full-time on varsity. Fellow junior DJ Young has left for first-year school Discovery and should be thrust into a role which will see him as a primary option on offense. When he gets the opportunity to set his feet, Young can be lethal from outside with his three-point stroke.

Wheeler has added the younger brother of NBA’er and former Norcross star Al-Farouq Aminu. Al-Wajid is a 6-foot-6 forward with long arms which will help Wheeler’s defense right away in both the passing lanes and on the interior. Now a senior, as a sophomore Aminu averaged 9.4 points, 9.0 and 1.8 blocks per game at Coral Gables, FL.

The Wildcats also picked up four-star forward Romello White, late into the transfer scene. Initially, it was being reported by sources that White, who started his high school career at Peachtree Ridge, would be back with the Lions, but he indeed has landed with Wheeler. @CoryintheSource looked like the first to break it, and had his tweet retweeted by White himself. On Sept. 14, Shun Williams of OnTheRadarHoops tweeted that Iowa State was at Wheeler to see both Darius Perry and White work out. White committed to Tennessee on Jan. 5, but later de-committed on April 14 after the coaching change.

Berkmar could be in line for a resurgence this season behind junior guard Al Durham and three important transfers. Guards Zach Cooks (Norcross) and Jay Estime (Peachtree Ridge) should revamp the Patriots backcourt. Both are juniors and can knock down the three-ball. Cooks is a quick little point guard who can push tempo and find the open man. Estime averaged over 10 points per game and led the Lions in three-pointers made last year. The perimeter should be a strength for the Patriots, but the interior got a major boost as well adding big man Robert Hill Jr., who comes over from Duluth. Hill stands 6-foot-9 and has started to blossom into a reliable low post presence. Two years ago Hill, who is also training to become a pilot, moved in halfway through the season and had to sit out. With Obinna Ofodile and A.J. Cheeseman getting the majority of the minutes inside in 2014 at Duluth, Hill’s move to Berkmar should see him take on a major role as a top option in the low post for coach Greg Phillips.

East Coweta suffered through an abysmal 1-25 season last year, but new head coach Royal Maxwell will have a nice addition to work with in the powerful Region 3. Elafayette Stone, a 6-foot-8 transfer from Copperas Cove, TX, will be asked to be the focal point for the Indian offense this upcoming season. Stone is a true back-to-the-basket post player and uses his 245-pound frame to carve out space down low. Stone has soft hands and is an efficient rebounder with the potential to become a double-double machine.

The Rest of the State Impact Transfers:

Aaron Augustin averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Peachtree Ridge a year ago, but now teams up with UConn-commit Alterique Gilbert at Class AAAAA power Miller Grove to form yet another great Peach State backcourt.

Tae Hardy will join Gilbert and Augustin in a now crowded, but loaded backcourt. He comes from Southwest DeKalb where he averaged 16.5 points per game last year as a sophomore.

A third guard has landed at Miller Grove in Colin Young. Young was a part of the break out Laney Wildcats who won 29 games and put together the most impressive resume in all of the state with wins over the likes of Morgan County, Pebblebrook, Norcross and eventual state champ Jenkins last year. The 6-foot-3 guard was named Region 3-AAA Second Team after pitching in 11 points per game. Young is a knockdown shooter who led the Wildcats with 49 threes, connecting at a 46% clip. He will get plenty of opportunities to spot up with Gilbert and Augustin running the show up top.

McIntosh, who has blossomed into a Class AAAAA power after a 29-1 record last year, returns 10 players including the Chiefs’ top four scorers. 2015-16 will be the season the Chiefs make a deep run into the playoffs after adding Isaac Kellum. The senior averaged 13.8 points per game at neighboring Fayette County High School and will slide into the starting three spot. He brings great athleticism and may be the missing piece needed for the Chiefs to capture their first ever state championship.

Houston County continues to trend upwards after adding Marquis Traylor from Knob Noster High School in Missouri. The Bears finished the regular season 0-7 in Region 2-AAAAA, but stunned cross-region foe Grovetown (17-7, 9-1) in the region tournament and sent the Warriors home early without a state playoff berth. The Bears featured just four seniors last year and Traylor should help with his athleticism. As a junior he averaged 7.7 points and 6.3 rebounds while showing off his hops, blocking 1.3 shots per game.

After a 13-13 regular season in Class AAAAA, Academy of Richmond County (ARC) returns some good pieces, but the best might have come via transfer in Madison Williams. At 6-foot-3, Williams is an athletic combo guard that joins the program after starring at Augusta Christian. An ability to get to the rim and nice range on his jumper makes Williams a high-scoring guard with a lot of mid-major interest. He will be expected to take the reigns of the Musketeers offense and lead them into the state playoffs after missing out a year ago.

Jacara Cross’ move from Cedar Grove to Lithonia makes the Bulldogs one of the top dogs in AAAA.  Couple him with Tyleen Patterson, Rodney Chatman and Tyheem Freeman and you have a dynamic team that already is coming off a 27-win season.

Alex Jones graded out as one of the best freshmen in the state last year and was named AAAAAA Freshman of the Year by HoopSeen. He helped lead Alpharetta to a 25-6 record and 18-0 Region 6 record. The floor general averaged a double-double in points and assists and was a lock down defender on the perimeter. Jones will fill in for Tre Hansbrough, who signed to play at Tennessee Tech after averaging 23 points per game his senior season at Buford.

Kris Gardner will bring stability to the Westover backcourt this season after transferring from 6A Lee County. In his freshman season Gardner was named All-Region 1AAAAAA First Team. Now at the AAAA level, Gardner brings strong ball handling and decision making to a Westover team that was bounced in the first round of the state playoffs last year.

Griffin (20-8 in 2014) has suffered a big loss in its hope to reach the AAAA playoffs for the second straight season. The Potter’s House, FL has struck again and plucked another fine young talent out of the state of Georgia in rising sophomore Corderius Hastings. The talented guard averaged 15.1 points per game along with 4.8 assists and 3.9 steals. The shifty guard can bang home the three and get to the rack on offense while supplying sticky defense to ball handlers. He joins Ric’Quail Smoot, a 6-foot-8 Butler transfer, in Florida. Smoot is a bruiser inside that finishes well around the rim. He averaged nearly a double-double last season and has improved his jump shot, showing a feathery touch around the baseline. The Potter’s House was 13-10 last year while playing a national schedule as a part of the Sunshine Independent league.

A pair of guards should improve backcourts in AAA. Lamont Smith joins super sophomore Drue Drinnon for East Jackson while Zion Williams replaces Jenkins graduate Eric Johnson, who hit the game winner to lift the Warriors to a state championship last season with just seconds left. Williams averaged 10.3 points and 6.8 assists as a sophomore.

In a turn of events, Travis Anderson has landed at East Jackson after originally going to Grayson after a successful season at Holy Innocents’ which led to the playmaking guard being named by HoopSeen as the Class AA Freshman of the Year. Anderson proved he could score and pass at a high-rate and was tabbed to make Grayson a contender in Region 8-AAAAAA with Austin Dukes and Alphonso Willis. Instead, after playing with Grayson this year in the HoopSeen Fall League, today (10/5/15) Shun Williams of OnTheRadarHoops broke the news that the talented guard will be teaming up with Drue Drinnon and Buford transfer Lamont Smith in the Eagles’ backcourt. The addition automatically makes East Jackson a player to make a deep run in state if the front court can be productive as well.

Dawson County landed a huge player with big time upside in Gabe Bryant. The 6-foot-8 big man comes from South Carolina and will make an immediate impact with the Tigers, who won just 7 games last season (7-19). Bryant protects the paint with ease and can rebound outside of his zone. His offense has continued to improve and he will enter Dawsonville as the Tigers’ go-to guy on day one.

The dynamic Nick Hargrove Jr. will be given the keys to the car to try and drive Southwest High School to its first winning record since 2009-10. While at Bible Baptist Christian in Hampton, Georgia, Hargrove Jr. did everything. The 6-foot junior averaged 30.6 points per game, 9.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 6.1 steals. Hargrove cracked 40 points three times and will now bring his free-scoring mentality to the GHSA ranks. He definitely is a player to keep an eye on and may quickly become a fan favorite in Middle Georgia.

Isaiah Kelly provides Pace head coach Demetrius Smith with an embarrassment of riches inside. Kelly will join top nationally ranked big man Wendell Carter Jr. and will likely give the Knights a say when it comes to the state championship. As a freshman, he averaged 16.2 points and 10.5 rebounds.

Class AA Thomasville landed a key piece to add with Jordan Willis and the 22-9 Bulldogs who fell to eventual state runner-up Crawford County 80-65 in the quarterfinals after being tied 47-47 heading into the final frame. Alex Perry is a long, versatile forward who can stretch the floor and score inside. Perry averaged over 17 points and 10 rebounds last season as a junior at Maclay High School in Tallahassee, FL. He joins Willis, a strong point guard that averaged more than 14 points per game last year.

Dual sport star Anthony Showell averaged 16.6 points per game for Duluth last season and suits up alongside 5-star guard Kobi Simmons.

Aquinas suffered a major loss with the transfer of SanAntonio Brinson. The long senior has the ability to play 1-4 and has a unique skill set that can blend into any system. At first there were rumblings he would head to Thomson, but instead he landed at 22ft Academy in South Carolina. Now, as of 9-21-2015, SanAntonio went to Twitter to announce that he is indeed heading to Thomson for good after spending time with the 22ft program this offseason. Brinson is an interesting prospect who should see a major bump in his recruitment now that he is playing on a bigger stage with more exposure. He has improved his range and handle and is coming off an All-State Honorable Mention campaign in 2014. Thomson is coming off an 8-21 record and will turn the keys over to Brinson to get the Bulldogs back into the postseason. In 2013-14, Thomson lost in the second round of the state playoffs and finished 19-5.

Top Five Performances from Macon

The March to Macon concluded this past weekend but left us with some memorable performances. Here is how I would rank the top five individual efforts from championship weekend.

BOYS

  1. Jordan Harris – Seminole County – 41 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals

This was an easy one. The junior who has committed to play college ball at UGA was electrifying. Harris soared above all others for thunderous dunks and spectacular rebounds. He didn’t just dominate the game with his athleticism like most top high schoolers do, he also showed that he has a lethal jumper. Harris splashed in four 3-pointers to help the Indians bring home their first state title since 1998 over Crawford County and its raucous fan base, 76-71.

  1. Derek Ogbeide – Pebblebrook – 14 points, 22 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks

Another player heading to UGA stole the show in his respective game. Though the Falcons lost on a controversial call on which Ogbeide was whistled on, the big man thoroughly dominated the interior. Wheeler had no answer inside as Ogbeide cleaned up the boards and did not allow anything easy inside for the Wildcats. The big fella got the majority of his points off putbacks. Imagine if the Falcons fed him the ball in the post.

  1. Kobi Simmons – St. Francis – 27 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists

Simmons showed why he is ranked a five-star prospect heading into his senior season. The junior flew in for dunks and slashed into the lane and made life nightmarish for the Greenforest Eagles. Simmons lived at the line and connected, going 13-15. The Knights captured their second straight state title in convincing fashion, 96-81.

  1. Malik Beasley – St. Francis – 23 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists

It’s tough to beat a team when they have two of the best players in the state. The Florida State-signee teamed up with Simmons and Xavier-signee Kaiser Gates to pour in 73 points combined. As Kobi Simmons did, Beasley lived at the line going 13-14. He nearly brought the house down as he just missed a dunk over 7-foot-1 Ikey Obiagu.

  1. Montae Glenn – Carrollton – 22 points, 11 rebounds, 8-12 FG

The final spot is a tough one, but I have to give it to the old school back-to-the-basket big man Montae Glenn. True big men are a dying breed as the majority of young players would rather fly through the air or drain threes. The Georgia Souther-signee displayed great footwork in the low post as he punished the smaller Jonesboro Cardinals. He showed he could score with either hand, and also showed that he can rock the old school goggles. The Trojans fell 55-50, but Glenn did all he could to keep them in the game.

GIRLS

  1. Aliyah Collier – Laney – 24 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists, 7 steals, 4 blocks

A no-brainer here as Collier absolutely dominated in every facet of the game. Laney won its first ever state title while Collier slashed through the lane and picked up 20 free throw attempts of which she cashed in 16. The Wildcats defeated Beach 70-55.  No Bulldog was able to match Collier’s activeness as she impacted the game on both sides of the ball.

  1. Te’a Cooper – McEachern – 26 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists

The Tennessee-signee helped McEachern capture its second straight state title in overtime, 58-51. Cooper’s big game put a nice bow and ribbon on her successful high school career. She made play after play with the ball in her hands and made some sweet passes along with dazzle defenders with her ball handling skills.

  1. Mylashia Yancey – Turner County – 28 points, 16 rebounds, 2 steals

Yancey kicked off championship weekend with a stellar performance in a loss to undefeated Taylor County. She kept the Lady Rebels in the game and helped lead a furious comeback to make things interesting in the second half. Yancey was trouble for the Vikings once she got into the lane, and attacked the rim to get Taylor County players in foul trouble. She also showed off a nice mid-range game in her all around strong performance.

  1. Maya Dodson – St. Francis – 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists

The sophomore had the biggest sequence all weekend to give her team a state crown. As Southwest Atlanta Christian was holding for a last shot, Dodson jumped in front of an errant pass for a steal. She dished it ahead to a teammate who lost the ball right before she could attempt a layup, but Dodson was there to clean up the loose ball and laid it in at the buzzer to stun SACA. Dodson’s length caused problems for the Warriors as she had the ability to guard multiple positions and also used her height to battle inside and score tough baskets.

  1. Jacqueline Anderson – Beach – 22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals

Anderson proved she was a bulldog of a guard in the Bulldogs’ loss to Laney. She came in averaging over 15 points per game and did not disappoint. Anderson handled the ball smoothly and cashed in four 3-pointers. The Wildcats had to cool down Anderson and teammate Ilyn Spann in order to win state for legendary head coach Otis Smart.

What I Learned in Macon…

What a weekend! The March to Macon was everything that I had hoped. Nine out of the 14 games were decided by single digits and every game was up for grabs in the fourth quarter except for one. We saw some nail-biting finishes, questionable calls, and all-out passion. Sitting courtside for the first time, I was able to see in person some of the best players not only in the state but the entire nation.

I witnessed D-1 players steal the show with Jordan Harris, Malik Beasley, Kobi Simmons, Derek Ogbeide, James Walker, and Tookie Brown all carry their teams with their scoring. I also saw some unsung heroes come up big with DaJohn Williams and Eric Johnson giving their teams state championships.

So what did we learn this week? Let’s take it class by class. In Class A-Public, Calhoun County held off a late rally from the Patriots. I learned that: Seniors find ways to make plays in the clutch. Quenten Taylor was the star of the game until he picked up his fourth with 4:26 remaining in the third. He came back in the fourth and scored one more bucket to give him 20 on the night. Both he and Sherrod Williams finished with 20 points to lead the way for the Cougars but it was senior DaJohn Williams’ 18th point of the night that would give Calhoun County the crown.

St. Francis battled with Greenforest in Class A-Private and came away with a 96-81 victory for its second straight title. I learned that: Stars shine brightest on the biggest stage. Greenforest had more size and had strong guard play, but FSU-signee Malik Beasley, Xavier-signee Kaiser Gates, and five-star junior Kobi Simmons were too much as they combined for 73 points. The St. Francis girls edged South Atlanta Christian 47-45 after SACA turned the ball over on its final possession and Maya Dodson converted at the buzzer to knock off the team that ended the Lady Knights’ season a year ago.

Class AA saw the Wesleyan Wolves capture their 11 state title and their seventh in eight years. The boys game featured Crawford County and its raucous fan base against Seminole County. I learned that: Jordan Harris is the best player in the state of Georgia. The junior exploded for 41 points after draining three after three and cramming dunk after dunk. Mark Fox got a steal in this kid who will only continue to improve.

Morgan County fell to Jenkins 62-60 in the Class AAA final after Eric Johnson broke Bulldog fans’ hearts with a layup with 3.6 seconds remaining. I learned that: Morgan County can pack a gym out. Just over an hour away, the Bulldog fans filled the gym to the rafters to see Tookie Brown’s final game. It was a standing room only crowd and they were treated to possibly the best game of the weekend, even though their team didn’t come out on top. Aliyah Collier was a superstar in Laney’s win over Beach recording 24 points and 19 rebounds.

Carrollton was denied a sweep of the state titles in AAAA and came away empty handed after the Trojans could not feed Montae Glenn in the second half and after the Lady Trojans couldn’t find a bucket in the fourth quarter. I learned that: Jonesboro has the best defense in the state bar none. The Cardinals flew around the court and locked down the bigger Glenn in the second half.

Stephenson grabbed the title after beating Mays in the AAAAA girls final. I learned that: It is hard to beat a team three times. Davion Wingate and Miracle Gray refused to let the Jags drop another one to the Raiders. Brunswick’s size overwhelmed Allatoona in the boys championship and won going away, 49-32.

In overtime, McEachern and Te’a Cooper defeated Norcross 58-51. Wheeler beat Pebblebrook by one in the AAAAAA boys game. I learned that: Stars get calls and free throws win championships. Jared Harper split a pair for Pebblebrook and gave them just a one point lead instead of two. Jaylen Brown subsequently got fouled on the other end and iced it with two from the line.

GHSA Boys Basketball Quarterfinal Preview

AAAAAA

#1 Pebblebrook (25-5) @ #1 Norcross (27-3)

In what could easily be a State Championship caliber game, the battle-tested Falcons visit the streaking Blue Devils. After trailing at the half to Pope, Pebblebrook blew past the Greyhounds and won in convincing fashion, 78-59. Ty Hudson (Clemson) led the way with 26 points while potential X-factor Trhae Mitchell finished with 16. Hudson, Derek Ogbeide (UGA), and Jared Harper are the main focuses for opposing teams to stop, but the 6-foot-5 Mitchell is a competitor on both ends of the floor averaging 12.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and two steals and over a block a game. With the win the Falcons have now won nine straight. That win streak however, pales in comparison to Norcross’s. The Blue Devils have ripped off 18 consecutive games including a 102-59 shellacking of Lowndes. It will be an all-out war inside as Pebblebrook’s Ogbeide will have to tussle with the likes of Rayshaun Hammonds and Ricky Madison. Madison, a High Point-commit, can score both inside and out. On the perimeter, guards Tim Cameron, Devin Huffman, and Amir Butcher may have the size advantage over Hudson and Harper, but don’t expect anything to come easy. Both teams have featured national powers on their schedules. The Falcons have picked up wins over top programs such as Prestonwood Christian (TX), Mater Dei (CA) and Damien (CA). Pebblebrook’s only instate loss came to Laney, 65-59. Norcross also lost to Laney, 70-59.

#2 Alpharetta (25-5) @ #1 Shiloh (27-3)

The Generals have yet to be beaten on Georgia soil. Shiloh’s only three losses came in succession at the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament in late January. Region 8 Player of the Year Josh Okogie leads the attack along with Kareem Brewton. Both players average upwards of 18 points per game and control the action on offense. Cedric Guillaume roams the paint and Dejon Waters is also a threat. Okogie posted a 17 point 13 rebound double-double as the Generals advanced past Rockdale County, 55-45. Alpharetta has the size and experience down low to potentially give Shiloh fits. UNC-Wilmington-signee Devontae Cacok is a smooth 6-foot-7 forward. He pairs up with fellow 6-foot-7 senior Jaylon Gamble to control the glass on most nights. Sophomore Carlos Carriere has proven to be lethal from deep. Greg James scored 19 points to lift the Raiders over McEachern in overtime, 70-69. Mark Eze runs the offense and is coming off an 11 point, six rebound, nine assist game.

#2 Hillgrove (23-5) @ #1 Tucker (28-2)

The Tigers seamlessly transitioned into being a 5A powerhouse into becoming a 6A juggernaut. Auburn-bound guard Bryce Brown ignites the offense for Tucker. He teams up with Ayinde Russell and Josh Parker to form a sweet shooting backcourt. Jonathon Stephens is a strong forward who can score inside and out. Tucker erased Archer from the postseason with a 55-32 victory in round two. The Hawks are led by Collin Sexton and Jourdan Julian. Both players can fill it up and can get hot from deep. Point guard Antonio Wade is a strong ball handler with a knack for making plays while Brandon Schick provides some size inside. The Hawks are coming off a 73-59 win over a banged up Lambert squad.

#4 Newton (22-8) @ #1 Wheeler (27-2)

Wheeler, another school that has yet to lose to a team from Georgia, has had some close calls along the way. Pope challenged them three times but came up short each attempt. The Wildcats’ most impressive win came against Montverde Academy (FL) who is ranked No. 2 nationally. Five-star prospect and No. 2 ranked senior forward Jaylen Brown is the catalyst for Wheeler. He pairs up with Tennessee-signee Shembari Phillips to make one of the scariest lineups in Georgia. The Wildcats blew out Douglas County 87-68 in front of UNC Head Coach Roy Williams. 6-foot-7 Hakeem Anchrum and shooting guard Cam Jordan must support Brown and Phillips if Wheeler wants to reclaim its spot as state champions. The Newton Rams will be up to the challenge. The giant slayers have not backed down from any contest this postseason. In round one the Rams stunned defending state champ Tift County, 52-49. The party didn’t stop there as Newton then survived Dacula, 58-54. They may not have the size Wheeler has, but they have enough heart to go a long way. JaNaud Notae and Jaquan Simms pace a talented backcourt. D.J. Hill mans the point guard position and Donovan Grubb, who scored 12 points in the win over Dacula, battles inside at 6-foot-1.

AAAAA

#3 Jones County (21-9) @ #1 Brunswick (26-2)

The Pirates have battled their way through South Georgia skepticism to find themselves knocking at the door of a Final Four berth. With 18-straight wins, Brunswick has the second longest remaining win streak in 5A. Forwards Jabril Heck and Roger Davis have come up big thus far in the tournament. Davis is averaging 27 points and 14 rebounds while Heck is adding 23 points per game. Kymani Dunham and Zach Moore both pitched in 14 points in a 76-59 win over South Paulding. The Greyhounds have kept fans on the edge of their seat with wins over Harris County (75-73) and Gainesville in overtime (65-64). At 5-foot-9, Devin Wooten leads the team in scoring at 14.8 points. Sophomore Nick Singleton and junior Landrevius Bowden both chip in 10.3 per game. NyJel Lewis leads the Greyhounds in rebounding with 9.3 a night.

#2 ML King (24-5) @ #1 Cedar Shoals (22-8)

The Lions of MLK came away with a massive upset of undefeated McIntosh, 66-65. Juquan Jones would not be denied as he scored 35 points including two free throws with 6.1 seconds left to stun the McIntosh crowd. ML King’s gym burnt down before the season started and has caused the Lions to play every single game on the road. A team could easily wilt under that burden, but Head Coach Tony Brinson would not allow it. Seniors Kevon Harris and Jordan Martin lead the team in scoring. Harris averages 15.8 points and 11.6 rebounds while Martin pitches in 11 points. 6-foot-8 senior Andre Brooks gives the Lions a strong rim protector averaging 10.4 rebounds 3.1 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. Cedar Shoals slipped by Northside WR, 57-56 on a D’andre Mahaffey 3-pointer. The VMI-signee has had a knack for hitting big shots this season. He has scored over 20 points in three of his past four games. Sophomore Phlandrous Fleming also is a high-scorer for the Jags and is a threat to score 20 on any given night.

#1 Warner Robins (23-4) @ #1 Miller Grove (27-3)

In a finals rematch from a year ago, the Demons will try to end Miller Grove’s warpath to seven straight titles. The Wolverines dumped Warner Robins last season 70-43. Alterique Gilbert has emerged as a defensive stalwart and the point guard position averaging over five steals per game. Couple his defense with his team-high 18.5 points and 6.2 assists per game and you have a junior floor general who flirts with a triple-double almost every night. Transfer Lamont West has fit in nicely on the low block and averages 15.8 points and 7.7 rebounds. Raylon Richardson cleans up mistakes inside and swats nearly three shots per game. 21-conescutive wins, national victories and local wins over St. Francis, Tucker, and Jenkins are all impressive. The Wolverines’ only instate loss came by 21 points to Jonesboro. Miller Grove has not been as dominant as usual in the tourney, with a three point win over Chapel Hill and a 50-42 victory against Statesboro. Warner Robins has a chance to get the monkey off its back and get some revenge after getting hammered in the state championship. The Demons have good length inside that can harass the best of scorers; ask Apalachee’s Kamar Baldwin who was held to just 19 points. Marquez Callaway and Nate Curtis can both light up the scoreboard while Stephon Raybon likes to bang inside with his 6-foot-2, 225 pound frame. The Demons’ average margin of victory thus far in state has been 20 points.

#1 LaGrange (22-7) @ #1 Allatoona (27-2)

The Bucs search for their first ever semifinals appearance after dropping in the quarterfinals last season to Stephenson. Head Coach Markus Hood has built the young program into a powerhouse and will attempt to take the next step in securing themselves as a perennial favorite. After a season opening 69-49 loss to GAC, the Buccaneers righted the ship and now ride an 18-game win streak. Allatoona’s only other loss came to previously unbeaten McIntosh by five. Rodney Brown is the go-to scorer, but fellow seniors Bradley Brevet and Chris Ifill both play big roles. Ephraim Tshimanga is a strong junior and Trey Doomes has blossomed into a scoring threat as a freshman. The Buccaneers handled Coffee County, 61-38 in the second round. LaGrange seeks to reach the finals for the first time since 09-10 when it fell to Columbia in the AAA championship. Fiery head coach Mike Pauley gets the best out of his players each year. Guards Rico Smith and Laperion Perry spark the Grangers offense while Danterrius Bray also impacts the game with his ball handling and defense. Convincing wins over Houston County and Heritage-Conyers, has the Grangers firing on all cylinders.

AAAA

#2 Americus-Sumter (26-5) @ #1 Liberty County (23-4)

The high-scoring sophomore duo of guards Devion Mitchell and Richard LeCounte lead the way for Liberty County who is riding a 14-game win streak. Both average 19 points per game while Mitchell dishes out 7.4 assists and LeCounte grabs 9.8 rebounds. It took overtime for the Panthers to escape Henry County in round one, 74-72. Things were a little more comfortable in round two against Woodward Academy as the Panthers scored a 72-62 victory. Americus-Sumter has improved from 11-16 a year ago to 26-5 this season. Dwight Harris and Juwan High lead the Panthers in scoring at 16 and 14.7 points respectively. Americus-Sumter’s average margin of victory in the tournament has been 26.5 points including a 54-33 win over Cartersville.

#1 Jonesboro (29-1) @ #1 Johnson-Gainesville (29-0)

It will be a battle of styles as Jonesboro will attempt to keep its hopes of repeating alive with its hard-nosed defense while the Knights will try to space things out and let star guard Ty Cockfield continue his historic season. Jonesboro knocked off a disciplined St. Pius team 67-57 in round two. Now five-star sophomore guard M.J. Walker Jr. will try to power the Cardinals into the semifinals. Walker Jr. averages 17.1 points per game and is flanked by seniors Tracy Hector Jr. and Deantre Mack who both score over 11 points on average. Chattanooga-signee Austin Donaldson runs the show at the point. The Cardinals have not lost in Georgia yet and have massive wins over Miller Grove (21 points) and Spain Park (AL) by six. The Cardinals will put their 28-game winning streak on the line as they visit the Steele Factory where Johnson and its own 29-game win streak will welcome them. Unsigned senior guard Ty Cockfield plays with a chip on his shoulder and will attempt to gun down Jonesboro with his scoring prowess. Cockfield pours in 28.6 points on average and is flanked by fellow senior Rod English who chips in 19.2. Johnson does not have much size, so it is imperative for Cockfield and English to knock down their shots. The duo has combined for 105 threes this year and both have attempted over 210 free throws. Andrew Sims is a 6-foot-3 post that plays with energy inside and battles for rebounds. Signature wins over Whitefield Academy, North Cobb Christian, Gainesville, and Buford give the Knights the confidence they can beat anybody. A 75-60 win over West Laurens sets up this matchup between the two hottest teams in AAAA.

#4 Cairo (19-11) @ #1 Lithonia (27-2)

Lithonia clinched its first winning record in over ten years. Wallace Corker has overseen the growth of the program from 12 wins last season to 27 this year but it hasn’t been easy. Battles with St. Pius have been must-see games with the Bulldogs taking two of three including the region title by two points. Rodney Chatman has helped carry the Bulldogs with strong guard play along with Kesean Warren and Tyheem Freeman. Lithonia has rolled thus far with a 20 point first round win over Fayette County and an 81-60 victory over Mt. Zion-Jonesboro. The fourth-seeded Syrupmakers stunned Perry in round one and then disposed of Monroe Area, 65-50. Stacy Masten and Trey Sparrow pace senior ladened Cairo scoring 20 and 19 points per game respectively. 6-foot-7 Deon Patterson is a rebounding specialist grabbing 8.1 on average while blocking a shot each game.

#4 Upson-Lee (19-9) @ #1 Carrollton (27-2)

The Carrollton Trojans are back after falling in the quarterfinals last season. Jarel Rowe and Georgia Southern-signee Montae Glenn power the Trojan offense that scored 84 points in a win over Burke County. Rowe can slash and get to the bucket, while Glenn prefers to do his work on the block at 6-foot-8. The big man had a monster game in the second round with 19 points, 17 rebounds, and seven blocked shots against Burke County. The fourth-seeded Upson-Lee Knights have enjoyed their first winning season in five years. Wins over Albany and Buford have helped Upson-Lee shake up the bracket. The Knights knocked of number one-seeded Albany 66-54 then handled Buford 84-71. In win against Buford, O’qualon Harris paced the Knights with 20 points while Jarvis Atwater tossed in 16 points and seven rebounds. Malik Crafter and Dinasis Walker also scored 15 and 13 points.

AAA

#1 Laney (28-1) @ #1 East Hall (24-5)

It’s safe to say Laney has transitioned well after moving from AA, where they lost in the Final Four to eventual champ GAC, to AAA. Pound-for-pound, Laney makes one of the best cases as the top team in the state of Georgia regardless of classification. The Wildcats fell 67-64 to St. Francis to open the season but has since reeled off 28-straight wins including impressive wins over Morgan County (2x), Pebblebrook, Norcross, Jenkins and Buford. Coach Buck Harris leads a team that is unselfish and will do whatever it takes to win. Senior JaShawn Brooks leads the team in scoring at 13.1, but Christian Keeling and Collin Young are two juniors right behind him at 11 points per game. Zep Jasper is another quick guard who runs the offense and harasses opposing ball handlers. Laney has unsurprisingly romped through state thus far with wins over North Clayton (85-61) and Rockmart (68-31). East Hall, though the might not have the same resume, has been equally impressive. A 19 point win over Jefferson and a 95-62 thrashing of Peach County has seen the Vikings score at will. Brothers Luke Cooper and Triston Cooper are snipers from behind the three point line. Jacquen Hopkins scored 19 points in the win over Peach County while Kyvon Davenport controlled the paint with 31 points. The 6-foot-7 senior is a dominant rebounder and rim protector and gives Coach Joseph Dix a huge option offensively inside. This is the deepest playoff run for East Hall since 2011

#1 Morgan County (22-7) @ #1 South Atlanta (27-4)

Defending state champ Morgan County is back for seconds behind the sensational guard play of the diminutive Tookie Brown. A Mississippi State-signee, Brown scored his 3,000th point of his career this season and looks to continue to add on. The star guard stole the show last season in the finals when he scored 36 points in a rout of Buford. Brown teams up with the springy Jailyn Ingram who is known for his thunderous dunks. The Bulldogs knocked off Macon-Central 69-61 in round two. Marteveous Favors, Orlando Beebe, and Devontae Dean all play big roles in the Hornet attack. South Atlanta dropped to AAA this season after its final season in AAAA went without a playoff berth even though the Hornets were 18-8. After an 11-point win over Butler in round one, the Hornets stung Carrollton-Central, 103-38.

#2 Cedar Grove (20-4) @ #1 Rutland (26-3)

The high scoring Rutland Hurricanes average 81.4 points per game thanks to their potent balanced attack. Seven seniors return to the Hurricanes who were apart of back to back Elite 8 finishes in 2013 and 2014. Tylik Evans at 5-foot-7 leads the Canes with 22.4 points 6.7 assists, and 5.1 steals. The jitterbug quick guard surpassed the all-time scoring record at Rutland after starting for four years. Jeremy Braswell pours in 19.8 points while Dallas Smith contributes 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Timori Northcutt rounds out the scoring at 10.1. Rutlans blew out Burke County 80-40 in round two. The Saints are led by Jacara Cross, Christopher Fredrick and Kenneth Lewis. Cross averages over 15 points and six rebounds to go along with three blocks. Fredrick nets 13 points on average while Lewis chips in nearly 12. Wins over South Atlanta and Gainesville are impressive, along with a four point loss to Miller Grove. Cedar Grove edged Calhoun 52-42 in round two.

#1 Callaway (20-4) @ #1 Jenkins (26-3)

The Jenkins Warriors ride a 17-game win streak and have yet to be challenged in the tournament. A 75-55 win over Westside-Macon kicked off the playoffs before an 89-51 thumping of Hart County in round two. Georgia State-signee Malik Benlevi was injured during the middle of the season but has returned healthy and ready to make an impact. The 6-foot-6 senior wasted no time making his presence felt scoring 32 points in round one and 21 against Hart County. Trevion Lamar and Dimetri Chambers both flank Benlevi. 6-foot-8 Nicholas Severado is versatile and can handle the ball. He also leads the Warriors with 2.9 blocks per game. Callaway likes to run and gun and sometimes play a helter skelter type of pace. Jenkins likes to shut down teams with its defense, but Callaway’s guards will test them. Quadrius Patillo, Braylon Sanders, and Dre Martin all ignite the explosive Cavalier offense. Callaway lost to Buford last year in the semifinals. After blitzing Sonoraville 96-70 in the opening round, the Cavs grinded out a 58-56 win over Blessed Trinity.

AA

#1 Model (23-4) @ #1 Swainsboro (20-9)

After a controversial score keeping error, Swainsboro advanced 57-52 over Holy Innocents’ in overtime. Seniors Steven Howard and Da’korey Somerville power the Tigers offense, both averaging 14 points. Last season at 15-14 the Tigers made a run to the quarterfinals before being ousted by Callaway, 71-68. Model has won seven-straight contests and stands on the brink of the Final Four for the second time in three years. The Blue Devils are led by VJ Saxton, Tyler Dean, Dax Bishop and Dwight Hall. Model defeated Early County 62-55 to make it to the Elite Eight.

#3 Thomasville (22-8) @ #1 Crawford County (25-3)

The Eagles upended defending state champion GAC, 88-81 in front of a raucous home crowd. Star guard William Jarrell did the majority of the damage scoring 28 points. On the season, the 6-foot-4 junior averages 25.8 points, 13.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 3.5 steals, and 3.9 blocks. Though he may sound like a one man team, he isn’t. 6-foot-5 sophomore Marcal Knolton averages 17.8 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.8 blocks. Thomasville, who drilled number one-seeded Greene County 72-54, is led by junior guard Jordan Willis just under 15 points per game. Running mate Jay Bowdry is a senior who tosses in 13.6 a night.

A Private

#9 Aquinas (18-9) @ #1 St. Francis (26-3)

Aside from a blowout loss to Miller Grove 66-43, no Georgia team has been able to solve the Knights. Four-corners didn’t work and resulted in St. Francis’ players dancing and going viral. FSU-signee Malik Beasley heads the attack scoring 21.9 points while snatching seven rebounds. Five-star junior Kobi Simmons pours in 20.9 points and Xavier-bound big man Kaiser Gates scores 13.4 points and hauls in 7.1 rebounds on average to give St. Francis possibly the best big three in the state. Wins over national powers and Laney have made St. Francis the favorite to repeat as state champs. The Knights beat Lakeview Academy 103-59 in round one. Aquinas is led by San Antonio Brinson, a do-it-all small forward. The Irish beat Tattnall Square 55-39.

#5 North Cobb Christian (19-9) @ #4 Whitefield Academy (21-9)

Whitefield is seeking another finals appearance after losing to St. Francis a year ago 65-60. Four players average double figures led by Norman Harris’ 14.4 points. 6-foot-7 senior Courtney Alexander averages a double-double with 12.5 points and 10 rebounds. Brendon Myles and Isaiah round out the scoring at 12 apiece. Whitefield handled Hebron Christian 68-36. The Wolfpack beat the Eagles 57-43 in the region semifinals. North Cobb Christian’s paint is anchored by Chattanooga-signee Trey Kalina who stands at 7-foot. Nick Flemming is coming off a 29 point game in which NCC defeated Calvary Day 76-59.

#6 Landmark Christian (21-8) @ #3 Athens Christian (28-0)

The War Eagles may not have much size, but they can sure shoot the ball. Six players have made 30 or more threes this year led by Zack Allen’s 77. Allen is Landmark’s leading scorer at 19.2 per game. Jackson Schultz teams up in the backcourt to add 17.3 points and 6.4 assists. Landmark defeated St. Anne Pacelli 83-75. For Athens Christian Will “Turtle” Jackson, a UGA-signee runs the show. Turtle averages 21.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 7.4 assists to go along with over three steals and one block. Demetrius McWhorter does his damage inside at 17.7 points and 7.4 rebounds while Chris Tate adds 12.6 points and seven rebounds of his own. Athens Christian beat Mt. Pisgah 91-48 in round one.

#7 Stratford Academy (18-6) @ #2 Greenforest (25-1)

After a disappointing second round by one point to Calvary Day last season, the Eagles are out to claim the title away from St. Francis. Greenforest annihilated Southwest Atlanta Christian 103-31 in its opening game. The Eagles are loaded with talent and length. Ikey Obiagu is a 7-foot-1 center who changes each game. Justin Ravenel, John Ogwuche, and Justin Forrest solidify the backcourt while Precious Ayah and Faisal Abdulmalik control the paint. Stratford won a high scoring game over Providence Christian 95-80. Duel-sport star Quintez Cephus will be relied on heavily to pull the upset. The high-scoring guard leads the attack and is flirting with 2,000 career points.