Snow crippled most of the week’s slate of GHSA basketball with areas surrounding Metro Atlanta accumulating up to seven inches of snow. The state’s higher classifications up north mostly squeezed in one game at best, meaning there weren’t many changes in Class AAAAAAA except for No. 7 Mountain View knocking No. 8 Duluth down three spots with a 54-46 win on Tuesday behind Naheim Alleyne’s game-high 24 points.
In Class AAAAAA, No. 3 Gainesville picked up their first two wins of the season at the Memphis vs. Atlanta Roundball Classic, beating Tennessee’s Cordova 66-57 and Mitchell 61-50. Brent Kelly paced the offense averaging 10 points and 5.5 assists per game. Jarred Rosser scored 19 points and was named MVP in the Red Elephants’ win over Mitchell. No. 4 Brunswick continues to gain momentum down on the coast in Region 2. The Pirates edged No. 5 Bradwell Institute in overtime, 71-69. Brunswick’s next test will be a rematch with No. 8 Coffee, who still won’t have their football players due to the football state championships getting pushed back another week. Region 2’s Effingham County (5-2) exits the poll after their second loss to red-hot Statesboro, 53-50 in double overtime. They are replaced by No. 10 Douglas County who reenters.
No. 7 Statesboro crashes into the Class AAAAA Top 10 following yet another impressive win over Effingham County, sweeping the season series. The Blue Devils claim wins over Class 2A No. 7 Swainsboro 71-36 and Class 6A No. 5 Bradwell Institute 52-44, giving them four wins over ranked opponents already. Their next test comes at the U-Save-It Basketball Classic against Class 4A No. 10 Westover. Also into the poll is No. 9 Lithia Springs. Sophomore guard Anthony Hardy is leading the Lions with over 14 points per game. Lithia Springs doesn’t have a standout victory on its resume yet, but they will have a chance to grab one on Wednesday as they host Region 6 foe No. 8 Maynard Jackson in a battle of unbeatens. Dropping out of the rankings to make way for Statesboro and Lithia Springs is Cedar Shoals (2-4) and Eagle’s Landing (3-1). The Jaguars suffered a 74-48 loss to No. 2 Buford while the Eagles fell in overtime to Stockbridge 70-69, the Tigers climbing up the ranks as a potential Top 10 team. No. 10 Lithonia holds onto the final spot after a 42-41 loss against No. 5 Southwest DeKalb. The Bulldogs’ two losses have come by a combined two points. Elsewhere, No. 6 McIntosh won its Battle of the Bubble over rival Starr’s Mill 64-54.
The Class AAAA showdown between No. 1 Upson-Lee and No. 6 Mary Persons never materialized as Cam Holden was forced to miss the game. The Knights ran all over the Bulldogs, 76-46. No. 2 St. Pius rallied to beat their fourth defending state champion, the GICAA’s Mt. Bethel in overtime 71-70 before splitting at the Memphis vs. Atlanta Roundball Classic, holding off Christian Brothers 53-50 and falling to Lausanne Collegiate, 66-60. Everett Lane dropped 27 against Mt. Bethel and was named MVP in the Golden Lions’ win over Christian Brothers. Region 1 continues to creep up in the poll with No. 4 Carver-Columbus and No. 5 Americus-Sumter while No. 10 Westover crawls back in after Northside-Columbus (5-4) faltered against Hardaway 80-71 and Carver 64-53.
No. 3 Johnson-Savannah and No. 4 Cedar Grove flexed their muscles in their respective wins over Class AAA region rivals. Even with UGA-signee Amanze Ngumezi getting ejected in the first quarter, the Atomsmashers still raced past No. 5 Jenkins 67-54 behind the Bowles boys. The Saints hammered away at No. 10 Pace Academy 48-33, the Knights struggling to score this season. No. 7 Westside-Macon got blown out again by Class 5A No. 1 Warner Robins 86-62, but rebounded with a win over Northeast-Macon 78-68, knocking the Raiders from the Top 10 in Class AA. Dawson County (3-2) departs from the poll after blowing a 17-point halftime lead against Blessed Trinity and losing 68-63. Debuting is Savannah/Region 3’s third team, No. 9 Windsor Forest, who is coming off a 61-59 win at Richmond Hill. The Knights are powered by the backcourt of Benjamin Mitchell, Lamon Page and Zimbabwe Fields.
No. 6 Thomasville suffers their first setback of the season in Class AA, getting knocked off by Top 10 debutant No. 8 Berrien, 65-64 on a Chris Jennings buzzer-beating three, the 5-foot-8 sophomore netting all 18 of his points from beyond the arc. The Rebels are off to a 6-2 start behind Jennings (19.3 ppg), 6-foot-4 senior Darius Tisby (15.1 ppg, 8 rpg) and 6-foot-4 sophomore Jamarquis Johnson (12.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg). Tisby collected 27 points and 5 steals in the win while draining five of the Rebels’ 14 three-pointers. Berrien replaces Northeast-Macon (4-4) who has now lost three straight. No. 1 Glenn Hills has their biggest test yet in Region 4 as they host Laney on Tuesday. The Wildcats have owned Augusta and will provide a measuring stick for the Spartans’ legitimacy.
Class A-Private No. 1 St. Francis blitzed a quality Walker team 83-44. The biggest upset was No. 6 Wesleyan, who falls two spots, losing to No. 7 WD Mohammed 55-47. The Caliphs enter the poll unbeaten behind guards Taqueer Tyler (16.8 ppg, 4 apg) and Ahmad Abdurrahman (16 ppg, 3.4 apg) along with 6-foot-6 senior Siraj Harris inside, who averages 10.6 points, 11 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. Mt. Pisgah (4-3) exits following a 73-66 loss to No. 8 King’s Ridge, the Tigers taking the Patriots’ place.
No. 4 Woodville-Tompkins is officially the team to beat in Region 3 in Class A-Public after taking down No. 5 Montgomery County 67-63. Preston Crisp piled in 25 points in the win. No. 6 Wilkinson County scored a 75-71 win against Class 2A Washington County while No. 8 Hancock Central lost at WaCo 75-71 and fell at Class 4A No. 9 Baldwin 53-40. Treutlen (2-3) departs from the Top 10 after a 109-91 loss to Class 2A No. 5 Dublin. The Vikings are replaced by No. 10 Manchester.
The top seven in Class AAAAAAA remain unchanged as everybody handled their business. No. 5 Duluth had the best week with wins over Class 6A No. 3 Gainesville and Discovery (4-3). The Titans drop out of the Top 10 following their 60-55 loss to Duluth. They are replaced by Region 6 foe No. 9 Peachtree Ridge who beat rival No. 10 Collins Hill 75-64 in convincing fashion. A 55-39 win over Lakeside-Evans helps the Eagles cling onto the final spot. Region 6 fills spots No. 5, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10 and a total of five of the seven teams in the region have already been ranked.
There is a new No. 1 in Class AAAAAA and it is the defending state champions, No. 1 Langston Hughes. The Panthers have won three in a row including blowing out Douglas County (2-2) from the rankings with a 78-43 win and handling Shiloh 61-41 behind Landers Nolley’s 27 points. For another year, there is more drama surrounding No. 3 Gainesville and this time it could be enough to derail the Red Elephants. They were drilled by Duluth 61-43 and will need to recalibrate as soon as possible before the season slips out of reach. No. 4 Brunswick shoots up six spots after defeating No. 6 Coffee 72-60, withstanding Preseason First-Team All-State selection Jayce Moore’s 39-point barrage. The coastal Region 2 now places three teams in the poll with Bradwell Institute holding tight at No. 5 and No. 10 Effingham County making their debut behind 6-foot-4 senior forward Kha’leed Stapleton. The Rebels have wins over two preseason ranked opponents in Class 3A’s Long County (74-52) and Class 2A No. 7 Swainsboro (65-57). No. 9 Tri-Cities slides three spots after losing to Westlake 82-69.
There are a handful of deserving teams waiting to break into the Class AAAAA rankings, but its been a stalemate thus far. No. 1 Warner Robins demolished Class 3A No. 7 Westside-Macon 89-63 behind Georgia State-signee Nelson Phillips’ 36 points and Jacolbey Owens’ 32. No. 7 Cedar Shoals falls four spots after losing to Class 3A No. 1 Morgan County 75-59 and Class 6A No. 2 Dacula 65-57. The Jaguars are now out of the woods with their difficult early non-region schedule, but things don’t get any easier as they open up Region 8 play on Tuesday at No. 2 Buford. Shakeup in Region 5 sees No. 3 Miller Grove rise two spots, No. 4 Columbia four spots and No. 5 Southwest DeKalb drop one spot after the Eagles held off the Panthers 66-64. Josh Taylor had 15 points and 8 rebounds in the win for Columbia while KD Johnson tallied 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists for Southwest DeKalb. No. 6 McIntosh inches up a slot after their wild 97-91 overtime win over Lambert where Bruce Carpenter scored a career-high 23 points and Cole Guenther added 22. No. 9 Lithonia, the fourth Region 5 team in the poll, scored a 60-51 win over Class 3A No. 3 Johnson-Savannah behind Ziven Alexander’s 23 points and 6 rebounds.
In Class AAAA, No. 2 St. Pius continued to marvel, hammering Carrollton 74-54 and Class 3A No. 9 Pace Academy 57-39, Everett Lane netting a game-high 18 points against the Knights. Pace Academy is already the third defending state champion the Golden Lions have beaten with Class 6A No. 1 Langston Hughes and Class A-Private’s Greenforest also victims. Don’t look now but Region 1 is invading the Top 10, quietly placing three teams in the poll. No. 5 Carver-Columbus, No. 6 Americus-Sumter and No. 9 Northside-Columbus all look sharp. The Tigers handled Kendrick and Spencer, the Panthers punished Monroe (60-43) and Lee County (68-48) while the Patriots knocked Westover (2-4) from the rankings with a 63-56 road win. Junior guard Jhaquez Anderson is pacing Northside-Columbus with 19.8 points, 5 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 3.8 steals per game while senior Jalen Tucker is contributing 14 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3 steals a night. No. 10 Baldwin is down six spots after losing to newly ranked Class 2A No. 9 Washington County, 72-71. All eyes will be on Tuesday night’s Region 2 showdown between No. 1 Upson-Lee and host No. 4 Mary Persons. Class AAAA’s two best players go toe-to-toe with Cam Holden (30.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.5 steals, 2.3 blocks) leading the upset-minded Bulldogs against Middle Tennessee State-signee Tye Fagan (28.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks).
No. 1 Morgan County is running away from the competition in Class AAA. Junior shooting guard Tyrin Lawrence dumped in 35 points in the Bulldogs’ 75-59 win over Cedar Shoals. The Bulldogs’ early season competition, No. 3 Johnson-Savannah, slips a spot after a 60-51 loss to Lithonia. No. 5 Cedar Grove also sinks a spot after failing to impress with a 56-46 win over 0-6 Lovett. No. 7 Westside-Macon received 34 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks from Khavon Moore in a losing effort against Warner Robins. Westminster (3-3) had a short-lived stay in the Top 10 and is bounced after losses to Stone Mountain 46-44 and Woodward Academy 56-52. Debuting for the first time in years, is No. 10 Dawson County. The Tigers are off to their best start since 2013-14 when they finished 22-8 with a Sweet 16 appearance. Dawson County is loaded with shooters in Jeremiah Crumley, Cullen and Campbell Reed and Ryan Gallenkamp inside. They pushed Class 7A No. 10 Collins Hill to triple overtime in the Tiger Tip-Off Classic before losing 83-76 and bounced back this Friday with a 73-56 win over West Hall.
Class AA Preseason No. 1 Swainsboro finds themselves all the way down at No. 7 after beating Class A-Public No. 7 Wilkinson County 71-56 and Vidalia 52-48 before getting blown out by Statesboro 71-36. The Tigers opened up last season 0-3 before finding their way to the state title game. Don’t give up on them just yet. No. 1 Glenn Hills took care of business against Richmond Academy, picking up a 68-54 win. Tim Williamson led the way with 21 points while Eric Farmer scored 13 and Timmy Sellers added 8 points. No. 2 Banks County survived a scare on the road at Hart County, who they beat earlier 94-58. The Leopards escaped Hartwell 49-48 thanks to sophomore Carl Cleveland’s 21 points and Dylan Orr’s triple-double of 17 points, 18 rebounds and 11 blocks. Swainsboro wasn’t the only team to tumble this week. No. 6 Dublin is down three spots after losing to Wilkinson County 71-67. Clarence Jackson did not play in his homecoming due to a sprained shoulder. Butler (1-4) and Therrell (4-4) both depart from the rankings after bad weeks. Back into the poll is No. 10 Monticello and debutant No. 9 Washington County, who beat Baldwin 72-71.
Class A-Private’s revolving door of rankings is in full swing as No. 7 Landmark Christian and No. 9 Mt. Vernon Presbyterian take over for Holy Innocents’ (1-4) and King’s Ridge Christian (2-1). The Tigers suffered a 76-44 loss to Milton that was just enough to edge them out of the poll. Landmark Christian made waves with a 90-87 win over No. 8 Stratford Academy. Micah McAllister is averaging over 18 points per game in the War Eagle backcourt. Mt. Vernon Presbyterian gets in thanks to their season opening win at Walker and a 30-point rout of Atlanta International. Their lone loss came to No. 6 Mt. Pisgah 73-58. The Patriots are up three spots but had to forfeit their season-opening 77-51 win over Tallulah Falls due to playing an ineligible player. The loss could hurt them in the long run with the power rankings system. No. 10 Lakeview Academy is holding on by a thread, down four spots after No. 1 St. Francis outclassed the Lions in the second half 83-56. Chase Ellis had 22 points and 8 rebounds while Dwon Odom collected 14 points and 10 assists.
In Class A-Public, the trio of JaQuavius Smith, ZyTavian Hill and Javares Copeland is averaging over 51 points per game for No. 2 Central-Talbotton. No. 5 Woodville-Tompkins is up four spots after snapping No. 10 Treutlen’s 42-game region winning streak, 72-65. For good measure, the Wolverines added a 74-42 thrashing of Portal behind Bernard Pelote’s 23 points and 12 rebounds. Woodville-Tompkins is in the Region 3 driver’s seat along with No. 4 Montgomery County, who is winning by an average of 45 points per game. Pelham (2-1) and Mt. Zion-Carrollton (0-0) drop from the poll. Pelham suffered a 74-72 loss to Mitchell County while the Eagles tip off their season this Tuesday. Into the Top 10 is No. 6 Hancock Central and No. 8 Lanier County. The Bulldogs beat rival No. 7 Wilkinson County 69-65 and their only loss came to Class 4A No. 10 Baldwin, 56-51. Lanier County surges into the statewide picture with a massive 85-57 win over No. 9 Wilcox County.
Class AAAAAAA sees some shakeup this week. No. 1 McEachern was pushed to the brink by GISA’s Holy Spirit Prep before rallying behind Sharife Cooper’s 14 points in overtime and 27 on the night to win 69-60 at Under Armour’s Hard in the Paint. No. 3 Wheeler fell to Holy Spirit Prep earlier in the week 74-62, but picked up wins over Class 5A No. 3 Cedar Shoals 76-58 and Class 5A No. 2 Buford 78-65. EJ Montgomery averaged 34 points and 14 rebounds against the two Class 5A powers while dropping in 28 points against Holy Spirit Prep. Just like last year, Coach Rick Rasmussen’s No. 4 Newton Rams are off to a blistering start. Ashton Hagans toyed with opponents in their Holiday Hoopsgiving sweep of Class 5A No. 8 Columbia (94-64) and Pebblebrook (87-78), who falls out of the Top 10 along with Shiloh (2-3). Replacing the Falcons (2-1) and Generals are No. 7 Meadowcreek and No. 10 Discovery. The Mustangs drilled Trinity Christian, NC at Hoopsgiving 78-43 before knocking off Class 6A No. 1 Gainesville 62-61. Discovery beat Class 6A No. 2 Dacula 78-75 in overtime at the Craig Sager Memorial Tournament. Aside from Pebblebrook and Shiloh, Class AAAAAAA’s biggest dropper was No. 6 Grayson, who slides three spots after a nail-biting 67-64 loss to new Class 5A No. 1 Warner Robins. Charleston Southern-signee Travis Anderson scored 18 points and Nick Edwards added 14, but the Rams had no answer for Georgia State’s Nelson Phillips.
The top of Class AAAAAA has struggled against premier competition, but the Top 3 remain unchanged due to the caliber of teams they have played. No. 1 Gainesville is now 0-3 and may open up the season with an ugly mark after the first nine games, but the Red Elephants will still be a force come state playoff time. No. 2 Dacula hasn’t quite seen the national flavor that Gainesville has, but the Falcons have battled some of the state’s best, losing in overtime on two buzzer beaters at the Craig Sager Memorial, 67-65 to Class 3A No. 1 Morgan County and 78-75 to Class 7A No. 10 Discovery. No. 3 Langston Hughes fell to Mountain Brook, AL 59-45, who beat Class 7A No. 2 Norcross 79-62 the day before at Holiday Hoopsgiving. No. 6 Tri-Cities climbs back over No. 7 Douglas County after going 2-0 in Florida, beating Andrew Jackson 67-56 and Providence School 50-47. The Tigers lost a close one to Pebblebrook 79-76. Alpharetta (1-2) tumbles out of the Top 10 following a disappointing start. The Raiders lost to newly ranked Class 3A No. 10 Westminster 62-58. Replacing Alpharetta is defending State Runner-Up No. 10 Brunswick. The Pirates will be tested this Tuesday as they host No. 4 Coffee.
There is a new leader in the clubhouse in Class AAAAA. No. 1 Warner Robins takes over for No. 2 Buford. The Demons beat Grayson 67-64 behind Nelson Phillips’ 14-point fourth quarter, a part of his 27-point, 8-rebounds, 4-assist, 2-block masterpiece. Jacolbey Owens drilled three threes and finished with 17 points. Buford must get healthy. Lipscomb-signee Alex Jones has yet to play, hurting the Wolves’ machine of an offense. After beating Discovery 65-50, Buford fell to Morgan County 57-54 and Wheeler 78-65. Without Jones, Donell Nixon has been forced to take over the primary ball-handling duties. Nixon is a lethal three-point shooter, but instead of sneaking around the perimeter to find his shots off Jones’ assists, Nixon has to make sure everyone gets involved before releasing his three-point barrage. Marcus Watson and Georgia Southern-signee David Viti have been playing at a high clip, but they need the No. 1 2018 point guard in Georgia back on the floor. No. 8 Columbia plummets three spots after laying an egg on the big stage, getting whipped by Newton 94-64. No. 4 Southwest DeKalb rises three spots behind a perfect record at the Memphis Showcase. Starr’s Mill (2-1) takes a quick exit from the poll after losing to undefeated Hoover, AL 52-43. Expect the Panthers to be back in the mix very soon. No. 10 Maynard Jackson gets the nod. Marquavius Carter is averaging 24 points per game while TJ Boykin is putting up 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds a night. 6-foot-5 sophomore Timipa Ogun has blossomed into a post presence, posting 11 points, 13.3 rebounds and 3 blocks per game for the Jaguars.
The gap between No. 1 Upson-Lee and No. 2 St. Pius may be shrinking. While the Knights have been crushing lesser competition, the Golden Lions have instead decided to test themselves with their early non-region schedule. St. Pius blitzed defending Class A-Private state champion Greenforest 73-52 and have been clicking on all cylinders. Unless someone can step up from the field, don’t be surprised to see the Knights and the Golden Lions on a crash course for a rematch of last year’s thrilling state championship. A team that could throw a monkey wrench into that plan? No. 6 Mary Persons. Cam Holden unleashed a 43-point 17-rebound double-double to open his senior season with a win over Houston County, 82-74. Richmond Academy (3-1) drops from the poll after an 84-67 loss to Lakeside-Evans. No. 10 Americus-Sumter debuts after wins over Lee County (44-42), Class 3A No. 9 Dougherty (59-57) and Monroe (60-41).
No. 1 Morgan County is racking up the quality wins in Class AAA. Dacula, Buford and Westlake (67-61) have all ran into the buzz-saw from Madison. Tyrin Lawrence and Alec Woodard have brought their game to the next level while Stevin Greene and Anthony Cooper continue to make winning plays. Spots No. 3 through No. 6 all suffered losses. No. 3 GAC fell to Peachtree Ridge in the Tabo’s Tip-Off Classic Championship, 68-61. No. 4 Cedar Grove sinks to 0-2 after losing to Milton 66-60. No. 5 Westside-Macon was overmatched against possibly the nation’s best team, Montverde Academy, FL, 103-55 while No. 6 Jenkins couldn’t close out Hoover, AL, 59-58. Long County (1-2) is out of the Top 10 after a tough 74-71 overtime loss to Class 2A No. 7 Jeff Davis. The Blue Tide is replaced by No. 10 Westminster. The Wildcats defeated Pope 67-54 and Alpharetta 62-58 at the Roswell Rotary Honor Air Invitational.
Swainsboro was handled by Effingham County 65-57 to open the season, dropping the Tigers from No. 1 to No. 6 in Class AA. No. 1 Glenn Hills takes over the top spot with a win over Greenbrier 64-57. No. 2 Banks County is the most consistent and most reliable team week in and week out. They thrashed Hart County 94-58 and overwhelmed East Hall 82-72 behind Carl Cleveland’s seven three-pointers en route to 29 points. Dylan Orr added 22 points, 16 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocks while Gabe Martin pitched in 13 points and Darius Bonds tallied 9 points and 7 assists. The Leopards’ inside-outside game is the most balanced in the state. Don’t sleep on defending State Champion No. 5 South Atlanta, though. The Hornets stung Westlake 74-70, Jalen Stegall dropping in 30 points with Dre Barnes adding 26. New look No. 3 Dublin got by West Laurens 66-55. Clarence Jackson scored 18 in his debut with the Irish while Kameron Pauldo netted 18 of his own. Laney (3-1) and Monticello (1-1) depart from the rankings. Laney was upset by Greenbrier 71-67 and the Hurricanes were trounced by Jones County, 82-64. Into the Top 10 is No. 9 Therrell and No. 10 Northeast-Macon. Therrell turned heads at the Craig Sager Memorial, barely losing to Morgan County 84-78. The Panthers already have wins over Salem (47-34) and Mays (62-60). They fell to a good Class 4A No. 7 Carver-Columbus team 69-55. Sophomore combo guard Deandre Brown has been a revelation, pouring in over 25 points per game. The Raiders of Northeast-Macon may be coming of age. Ty’ree Gilbert, Cameron Cherry and Darius Dunn are combining to score over 40 points per game in Coach Kevin Grooms’ backcourt. The Raiders picked up a big 65-62 win over a blossoming East Coweta program.
The Class A-Private is getting a little clearer. The most evident take away from Holiday Hoopsgiving? Greenforest (2-2) is no longer Greenforest. The dynasty is over as the Eagles were throttled by St. Pius after opening the game down 20-0. Greenforest can not handle a full court press and for that reason, the Eagles sink from No. 3 in the state to unranked. They have a lot to prove after their poor showings against Grayson and the Golden Lions. Their win over a short-handed Sacred Heart, AL team 81-65 is not enough to save Greenforest from their early fall from grace. No. 1 St. Francis hangs onto their top spot after a tough loss to Carmel Christian, NC 71-67. No. 2 Aquinas swaps with No. 3 Eagle’s Landing Christian following their 65-40 victory. The Fighting Irish went 23-of-29 from the foul line while Malachi Rhodes and company attempted just three free throws. With Greenforest falling out of the Top 10, winless No. 10 Holy Innocents’ rejoins the picture. With the bottom of Class A-Private still so unsettled with who is for real and who is a pretender, the Golden Bears’ “moral victories” are enough to crack the poll while other schools haven’t seen the same level of competition. They pushed ELCA to the limit before bowing out 68-63. Freshman swingman Garrison Powell impressed enough to pick up an offer from Middle Tennessee State at Holiday Hoopsgiving. Matt Meadows, Josh Smith and Alex Hyatt form a nice mix of veteran leadership and youth that should begin to rack up the wins in region play.
No. 1 Calhoun County is on a mission to win Class A-Public after falling short in the title game a year ago. The Cougars cracked No. 6 Wilcox County 66-39. No. 2 Central-Talbotton rises up a spot over idle No. 3 Macon County following their 78-74 win over Harris County. Coach Lenny Williams’ No. 9 Woodville-Tompkins Wolverines are playing well and will have a great test when they visit Region 3 frontrunner No. 4 Treutlen on Tuesday. The Wolverines nearly upset Class 6A No. 5 Bradwell Institute at the Joe Greene Classic before running out of gas 62-56. Junior Preston Crisp is averaging 15.5 points per game while sophomore Bernard Pelote is tossing in 14.5.
There weren’t too many surprises during the first week and a half of Class AAAAAAA basketball, with No. 1 McEachern, No. 2 Norcross and No. 3 Grayson all getting off to hot starts. The Indians pushed past No. 4 Wheeler 71-59, the Blue Devils trounced Class 5A No. 4 Miller Grove 87-61 before stopping Class 6A No. 1 Gainesville 74-62 and the Rams blitzed Class A-Private No. 3 Greenforest, 101-59. Both No. 5 Newton and No. 6 Duluth climb two spots while No. 7 Collins Hill is the biggest mover, up three slots. No. 8 Shiloh and No. 9 Mountain View both slip three spots. The Generals lost to Class 4A No. 3 Sandy Creek 73-68 while the Bears saw a lead slip away to Miller Grove at the Jared Cook Classic, losing 47-45. Meadowcreek (2-1) started the season hot with blowout wins over defending state champion Tift County (70-46) and Rockdale County (57-14) but the Mustangs were tripped up and out-toughed by No. 10 Pebblebrook, who takes their place in the poll after a 57-52 win at the On The Radar Tip-Off Classic behind DJ Murray’s 24 points.
Class AAAAAA had a week to forget as six preseason Top 10 teams lost. With that being said, there just weren’t enough results and teams ready to leap into the poll to replace more than just Cambridge (1-1), who beat Walton 67-55 but got thrashed by Peachtree Ridge and Florida State-signee Devin Vassell’s 27 points in a 78-43 loss at the Tabo’s Tip-Off Classic. No. 1 Gainesville narrowly holds onto their top spot after losing to Norcross and seeing Region 8 foe No. 2 Dacula unable to blow past Harris County, winning by a modest 12 points at the Craig Sager Memorial Tournament. Defending state champion No. 3 Langston Hughes clings onto their Top 3 ranking after Landers Nolley’s 23 points wasn’t enough to beat Class 4A No. 2 St. Pius at the Jared Cook Classic. With all of the losses, No. 5 Bradwell Institute and No. 6 Douglas County benefit the most. Khalyn Weekely made a statement in his first GHSA game, pouring in 35 points as Bradwell Institute drilled Liberty County 84-73 after leading by as many as 30. Douglas County debuts in the poll after beating No. 7 Tri-Cities in overtime 83-77. Cam Copeland and Rickey Clark combined for 41 points in the Tigers backcourt while Ernest Randle posted a triple-double inside. Tri-Cities did not have 6-foot-7 post Zachary Morgan and the difference-maker is not listed on the team roster. If he is no longer with the Bulldogs, Tri-Cities’ upside takes an enormous hit.
No. 2 Warner Robins survived a scare in Class AAAAA, outlasting Stockbridge 78-75. Georgia State-signee Nelson Phillips finished with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals and 4 blocks while Jacolbey Owens dropped in 21 points. Future Georgia State teammate Kavonte Ivery went for 29 points for the Tigers. No. 3 Cedar Shoals also escaped with a win, beating Oconee County 47-42 at the Andy Landers Classic. The only movement in the rankings come at the bottom of the poll with No. 9 Starr’s Mill swapping spots with No. 10 Lithonia. The Panthers are 1-0 with a win over Cherokee 58-22, while Lithonia sits at 2-1, bouncing back from a tough 79-78 loss against Greenforest at the Southwest DeKalb Showdown to beat Heritage-Conyers 56-48 and Dawson Christian Academy 81-45.
Class AAAA state runner-up No. 2 St. Pius is clicking on all cylinders. The Golden Lions punished Blessed Trinity 67-41 at the X-Dome before icing Langston Hughes at the Jared Cook Classic 67-58 behind Matt Gonzalo’s 23 points and Everett Lane’s 9-for-9 free throw shooting and 19 points. No. 3 Sandy Creek and No. 4 Baldwin maintain their positions in the poll. The Patriots lost at rival Fayette County 67-65 but followed up with a big 73-68 win over Shiloh thanks to Jarred Godfrey’s 23 points and Xavier Brewer’s 18 points and 7 rebounds. The Braves dropped two close games to Flora, SC 52-49 and Class 3A No. 2 Johnson-Savannah in overtime, 81-79. Salem (2-2) and Woodward Academy (0-2) both tumble out of the Top 10, the Seminoles sinking all the way from No. 6 after bad losses to Hiram (43-38) and at Therrell (47-34) while the previously No. 8 ranked War Eagles got thumped by quality competition, losing to Class 3A No. 3 GAC 61-35 and GISA’s Trinity Christian 67-54. Replacing them is No. 7 Carver-Columbus and No. 8 Stephens County. The Tigers stunned Class 6A No. 9 Tucker 72-60 behind AJ Watts’ 22 points while the Indians demolished Class 3A preseason No. 7 East Hall at the Jared Cook Classic 90-53 with Ty Nails dropping 30 points and big man DeUndra Singleton going for 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks. No. 10 Westover is already on the ropes after fizzling in two packed games, losing to Class 2A No. 5 Thomasville 70-56 and Class 3A No. 9 Dougherty 62-58, blowing a 31-17 halftime lead to the Trojans.
Both No. 1 Morgan County and No. 2 Johnson-Savannah had to rely on herculean efforts from their stars to win their season openers in Class AAA. Alec Woodard (36) and Tyrin Lawrence (25) combined for 61 points in the Bulldogs’ 84-78 victory over Therrell at the Craig Sager Memorial Tournament. The Atomsmashers used a Shamar Jones game-winner to sneak past Baldwin in overtime, 81-79. Georgia-signee Amanze Ngumezi hung 23 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 blocks on the Braves. No. 3 Greater Atlanta Christian rises a spot over No. 4 Cedar Grove following the Saints’ 54-46 loss to Berkmar. East Hall (0-1) is replaced in the Top 10 by No. 9 Dougherty after the Vikings lost by 37 to Stephens County and the Trojans rallied to knockoff Westover behind Middle Tennessee State-signee Carlos Curry’s 13 points, 10 rebounds and 9 blocks.
The biggest news coming out of Class AA isn’t from any of last week’s games, but instead the transfer of Class A-Public First Team All-State selection Clarence Jackson to No. 4 Dublin, who moves up two spots without playing a game. Jackson leaves Wilkinson County with two state championships under his belt to join his home school where he will team up with First Team All-State point guard Kameron Pauldo. The Irish instantly become a favorite to win the state title with the 6-foot-6 forward now in the picture. Elsewhere, No. 5 Thomasville defeated Westover by 14 and Tift County by eight. Defending state champion No. 6 South Atlanta slides two spots after taking an eye-opening 84-62 beating from Lambert at the On The Radar Tip-Off Classic.
Boy oh boy, Class A-Private isn’t what it used to be. Uncertainty and question marks have surrounded the class all offseason and they have come to a head early in the season. It’s tough to shake off the lopsided scrimmage scores against higher classifications, but they will have to be thrown out the window. Nonetheless, this is likely the weakest the classification has been in five years. No. 1 St. Francis has taken care of business in the regular season and looks comfortable with the target on their back. They aren’t as talented as the days of Kobi Simmons, Malik Beasley and Kaiser Gates, but the Knights are still young and dangerous. They handled Brewbaker Tech, AL 84-70 and Pinson Valley, AL 83-72 at the Hoops 4 A Cure Classic. Sophomores Dwon Odom, Chase Ellis and Sam Hines have come up big. Defending two-time state champion No. 3 Greenforest drops one spot but could be headed for an even deeper slope if they can’t get their act together. They opened up with a come from behind 79-78 win over Lithonia but all momentum was lost as Grayson harassed them into a devastating 42-point loss at the Jared Cook Classic, 101-59. No. 5 Wesleyan got past Hebron Christian 77-67 thanks to Christian McLean’s 34 points. No. 7 Lakeview Academy and No. 8 North Cobb Christian both suffered losses, the Lions to Lanier 72-62 and the Eagles to Alexander, 62-59. No. 9 King’s Ridge Christian hasn’t overly impressed, but the Tigers are still 2-0 after beating Paideia (51-41) and Brookstone (54-49). Holy Innocents’ (0-1) departs from the poll, but they should be back very soon. The young Golden Bears lost to rival Riverwood 66-50, but freshman Garrison Powell was a bright spot with 17 points. They are replaced by the Quinn Richey-led No. 10 Mt. Pisgah Patriots, who hammered Tallulah Falls 77-51 and Chestatee 80-47. We will know infinitely more about Class A-Private at Holiday Hoopsgiving. No. 2 ELCA plays Holy Innocents’ and No. 4 Aquinas. St. Francis and Greenforest will also be in action.
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.