The Fourth of July has come and gone and Sandy’s Spiel has collected 72 known GHSA transfers with plenty more still to uncover. Kyle Sandy highlights a handful of these moves and what they mean to their new school.
By Trent Markwith (@TMarkwith14)
Holy Innocents’: Garrison Powell, Alex Hyatt
Powell and Hyatt look like they’re ready to take the reins at Holy Innocents after the graduation of three important seniors. Powell is only a rising freshman but he is extremely confident on offense and for good reason. He gets to wherever he wants on the court and can score in a variety of ways, Powell always plays with an intensity about him that you don’t usually expect to see from such a young player.
Hyatt had a strong sophomore season for the Bears but is looking to take on an even bigger role this season. Hyatt has an exceptional mid-range game, hitting time and time again with his soft shot. Although undersized for a forward, Hyatt has solid length and good touch around the basket. Look for these two to have big seasons for HIES.
Milton: Brady O’Connell
After the Georgia Tech team camp, I mentioned O’Connell as a long, athletic prospect who could help himself with a more active approach. O’Connell did just that this weekend at GSU. He was much more aggressive in half-court scoring opportunities, slashing from the wing and using his length and touch to convert inside frequently. O’Connell also got out in transition often this weekend, getting out ahead of the pack and putting his athleticism on display with some impressive dunks. If O’Connell continues this type of play, it will add another dimension to this Milton team and will go a long way in their success.
Northview: Matt Davis, Joseph Jones
Northview’s team is highlighted by PG Justin Brown who had some absolutely dominant stretches this weekend. Brown is a well-known commodity for the Titans but Jones and Davis are both nice pieces on the perimeter for this team as well. Jones has made some noise on the travel circuit with AC Georgia and is one of the more athletic players you’ll see. He blows by defenders with tremendous speed in the half-court and transition but is not just an athlete, Jones has a good feel for game and nice skill-set to go with it.
Davis a lanky player on the wing for the Titans; he has a high, quick release from the outside and is very confident shooting. Davis is not afraid to go inside and while his lack of strength can limit him there at times, it is nice to see that he is willing to attack. Only a 2020 prospect, as Davis gets stronger he could turn into a very good all-around scorer for the Titans.
Dawson Christian Academy: Luke Chism, Ahmad Kamara
Dawson Christian went 27-5 this past season but now the Eagles have lost their three top scorers to graduation and are looking for others to step up. Chism played a big role as a sophomore last season and will now be the main guy for DCA. Compared to his JC Ballers team that I saw in May, it looks like Chism will have to be more of a scorer for this Eagles team, a job that he has embraced. He is very aggressive attacking the basket and has good touch and length when he gets there. Adding strength and consistent perimeter shooting should be his areas of focus over his last two years.
Kamara gives DCA another aggressive scorer. You can tell Kamara plays football, he loves contact and is fearless going inside with his strong build. I like how Kamara bangs down low and knows how to use his body even though he may lack height.
Duluth: Will Huzzie, Lamont Smith
Adam Flagler has been getting some publicity for the Wildcats recently and he displayed his scoring ability at all three levels again this weekend, but Huzzie and Smith are two other guys to keep an eye on this year for the Wildcats. Huzzie an ultra-athletic wing forward for this team and sets the tone for Duluth with his energy. He excels at the top of Duluth’s full-court zone press, wreaking havoc with his active hands and forcing turnovers that turn into powerful dunks for Huzzie at the other end.
Smith is a speedy guard who handles PG responsibilities for the Wildcats. Smith has scoring ability but it looks like he enjoys being a distributor for the team whether it’s him getting a steal and finding guys in transition or controlling things in the half-court. Smith averaged over 4 APG last season and I expect this number to rise this year. These two to go along with Flagler and Christian Kelly in the backcourt forms a very good core for Duluth.
King’s Ridge Christian: Eric Coleman
Coleman has been on the rise recently as a prospect, receiving offers from Mercer, Kennesaw State, and Western Carolina over the past few weeks. After seeing Coleman this weekend, it is easy to see why college coaches are starting to give him attention. Coleman is going to have to do a lot on offense for a Tigers team that lacks scoring but it doesn’t seem like he has a problem with that. At about 6’6”, Coleman has a very smooth outside shot for his size and has solid athleticism when attacking the basket. It also looks like he has improved his ball-handling ability, which is a big plus for a wing with his size. Look for Coleman to continue to solidify himself as one of the better 2019 prospects in Georgia.
By Trent Markwith (@TMarkwith14)
The Gladiators are a team that doesn’t have a bunch of size down low, but this squad has a trio of guards that will be expected to do a lot this season. 2019 Neil Ilenrey is a really strong, physical guard who seeks out and absorbs contact on his way to the basket. Ilenrey finished through hits with regularity and was not afraid to take perimeter shots either. Will Penland is an outside specialist for Johns Creek; he can get hot quickly with his high-arcing shot and when he does, it is big trouble for the opponent. Rising senior Nate Gauthreaux may have been the most impressive of the three Gladiators. Gauthreaux is an exceptional shooter who can hit from a lot of different areas on the floor. He also displayed the athleticism and ball-handling ability to push in transition and weave through the defense for layups. Johns Creeks will depend on these guys in 2017-18 and it looks like they are ready to carry the load.
The Wildcats came to Georgia State without two key players in Paris Howland and Carter Oesterling, but others rose to the occasion and the team had some nice moments during the camp. Westminster sported an undersized squad this weekend but was successful on offense with a lot of half-court movement, unselfish play, and outside shooting. Niki Manocha, TJ Malloy, David Perchik, and Chance Hausman all showed confidence shooting from deep in different games for the Wildcats. Eli Barry is another Westminster guard that played well; Barry is a high IQ player who consistently scored and facilitated while also having an impact on defense. Matt Howard and Charlie Ham manned the forward spots for the team; although neither are the tallest, Howard used his wide body and Ham used his athleticism to be effective inside. Oesterling and Howland will give Westminster two needed ball-handlers to deal with pressure and score. This team may struggle against bigger, more athletic opponents in 2017-18 but the Wildcats will be able to find success due to their fundamental, patient style of play.
This weekend was my first time seeing the Lovett squad without transfer Ryan Greer. Although they will definitely miss Greer, the Lions have several capable players that will have solid seasons. Nick Jackson looks ready for a big year; you can’t label him with a specific position but Jackson has a non-stop motor on both ends and makes things happen on offense with great strength and the ability to penetrate. Lovett has two players that can light it up from the outside: Crawford Schwieger and Lance Beck. Schwieger has made his mark previously as a shooter and can hurt teams with either threes or mid-range jumpers. Beck has good size for a shooter and a quick release to go with it, he also showed glimpses of slashing ability when defenders flew at him on the perimeter. Mike Hardee saw a lot of time at PG for the Lions this weekend and showed the potential to make plays off the dribble, which Lovett needs more of. Evan McKown and Peyton Ringer were both out this weekend but will help the Lions a lot. I’m interested to see what Ryan Koudele has in mind for this team, he always gets the most out of his guys.
Holy Spirit Prep
The Cougars are a team that I highlighted after the Georgia Tech camp, mentioning Ant Edwards, Kamani Johnson, and Kye Jeremiah. This trio performed well again this weekend, but there were a few other HSP players that also showed they will contribute this season. Incoming transfer Jaylen Dunham was with HSP for the first time at GSU and had some solid performances. Dunham is a strong lefty with some shooting ability, but he is at his best when he gets to his left hand where he slashes aggressively and finishes through contact. Nick Maddox played with a lot of aggression for the Cougars; Maddox used his strength to get inside and go into defenders for layups while also showing some touch on his mid-range shots. Christian Fussell is another transfer that could end having an impact for HSP. Fussell is a long forward that has a smooth, soft shot with range out to the 3-point line. Fussell is pretty mobile and athletic also, as he gets stronger he could be a problem around the basket, which would create a nice inside-out package for the 2020 prospect.
By Trent Markwith (@TMarkwith14)
There was some talk surrounding the Panthers coming into June after losing three key transfers to Shiloh, but this team used the GSU stage to show that they are just fine. Anchored down by Ahmir Langlais inside, Parkview has a dependable post presence in the 2019 big. Langlais is tough and very active down low, but is also smart in the post, knowing when to kick to guards if he is doubled.
The Panthers made their mark this weekend with pesky defense in each game; they have a plethora of tough guards who take pride in locking down on every possession. Their guards were also reliable on offense with good production from Wilfred Campbell, Brandon Harvey, Jamiel Wright, and others.
The Parkview guards can shoot outside and penetrate, which ensures that teams cannot just harass Langlais in the post without any worries. This combination of defensive pressure and an inside-out presence on offense propelled the Panthers to impressive wins throughout the weekend, which ended with them winning the championship against Cedar Shoals, who had beaten them earlier on Saturday. New Head Coach John Collins should be excited to see what this group will do in the winter.
Cedar Shoals Reloads
With the departure of nine seniors, there may have been some uncertainty heading into 2017-18 for the Jaguars. However, the defending Class AAAAA state runner-up gained two nice additions in 2020 players Tyler Johnson and Quincy Canty from Athens Christian, to go along with some returners who are ready to step up. The Cedar Shoals squad looked very good at GSU, with wins over St. Pius and Miller Grove in bracket play before losing in the aforementioned championship game against Parkview.
Johnson showed a nice all-around offensive skill set for the team, capitalizing on catch and shoot opportunities and scoring off the dribble consistently during camp. Canty provides versatility as a forward for the Jaguars; he was effective on mid-range jumpers and was aggressive inside on both ends, using his athleticism to rise over defenders for rebounds and buckets.
Rising seniors Jaivanni McDavid and Keivaziay Ball also had solid performances for the team, putting them with Johnson on the perimeter creates a very nice trio of guards for the Panthers. McDavid and Ball both know how to fill it up and will provide toughness and leadership for the Cedar Shoals team this year.
St. Pius Strikes Again
St. Pius was one of my favorite teams at the Georgia Tech team camp and this weekend they were back at GSU with more impressive play. The Golden Lions displayed the same fundamental, energetic play throughout the camp that I saw before, but I also had a few new observations this weekend.
Both Gonzalo twins missed some time at GSU and without two main guys, I felt like Everett Lane solidified himself as the go-to guy and clear leader for the team this upcoming season. Lane is such a competitor and thrives in big moments when his team needs someone to step up.
Along with Lane, Troy Stephens and Niko Broadway both picked up their play at the camp, further proving themselves as key pieces for St. Pius in 2017-2018. Both of these guards showed good toughness and scoring ability for the Golden Lions. Zach Ranson, who always plays with a lot of passion, seemed to have raised his level of intensity even more this weekend. Ranson was fierce inside, converting on crafty reverse layups, throwing his body around, and running hard in transition for easy baskets.
Time To Shine For Harvey And Co. At Miller Grove
With the graduation of Tae Hardy, who averaged nearly 20 PPG last season, several players now have the opportunity to step into the spotlight for Miller Grove. Maurice Harvey is now the primary ball-handler for the Wolverines and excelled in his role at GSU. It was already known that Harvey was a freak athlete in transition and while he put that on display this weekend, he also showed some nice point guard skills. Harvey made good reads off the pick and roll, dumping down to the roll man and hitting mid-range pull-ups when defenders went under the screen.
Other standouts for the Wolverines were Jermon Clark and Kevin Paige, who have big, physical bodies that they used to their advantage during the Wolverines’ games. These mobile, athletic forwards were very aggressive and productive for Miller Grove during their time at GSU; they scored and rebounded with ease for the Wolverines and showed that they form a post duo that will create issues for opposing teams this season.
There have been two aspects synonymous with Sequoyah Lady Chiefs basketball over the past three, now going on four years; wins and Alyssa Cagle. It could be argued that winning and Alyssa Cagle could go hand-in-hand with each other, something that Coach Derrick DeWitt would not argue.
“She is definitely an anchor; an insurance policy and she exemplifies what Sequoyah basketball is all about,” said DeWitt of Cagle of who is first in her class and on pace to become valedictorian of the 2018 Sequoyah graduating class.
While Cagle has strived both on the hardwood and in the classroom over her first three years, it has not come without adversity.
“The first week in January I broke my nose in a game against Harrison,” explained Cagle. “I had surgery a couple days later and then I came back from the surgery about a week later and wore a mask. Then my second game back, I tore my ACL on January 21st against Cherokee.”
The Lady Chiefs would lose to rival Cherokee 52-49 and see a 14-5 start to the year finish 5-5 over the last 10 games of the season including a three-game losing streak capped by a 59-51 loss in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs at Winder-Barrow while Cagle was forced to watch from the sidelines with her team-best 12.4 points, 2.4 assists and 2.8 steals per game unable to make a difference.
“I was MVP of my team, so me going down was a huge thing for my team. I’ve always been that kind of person that leads by example so it was hard to provide that guidance for the team, whatever they needed, when I couldn’t physically be on the court,” said Cagle of how difficult it was to watch a promising season derail by injuries. “It was just hard watching them. It just kind of hits home.”
It was also especially tough for DeWitt, who has helped groom Cagle from Day 1 when he thrusted her into a starting role and has seen her blossom into one of the best pound-for-pound point guards in Georgia.
“As a supporter and a believer of her talent as a fan, I was just sad to see her go down late in the year like that,” said DeWitt. “I was sad for her because when she broke her nose, she wanted to stay in the game and she was like ‘no, I’m finishing this game’ and I was like you can’t, your nose is bent. She’s just a warrior, she doesn’t want anything to get in her way. She doesn’t want to let her teammates down. She is very motivated to get to the next level.”
A first-round loss for Cagle’s Lady Chiefs was a first in three years. As a freshman, Cagle helped Sequoyah to an Elite Eight berth where they lost on a buzzer beater to Stephenson, 55-53, a game in which Cagle dropped in 12 points and five assists. In 2015-16 as a sophomore, the Lady Chiefs took a step further and advanced to the Final Four where they ran out of energy and fell to Southwest DeKalb 55-47. Both Stephenson and Southwest DeKalb went on to win the state championship after clearing the Sequoyah hurdle.
Since Cagle has joined the Sequoyah varsity roster, the Lady Chiefs are 71-21. She has been on the forefront along with Coach DeWitt of the renaissance of Sequoyah basketball, a girls program which won the state title in Georgia’s largest classification back in 1994 & 1996.
With still a final year of eligibility remaining, Cagle hasn’t wasted anytime in getting her body ready to be able to write the final chapter of her storied career.
“Typically, with any ACL injury, it’s going to take you a full-year to be where you were before you had the injury. Right now, I’m four months post-surgery. I couldn’t be doing anymore to prepare for the season. I’m going to come back at nine months, which a lot of people do,” told Cagle of her daily progress.
“To prepare for that, I work out about five to six days a week with a trainer in Sandy Springs, at a place called Exercise Bioenergetics. It’s a huge two and a half hour full-body work out. I’ll probably do this for the next year until I go off to college, even after I begin playing again.”
Cagle will begin practicing again in September, but won’t be at full speed until the nine-month mark.
Once Cagle returns to the floor, she will be surrounded by familiar faces as Sequoyah graduates just one senior from their 19-10 roster. With the Lady Chiefs’ primary ballhandler on the sidelines for the final 10 games of the season, it gave the rest of the team a chance to step up and benefit from their newfound roles.
“I think my absence is going to better us in the long run. For the past three years, I have been the sole ballhandler. There are no other ballhandlers on our team. So without me, a lot of the girls have stepped up, which next year that will definitely pay off because we will have more ballhandlers with more experience being alone without me out there. Whenever I return, hopefully we’ll be a better team than we were last year.”
As the days get shorter and shorter until Cagle’s return to the floor for her senior season, as does her time to pick up scholarship offers and decide what to do with her life after her time in Hickory Flat is complete.
“It’s been difficult now that I hurt my knee. A lot of coaches want to see me play again, but the schools I am talking to right now are Wofford, Jacksonville State, Stony Brook, Stetson, Samford, Georgia College, and Georgia State.
“I’m interested in anywhere,” continued Cagle. “I definitely want to play basketball in college.”
On June 15, Georgia College offered Cagle a full-ride.
With an immaculate academic background, a strong work ethic and desire to be the best, DeWitt believes Cagle will find the right fit in college.
“If you want a floor general, someone who knows the situation, knows how to call the right play, how to finish late in the shot clock, how to find the hot hand, a player who doesn’t get tired, that’s a student of the game and is a quality character; she’s not a gamble on any level,” expressed DeWitt. “She can thrive in Division II or Division I, she’s all about her academics and athletics and she’s focused on having basketball be her gateway.
“Being probably our valedictorian, she’s going to have the run of the mill as far as what school she wants to attend. Is she a gamble? No. She’s very coachable. She’ll do what’s best for the team, she’s selfless and she’s a leader by example.”