Sandy’s Spiel Super Sleepers

There is no hiding it. My favorite time of year, basketball season, is finally here. To get ready for the season, I have narrowed down a few teams that I would classify as Super Sleepers. Not just sleepers, but teams that haven’t eclipsed the .500 mark in a few years and are finally ready to do so.


allIn the most competitive classification in the state, the perennial powers remain the same, but Harrison (10-17, 4-10) may be in line to capture its first winning season since 2011-12 and fight for a playoff seed out of Region 4. Hillgrove has lost a ton via graduation and transfers from last year’s 23-6 team and are expected to take a step back while 21-8 McEachern could be the favorite to win the region. North Cobb and Kennesaw Mountain both made it as the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, but nothing is set in stone for 2015-16. Harrison proved last season that they can play with some tough competition, losing to 5A semifinalist Cedar Shoals 54-53, beating Hillgrove 51-41, beating McEachern 69-61 and losing to 4A runner-up Carrollton 54-47. Seniors Austin York and DJ Rowe give coach Clay Crump a nice one-two punch and solid leadership on the floor. Junior guard Tate Coston is also expected to make a big impact on the Hoyas. They will face some good tests throughout the season (Sequoyah, Berkmar, Houston County) and should be a tough out once region tournament play comes along.


1428092996_houston_county_bearsHouston County (10-16, 0-7) plays in the difficult Region 2B with the likes of No. 7 Warner Robins and No. 9 Jones County, but coach Stephen Walls has a nice group back that is in search of its first winning season in over five years. The Bears actually snuck into the playoffs after a winless regular season in region play and fell to LaGrange 60-41.Strong guard play will carry the Bears. Leading scorer junior Amari Colbert averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game as a talented do-everything guard. Senior forward Javion Johnson is an elite leaper and chipped in 8 points and 8 rebounds a night last season. Jaylon Golds pitched in 10 points and 5 assists as a junior and brings quickness to the Bear backcourt. Marquis Traylor from Missouri brings over some size and athleticism inside. As a junior he averaged 7.7 points and 6.3 rebounds while showing off his hops, blocking 1.3 shots per game.

Class AAAA

imgresThough they haven’t enjoyed a winning record since 2012-13, Stephens County (8-19, 3-7) could find themselves playing meaningful basketball into the months of January and February. After a slow start to the season, the Indians under coach Chad Bridges began to play better and will try to carry that momentum over to 2015-16. Junior guard Nunu Walker is a talented scorer. Senior Tay Jones will play another big role along with sophomore Deandre Singleton, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound center. The Indians played Region 8 opponents hard, losing to Johnson-Gainesville (29-1) 54-46 in overtime and to Monroe Area (18-12) 47-45. With the graduation of some key pieces along the region, Region 8 should be a dog fight for the top four seeds.

Class AAA

imgresIt has been a while since Pepperell (11-15, 5-5) has been over .500, but that still didn’t stop the Dragons from making an appearance in the state tournament, sneaking in as a No. 4 seed. Coach Skip Matherly returns seniors Thomas Eddy, Austin Strickland and Rickey Campbell along with sophomore Malech Wilson, giving the Dragons some nice experience. They will need to replace high-scorer DeSean Ware, but Pepperell won’t be the only team in Region 5 losing talent. Rockmart and Callaway have lost some important players as well.

Class AA

homelogoSocial Circle (8-14, 4-8) has slowly begun to improve under head coach Ken Aldridge. He took over a 1-22 program after the 2012-13 season and improved to 3-23 before finishing 8-14 last season. The Redskins narrowly missed out on a playoff berth, but proved they could play with the competition. No. 3 seed Union County (17-12, 8-4) struggled with the up and coming Skins, actually splitting the series with Social Circle taking game one 49-48, before the Panthers won game two 68-67. Junior guard Deion Head is a big time player and averaged 16.8 points and 5.3 assists last year.

Class A

Trapped in thelarge_text158141_80739 devastatingly tough Region 6, Pinecrest Academy (10-15, 4-8) still stands a chance of reaching the elusive .500 mark. Ryan McCarthy and John Crone are a duo of highly experienced juniors that give coach Jay Lynch solid options. The playoffs aren’t likely in the cards, but expect the Paladins to be very competitive.

5A Must See Games

Here is a quick rundown on some of the best 5A matchups between GHSA teams this season:
11/14 – No. 9 Jones County vs No. 8 Henry County4A (SWD Showdown II)
11/14 – No. 8 Heritage-Conyers vs. No. 5 SWAC1A (SWD Showdown II)
11/14 – Tucker6A at No. 10 Cedar Shoals
11/16 – Dacula6A at No. 3 Gainesville
11/21 – Sequoyah vs. Dacula6A (Jared Cook Classic)
11/23 – Sequoyah vs. Buford4A (Jared Cook Classic)
11/24 – No. 7 Warner Robins at Perry4A
11/24 – Americus-Sumter4A at No. 4 Allatoona
11/24 – No. 6 LaGrange at Mundy’s Mill
11/27 –No. 2 McIntosh vs. Douglas County6A (Holiday Hoopsgiving)
12/1 – No. 2 McIntosh at Mundy’s Mill
12/1 – No. 3 Gainesville at No. 8 Heritage-Conyers
12/4 – No. 7 Warner Robins at Tift County6A
12/4 – South Paulding at No. 4 Allatoona
12/5 – Southwest DeKalb at No. 1 Miller Grove
12/8 – No. 3 Gainesville at No. 10 Cedar Shoals
12/12 – No. 6 LaGrange at No. 7 Callaway3A
12/15 – No. 7 Callaway3A at No. 6 LaGrange
12/18 – Apalachee at No. 8 Heritage-Conyers
12/19 – No. 10 Cedar Shoals  vs. No. 9 Newton6A (Classic City Shootout)
12/ 19 – No. 2 McIntosh at No. 5 Sandy Creek4A
12/21 – No. 6 LaGrange vs. No. 10 South Atlanta3A (War Eagle Classic)
1/9 – No. 6 LaGrange at Carver
1/15 – No. 4 Allatoona at South Paulding
1/15 – No. 10 Cedar Shoals at No. 8 Heritage-Conyers
1/18 – Sequoyah vs. No. 8 Berkmar6A (MLK Classic)
1/19 – No. 6 LaGrange at Northside-Columbus
1/22 – No. 9 Jones County vs. Houston County
1/23 – No. 1 Lithonia4A at No. 1 Miller Grove
1/29 – No. 7 Warner Robins at Houston County
2/2 – Mundy’s Mill at No. 2 McIntosh
2/2 – No. 8 Heritage-Conyers at No. 10 Cedar Shoals
2/5 – Perry4A at No. 7 Warner Robins
2/5 – Northside-Columbus at No. 6 LaGrange


6A Must See Games

Here is a quick rundown on some of the best 6A matchups between GHSA teams this season:
11/16 – Dacula at No. 3 Gainesville5A
11/21 – No. 8 Henry County4A at No. 9 Newton
11/21 – Buford4A at Tift County
11/21 – Dacula vs. Sequoyah5A (Jared Cook Classic)
11/24 – No. 8 Berkmar vs. Duluth (Jared Cook Classic)
11/24 – No. 4 East Jackson3A at No. 3 Westlake
11/27 – No. 6 Pebblebrook vs No. 1 Greenforest 1A (Holiday Hoopsgiving)
11/27 – Duluth vs. No. 6 Holy Innocents’2A (Holiday Hoopsgiving)
11/27 – Douglas County vs. No. 2 McIntosh5A (Holiday Hoopsgiving)

11/27 – No. 2 Norcross vs. No. 2 Jonesboro4A(Hardwood Jam Fest)

11/28 – No. 2 Norcross vs. No. 1 Greenforest 1A (Holiday Hoopsgiving)
11/28 – No. 3 Westlake vs. No. 2 Pace Academy2A (Holiday Hoopsgiving)
11/28 – Langston Hughes at No. 10 Lambert
11/28 – Douglas County vs. Dacula (On the Radar Hoops Showcase)
11/28 – No. 8 Berkmar vs. No. 9 Newton (On the Radar Hoops Showcase)
11/28 – No. 2 St. Francis1A at No. 5 Milton (Dai-Jon Parker Classic)
12/4 – No. 7 Warner Robins5A at Tift County
12/5 – Duluth at No. 9 Newton
12/5 – No. 6 Pebblebrook vs. No. 2 St. Francis1A
12/8 – No. 2 Norcross at No. 7 Collins Hill
12/12 – No. 8 Berkmar vs. No. 2 Jenkins3A (Valhalla Classic)
12/15 – No. 9 Newton at Tucker
12/19 – No. 9 Newton vs. No. 10 Cedar Shoals5A (Classic City Shootout)
12/19 – McEachern vs. Dacula (SEBA Hoopfest)
1/5 – No. 7 Collins Hill at Duluth
1/5 – Douglas County at No. 3 Westlake
1/9 – No. 4 Wheeler at No. 5 Milton
1/12 – No. 3 Westlake at No. 6 Pebblebrook
1/12 – No. 1 Shiloh at No. 8 Berkmar
1/16 – No. 1 Shiloh at Dacula
1/16 – Tift County at Buford4A
1/18 – No. 3 Westlake vs. Columbia4A (MLK Classic)
1/19 – No. 7 Collins Hill at No. 2 Norcross
1/23 – Dacula at No. 1 Shiloh
1/29 – Duluth at No. 7 Collins Hill
1/29 – No. 3 Westlake at Douglas County
2/2 – No. 5 Milton at No. 4 Wheeler
2/2 – No. 8 Berkmar at Dacula
2/2 – No. 6 Pebblebrook at No. 3 Westlake
2/5 – No. 8 Berkmar at No. 1 Shiloh

Sandy’s Spiel Preseason Top 25

After releasing my Top Ten for each classification in the state, I now tackle the unenviable task of trying to put together a Top 25 regardless of classification.

A Power Poll of the best teams in the state. There will be no right answer, but I’m sure there will be a couple wrong answers. It never hurts trying to rank the state, and the picture will hopefully clear up a little more as the season goes on.

But without further ado, here is my first crack at the Sandy’s Spiel Top 25:

  1. Shiloh
  2. Miller Grove
  3. Norcross
  4. Westlake
  5. Greenforest Christian
  6. McIntosh
  7. Wheeler
  8. Milton
  9. Pebblebrook
  10. Lithonia
  11. Seminole County
  12. Pace Academy
  13. St. Francis
  14. Laney
  15. Jonesboro
  16. Collins Hill
  17. Jenkins
  18. Morgan County
  19. East Jackson
  20. Liberty County
  21. Gainesville
  22. Bainbridge
  23. Sandy Creek
  24. Crawford County
  25. Brunswick

Breakdown by class:

6A – 7 (No. 1, No. 3, No. 4, No. 7, No. 8, No. 9, No. 16)

5A – 4 (No. 2, No. 6, No. 21, No. 25)

4A – 5 (No. 10, No. 15, No. 20, No. 22, No. 23)

3A – 4 (No. 14, No. 17, No. 18, No. 19)

2A – 3 (No. 11, No. 12, No. 24)

1A – 2 (No. 5, No. 13)

Class A-Public Preseason Top Ten

Class A-Public

  1. Calhoun County
  2. Hancock Central
  3. Treutlen
  4. Wilkinson County
  5. Turner County
  6. Randolph-Clay
  7. Greenville
  8. Dooly County
  9. Portal
  10. Terrell County

Honorable Mention: Georgia Military College, Claxton, Mt. Zion, Taylor County, Quitman County

Calhoun County will open up the season at No. 1 after finishing 30-2 with a thrilling 84-82 state championship victory over Greenville. A five-man senior class with plenty of leadership has graduated, leaving sophomore Rashun Williams and senior Jerrek Solite as the two focal points of the offense. Senior center Jalin Gray also has experience and brings some bulk inside for the Cougars. Both Williams and Gray scored 8 points in the title game while Solite chipped in 7. Williams also added 6 rebounds to his ledger. Solite grabbed 9 rebounds and dished 4 assists.

No. 2 Hancock Central went 25-3 and lost to Greenville in the semifinals 75-69. Senior guard Alex Brooks is a big time scorer and a blur on offense. He and Markellus Lamar make up for a quick backcourt that looks to push the tempo and get easy baskets.

No. 3 Treutlen lost only three seniors from last year’s 27-2 unit that fell in the Final Four to Calhoun County 87-67. Gone is Terrance Warren and his 15.4 points and 7 rebounds per game, but back are seniors Titus Benjamin and Elijah Johnson. Johnson is a talented guard and Benjamin is a 6-foot-3 forward that can take his man inside and out.

No. 4 Wilkinson County lost to Hancock Central in round two, 72-71 in double overtime, ending the Warriors’ season at 25-5. Senior guard Ontario Coats, sophomore forward Clarence Jackson, junior guard Larry Jones and junior center Greg Cousin should be a strong nucleus to build around after losing six seniors including All-Middle Georgia Honorable Mention selection Torrico Simmons.

It will be interesting to see how Tasha Kimble does at No. 5 Turner County. Kimble will now be in charge of coaching both the boys and girls teams. Good news for Kimble, talent is aplenty at Turner County. She led the girls team to a 28-3 season and a state runner-up trophy and will take over a Rebels team that went 25-4 last year and lost to Treutlen in round two, 88-81 in overtime. Kimble’s offense will revolve around the exciting Tamorrion Terry. Terry, a junior, is a two-sport star at Turner County and is pegged as a three-star wide receiver. On the hardwood, at 6-foot-3, he is a beast. Terry averaged 17.1 points and 11.5 rebounds for the Rebels. In their final game of the season, Terry saved his best for last and recorded 33 points and 22 rebounds.

No. 6 Randolph-Clay finished 21-6, but saw their season end too soon, getting beat by Dooly County 62-56 in round one of the state playoffs. The Red Devils’ top two leading scorers and rebounders have graduated and Coach Kalvin Baker will now turn to senior Cody Brown to carry the load. Brown averaged 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds as a 6-foot-2, 225-pound power forward. Nigel Gibson is another senior forward who should be a key contributor.

28-3 No. 7 Greenville suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Calhoun County, 84-82 in the state championship. Coach Walter Jackson loses his top five scorers from a year ago. Senior Josh Walls will have the green light to score after averaging 7.6 points per game. Renault Griffin adds some length and is a good rebounder and shot blocker, blocking 1.5 per game in 2014-15. Griffin showed his upside in the fourth quarter of the state championship, scoring all 9 of his points in the frame including a handful of thunderous dunks.

The Bobcats of No. 8 Dooly County lost to Calhoun County in round two, 72-52. Power forward Antonneous Clayton is a hard worker inside and averaged 6.5 points and a team-high 9.6 rebounds. Fellow senior Adrian Kenny added 6.9 points and 4.9 rebounds and is a nice versatile piece for Coach Towandi King.

No. 9 Portal was upended in round two by Greenville, 87-73. A lot has graduated and the transfer of senior Tyler Budgett hurts. Senior forward Marvin Prescott will be thrust into more of a go-to role after posting 8.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in 2014-15.

John Davis’ No. 10 Terrell County finished 16-12 after a blowout loss to Hancock Central in the opening round of state. Detravion Bishop is the Greenwave’s leading scorer and will once again be a major playmaker as a junior.

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