Sandy's Spiel Northwest Georgia Invitational Boys Top Performers

Sandy’s Spiel Northwest Georgia Invitational Boys Top Performers

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Jax Abernathy2024 6-4 SG Jax Abernathy – Christian Heritage
D-I programs will rue the day they see Jax Abernathy’s inevitable success at Trevecca Nazarene. The history-making scoring machine eclipsed the 2,000-point mark in a 68-59 win over South Paulding. Abernathy took advantage of an over aggressive Spartan defense in the first quarter, getting to the line frequently shooting 5-5 to pile up 11 points. Jax ran his total to 20 by the end of the half and finished with a game-high 29 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block while sinking a pair of threes. The scoring maestro darted the defense with pull-up jumpers and crafty drives. Jax was always in motion, moving without the ball to find backdoor layups. Over three-plus years of watching Abernathy, I’ve never witnessed him have a bad game. In four games I’ve statted dating back to 2021, Jax has averaged 26.3 points per game. He is the most efficient and consistent scorer the state of Georgia has seen since he stepped foot on campus at Christian Heritage.

Dontae Crowder2025 6-4 W Dontae Crowder – Christian Heritage
Now an upperclassman, Dontae Crowder looks poised for a big year. It won’t necessarily be from just scoring the ball, although he did on Saturday, but his most important value will come on the defensive end. At 6-foot-4, Crowder is a strong athlete with great versatility. He defends inside and out and does good work on the backboards. Crowder gets physical away from the ball. He harassed Andrew LaVigne when trying to work off off-ball screens jamming him up to limit clean releases. Crowder’s length allowed him to contest shots at a high level. Offensively, Dontae found his offense in transition, scoring on three buckets. He sank a timely three in the third quarter and went 3-4 from the line in the fourth. Crowder finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. His athleticism and activity will be paramount for the Lions this season.

Andrew LaVigne2024 6-2 SG Andrew LaVigne – South Paulding
In what was a great personal measuring stick matchup against Jax Abernathy, Andrew LaVigne nearly matched the scoring expert bucket for bucket in the first half, finishing with 15 points over the first 16 minutes. Andrew would end with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. He excelled at creating separation on the perimeter with his step-back jumper. Andrew needed just a glimmer of space to bury tough shots over great contests. LaVigne’s one-dribble pull-up was a weapon, netting three on the day. Andrew in total sank seven jumpers including two threes. His deep three-point range opens up the floor extremely well. D-III and JUCO programs are after LaVigne; Emory-Oxford, Oglethorpe, Dean and North Dakota State College of Science all offering.

David Williams2024 6-4 W David Williams – South Paulding
After a four-point first half, David Williams closed strong as the Spartans frantically tried to claw back against Christian Heritage. Williams posted 17 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals as he used his length and well-rounded offensive attack to find hoops. David hit a pair of mid-range jumpers and a three-pointer to blend with transition hoops and drives to the rim. While he didn’t get great rotation on some of his jumpers, the threat of him shooting was still worrisome enough for Christian Heritage to step out and guard him, especially with three outside shots dropping. Cleveland State Community College has offered. JUCO, NAIA and D-III programs should do their due diligence on the improving swingman.

CJ Gaines2024 5-9 PG CJ Gaines – Calvary Day
Calvary Day jumped out to a quick 17-2 run against Temple but saw their lead slowly slip away, eventually pressed into overtime before the Cavaliers survived 78-71. Whenever it looked like Temple had momentum and was about to extend their lead and put the game away, CJ Gaines had an answer. The senior was in attack mode early, getting to the hoop off the bounce. Gaines worked the baseline well and used his speed to score in transition. CJ hit a pull-up jumper, a three and had two floaters part of his game-high 24 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals. D-III schools are starting to inquire about the downhill guard.

Marlon Knight2027 6-3 W Marlon Knight – Calvary Day
The freshman came up huge in his first career game, fresh off the football field. Coming off the bench, Knight double-doubled with 18 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals after a three-point first half. Marlon is a big guard that can serve multiple positions along the perimeter. The lefty has the strength to even serve as a small-ball four in spurts if needed. MJ scored on two drives, a corner three and a putback. He went 6-6 from the line in overtime and 9-10 for the game. Knight doesn’t look like a freshman. His size and versatile game will pay dividends throughout the season. After an 0-3 start, expect the Cavaliers to find their footing with their roster starting to come intact.

Tavarea Williams2024 5-11 G Tavarea Williams – Temple
The spearhead of Temple’s relentless full-court press and aggressive brand of basketball, Tavarea Williams nearly sprung the Tigers to a wild come from behind win but ultimately fell short in overtime to Calvary Day 78-71. “Skoota” drilled six threes, the southpaw letting it fly from all over the floor. Williams plays with great energy on both sides of the ball. He’s a ballhawk on defense in the press, picking off passes. Tavarea compiled 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 steals. One of just three seniors on the roster, Williams set a high bar for others to follow on Saturday.

Darren Drayton2025 5-5 G Darren Drayton – Temple
Diminutive in size, Darren is the Energizer Bunny for Temple. Drayton is shifty quick, a sparkplug playmaker that thrives at getting into the lane and finding open teammates. Drayton hit a deep three and scored his other two hoops in transition. He went 5-6 from the line, finishing with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block.

Khaven Cochran2025 6-2 G Khaven Cochran – Central-Carrollton
Central-Carrollton gave a shorthanded Adairsville team no hope from the opening tip, jumping out to a 30-6 lead before cruising to a 64-47 victory. Khaven Cochran was off a running early on, posting 20 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 4 steals. D-III schools have begun tracking the high academic 4.06 GPA student. Khaven shoots the ball exceptionally well off the dribble from the mid-range, can stretch the floor with his three-point shot and now routinely finishes above the rim. Cochran slammed home a pair of dunks, netted a corner three and had a handful of transition hoops in the rout. Khaven is a buy stock now type of player. His name and game are on the verge of transcending West Georgia and expanding across the state.

Gabe Gomez2024 5-10 G Gabe Gomez – Adairsville
Gomez was a tremendous bright spot for Adairsville. With stars Tre Winters and Zach Postell injured, Gabe answered the call, swishing seven threes to finish with 23 points and 2 rebounds. Gomez scored off the catch from the corners and showcased deep range off the dribble. Whenever Adairsville is healthy, Gomez’s three-point shooting could play a crucial role for the Tigers’ offense, allowing more open space for Winters to get downhill and serving as another dead-eye shooter to pair with Postell.

Joe Womack2024 6-2 G Joe Womack – Darlington
I told Joe Womack before the game I needed him to show me something and he did, draining three first quarter threes part of an 11-point outburst matching River Ridge and finishing with a game-high 22 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals in Darlington’s 70-61 win. The lefty was locked with his jumper which gave him confidence in other areas of his game. He converted two steals into transition layups and was nearly automatic at the foul line, shooting 7-8. Joe’s length, lateral quickness and outside shooting give him quality tools to work with at the next level. The track and field star has interest and offers from D-III to D-I schools but an opportunity to do both at Huntingdon.

Grant Hutton2024 6-6 W Grant Hutton – Darlington
A quiet two-point first half was erased in the second half as Grant Hutton displayed his X-Factor skillset that the Tigers lacked a season ago. The lefty compiled 14 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Grant scored from multiple levels. He hit a long top of the key jumper and a mid-range shot off an offensive rebound. He scored with a pretty post move, spinning to get to his left-handed hook off the glass. Hutton added two And-1s, including one off a slam. Grant went 4-4 from the foul line. Hutton has added some muscle to his lean frame since the Sandy’s Spiel Fall League. When he rises to shoot from the perimeter, his shot is undefendable with his 43-inch vertical, getting explosive lift. Finding ways to keep Hutton involved in the offense for the full 32 minutes will help Darlington reach their ceiling. D-I and D-II schools should make the trip to Rome to evaluate the springy tweener.

D'Marion Floyd2024 6-0 PG D’Marion Floyd – Darlington
D’Marion was able to get to the rim and finish against River Ridge’s length, scoring on high arcing floaters that kissed off the top of the glass. Floyd scored with both hands and was able to consistently get penetration when he wanted to against the Knights’ multiple zone sets. Polishing up his decision making and outside shot will do Floyd well. If he can utilize a sharp mid-range pull-up, it will further keep defenders on their heels. The electric playmaker totaled 14 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists and 1 steal. He’s a dual-sport option at the next level with a chance to play both basketball and football.

Collin Ross2025 6-8 C Collin Ross – River Ridge
The tallest of the River Ridge trees, Collin Ross really asserted himself as the game went on, playing some of the best ball of his young career collecting 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks. Ross used his length to alter shots inside and finished with three dunks. He got on the glass for three putbacks and converted an And-1 lob over the top of the defense. Only a junior, with his size, mobility and blossoming game, Collin has a chance to become a sneaky good college prospect especially once he adds on a little more weight.

Ian Helms2024 6-3 W Ian Helms – River Ridge
Ian provides major toughness to the River Ridge frontcourt. The strongly-built combo-forward can make an impact inside and out. He’s a tough-nosed rebounder that can finish through contact in the paint, but also has a soft touch from the mid-range and beyond, capable of stretching the floor with his jumper. Helms netted a three, converted an And-1 drive and scored on both a putback and a steal to go along with going 4-5 from the foul line. Helms tallied 13 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. His versatility and knack for playing bigger than his size gives him interesting value at the small school level.