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Atlanta Jam notes

Unsigned Seniors Update

6-8 F Devin Evans (Duluth/Atlanta All-Stars): Evans garnered some fanfare heading into his senior season after moving back to Georgia following time at Richard Hardy Memorial School in Tennessee. Evans was unable to duplicate his 22-15-4-1 average at Richard Hardy but managed a respectable 10.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game at Duluth. Evans is a mobile combo forward that can work on the block all the way out to the wing. Evans is a strong rebounder that likes to start his own fast breaks and push the ball in transition. He is a toolsy player that has learned under two of the most well-respected head coaches in the southeast in Cabral Huff and Ben Miller. Although he struggled to score in a 52-49 loss to the Tennessee Tigers, what stood out most about Evans’ performance was his vocal leadership, cheering his team from the sideline and always talking when in the game. Evans will be a coveted late sign. If he can bring some more assertiveness and consistency to the offensive end Evans could turn into a key piece at the right school.

6-6 F Colin Kahl (Centennial/Atlanta Timberwolves): Colin Kahl impressed in a 76-70 loss to the Middle Georgia Bucks, tallying 14 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block. Kahl was a double-double machine at Centennial this past season, flourishing with the loss of Rodney Howard. Kahl profiles as a tough-nosed forward that can play above the rim and finishes well in traffic. He has a sneaky quick first step that he uses to blow by bigger defenders or those he catches flatfooted. Kahl isn’t afraid to go up and try to finish with authority. His knack for rebounding and his scoring touch around the rim should translate to the next level.

6-6 W Nate Dunlop (Augusta Christian/Atlanta Timberwolves): Hidden away in Augusta in the SCISA, prolific scorer Nate Dunlop brought his unstoppable demeanor to Atlanta Jam scoring the ball in a variety of ways. Dunlop finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 1 block against the Middle Georgia Bucks. Dunlop drilled three three-pointers and showed the ability to create his own shot off the dribble, using his bulky build to shield off defenders, allowing him to get to his spots. Dunlop had some hard drives to the basket and played above the rim on numerous occasions. One can only imagine what his recruitment would look like if he played in the GHSA his entire career, but its better late than never – Dunlop has already cashed in with offers from VMI, Navy and Lincoln Memorial and has plenty of good ball ahead of him.

17U Middle Georgia Bucks

Camrone Cherry2020 6-4 CG Camrone Cherry (Northeast-Macon): The Middle Georgia Bucks showed up late in their game against the Atlanta Timberwolves both literally and figuratively as the game was nearly ruled a forfeit. Down almost 20 points at one point and losing 43-28 at the half, the Bucks staged a furious comeback behind Cam Cherry to win 76-70. Cherry scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second half and added 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks. In the first half Cherry was in cruise control. He had a nonchalant demeanor about him, just floating around on the floor. The second half was a different story. Cherry decided to play and when he decides to play, he can takeover games which is exactly what he did. The set-shooting lefty bombed in two deep threes to get his scoring barrage rolling and hit a total of three in the second half. Cherry is a physically imposing guard with a great frame complete with strong wide shoulders. Once he put his head down and got his shoulders past his defenders there was nothing they could do to stop him. Cherry also created open looks for his teammates and had a nice two-man game with running mate Jarden Maze. Second half performances like Sunday afternoon are why many people are so high on Cherry and the immense talent he possesses but the first half is the other side of the coin that has to be completely wiped away for him to reach his potential. If Cherry is engaged for the full 32 minutes he steps on the floor every time out, he has a chance to the be the best player in Middle Georgia this season and a Mid-Major level recruit if not higher. Cherry’s altitude will be determined by his attitude on the court.

2020 6-1 CG Jarden Maze (Washington County): The slinky guard from Sandersville put up 21 points and 4 rebounds in the Bucks’ comeback win over the Atlanta Timberwolves. Maze scored 16 points in the second half to help lead the rally. He is a wiry guard that can slither his way into the paint to cause havoc for defenses but he also showed the ability to knock down the deep ball, hitting three of them in the win. Maze has the type of length that can make him a talented on-ball defender along with his lateral quickness. With a large senior class headed out the door, expect Maze to put his stamp on the Washington County program in his final season and start to attract college coaches.

2020 6-5 F Chavis Mathis (Jones County): Chavis Mathis had his hard hat on against the Atlanta Timberwolves. The strong forward posted 17 points and 9 rebounds, bullying his way on the glass and finishing strong inside. Mathis knows his role as the garbage man and the enforcer down low and doesn’t stray away from it. Hard-playing players like Mathis win a ton of games at the high school level.

Atlanta Jam notes

HoopSeen’s Atlanta Jam provided the stage for unsigned seniors to make their final impression on college coaches and for rising high school standouts to emblazon a name for themselves. 

Unsigned Seniors Update

Eli Lawrence

I’m not sure what the delay is, but colleges are still moving slowly on recruiting Class 6A First Team All-State selection 6-foot-5 SG Eli Lawrence (Tri-Cities). Running with the 17U South Fulton Lions, Lawrence continued to show why he is the best available wing in the state (outside of Tye Fagan who announces on Monday) and should be a priority for Low Majors/D-II. Lawrence finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in a 63-59 win over Chattanooga Elite. Lawrence is an above-average athlete with a knack for rebounding. He averaged 21.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 3.1 steals playing in the Classification’s toughest region, where he saw the likes of Virginia Tech-signee Landers Nolley. Lawrence can knock down the deep ball and glides to the basket. The southpaw reminds me of a taller version of Fagan, but not quite as polished with his all-around game. Nonetheless, Lawrence is a D-I level player, but the clock is ticking and time is running out for programs to realize it.

Kam Miller

A long time favorite of mine, Kam Miller (Sandy Creek) strapped them up this weekend. Standing only 5-foot-7, Miller brings so much more to the table than the typical little man. Of course, he does exactly what you want from a diminutive guard: acting as a pest all over the floor and priding himself on his defense. Knowing that he is overmatched in size each time he steps on the floor, Miller makes it a point to outwork his competition with his tenacity and water bug quickness. What you don’t see from most guards his size, is his ability to rebound. Miller uses his small frame to sneak through cracks of the defense to earn his team second-chance opportunities on the glass. He put up 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals in a win with the 17U South Fulton Lions. Miller will provide effort and energy wherever he ends up.

Nick Edwards

17U Atlanta All-Stars 6-foot PG Nick Edwards (Grayson) took full advantage of the Atlanta Jam stage with one of Georgia’s best non-shoe company programs. Graded as one of the better lead guards still available, Big Game Nick put up 10 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in a romp of the Carolina Wolves and picked up his second offer, this time from Andrew College. Edwards truly flourished his senior season, stepping out of the shadow of Travis Anderson (Charleston Southern) and shining, averaging 14.7 points, 3 assists and 2 steals per game as the Rams returned to the Class 7A Final Four. While Anderson battled injuries his senior year, Edwards picked up the slack and turned in big performances in big spots, highlighted by Edwards’ orchestration of an 18-point comeback to beat Langston Hughes 65-64, Edwards scoring 24 points including the game-winner with one second left at the BCB Showcase. Edwards isn’t overly flashy or the most elite shooter or the most electric athlete, but he is a player that knows how to produce.

Stock Risers

Devin Butts

Word on the street this spring has been about the emergence of 17U Team Georgia Magic 2019 6-foot-5 CG Devin Butts. I got my first look at him since last summer and boy did he not disappoint. The Stratford Academy guard buried seven three-pointers en route to a smooth 27 points, tickling the bottom of the net with misses few and far between. Colleges like knock down shooters. Knock down shooters with size and handles? That’s something schools love. Butts showed the ability to drive and convert tough finishes, proving he’s more than just a one-trick pony. Heading into a 2018-19 season with many unknowns as to who will assert themselves among the state’s best, Butts has an early claim to being in the discussion of becoming one of Georgia’s elite 2019 players.

Brady Spence

2019 6-foot-8 C Brady Spence (Alexander) controlled the paint for 17U Atlanta All-Stars. I have tracked the growth of Spence from his freshman year to now likely his final season of travel basketball, and the thought process of “big men develop later” has never been truer. Spence was a gangly youngster still filling into his body when I first saw him. He learned how to alter shots around the rim without fouling as a sophomore, but his hands still weren’t where they needed to be. His junior season he needed to get stronger, but the production was starting to become apparent and hard to deny. Fast forward to present day, and the pieces are getting closer and closer to assembling a finished product. Spence scored 7 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, handed out 2 assists and blocked 2 shots in a win over the Carolina Wolves. Spence continues to trend in the right direction and is picking up steam with D-I schools. He does a nice job of keeping rebounds high and with more time in the weight room, his rebounding and defensive dominance at the high school level will convert more easily to the college ranks. Spence can score around the rim with some spins to the baseline and some drop steps, but he is still more of a defensive anchor than a back-to-the-basket go-to-guy on offense. Playing against elite competition week-in and week-out, Spence should have major momentum heading into his senior season.

Jayvion Rucker

17U Atlanta All-Stars always have bevy of high academic D-I/D-II recruits with a few late blooming sleepers along the way. This year’s “who’s that?” guy looks to be 2019 6-foot-6 F Jayvion Rucker. Out of East Hall, Rucker is a name that the entire state will have to be cognizant of come Fall. All arms and legs, “lanky” probably doesn’t do Rucker justice. He can cover ground like a gazelle offensively and defensively. He had 9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks in a win. He drilled three corner threes. With his ability to knock down the open long ball coupled with his length and athleticism, Rucker looks like a stretch-four. If he improves his ball-handling and playmaking, he could provide quality minutes at the three as well. His progress will be interesting to track as he heads back into the high school season with plenty of experience under his belt.

2019 6-foot-8 F Sammy Mike (Northside-Warner Robins) played well for 17U AC Georgia. Mike was a name we heard about a few years ago, but never really saw him blossom into a big-time high school player. It’s now or never heading into his senior season and he took a big step on Saturday in becoming a name that sticks. The svelte stretch-big collected 14 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocks against the Tennessee Bobcats. Mike knocked down two 15-footers and drilled a three. He is very mobile and moves well, even putting the ball on the deck. There is a lot to be intrigued about with his skill set, now it’s up to him to bring it all to fruition.

Bucket Getters

DaMarcus Johnson
DaMarcus Johnson

Two human microwaves did what they do best on Saturday: score. In Class 6A, two 2019 guards are instant offense in 6-foot-2 Kalen Williams (Lakeside-Evans) and 6-foot Da’Marcus Johnson (Tri-Cities). With 17U Team Power, Williams dumped in 17 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. Williams has grown his game each year since first bursting onto the scene with the Georgia Bulls. He has a knack for scoring the ball and a mean-streak on the floor. He has a little bit of a funky release, but Williams can burn you from deep. He is continuing to improve as a passer and someone who makes his teammates better. He has some deceptive bounce that helps him play above the rim and earn some chase down blocks. At Lakeside-Evans, Williams averaged 22.8 points, 6 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

Johnson is a pure shooter that can get in the lane as well. He provides strong on-ball defense, bringing effort on both sides of the floor. Johnson finished with 19 points (3 threes), 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals for 17U South Fulton Lions. The lefty has played against the best of the best at Tri-Cities and averaged 15 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.5 steals.  It will be interesting to see how he plays now that Eli Lawrence has graduated. He will now garner the lion’s share of the attention that defenses throw at the Bulldogs.

HoopSeen Atlanta Jam Takeaways P. 3

Talent from across the southeast arrived in Fulton and Gwinnett County to showcase their skills, but of course I had my eyes on current and future GHSA standouts. I tried to stay cognizant of all the Georgia talent in the tournament while still doing my duty of covering the entire event. I managed to takeaway a few things from this weekend’s Atlanta Jam.

Cherokee County Rising

Canton-based 16U Team Atlanta is another team flying under the radar that has had a nice travel season so far. Dylin Hardeman and KJ Jenkins did the majority of the damage in their 69-67 win over PSB Elite. Jenkins (Creekview) led with 24 while Hardeman put in 20. Hardeman will see a change of scenery for his junior season, transferring from St. Francis to Woodstock. He is a fierce competitor from his guard position at 6-4.

He is not the only Wolverine on Team Atlanta with Noah Frith, Sid Mesumbe, Michael Spain and Quentin Doby Jr. all attending school in Towne Lake. Woodstock made waves in Region 5-AAAAAA this year clinching their first state playoff berth since the school opened back in 1996. With Hardeman now in the fold alongside top scorer Tyreke Johnson and space eater and Georgia Tech baseball commit 6-6 Brant Hurter, the pieces are in place for the Wolverines to make another trip to the postseason under head coach Kingston Clark who will try to make it 2-for-2 in playoff appearances in his second year on the job.

 Gainesville Reloading

Up north in Hall County lies Gainesville High School. D’Marcus Simonds may be gone to Georgia State but KJ Buffen and more return. Even though he may never be the first option on his varsity basketball team, Bailey Minor is starting to look more and more like a college player. The 6-6 stretch forward gets it done inside and outside. In Coach Benjie Wood’s spread out balanced attack at Gainesville, the Red Elephants look to space the floor. That is where Minor comes into play with his ability to knock down the corner three. He scored 16 points in 16U North Georgia Elite’s championship loss to Da House and averaged 20.4 points on the weekend. On command, he drilled three balls and even added a put-back slam to keep the Elite close.

Teammate Xavier Bledson also plays for both Gainesville and the NG Elite. He looks more like a tight end on the floor as a thick 6-3 guard but his playmaking is more like that of a quarterback, riffling in passes to the open man. He will be a major piece for Gainesville the next two years and is on track to be a four-year varsity contributor along with Minor.

Middle Georgia Sleeper

Last but not least, Cameron Holden of 16U Team GA Magic put on a show Friday night. The 6-5 do everything guard out of Mary Persons dropped 35 points. Expect a monster next two seasons in middle Georgia. He averaged 18.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.1 blocks as a sophomore.

HoopSeen Atlanta Jam Takeaways P. 2

Talent from across the southeast arrived in Fulton and Gwinnett County to showcase their skills, but of course I had my eyes on current and future GHSA standouts. I tried to stay cognizant of all the Georgia talent in the tournament while still doing my duty of covering the entire event. I managed to takeaway a few things from this weekend’s Atlanta Jam.

Turn on the AC

17U AC Georgia Phoenix was another team loaded with GHSA standouts. Phlan Fleming (Cedar Shoals), Elijah Jenkins (Riverwood), Clint Bentley (New Manchester), Phillip Cirillo (Cherokee) and Jaden Stanley (Discovery) highlighted the group.

The Phoenix lost in the 17U Gray Division final but still put forth a solid showing. Jaden Stanley stood out in their win against the Savannah Terps, who were powered by the Islands backcourt of Trae Broadnax and Justin Cave. Stanley, a 6-6 forward that moved to Georgia last year from Montana, had a nice touch from the perimeter and finished well through contact. Clint Bentley played the role of a sturdy lead guard well and led the Phoenix along with Stanley with 19 points against the Terps. Phillip Cirillo will be asked to carry Cherokee once again this upcoming season from the perimeter and is a popular name amongst low to mid-major schools.

Douglas Brothers Elite

17U Douglas Brothers Elite lost to the Tennessee Tigers in the White Division title game. Isaiah Hart (Whitefield Academy) injured his foot and was unable to go. In his absence, unsigned senior guard Tariq Jenkins (Jonesboro) lived at the foul line and finished with 16 points and three steals. Another senior looking for a home was Cedric Labat (Our Lady of Mercy). The 5-11 guard shot well from beyond the arc when in rhythm. Dwayne Wilson of Johnson-Gainesville played a little out of position due to the height starved roster, but played well in the second half adding six points, five rebounds and a block. He should be the Knights’ go-to player under Coach Tim Slater next season.

Under the Radar

Calhoun County’s Rashun Williams may still be a little raw, but the 6-6 small forward played well for the 16U GA Stars in their romp to a Black Division championship. He’s most effective when attacking the rim, using his bounce. If he can add a consistent jumper to his arsenal, watch out.

The 16U Georgia Bulls boast an Augusta flavored lineup, peppered by Lakeside-Evans players who will be coached by new head man Jeff Williams. Kalen Williams, a high-scoring freshman guard, and Deon Berrien, a big-time rebounder, helped the Bulls to an upset over CP25 Southeast Elite.

HoopSeen Atlanta Jam Takeaways P. 1

Talent from across the southeast arrived in Fulton and Gwinnett County to showcase their skills, but of course I had my eyes on current and future GHSA standouts. I tried to stay cognizant of all the Georgia talent in the tournament while still doing my duty of covering the entire event. I managed to takeaway a few things from this weekend’s Atlanta Jam.

Metro Atlanta is in Good Hands

The 17U Atlanta All-Stars won the 17U Black Division Championship and has a talented roster led by head coach Ben Miller. Miller stays on his guys and puts them in the best position to succeed. Last year’s roster featured the likes of Cameron Cox (Navy), Connor Mannion (Navy), Patrick Zeck (Gardner-Webb), Zack Kaminsky (Penn), Ross Morkem (North Georgia), Devon Brewer (Alcorn State) and Kerney Lane, who is expected to make a college decision soon.

This year’s team is loaded with familiar names: Evan Cole (South Forsyth), Chapin Rierson (Calhoun), Javon Greene (Henry County), Damion Rosser (Henry County), William Tate (Henry County), Charlie O’Briant (GAC), Colby Leifson (North Gwinnett), Will Crumly (North Cobb Christian) and Seth Brown (Henry County).

The quartet of Henry County players has a chance to make some major noise in Region 4-AAAA next season. Coach Vincent Rosser is sitting on a goldmine. After a 15-11 season in a brutal region that was terrorized by Jonesboro, the Cardinals are now in AAAAAA. Key guards Javon Greene and Damion Rosser return as an electrifying duo, but two transfers from a year ago that were ruled ineligible finally have the green light for their senior season with the GHSA no longer able to interfere. William “Kovi” Tate, a 6-5 forward, was at school this season along with the ultra-athletic 6-2 Seth Brown. Add these two to the mix and Coach Rosser has a versatile and explosive core.

Tate is a strong athlete inside that showed up big time at the HoopSeen Spring Preview. When his motor is running, he is a terror inside. Brown let loose with a big time slam this weekend and showed what he can add in the open court to an already potent backcourt.

Evan Cole might have been the most impressive player I saw for the All-Stars. The 6-8 forward has a chance to blow his recruitment up with his sneaky athleticism and defensive prowess. Cole lost out to Atlanta All-Stars alum Connor Mannion for Forsyth County Player of the Year, but the award seems to be all but his this upcoming season after averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks as a junior. Plays like this are what solidify him as a quickly rising D-I prospect.

Shooting and toughness are always coveted in the college ranks and the All-Stars have both in Colby Leifson and Chapin Rierson. Leifson, the lone senior on the roster, is a knock down shooter at 6-4. He averaged 16.8 points per game his final season as a Bulldog. When he got his feet set this weekend, it was usually nothing but net. And what about Rierson? At Calhoun all he has done is win, going 75-8 over his first three seasons. The gritty forward played with a busted mouth, literally. He nearly had his front teeth knocked out and had to glue them in to play this weekend.