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Best of the South 17U Team Spotlight

By Trent Markwith    (@TMarkwith14)

Atlanta All-Stars

Ben Miller has cemented his All-Stars program as one of the best in Georgia from year to year and the story is no different this season. Alex Jones is the unquestioned leader for this team; he is a proven winner and floor general who controls the game with great poise. Jones can take over a game with either his passing or scoring, it is not hard to see why he has become such a hot recruit this year.

Adam Flagler and Arusha Hunter are pure scorers for the All-Stars, coming into each game with an aggressive approach and understanding how to score in a variety of ways.

David Viti and Austin Deckard are excellent shooters on the outside for the team, connecting on 3’s consistently when Jones found them. It seems like Viti made a good choice to come over to the Allstars from Southern Stampede for July; he had a big weekend and should be getting calls from coaches.

Cole Guenther is another solid shooter for this team and has great height and length to go with his shooting ability. When you pair him with Adrian Cohen and Christian Koneman, you have 3 versatile forwards who can go inside or outside and give good boosts to the team.

Last but not least is Gabe Bryant, an explosive forward who puts his imprint on games with physical play and thunderous dunks in traffic. The All-Stars have taken home championships in both live periods so far, look for them to end with a bang in Orlando this week.

Georgia Bulls

I watched this Bulls team a good amount during the first live period and I was impressed with them once again this week. They have a lot of solid prospects who aren’t always talked about much but who will be good additions to a college team.

The Bulls are led by Ryan Jolly, a calm, smooth PG who can dominate with his scoring ability. Jolly is also a very good passer and has a nice understanding of when to distribute or get his own shot. Also in the backcourt with Jolly are Michael Dukes and 2019 Kalen Williams.

Williams is an ultra-quick guard who can really fill it up and plays with a lot of confidence and energy. Dukes has a strong build for a wing player and used that strength and his athleticism for some eye-popping dunks this week. He is also skilled on the perimeter, hitting 3’s and getting by guys for tough layups.

Austin Canaday and Cameron Armstrong are two other productive perimeter players for the Bulls; both of them are good shooters and have a solid feel for scoring the ball.

The only true big man for the Bulls is 6’8” Brady Spence, a 2019 player. I had heard some good things about Spence when he was with Team Forrest in the spring and he has now made the jump to 17U with the Bulls. Spence has had some good moments so far with his new team; he moves well and is seen blocking shots and running the floor in transition frequently. Spence also has good touch inside and from the mid-range area, he is a prospect with a lot of upside in Georgia’s 2019 class.

Atlanta Timberwolves

The Timberwolves had a very good weekend going 5-1 and are another team with some nice prospects who are overlooked. Controlling the team at point guard is a player I loved in June: 2019 Matt Gonzalo. Gonzalo is exactly what you would call a pass first PG, always keeping his head up and finding guys at the right time and in the right place. He uses his speed to blaze past people and create things on offense with regularity, whether that’s for himself or others.

Dylin Hardeman was great this week for the Timberwolves, giving defenses fits with his scoring prowess. Hardeman is a knock-down shooter from the outside and showed a lot of craftiness on his drives to the basket. It seemed liked every few possessions Hardeman showed me something new in his offensive repertoire.

Along with Hardeman on the wing is Will Bracknell. Bracknell had some excellent play with his Chattahoochee team and kept it up this week. Bracknell is just one of those guys who knows how to put the ball in the basket. He never seems to be in a rush, using his strength and ball-handling ability to get to his spots with ease. Bracknell can score from all 3 levels and takes whatever the defense gives him.

Ryan Jenei also impressed me with his play this week. Jenei has a good body that he can use to get inside from the wing but what stood out to me this week was what looks like an improved outside shot; he was confident and effective from deep, which is a huge boost for the Timberwolves.

FCI Warriors

This team comes out of the Southeast Basketball Academy (SEBA), and although they may not have players who are garnering Division 1 interest, they carry a handful of guys who should have the attention of lower level coaches.

Joshua Strong takes a lot of ball-handling responsibilities for FCI and pushes the pace whenever possible. Strong can score from anywhere on the court, whether that be draining 3’s, hitting tough floaters, or shifting past defenders to reach the rim.

On the wing for FCI are Christian Kelly and Micah McCuen. Kelly and McCuen have different offensive games but both can be effective. McCuen excels in transition, where he takes the ball down the court himself and uses his length to finish and draw fouls. Kelly is more of a half-court player, he is very patient in looking for opportunities to score and had some good moments off the dribble but also has an effective outside shot.

Jackson Baylark is basically a hybrid for this team, doing whatever the team might need depending on the game. He is really athletic, plays extremely hard and uses his athleticism to the best of his ability; you’ll see him flying in for blocks, rebounds, and dunks with regularity.

Down low for FCI is Kyler Ingram. Ingram has a big, wide body and is an enforcer inside both offensively and defensively. Nothing gets past him in the paint, swatting shots like nobody’s business and securing big rebounds. On offense, Ingram moves defenders wherever he wants and puts himself in easy positions to score around the basket, where he finishes through contact consistently.