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Spielin’ & Dealin’ Ep. 54: Georgia State Team Camp Session II

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Reactions from Ron Hunter Georgia State Team Camp Session II.

Solomon Ray [1:45]
DJ Wright [4:50]
New Manchester [6:38]
Chattooga [9:02]

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Georgia State Team Camp Session II

Sleeper Alert

Solomon Ray

No one turned more heads than 2019 6-8 C Solomon Ray of Grayson. Still new to the game of basketball, Ray played JV last season. This year, Ray could be the state’s best late blooming big man. He is an elite shot blocker and a good rebounder that attacks each carom with two hands. Offensively, he is still raw and does all of his damage on the offensive glass, but his defensive presence is game-altering. Only playing the game for a few years according to his coaching staff, Ray does a good job of not biting on too many pump fakes. He keeps his arms straight up and can block shots with both hands. Ray had games of 8, 2 and 5 blocks in the three games attended. With some more player development and a good low post teacher, Ray could end up sneaking onto some D-I radars. Western Illinois already showed interest on Sunday.

Stock Risers

Jalen Lamar

2019 6-2 SG Jalen Lamar is a three-time state champion at Class A-Public Wilkinson County. He shined on the big stage back in March, scoring a team-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting to clinch the Warriors’ third-straight title and 10th in school history. Lamar stood out at the HypeSouth30 Camp and did so again at Georgia State as he poured in 21 points and 6 rebounds against Liberty County. Lamar has a quick release on his jump shot and accuracy to boot, nailing 4 threes. He should be regarded as one of the top seniors in Class A-Public and is firmly entrenched in the discussion as a Top 20 SG.

2019 6-4 SG CJ Hood (Eagle’s Landing) has long been a steady producer, but the Region 4-AAAAA Honorable Mention selection has been in the shadows at times behind Brandon Thomas (Mercer), Tee Evans, Jacob Durmveil and Jordan Lewis in a crowded backcourt over his first three seasons. However, in 2019 it looks like Eagle’s Landing should officially be his team. Hood was the go-to guy in wins over New Manchester and Class AAA state champion GAC. Hood pumped in 24 points against the Jaguars and finished with 22 vs. the Spartans. Hood is a strong shooter that can hit the three but also utilizes the mid-range.

2020 6-5 W Terrence Edwards (Miller Grove) came on strong down the stretch for the Wolverines last year as they fell on a buzzer beater in the Class AAAAA state championship to Warner Robins. Edwards dropped in 11 points in the loss but has continued his upward trend. With a lot of inexperienced faces in the Miller Grove lineup outside of Region 5-AAAAA Player of the Year Maurice Harvey, Edwards’ usage should explode this year. His versatility was on full display in a 58-44 win over Holy Innocents’ as he posted 15 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 2 blocks.  Edwards hit the outside shot and crashed the glass as the Wolverines’ biggest player.

2020/2021 Guards

The top of the 2020 class is littered with star guards. Sharife Cooper, Dwon Odom, Christian Wright, KD Johnson, the list goes on and on. But there are some more great guards that get nowhere near the publicity of the big four who all lead the charge on elite shoe teams and strong high school programs.

Peyton Daniels

6-0 CG Peyton Daniels (Tri-Cities) is proving to be one of the better shooters in the class of 2021. He outplayed a great 2020 point guard in Deivon Smith (Grayson), filling it up with 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block in a 57-49 win over the Rams. Daniels nailed 3 threes and created his shot on an island, freeing himself with crossovers to knock down jumper after jumper.

 

DJ Wright

5-7 PG DJ Wright (Greene County) is a name you don’t know if you’re a casual fan from Metro Atlanta. The spunky guard from Greensboro plays in Class A-Public, the smallest classification in Georgia, but his game is big. Wright is quick with the ball in his hands and can score from all three levels. He made opponents pay for going under screens but also got in the lane and finished with a variety of acrobatic layups. Wright might not ever be able to carry Greene County to a deep playoff run, but he still has to be considered one of the best point guards in the classification. The edge he plays with makes up for his diminutive size. He had 21 points (3 threes) and 3 assists in a 48-46 win over Jones County and 2020 CG Bryson Wooten.

 

Demajion Topps

5-10 PG Demajion Topps has people thinking twice about New Manchester. The explosive lead guard orchestrates a relentless Jaguar attack which also features 2019 5-11 CG Jordan Bragg and 2019 6-5 F Niyon Ashley. Bragg is a knockdown shooter that sprays threes. The southpaw drilled four in a 14-point showing against Eagle’s Landing before burying 6 threes en route to 24 points against Collins Hill. Ashley is the bouncy combo forward that provides scoring inside. He had 18 points vs. Eagle’s Landing and 14 against Collins Hill. But make no mistake, its Topps that creates the action. He flourishes in transition, often pitching ahead to shooters running to their spots. Topps has a burst that lets him get to the basket, but also has a solid three-point stroke. Against Eagle’s Landing he had 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. In a win over Collins Hill, Topps tallied 15 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steal and 1 block.

Liberty County Big 3

27-year old Head Coach Julian Stokes had an up-and-down season with an inexperienced group last year, finishing 12-13 without the star power and leadership of Will Richardson who left for Oak Hill Academy.  This year, Coach Stokes is optimistic about the Panthers’ chances of bouncing back and for good reason. Liberty County has a tough backcourt trio consisting of rising seniors Jaden Young, Arieus Taylor and Keannon Taylor. The triumvirate combined for 38 points in Liberty County’s 50-44 win over Wilkinson County. Young was the engine, finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block while Arieus Taylor led with a team-high 17 points. Keannon Taylor supplied 9 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. The triad’s versatility will be key in the Panthers returning to statewide prominence.

Dawson County Ready to Contend

The mass exodus of Dawson Christian Academy to Dawson County has changed the landscape of Class AAA. While the Tigers might not be a favorite to win a state title, Dawson County looks like they will definitely be a fixture in the Top 10 all season long. A 59-56 win over Grayson will be a distant memory once the season tips in November, but for now it will serve as a small confidence booster and a proof of concept that there can be a winner in Dawsonville.

The offense will run through 2019 6-5 W Luke Chism. The former GICAA star will be a handful for North Georgia teams to slow down. He had 20 points in their win over Grayson, relentlessly attacking the rim. Chism has great body control going to the basket and is able to absorb contact and finish through the chest and arms of defenders. Continuing to round out his three-point shot will help him diversify his offensive game.

Chism will be a part of maybe North Georgia’s best 1-2 punch with Jefferson move-in 2020 6-2 PG Jasper Gibson. While he didn’t have a great offensive game against Grayson, Gibson scored five big points late and did a nice job handling pressure. His shots weren’t falling, but he crafted his way into the lane and found clear looks at the basket thanks to good footwork and ball fakes. 2019 6-0 G/F Ahmad Kamara and 2020 6-5 SF Eli Burruss are both huge pieces from Dawson Christian Academy. Kamara is a positionless bowling ball of effort that helps out in anyway possible while Burruss brings size and energy as a multidimensional option.

Chattooga Impresses

The Chattooga Indians from Summerville came to Georgia State with something to prove after a 23-4 season ended with a first round loss to Monticello at home in the Class AA state playoffs. The senior-laden Indians lost (or won according to who you ask thanks to multiple scoring miscues by the table) to Cedar Grove 54-50 but played with their traditional scrappiness and grit.

Jundraius Adams

The Indian starting five has starters fluctuate with height anywhere from 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-2 on a good day, but it was the smallest man on the floor, 2019 5-6 PG Jundraius “Nuk Nuk” Adams, who stole the show in the first half. Adams was fearless with the ball and was locked in from beyond the three-point line. The pesky jitterbug drilled 4 threes on the day to finish with a game-high 19 points to go with his 4 assists and 4 steals. He frustrated known commodity Devon Barnes at times with his ability to slice into the defense, hang in mid-air and find open teammates at the very last second.

Adams is probably the most skilled player on the Indians while the rest provide constant effort matched with athleticism that wears down every team they see in North Georgia.

2019 6-1 F Devin Price found himself in the right place at the right time on numerous occasions as he finished with 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block. 2019 6-2 W Glenn Walker has a funky shot, but the lefty was able to sink 2 threes as he finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Chattooga’s defensive-minded style of play will muck up most games and the fact that they play so hard will lead to a ton of wins, a program that has notched an 86-17 over the past four seasons. Their December 8th showdown with burgeoning South Georgia power Woodville-Tompkins at the sportalShowcase presented by Sandy’s Spiel could be a state playoff preview.

Georgia State Team Camp Session II Analysis P. II

Jenkins 52, Duluth 34

Simply put, Jenkins dominated this game. Senior point guard Zion Williams finished with nine points and four assists, three assists coming off alley-oops, two to junior Tyrone Scott and one off the backboard to Trevion Lamar. Scott is a good athlete at his forward position, standing 6-foot-3. He averaged 8.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as the Warriors fell in the Class AAA state finals. Against Duluth, he scored a game-high 14 points to go with his eight rebounds. Lamar scored six points.

Junior guard Adam Flagler was the only Wildcat that could find the bottom of the net for Duluth. He scored a team-high nine points and added four rebounds and two assists. Lamont Smith was held to four points while Kennesaw State Elite Camp participant Jalen Hodges finished with two points and five rebounds. Alex Powell, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, grabbed just one rebound and didn’t score. He did not see the floor in the second half with a DNP-CD.

Cedar Shoals 52, Etowah 40

A lot of chatter has come from Towne Lake about Etowah building something special to rival Woodstock. Coach Allen Whitehart got a great test from Class AAAAA semifinalist Cedar Shoals and nearly stunned the Jaguars before Phlan Fleming came to life. Etowah jumped out to an early lead behind the sharp shooting duo of Lewis Simonson and Nick Nagy. Nagy hit four threes and finished with 12 points while Simonson canned three and ended with 11.  6-foot-6 junior post Julian Baldwin notched eight points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Cedar Shoals’ press eventually wore on the Eagles. Fleming caused the smaller Etowah guards nightmares, finishing with 16 points, five rebounds, two assists and eight steals. Stavion Stevenson hurt the Eagles inside as well with 14 points. Snipe Hall was held to six points and five rebounds but Q’titrius Dillard provided a spark with eight points.

Etowah can be a dangerous team when they are knocking down threes. They hit six in the first half but just one in the second half when they began to struggle with the Jags’ length and athleticism.

King’s Ridge 36, Chattooga 34

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The Foster twins are electric on the gridiron and hardwood

North Georgia’s finest, the Chattooga Indians who finished 23-5 last year, dropped a close game to King’s Ridge. I said in my preview that the Indians only lose three players for this upcoming season, but Head Coach Jared Groce informed me that it is now seven. The most notable loss being 6-foot-6 senior center Cameron Evans, who has swapped allegiances with now former region foe Darlington in order to be the Tigers’ starting quarterback. Outside of Evans last year, Chattooga’s tallest player was 6-foot-3 Dee McCutchins, who has since graduated.

Back for Coach Groce is the dynamic backcourt of twins Isaiah and Isaac Foster. The 5-foot-10 guards are feisty and can light up opponents that don’t take them serious. Isaac scored four points in the loss but brother Isaiah gave King’s Ridge everything they could handle. He took over down the stretch and put the Indians in a position to win before a late foul at half court diving for a loose ball damaged the Indians’ shot at winning, which resulted in King’s Ridge hitting the game-winning free throws.

Isaiah finished with 12 points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block. He can get to the hole with the dribble and can drain the three-ball. The Foster Bros. are must see basketball in North Georgia.

Sandy Creek 28, Therrell 26

TJ Bickerstaff (23) will be asked to take over Elias Harden's scoring role
TJ Bickerstaff (23) will be asked to take over Elias Harden’s scoring role

Without 6-foot-7 senior forward Evan Jester who was on a visit to Cornell, Sandy Creek was able to hold off Therrell. Junior guard Jarred Godfrey led the Patriots with eight points and two steals. 6-foot-6 sophomore TJ Bickerstaff contributed five points and three boards. Chris Porter had five points but my biggest game changer was the smallest man on the court; 5-foot-6 junior Kam Miller. The jitterbug lefty disrupted the Therrell guards with his quick hands, leading to four steals.

King’s Ridge 24, Centennial 21

Mountain of a man Tolu Jacobs, the 7-foot, 280-pound junior, didn’t pan out in Georgia and is now on the West Coast. Coach Scepter Brownlee is not deterred however, even with the loss of Jacobs and explosive scorer Ellis Merriweather (Alpharetta).  Senior Sean Flanigan, who missed last year with a knee injury, re-enters the fold for 2016-17. The 6-foot-2 guard scored eight points in the win and collected three rebounds, two steals and a block as well. Flanigan attacked the rim well and finished when he got there. 6-foot-5 stretch forward Eric Coleman Jr. looked good knocking down two threes. Coach Brownlee expects good things from his duo along with senior point guard Kameron Dozier.

Georgia State Team Camp Session II Preview

Session II of the Georgia State Ron Hunter Basketball Team Camp is here. The first session saw North Clayton powered by center Ahsan Asadullah march its way to the title with a win over Dacula. This Friday and Saturday (June 24-25) returns an even more loaded field. If you’re in the Atlanta area and are a major ‘hoop-head’, this is a must see event but I caution you, some teams will not be at full strength with their top players out at individual elite camps or college visits, so buyer beware.

Nonetheless, the field is absolutely juiced with powerhouse programs, up-and-comers and individual standouts. To break it down for the casual fan and not to slight anyone, here’s a quick synopsis of the teams on display.

Top Tier: Greenforest Christian (A-Private State Champ), St. Francis (A-Private Runner-Up), Miller Grove (AAAAA State Champ), Cedar Shoals (AAAAA Final Four), Pace Academy (AA State Champ), Jenkins (AAA Runner-Up), Treutlen (A-Public Final Four).

2015-16 State Tournament Teams: St. Pius, Sandy Creek, Chattooga, Lambert, Tucker, Grayson, Woodstock, South Forsyth.

Those are just a bulk of the teams that have had success recently. With graduations, transfers and coaching changes, everything is subject to change. Teams like Westminster, New Manchester, Duluth, Etowah, Parkview, King’s Ridge, Therrell and more are what really make this a great field, entering as the great unknowns as to how good they can be this upcoming season.

With a majority of the teams listed, here’s a further breakdown of some interesting/subtle storylines.

Jenkins has two great seniors returning in point guard Zion Williams and Trevion Lamar. Williams flourished in his first season at Jenkins after transferring from Savannah. The lightning quick guard averaged 13.5 points and 3.6 assists. The offense centers around 6-foot-5 do-everything forward Trevion Lamar.  He averaged 16.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.7 blocks. Lamar is one of the best players in South Georgia.

Life will be different without Connor Mannion (Navy) and Ross Morkem (North Georgia), but Coach Scott Bracco isn’t conceding too much of a drop off at Lambert. Tenacious, gritty, savvy and experienced are all words that can be used to describe Andrew Melms. The senior point guard makes the Longhorns offense go, but Musa Thompson and Austin Deckard are lethal as well along with Damon Stoudamire who enters his junior season. Thompson has the measurables to become a very good player as a 6-foot-4 wing. He has a chance to put it all together his senior season.

Individual standouts line South Forsyth, King’s Ridge and Forest Park. These three schools won’t be mistaken as perennial powers in the state of Georgia, but they do hold hidden gems. South Forsyth’s Evan Cole has a shot to establish himself as the best post player in camp after a steady summer with the Atlanta All-Stars. The deceptively athletic 6-foot-8 forward should see a major leap in recruitment his senior season. The double-double machine can score all over the floor and is a threat to go coast-to-coast.

Though he hasn’t become a star at the GHSA level after battling to become eligible, King’s Ridge’s Tolu Jacobs will be hard to miss. The 6-foot-11, 275-pound rock of muscle enters his junior season. I haven’t been able to see him play, but if he is there on Saturday, you can expect to see me at his court. With size like that, there will always be college suitors. It’s up to him to determine his ceiling.

Going from big to small, Avery Wilson, a 6-foot-1 guard at Forest Park, is a fun player to watch. Wilson is uber-athletic and was one of the state’s top scorers in Class AAAAA. He poured in 19.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. The down-hill scorer took a whopping 180 free throws last year. If he can diversify his game and improve the confidence of his three-point shot (20-for-50, 40%), Wilson should start to gain more statewide attention his senior season.

Sandy Creek will see a lot of young faces take on big roles this season after the graduation of Christian Turner (Gardner-Webb) and the transfer of Elias Harden (Pebblebrook). The Patriots are a long team with 6-foot-7 forward Evan Jester leading the charge his senior season. Jester is no joke. He averaged 9.7 points and 8.6 rebounds a year ago but will be the focal point on offense this season. 6-foot-6 sophomore TJ Bickerstaff can play every position on the floor while juniors Jarred Godfrey, Xavier Brewer, Kameron Miller and Chris Porter have been working hard this offseason.

Etowah and Duluth look to revamp their programs with new head coaches in place. Allen Whitehart leads Etowah while Cabral Huff returns to high school at Duluth after winning a state title at St. Francis and taking a stop at Alcorn State. Both teams have played well this summer.

I have hyped Mountain View this summer and think they can still be very competitive even after the transfer of sophomore point guard Donell Nixon II to Buford this offseason. Another sophomore, Anthony Edwards, is a stud at Therrell. If the 6-foot-3 guard decides to stick it out all four years in Atlanta, he can put Therrell on the map.  He led the Panthers in scoring as a freshman and stuffs stat sheets nightly.

Looking for another super sleeper team? Parkview will build upon their 10-16 campaign. The Panthers are super young, graduating just two seniors. The youth Coach Nick Gast has is exceptional. Ahmir Langlais is a long 6-foot-7 sophomore whereas Jamiel Wright is a 5-foot-8 point guard that worked on his craft along with Langlais recently at the Under Armour Best of the Best Camp. ‘Elder statesmen’ Jack Lapenta, Cam Chavers and Truitt Spencer all return. Lapenta (7.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and Chavers (10.3 ppg – leading scorer) are now juniors while Spencer (9.8 ppg) is a sophomore.

Another team with some intrigue surrounding them is Chattooga. The Indians came out of a weak Region 7 in Class AA that saw each team get swept by Region 6 in the first round of the state playoffs. The Indians opened the season 22-1 and spent time in the Top 10 but tapered off, losing four of their last five games to end the year. Only three players graduate meaning the Indians will be a strong favorite to romp through their region again. Twin brothers Isaiah and Isaac Foster are set to return for their senior seasons. Isaiah is a lethal scorer at guard that stretches defenses with his three-point shooting. Senior Jay Shropshire is back as well to provide scoring.

For more insight on a couple of teams not listed, feel free to read my previous analysis of other summer team camps.