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.