2027 6-0 G Kie’Aundria Acree – Monroe
South Georgia basketball is about to change with the arrival of Kie’Aundria Acree. Regarded as one of the top incoming freshmen in not just Georgia but the entire country, already with a slew of High Major offers headlined by South Carolina, Acree will have the Golden Tornadoes contending for a region title quickly. KJ, the daughter of Head Coach Jennifer Acree, is a special talent. At 6-foot tall, Kie’Aundria can play every position on the floor. Her athleticism and size stand out but her skill is what has nearly every top program in the nation already offering before she has even played in a regular season varsity game. Acree is quick with her crossover, getting downhill where she finishes extremely well with both hands. She’s an effective scorer inside the arc, mainly looking to get to the hoop but has a pretty jumper and has a soft touch with her floater. KJ’s polish is on full display when she goes down to the block. Her mom, an undersized post player herself back in the day who loves to pound the ball inside, has clearly worked religiously with Kie’Aundria on how to score with her back to the basket. She has a smooth game, calmly finishing in traffic while using her body to score through contact, squaring her shoulders. Acree has a quick spin to the basket and uses her off arm to feel where the defender is, almost hooking them, but holding back just enough so she doesn’t get whistled for an offensive foul. KJ utilizes a baby hook and short push-floater. As a playmaker on the perimeter, Acree drives and kicks to her shooters, mainly fellow freshman Taylor McKinzy, a wiry floor spacer that drains threes. Kie’Aundria’s do everything approach resulted in a pair of wins over Starr’s Mill and St. Pius X in which she averaged 22 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1.5 blocks. Spoiler Alert: Acree will be an All-State selection as a freshman and is the best player South Georgia has to offer. KJ is about to embark on a historic career in the 229. It will be fun to see just how far the hometown hero will be able to carry her Tornadoes.
2026 5-8 G Kyla Cantey – River Ridge
In a star-studded showdown between Ridge Ridge and Buford of course it was the rising sophomore Kyla Cantey that stole the show, right? The lefty was tremendous in River Ridge’s 48-45 win, making timely plays down the stretch and providing a two-way impact throughout the game. Sporadically used her freshman year for the best team in the state, Cantey’s daily experience in practice paid off on Saturday as she filed in 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 5 steals. Kyla looked comfortable letting it fly from the perimeter, draining a pair of threes. She got to her floater and scored in the paint with a short jumper. Aside from her pretty shot, it was Cantey’s effort on defense that really sparked the Knights in a back-and-forth game. Kyla’s activity forced turnovers and helped the Knights score in transition. The future is bright for Kyla. In order for River Ridge to repeat as state champs, they will need role players especially in the backcourt to step up and bring a new dynamic now that Mataya Gayle (Penn) has graduated. Cantey’s shot-making and defensive effort could land her a crucial role as a sixth or seventh man off the bench.
2024 5-7 G Ja’Quoia Jones – Westlake
Court 5 was surrounded by college coaches. Why? Well it had to be because of Ja’Quoia Jones. Now on her third school, the transfer from KIPP Atlanta carried Westlake in a 42-38 loss against Cartersville, pouring in 22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Jones is a bulldog of a guard, powerful and relentless. She plays bully ball in the paint, ripping away rebounds and scoring through contact. Jones scored on three putbacks and got to her patented mid-range jumper four times, using her high release to knock down shots. I liked how Jones used her toughness to defend in the post. Solidifying her left hand will help her at the next level. Ja’Quoia is an interesting prospect. I think schools of multiple levels will be in on her.
2024 5-5 PG Courtney Davis – Fannin County
We saw the best of Courtney Davis in a 32-28 win over Cherokee Bluff. The two-time Region Player of the Year netted 18 points, drilling four threes in the process. D-II, D-III and NAIA schools have all shown interest, with Emmanuel College her largest offer to date. Whoever lands Davis is getting a gym rat who is a crafty scorer, a knockdown shooter and a high IQ playmaker on both ends of the court.
2026 5-7 G Coco Rudolph – Central Gwinnett
Coco is a good-looking prospect in the backcourt. She can really fill it up. Rudolph is listed at 5-foot-7, but looks and plays bigger with her wiry athleticism and long arms. She gets to work attacking from all three levels. Coco loves the step-back jumper off the dribble but can also use her speed to slice all the way to the rim. Against Milton and Creekview, Coco hit a total of three threes while mixing in drives and mid-range jumpers. She averaged 14.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 4 steals.
2026 5-5 G Nalani Gainey – Central Gwinnett
Entering her sophomore year, Nalani is already on her third school where she will make an instant impact. Gainey is an electric athlete with non-stop energy. The tiny defensive dynamo has grown two inches since Year 1 and is still bouncy as ever. The star flag football player uses her ball-hawking skills to perfection on defense, picking up steals at an alarming rate. In the halfcourt, the floater has become Gainey’s weapon of choice. She dropped in five of them over the two games I saw. Nalani averaged 12.5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 4.5 steals.
2024 5-10 G Nya Smith – Milton
Back from an ACL tear which cost her her junior season, Nya Smith has since moved from Roswell to Milton and figures as the Eagles’ stalwart. Smith looked great against Central Gwinnett. Her size and quickness as a big guard is impressive. Nya creates with the dribble, using spin moves to get downhill and stopping on a dime for pull-ups. Smith uses quick rhythm dribbles to organize her feet on jumpers. When she was off the ball, Nya profiled as a catch-and-shoot sniper, sinking four threes in a 36-34 victory. Smith finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. Appalachian State offered right before the start of the event.
2027 5-5 PG C’India Dennis – Creekside
Thursday’s action tipped off with Creekside vs. GAC. C’India Dennis dazzled in a 41-24 win, recording 16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks. The incoming freshman is patient with the ball, letting plays develop before making decisions. Dennis is a smooth scorer off the bounce with a pretty pull-up jumper. She netted two threes and hit three shots from the mid-range. CeCe has good instincts as a playmaker, seeing the floor. Her arrival along with a handful of other new faces will likley turn the Lady Seminoles into a playoff team after finishing just 7-18 this past season.
2024 5-5 PG Jordan Brooks – Union Grove
Union Grove locked horns with Galloway on Court 7 with a plethora of college coaches watching. I identified Jordan Brooks pregame as a player for a D-III program to watch. From there, Brooks did the rest, luckily making me look like I knew what I was talking about as she produced 15 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 4 steals in a heartbreaking 38-36 loss. Jordan’s shifty speed caused problems for Galloway, unable to corral her. Brooks opened her scoring with a corner three before mixing in drives and pull-up jumpers. The high academic floor general is a BETA Club member and holds a 3.82 GPA. She has been battle-tested over the course of her career, year in and year out playing one of the toughest non-region schedules in the state. Brooks’ energy and leadership will help at the next level. She holds an East Georgia State offer and could be adding more in the very near future.
2024 5-4 G Alaya Grane – Central-Macon
With Taliah Grier out with a thumb injury, Alaya Grane had the green light to do what she does best – score the ball. Grane exploded in the second half against Cherokee, pouring in 20 of her 24 points to lead the Lady Chargers to a 42-35 victory. Alaya scores in bunches. On Friday it was her three-point shot that got her in a groove, sinking three long balls before attacking the rim and getting to the foul line. Schools looking for a potent offensive punch should check in with Grane. D-II and below should evaluate.
2025 5-8 PG Annarose Tyre – Lambert
The swift quickness of Annarose Tyre was on display in a 38-37 win over Walton. Tyre is light on her feet, agile as a slasher. She scored with floaters, scoop shots and pull-up jumpers while adding in a pair of threes. Her ability to get to the hoop puts pressure on defenses. Tyre netted 16 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
2024 5-4 PG Aubri Wilkins – Carver-Columbus
I loved how fearless the little lefty was when attacking the rim. Aubri has a quick first step and excels at absorbing contact as a finisher. Not often have I seen players that small so good at scoring through defenders. Wilkins posted 9 points, 2 rebounds and 1 steal in a 48-38 win over Rockdale County, scoring all four of her hoops in the paint.
2024 5-7 G Amaris Ridgeway – Jones County
In a rematch of a four vs. one first round upset, Jones County once again defeated Ware County, this time 35-22. Amaris Ridgeway tore the Gators to shreds with her motor, ripping off 20 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 7 steals. Ridgeway, a lean athlete with long arms that plays larger than her size, torched Ware County by getting to the basket and forcing turnovers. She sank a pair of corner threes, but most of her work came via slashes downhill. Amaris is an energy catalyst for the Greyhounds.
2027 5-5 PG London Smith – Newton
Newton will win more than three games this year. London Smith brings excitement to the backcourt with her tight handle and ability to create offense. Smith used bursts of speed and a quick change of direction to free herself from defenders. She showcased a floater and hit a three, part of her 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals in a 51-31 win over Oconee County.
2024 5-9 SG Emma Hempker – Denmark
Denmark once again isn’t playing with a full deck due to injuries and players out of the country, but the one constant the Danes can always rely on is Emma Hempker. Even though she had an off shooting night from beyond the arc, 1-7, Hempker still managed to shoot 6-13 from the field and produce 17 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in a loss to Hart County. Hempker had 15 of Denmark’s 20 points at the half, showcasing her ability to score through bumps inside, converting a pair of And-1s and using up-and-under step throughs to beat the defense. Emma plays at her own pace and manages to always take good shots, even when she is the primary focus of the defense.
2024 5-8 PG Dakota Phillips – Hart County
Miss Do-It-All flirted with a triple-double in a 45-35 win over Denmark. Dakota recorded 12 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. Phillips’ physicality unlocks so much to her game. She never gets bumped off line when attacking the basket and thrives as a drive-and-kick playmaker. Phillips gets the ball moving from side-to-side with her high velocity passes. Her decision making opens up the offense for others. When hunting her own shot, Phillips scores it at all levels. She hit a pair of pull-up jumpers going to her left, sank two threes and converted on a floater. UPike offered in May. Phillips is a viable option for NAIA, D-II and D-III schools.
2024 5-4 PG Kalise Hill – McEachern
I really like Kalise Hill. She is so good at getting to the basket and finishing with her off-hand. Kalise posted 14 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in a 50-39 win against Mt. Paran. All five of her hoops came in the paint. She is able to lull defenders asleep before planting her foot to find angles to get downhill. UAB offered last June. I could see D-II programs hopping in the mix as well.
2025 5-5 G Emma Lightsey – White County
Emma was an Energizer Bunny for White County in a 40-17 rout of Lovejoy. Lightsey’s ball pressure in the press turned over the Wildcats and led to easy transition points. Emma finished with 15 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 5 steals. She netted a three in the halfcourt and successfully drew fouls on drives. It also appeared as if Lightsey has gotten stronger since I last saw her.
2024 5-8 G Ava Grace Watson – Buford
Ava Grace Watson announced her commitment to Ohio State on Saturday and promptly poured in 32 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals in her first game as a future Buckeye. Watson was unguardable with her speed and three-level scoring touch in a 48-45 loss to River Ridge. She buried four three-pointers and scored the rest on drives. When Watson is on, she is the most elusively electrifying scorer in the state.
2026 5-9 G Ellison Steinhauer – Pickens
The Class 3A Freshman of the Year is good. Surprising, right? Ellison was in charge in a strong 47-44 win over New Manchester. The wiry guard pumped in four threes and scored with deft maneuvers to the hoop. Ellison finished with 19 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists. Her IQ and steady hand are advanced. It will be fun to see just how good Steinhauer becomes.