Tag Archives: GHSA

GHSA Basketball Transfer Recap and Overview

As there is every year, there was some major offseason movement among some of the best basketball programs in the state of Georgia. Unlike football, there is an AAU circuit that plays nearly year round with the best players in the area joining forces to make a run at Nationals. Playing with players from other schools gives players a chance to bond with one another and learn each other’s game. The success on this summer circuit sometimes prompts players to decide to transfer to be able keep playing together. Where it hurts the schools where they transfer from, it helps build powerhouse programs elsewhere. It truly has turned into the Wild Wild West during the offseason, with the entire outlook of programs changing with the loss or the import of one or more transfer(s).

Here is a rundown of some transfers I have heard through the grapevine and a summary of what the addition means. If you know of anymore or any that are incorrect, please shoot me a tweet @KyleSandy355 or leave a comment or an email at Ksandy@Scoreatl.com. Thanks!

Class AAAAAA

SO Chris Parks – 6’6” 210 lbs – (5A Lanier to Collins Hill)

SR Romello White – 6’8” 215 lbs – (IMG Academy, FL to Wheeler)

SR Darnell Rogers – 5’2”135 lbs – (Indian Land, SC to Shiloh)

JR Collin Sexton – 6’2” 160 lbs – (Hillgrove to Pebblebrook)

JR Chuma Okeke – 6’7” 210 lbs – (Langston Hughes to Westlake)

SR A.J. Cheeseman – 6’6” 210 lbs – (Duluth to Collins Hill)

JR Kendrick Summerour – 5’9” 155 lbs – (5A Kell to Milton)

JR Greg James – 6’4” 162 lbs – (Alpharetta to Shiloh)

SO Reikan Donaldson – 6’2” 160 lbs – (1A Calvary Day to Wheeler)

JR Zach Cooks – 5’8” 140 lbs – (Norcross to Berkmar)

SO Justin Brown – 6’0” 165 lbs – (Northview to Milton)

SR Kyrin Galloway – 6’8” 200 lbs – (4A Buford to Milton)

JR Jay Estime – 6’5” 180 lbs – (Peachtree Ridge to Berkmar)

SR Al-Wajid Aminu – 6’6″ 185 lbs – (Coral Gables, FL to Wheeler)

SR Ronald Bell – 6’5″ 175 lbs – (5A North Atlanta to Westlake)

SR Teshaun Hightower – 6’5″ 180 lbs (3A Towers to Collins Hill)

SR Reece Anderson – 6’2” 185 lbs – (5A Chapel Hill to Douglas County)

JR David Swillum – 6’0″ 175 lbs – (Milton to Alpharetta)

SR Keishon Kershaw – 6’2″ 175 lbs – (Milton to Alpharetta)

SR Khalil Richard – 5’11” 165 – (St. Frances, MD to Shiloh)

SR Robert Hill – 6’9″ 240 lbs – (Duluth to Berkmar)

JR Elafayette Stone – 6’8″ 245 lbs – (Copperas Cove, TX to East Coweta)

JR JJ Smith – 6’4″ 195 lbs – (E.E. Smith, NC to Pebblebrook)

JR Thurman Massenburg – 6’7″ 210 lbs – (Home School Augusta to Shiloh)

SO Trevin Wade – 5’11” 155 lbs – (Hillgrove to South Cobb)

SO Landers Nolley – 6’4″ 175 lbs – (Lovejoy to Curie, IL)

JR Brandon Blair – 5’10” 155 lbs – (Shiloh to Duluth)

SR Amir Butcher – 6’2″ 170 lbs – (Norcross to Tucker)

Class AAAAA

SR Aaron Augustin – 5’11” 170 lbs – (6A Peachtree Ridge to Miller Grove)

JR Tae Hardy – 6’3″ 150 lbs – (Southwest DeKalb to Miller Grove)

SR Cameron Cox – 6’3″ 170 lbs – (Creekview to Sequoyah)

SR Isaac Kellum – 6’4″ 170 lbs – (Fayette County to McIntosh)

SR Tyler Scott – 6’10” 215 lbs – (Gainesville to Greenville, SC)

SR Colin Young – 6’3” 185 lbs – (3A Laney to Miller Grove)

SR Marquis Traylor – 6’5″ 180 lbs – (Knob Noster, MO to Houston County)

JR D.J. Young – 6’1″ 180 lbs – (6A Milton to Discovery)

SR Madison Williams – 6’3″ 170 lbs – (SCISA Augusta Christian to Academy of Richmond County)

SR Chris Stone – 6’0″ 155 lbs – (GISA Augusta Prep Day to Evans)

SR Jo’el Grant – 6’0″ 165 lbs – (SCISA Augusta Christian to Evans)

SR Khamron Gordon – 6’2″ 195 lbs – (1A Aquinas to Cross Creek)

SR Theo Benn Jr. – 6’0″ 180 lbs (6A Berkmar to Discovery)

SO Chima Ogboi – 6’3″ 175 lbs (1A Mt. Paran to Allatoona)

Class AAAA

SR Jacara Cross – 6’6” 220 lbs – (3A Cedar Grove to Lithonia)

SO Alex Jones – 5’9” 155 lbs – (6A Alpharetta to Buford)

SO D.J. Brittian – 6’0″ 160 lbs – (5A Miller Grove to Grady)

SO Kris Gardner – 6’1″ 170 lbs -(6A Lee County to Westover)

SR SanAntonio Brinson – 6’7” 200 lbs – (1A Aquinas to Thomson)

SO Corderius Hastings – 6’0″ 165 lbs – (Griffin to The Potter House, FL)

JR Kovi Tate – 6’4″ – 218 lbs – (5A Woodland-Stockbridge to Henry County)

Class AAA

SO Lamont Smith – 6’1” 185 lbs – (4A Buford to East Jackson)

JR Zion Williams – 5’8” 155 lbs – (Savannah to Jenkins)

SR Dylan Curry – 6’4″ 165 lbs – (Oak Hill Academy, VA to West Hall)

SO Gabe Bryant – 6’8″ 225 lbs – (Dorman, SC to Dawson County)

SR Ric’Quail Smoot – 6’8″ 230 lbs – (Butler to The Potter House, FL)

SR Jalen Holbrook – 6’2″ 170 lbs (1A Aquinas to Butler)

SO Travis Anderson – 5’10” 165 lbs – (2A Holy Innocents to East Jackson)

JR Nick Hargrove Jr. – 6’0″ 170 lbs – (GCAA Bible Baptist Christian to Southwest)

SR Korbian Bell – 6’7″ 220 lbs – (5A Morrow to South Atlanta)

Class AA

SO Isaiah Kelly – 6’8” 195 lbs – (SCISA Augusta Christian to Pace Academy)

SR Alex Perry – 6’6″ 190 lbs – (Maclay, FL to Thomasville)

Class A

SR Anthony Showell – 6’2” 165 lbs – (6A Duluth to St. Francis)

SO Cameron Gardner – 6’3″ 180 lbs – (3A Hephzibah to Aquinas)

SO Gerald Merriweather – 5’7″ 140 lbs – (3A Hephzibah to Aquinas)

JR Demiere Brown – 6’4″ 200 lbs – (5A Hiram to North Cobb Christian)

Class AAAAAA Impact Transfers:

One player might shift the balance of power in 6A and especially in Region 3. Chuma Okeke and his 22.8 points and 8.3 rebounds shift from Langston Hughes to Westlake. Hughes was primed for a big season chock full of juniors. An astronomical 12 sophomores suited up last year for coach Rory Welsh and it was Okeke along with guard Khalil Cuffee (18.2 ppg) that ran the show as super sophomores. Now Cuffee will have to shoulder the complete load with Okeke gone. The highly sought after forward joins an already talented roster that stumbled to a 13-15 record in 2014. Big man Michael Durr, shooting guard Raquan Wilkins and point guards Danny and Jamie Lewis along with Okeke make the Lions one of the most intriguing teams for a huge rebound season. Westlake has also added North Atlanta stand-out Ronald Bell. Bell can play both forward positions and has a high motor which he uses to go after loose balls and rebounds.

The Tigers added a strong combo guard in Reece Anderson, who will join an already potent backcourt. Anderson was a key contributor last season for the Chapel Hill Panthers and now will slide in to play with highly sought after swingman Brandon Robinson. Anderson is a big physical guard who has improved his handle and jumpshot throughout his high school career. Anderson will be relied upon to produce in the ultra-competitive Region 3-AAAAAA, which is home to state runner up Pebblebrook, the reloaded Westlake Lions and the talented young Langston Hughes Panthers. Anderson was an honorable mention selection in Region 4-AAA as a sophomore in 2014 and has the upside to garner similar honors or better his senior season.

Collins Hill picked up some great size inside to help add to a team that could use some toughness in the low post. Chris Parks and AJ Cheeseman will bring just that. Parks averaged 8.0 points and 5.2 rebounds as a freshman with Lanier. Cheeseman knows Collins Hill well, as his Duluth Wildcats split a pair with the Eagles during the Region 7 regular season. Cheeseman averaged 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds as a junior.

The Eagles also nabbed Teshaun Hightower from AAA Towers High School. The combo guard has great athleticism and can become a big time scorer in the right system. Last season as a junior he averaged over 12 points per game and has yet to reach his ceiling. He has nice lift on his jumper and should start to rack up the scholarship offers with a productive senior season. Hightower broke out with a big summer circuit and was originally set to join Grayson High School before settling on Collins Hill.

Shiloh added some dynamic players to its backcourt in Darnell Rogers and Greg James. Rogers averaged over 28 points per game in South Carolina and became a YouTube sensation for his acrobatic and jaw dropping play as the smallest player on the floor. He played with new teammate Josh Okogie on the AAU circuit on Team CP3 and decided to follow him to Georgia to play their senior season together. James is strong outside shooter with nice size and is receiving looks from low to mid-major programs.

The Generals added another dynamic guard with Division-One talent in Khalil Richard. A strong guard who banged home 45% of his three-point attempts last season, Richard announced on Sept. 15 that he committed to Siena. At St. Frances Academy as a junior he averaged 12.9 points per game and 3.0 assists. He joins Darnell Rogers and Greg James at Shiloh, a team that lost just one game in-state as they finished 28-4.

Hillgrove took a major blow in losing Collin Sexton. The rising junior was a major piece to Hillgrove’s 23-win season and was a big-game performer when the Hawks needed him the most. He will join last season’s state runner up Pebblebrook, who needs to reload after losing Ty Hudson (Clemson), Derek Ogbeide (UGA), Trhae Mitchell and glue guy Kevin Murph. Sexton will team up with Auburn-bound point guard Jared Harper and will form one of the best back courts in the state.

The Pebblebrook Falcons swooped in late in the transfer scene and landed a potential game changer in the already deep Region 3-AAAAAA picture. Jatrious “JJ” Smith has transferred from E.E. Smith, NC. The four-star guard who is a Top 50 national recruit, was originally slated to play at Word of God Christian Academy in North Carolina according to the Fayetteville Observer , but today (10/7) Shun Williams of OnTheRadarHoops broke the news that the ultra-talented scorer is coming to Georgia. Last season as a sophomore he averaged 19.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. ACC and SEC schools have been hot after the guard, who gets to the line at will, averaging almost six freethrow attempts a game last year. Smith played with the Southern Stampede of the EYBL which sported the likes of Al Durham (Berkmar) and Jay Estime and Zach Cooks who transferred to Berkmar to play with Durham this year. The addition of Smith makes Pebblebrook the owner of arguably the most talented backcourt in a a state that has seen the balance of power shift with each move. Smith, Jared Harper (Auburn) and Hillgrove transfer Collin Sexton are a lethal trio for coach George Washington.

The big winner of all this moving-and-shaking has to be Milton, who vaults itself back into state prominence if all the pieces come together. Kendrick Summerour brings his slick And-1 type handles to the Eagles after averaging 14.1 points and 4.1 assists as a sophomore at Kell. Justin Brown averaged 15.1 points a night as a freshman at Northview, while Kyrin Galloway brings size inside. This new trio will team-up with Harvard bound big man Chris Lewis and the rapidly improving Alex O’Connell.

Although Milton added a plethora of talent this offseason, they also lost some key pieces that saw a lot of time on the court last year. Senior Keishon Kershaw and junior David Swillum will bring their abilities to Alpharetta. Kershaw started half the season for the Eagles and provides energy on the perimeter. Swillum led the JV team in scoring and has been groomed to make a contribution right away in his first season playing full-time on varsity. Fellow junior DJ Young has left for first-year school Discovery and should be thrust into a role which will see him as a primary option on offense. When he gets the opportunity to set his feet, Young can be lethal from outside with his three-point stroke.

Wheeler has added the younger brother of NBA’er and former Norcross star Al-Farouq Aminu. Al-Wajid is a 6-foot-6 forward with long arms which will help Wheeler’s defense right away in both the passing lanes and on the interior. Now a senior, as a sophomore Aminu averaged 9.4 points, 9.0 and 1.8 blocks per game at Coral Gables, FL.

The Wildcats also picked up four-star forward Romello White, late into the transfer scene. Initially, it was being reported by sources that White, who started his high school career at Peachtree Ridge, would be back with the Lions, but he indeed has landed with Wheeler. @CoryintheSource looked like the first to break it, and had his tweet retweeted by White himself. On Sept. 14, Shun Williams of OnTheRadarHoops tweeted that Iowa State was at Wheeler to see both Darius Perry and White work out. White committed to Tennessee on Jan. 5, but later de-committed on April 14 after the coaching change.

Berkmar could be in line for a resurgence this season behind junior guard Al Durham and three important transfers. Guards Zach Cooks (Norcross) and Jay Estime (Peachtree Ridge) should revamp the Patriots backcourt. Both are juniors and can knock down the three-ball. Cooks is a quick little point guard who can push tempo and find the open man. Estime averaged over 10 points per game and led the Lions in three-pointers made last year. The perimeter should be a strength for the Patriots, but the interior got a major boost as well adding big man Robert Hill Jr., who comes over from Duluth. Hill stands 6-foot-9 and has started to blossom into a reliable low post presence. Two years ago Hill, who is also training to become a pilot, moved in halfway through the season and had to sit out. With Obinna Ofodile and A.J. Cheeseman getting the majority of the minutes inside in 2014 at Duluth, Hill’s move to Berkmar should see him take on a major role as a top option in the low post for coach Greg Phillips.

East Coweta suffered through an abysmal 1-25 season last year, but new head coach Royal Maxwell will have a nice addition to work with in the powerful Region 3. Elafayette Stone, a 6-foot-8 transfer from Copperas Cove, TX, will be asked to be the focal point for the Indian offense this upcoming season. Stone is a true back-to-the-basket post player and uses his 245-pound frame to carve out space down low. Stone has soft hands and is an efficient rebounder with the potential to become a double-double machine.

The Rest of the State Impact Transfers:

Aaron Augustin averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Peachtree Ridge a year ago, but now teams up with UConn-commit Alterique Gilbert at Class AAAAA power Miller Grove to form yet another great Peach State backcourt.

Tae Hardy will join Gilbert and Augustin in a now crowded, but loaded backcourt. He comes from Southwest DeKalb where he averaged 16.5 points per game last year as a sophomore.

A third guard has landed at Miller Grove in Colin Young. Young was a part of the break out Laney Wildcats who won 29 games and put together the most impressive resume in all of the state with wins over the likes of Morgan County, Pebblebrook, Norcross and eventual state champ Jenkins last year. The 6-foot-3 guard was named Region 3-AAA Second Team after pitching in 11 points per game. Young is a knockdown shooter who led the Wildcats with 49 threes, connecting at a 46% clip. He will get plenty of opportunities to spot up with Gilbert and Augustin running the show up top.

McIntosh, who has blossomed into a Class AAAAA power after a 29-1 record last year, returns 10 players including the Chiefs’ top four scorers. 2015-16 will be the season the Chiefs make a deep run into the playoffs after adding Isaac Kellum. The senior averaged 13.8 points per game at neighboring Fayette County High School and will slide into the starting three spot. He brings great athleticism and may be the missing piece needed for the Chiefs to capture their first ever state championship.

Houston County continues to trend upwards after adding Marquis Traylor from Knob Noster High School in Missouri. The Bears finished the regular season 0-7 in Region 2-AAAAA, but stunned cross-region foe Grovetown (17-7, 9-1) in the region tournament and sent the Warriors home early without a state playoff berth. The Bears featured just four seniors last year and Traylor should help with his athleticism. As a junior he averaged 7.7 points and 6.3 rebounds while showing off his hops, blocking 1.3 shots per game.

After a 13-13 regular season in Class AAAAA, Academy of Richmond County (ARC) returns some good pieces, but the best might have come via transfer in Madison Williams. At 6-foot-3, Williams is an athletic combo guard that joins the program after starring at Augusta Christian. An ability to get to the rim and nice range on his jumper makes Williams a high-scoring guard with a lot of mid-major interest. He will be expected to take the reigns of the Musketeers offense and lead them into the state playoffs after missing out a year ago.

Jacara Cross’ move from Cedar Grove to Lithonia makes the Bulldogs one of the top dogs in AAAA.  Couple him with Tyleen Patterson, Rodney Chatman and Tyheem Freeman and you have a dynamic team that already is coming off a 27-win season.

Alex Jones graded out as one of the best freshmen in the state last year and was named AAAAAA Freshman of the Year by HoopSeen. He helped lead Alpharetta to a 25-6 record and 18-0 Region 6 record. The floor general averaged a double-double in points and assists and was a lock down defender on the perimeter. Jones will fill in for Tre Hansbrough, who signed to play at Tennessee Tech after averaging 23 points per game his senior season at Buford.

Kris Gardner will bring stability to the Westover backcourt this season after transferring from 6A Lee County. In his freshman season Gardner was named All-Region 1AAAAAA First Team. Now at the AAAA level, Gardner brings strong ball handling and decision making to a Westover team that was bounced in the first round of the state playoffs last year.

Griffin (20-8 in 2014) has suffered a big loss in its hope to reach the AAAA playoffs for the second straight season. The Potter’s House, FL has struck again and plucked another fine young talent out of the state of Georgia in rising sophomore Corderius Hastings. The talented guard averaged 15.1 points per game along with 4.8 assists and 3.9 steals. The shifty guard can bang home the three and get to the rack on offense while supplying sticky defense to ball handlers. He joins Ric’Quail Smoot, a 6-foot-8 Butler transfer, in Florida. Smoot is a bruiser inside that finishes well around the rim. He averaged nearly a double-double last season and has improved his jump shot, showing a feathery touch around the baseline. The Potter’s House was 13-10 last year while playing a national schedule as a part of the Sunshine Independent league.

A pair of guards should improve backcourts in AAA. Lamont Smith joins super sophomore Drue Drinnon for East Jackson while Zion Williams replaces Jenkins graduate Eric Johnson, who hit the game winner to lift the Warriors to a state championship last season with just seconds left. Williams averaged 10.3 points and 6.8 assists as a sophomore.

In a turn of events, Travis Anderson has landed at East Jackson after originally going to Grayson after a successful season at Holy Innocents’ which led to the playmaking guard being named by HoopSeen as the Class AA Freshman of the Year. Anderson proved he could score and pass at a high-rate and was tabbed to make Grayson a contender in Region 8-AAAAAA with Austin Dukes and Alphonso Willis. Instead, after playing with Grayson this year in the HoopSeen Fall League, today (10/5/15) Shun Williams of OnTheRadarHoops broke the news that the talented guard will be teaming up with Drue Drinnon and Buford transfer Lamont Smith in the Eagles’ backcourt. The addition automatically makes East Jackson a player to make a deep run in state if the front court can be productive as well.

Dawson County landed a huge player with big time upside in Gabe Bryant. The 6-foot-8 big man comes from South Carolina and will make an immediate impact with the Tigers, who won just 7 games last season (7-19). Bryant protects the paint with ease and can rebound outside of his zone. His offense has continued to improve and he will enter Dawsonville as the Tigers’ go-to guy on day one.

The dynamic Nick Hargrove Jr. will be given the keys to the car to try and drive Southwest High School to its first winning record since 2009-10. While at Bible Baptist Christian in Hampton, Georgia, Hargrove Jr. did everything. The 6-foot junior averaged 30.6 points per game, 9.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 6.1 steals. Hargrove cracked 40 points three times and will now bring his free-scoring mentality to the GHSA ranks. He definitely is a player to keep an eye on and may quickly become a fan favorite in Middle Georgia.

Isaiah Kelly provides Pace head coach Demetrius Smith with an embarrassment of riches inside. Kelly will join top nationally ranked big man Wendell Carter Jr. and will likely give the Knights a say when it comes to the state championship. As a freshman, he averaged 16.2 points and 10.5 rebounds.

Class AA Thomasville landed a key piece to add with Jordan Willis and the 22-9 Bulldogs who fell to eventual state runner-up Crawford County 80-65 in the quarterfinals after being tied 47-47 heading into the final frame. Alex Perry is a long, versatile forward who can stretch the floor and score inside. Perry averaged over 17 points and 10 rebounds last season as a junior at Maclay High School in Tallahassee, FL. He joins Willis, a strong point guard that averaged more than 14 points per game last year.

Dual sport star Anthony Showell averaged 16.6 points per game for Duluth last season and suits up alongside 5-star guard Kobi Simmons.

Aquinas suffered a major loss with the transfer of SanAntonio Brinson. The long senior has the ability to play 1-4 and has a unique skill set that can blend into any system. At first there were rumblings he would head to Thomson, but instead he landed at 22ft Academy in South Carolina. Now, as of 9-21-2015, SanAntonio went to Twitter to announce that he is indeed heading to Thomson for good after spending time with the 22ft program this offseason. Brinson is an interesting prospect who should see a major bump in his recruitment now that he is playing on a bigger stage with more exposure. He has improved his range and handle and is coming off an All-State Honorable Mention campaign in 2014. Thomson is coming off an 8-21 record and will turn the keys over to Brinson to get the Bulldogs back into the postseason. In 2013-14, Thomson lost in the second round of the state playoffs and finished 19-5.

Sandy’s Spiel’s Super Sleepers (Football)

Every year in every sport there is that one team that comes out of nowhere to surprise people. In the NBA it was our Atlanta Hawks. Last year in the MLB it was the Kansas City Royals. But who are some potential sleepers for this upcoming high school football season? It’s not as easy to predict with stats and info not being readily available for every school, but taking a stab in the dark can still be fun. I’ll try to run down some teams who I think have a chance to surprise people this year, picking a team from each classification. Also, I’ll try to avoid notoriously strong programs that just had a down year.

Class AAAAAA

North_Paulding_Logo_smallA team that took its lumps after moving up to 6A is North Paulding (4-7). The Wolfpack won a record 11 games in 2013 in their final season at the 5A level, but found out that playing with the “big boys” was a whole other animal. Scott Jones is a strong coach with experience coaching at the highest classification after a 10-year run at Kennesaw Mountain. The Wolfpack return an experienced group ready to take the next step. Senior quarterback Kyle Banks (MTSU) threw for 3,498 yards and 32 touchdowns in his first year starting last season. His two favorite targets also return with seniors D.J. Owens (67 receptions, 1,157 yards, 12 TD’s) and NC State-commit, tight end Dylan Autenrieth (468 yards), back to make big plays. Another reason I like North Paulding is the fact that linebacker Javier Williams returns after totaling 97 tackles. A big loss however is William Craig, who has transfered to Buford after notching over 100 tackles in 2014.

Class AAAAA

9856363Paulding County (5-5) took a momentous step forward last season and coach Scott Hamilton has the team believing a playoff berth is within their grasp.The Patriots recorded their first winning season since 2003 and have nearly everybody returning on offense. Senior Bailey Johnson and junior Marquis Tre’von Lewis split time at quarterback last year and combined for 2,069 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Lewis added 500 yards rushing and 10 scores as well. Caleb Sailor returns to the backfield after a broken collarbone ended his season after four games. He and Dondre Ledford will see the bulk of the carries. Ledford did most of his damage at receiver in 2014, catching 42 balls for 413 yards, but the top option will remain Antonio Gandy-Golden, who comes off a 54-catch, 891-yard season.

Class AAAA

Under head coach Sean Gray, Southeast Whitfield (6-5) captured its first winning season since 1986. Screen-Shot-2012-07-26-at-5.42.32-PM1That is 28 years! The Raiders return their top running back Tyler Brown along with dual-threat quarterback Will Swantic. Linebacker/running back Devin Fields brings back a two-way talent that could help spark the Raiders back into the playoffs. Pickens County should fall back to the pack with the graduation of Shannon Brooks (Minnesota) and Northwest Whitfield loses star quarterback Caleb Shiflett which gives reason to believe that Southeast Whitfield could find itself in the playoff picture again.


Class AAA

Coaching is critical in high school football and one of the best in the business to never win a state title brings his 20 years of head coaching experience to the Dawson County Tigers (2-8). DTigerSid Maxwell has compiled a 128-83 record and has only suffered five losing seasons as a head coach – three coming in his first three seasons at Sequoyah back in the mid-90’s. Maxwell runs a Wing-T offense and spent his first 15 years coaching at Sequoyah before moving to Lambert for five years to coach his son. He took off last season, but Dawson County should see success under the strong leader.

Class AA

Wesleyan 1247866013_wesleyan_wolves(6-5) was extremely young last year and started freshman Banks Ramsey at quarterback. The Wolves’ top two running backs return along with top receiver, junior Harrison Cook. Drew Aspinwall led the team in tackles as a junior at linebacker with 99 stops. Jordan Mack is a Virginia-commit and plays both offense and defense for the Wolves. Coach Franklin Pridgen’s group played teams tough last season. They lost to quarterfinal participants Pace Academy 23-17 in overtime, Lovett 30-24 and Heard County 28-21. These young pups look to become full-grown wolves this season with some bite.

Class A

Stratford Academy imgres(6-5) and its dominant rushing attack (293.6 yards per game) can steam roll opponents. Dual sport standout Quintez Cephus controls the offense from under center while senior O’Showen Williams is coming off a 1,060-yard, 21-touchdown season. The Eagles lost close games to strong programs Aquinas 28-27 and to Lincoln County 21-20.

Dansby Helps Georgia Remain Hotbed of Talent for MLB

Another year, another run of Georgia talent primed for success in the pros. The Peach State has given baseball the likes of Buster Posey, Jason Heyward, Adam Wainwright, Brian McCann, Josh Reddick and many, many more. Dating back to 2007, former Georgia high schoolers have peppered the draft in the first round. Heyward was selected 14th overall eight years ago.

In 2008, Tim Beckham out of Griffin High School was the No. 1 overall pick to the Tampa Bay Rays. He was followed by Buster Posey at No. 5 (FSU via Lee County), Gordon Beckham at No. 8 (UGA via Westminster) and Ethan Martin at No. 15 from Stephens County High School.

2009 saw Donavan Tate go third overall to the Padres after a prestigious prep career at Cartersville while Zack Wheeler of East Paulding was nabbed at No. 6 by the Giants.

Delino DeShields (Woodward Academy) went No. 8 to Houston and was followed by Jake Skole (Blessed Trinity), Kaleb Cowart (Cook), Cam Bedrosian (East Coweta) and Chevy Clarke (Marietta) in the 2010 edition of the MLB First-Year Players Draft.

Byron Buxton, who just made his MLB debut on Sunday, was the second overall selection in the 2012 draft out of Appling County. Lucas Sims (Brookwood) and James Ramsey (FSU via Wesleyan) followed Buxton at picks 21 and 23.

Clint Frazier of Loganville led the way for a trio of Georgians in the 2013 draft. Frazier was selected fifth overall while Austin Meadows (Grayson) landed at No. 9 and was followed by Travis Demeritte (Winder-Barrow) at No. 30.

Last year Max Pentecost (Winder-Barrow) led Kennesaw State to the College World Series and was drafted 11th by the Toronto Blue Jays. Michael Chavis (Sprayberry) was scooped up at 26 by the Red Sox.

Dansby Swanson is next in the long list of Georgia prep stars to get drafted highly. Swanson was a standout at Marietta High School before being selected first overall this year by the Diamondbacks after a great two seasons at Vanderbilt after an injury plagued freshman campaign. The shortstop stole the show as he won Most Outstanding Player honors at the College World Series when he helped the Commodores to their first ever championship.

Swanson has hit .350 with 15 homeruns, 62 RBIs and 16 stolen bases this season. His makeup and work ethic has had scouts raving about him since his breakout season in 2014. After hitting three homers a year ago, Swanson’s recent power surge all but solidified his position as the top prospect in the draft. Not only does he make contact at a high clip, his new found power allows him to spray balls into the gaps and even launch some into the seats.

Three other former Georgia high schoolers achieved their dreams of being drafted in the first round. Cornelius Randolph followed Tim Beckham as the next shortstop from Griffin High School to be drafted in the first round. Randolph went No. 10 to the Phillies and was slated to play at Clemson next year. He has an advanced bat and plate discipline beyond his years which encourages scouts that he can move up the ranks quickly.

Tyler Stephenson from Kennesaw Mountain went 11th overall to the Cincinnati Reds and was the first catcher selected in the draft. At 6-foot-4 225 pounds, Stephenson isn’t the prototypical catcher. He is a very fluid athlete with raw power potential and the ability control the game from behind the plate. Stephenson was originally pegged as a pitcher before the leaps and bounds he has made as a backstop in the past year.

Tennessee junior Christin Stewart went 34th overall to Detroit. The former Providence Christian Academy outfielder hit 15 homeruns with 47 RBIs and a .311 batting average this year.

Possibly the biggest steal of the draft went 37th to Houston. Daz Cameron, the AJC’s Baseball Athlete of the Year and son of former LaGrange star and MLB All-Star/Gold Glover Mike Cameron, was a consensus top 10 talent but dropped all the way to the compensation round due to signability. The Florida State signee is a great value pick for the Astros if he decides to sign.

Top Five Performances from Macon

The March to Macon concluded this past weekend but left us with some memorable performances. Here is how I would rank the top five individual efforts from championship weekend.

BOYS

  1. Jordan Harris – Seminole County – 41 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals

This was an easy one. The junior who has committed to play college ball at UGA was electrifying. Harris soared above all others for thunderous dunks and spectacular rebounds. He didn’t just dominate the game with his athleticism like most top high schoolers do, he also showed that he has a lethal jumper. Harris splashed in four 3-pointers to help the Indians bring home their first state title since 1998 over Crawford County and its raucous fan base, 76-71.

  1. Derek Ogbeide – Pebblebrook – 14 points, 22 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks

Another player heading to UGA stole the show in his respective game. Though the Falcons lost on a controversial call on which Ogbeide was whistled on, the big man thoroughly dominated the interior. Wheeler had no answer inside as Ogbeide cleaned up the boards and did not allow anything easy inside for the Wildcats. The big fella got the majority of his points off putbacks. Imagine if the Falcons fed him the ball in the post.

  1. Kobi Simmons – St. Francis – 27 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists

Simmons showed why he is ranked a five-star prospect heading into his senior season. The junior flew in for dunks and slashed into the lane and made life nightmarish for the Greenforest Eagles. Simmons lived at the line and connected, going 13-15. The Knights captured their second straight state title in convincing fashion, 96-81.

  1. Malik Beasley – St. Francis – 23 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists

It’s tough to beat a team when they have two of the best players in the state. The Florida State-signee teamed up with Simmons and Xavier-signee Kaiser Gates to pour in 73 points combined. As Kobi Simmons did, Beasley lived at the line going 13-14. He nearly brought the house down as he just missed a dunk over 7-foot-1 Ikey Obiagu.

  1. Montae Glenn – Carrollton – 22 points, 11 rebounds, 8-12 FG

The final spot is a tough one, but I have to give it to the old school back-to-the-basket big man Montae Glenn. True big men are a dying breed as the majority of young players would rather fly through the air or drain threes. The Georgia Souther-signee displayed great footwork in the low post as he punished the smaller Jonesboro Cardinals. He showed he could score with either hand, and also showed that he can rock the old school goggles. The Trojans fell 55-50, but Glenn did all he could to keep them in the game.

GIRLS

  1. Aliyah Collier – Laney – 24 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists, 7 steals, 4 blocks

A no-brainer here as Collier absolutely dominated in every facet of the game. Laney won its first ever state title while Collier slashed through the lane and picked up 20 free throw attempts of which she cashed in 16. The Wildcats defeated Beach 70-55.  No Bulldog was able to match Collier’s activeness as she impacted the game on both sides of the ball.

  1. Te’a Cooper – McEachern – 26 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists

The Tennessee-signee helped McEachern capture its second straight state title in overtime, 58-51. Cooper’s big game put a nice bow and ribbon on her successful high school career. She made play after play with the ball in her hands and made some sweet passes along with dazzle defenders with her ball handling skills.

  1. Mylashia Yancey – Turner County – 28 points, 16 rebounds, 2 steals

Yancey kicked off championship weekend with a stellar performance in a loss to undefeated Taylor County. She kept the Lady Rebels in the game and helped lead a furious comeback to make things interesting in the second half. Yancey was trouble for the Vikings once she got into the lane, and attacked the rim to get Taylor County players in foul trouble. She also showed off a nice mid-range game in her all around strong performance.

  1. Maya Dodson – St. Francis – 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists

The sophomore had the biggest sequence all weekend to give her team a state crown. As Southwest Atlanta Christian was holding for a last shot, Dodson jumped in front of an errant pass for a steal. She dished it ahead to a teammate who lost the ball right before she could attempt a layup, but Dodson was there to clean up the loose ball and laid it in at the buzzer to stun SACA. Dodson’s length caused problems for the Warriors as she had the ability to guard multiple positions and also used her height to battle inside and score tough baskets.

  1. Jacqueline Anderson – Beach – 22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals

Anderson proved she was a bulldog of a guard in the Bulldogs’ loss to Laney. She came in averaging over 15 points per game and did not disappoint. Anderson handled the ball smoothly and cashed in four 3-pointers. The Wildcats had to cool down Anderson and teammate Ilyn Spann in order to win state for legendary head coach Otis Smart.

What I Learned in Macon…

What a weekend! The March to Macon was everything that I had hoped. Nine out of the 14 games were decided by single digits and every game was up for grabs in the fourth quarter except for one. We saw some nail-biting finishes, questionable calls, and all-out passion. Sitting courtside for the first time, I was able to see in person some of the best players not only in the state but the entire nation.

I witnessed D-1 players steal the show with Jordan Harris, Malik Beasley, Kobi Simmons, Derek Ogbeide, James Walker, and Tookie Brown all carry their teams with their scoring. I also saw some unsung heroes come up big with DaJohn Williams and Eric Johnson giving their teams state championships.

So what did we learn this week? Let’s take it class by class. In Class A-Public, Calhoun County held off a late rally from the Patriots. I learned that: Seniors find ways to make plays in the clutch. Quenten Taylor was the star of the game until he picked up his fourth with 4:26 remaining in the third. He came back in the fourth and scored one more bucket to give him 20 on the night. Both he and Sherrod Williams finished with 20 points to lead the way for the Cougars but it was senior DaJohn Williams’ 18th point of the night that would give Calhoun County the crown.

St. Francis battled with Greenforest in Class A-Private and came away with a 96-81 victory for its second straight title. I learned that: Stars shine brightest on the biggest stage. Greenforest had more size and had strong guard play, but FSU-signee Malik Beasley, Xavier-signee Kaiser Gates, and five-star junior Kobi Simmons were too much as they combined for 73 points. The St. Francis girls edged South Atlanta Christian 47-45 after SACA turned the ball over on its final possession and Maya Dodson converted at the buzzer to knock off the team that ended the Lady Knights’ season a year ago.

Class AA saw the Wesleyan Wolves capture their 11 state title and their seventh in eight years. The boys game featured Crawford County and its raucous fan base against Seminole County. I learned that: Jordan Harris is the best player in the state of Georgia. The junior exploded for 41 points after draining three after three and cramming dunk after dunk. Mark Fox got a steal in this kid who will only continue to improve.

Morgan County fell to Jenkins 62-60 in the Class AAA final after Eric Johnson broke Bulldog fans’ hearts with a layup with 3.6 seconds remaining. I learned that: Morgan County can pack a gym out. Just over an hour away, the Bulldog fans filled the gym to the rafters to see Tookie Brown’s final game. It was a standing room only crowd and they were treated to possibly the best game of the weekend, even though their team didn’t come out on top. Aliyah Collier was a superstar in Laney’s win over Beach recording 24 points and 19 rebounds.

Carrollton was denied a sweep of the state titles in AAAA and came away empty handed after the Trojans could not feed Montae Glenn in the second half and after the Lady Trojans couldn’t find a bucket in the fourth quarter. I learned that: Jonesboro has the best defense in the state bar none. The Cardinals flew around the court and locked down the bigger Glenn in the second half.

Stephenson grabbed the title after beating Mays in the AAAAA girls final. I learned that: It is hard to beat a team three times. Davion Wingate and Miracle Gray refused to let the Jags drop another one to the Raiders. Brunswick’s size overwhelmed Allatoona in the boys championship and won going away, 49-32.

In overtime, McEachern and Te’a Cooper defeated Norcross 58-51. Wheeler beat Pebblebrook by one in the AAAAAA boys game. I learned that: Stars get calls and free throws win championships. Jared Harper split a pair for Pebblebrook and gave them just a one point lead instead of two. Jaylen Brown subsequently got fouled on the other end and iced it with two from the line.