Talent from across the southeast arrived in Fulton and Gwinnett County to showcase their skills, but of course I had my eyes on current and future GHSA standouts. I tried to stay cognizant of all the Georgia talent in the tournament while still doing my duty of covering the entire event. I managed to takeaway a few things from this weekend’s Atlanta Jam.
Cherokee County Rising
Canton-based 16U Team Atlanta is another team flying under the radar that has had a nice travel season so far. Dylin Hardeman and KJ Jenkins did the majority of the damage in their 69-67 win over PSB Elite. Jenkins (Creekview) led with 24 while Hardeman put in 20. Hardeman will see a change of scenery for his junior season, transferring from St. Francis to Woodstock. He is a fierce competitor from his guard position at 6-4.
He is not the only Wolverine on Team Atlanta with Noah Frith, Sid Mesumbe, Michael Spain and Quentin Doby Jr. all attending school in Towne Lake. Woodstock made waves in Region 5-AAAAAA this year clinching their first state playoff berth since the school opened back in 1996. With Hardeman now in the fold alongside top scorer Tyreke Johnson and space eater and Georgia Tech baseball commit 6-6 Brant Hurter, the pieces are in place for the Wolverines to make another trip to the postseason under head coach Kingston Clark who will try to make it 2-for-2 in playoff appearances in his second year on the job.
Up north in Hall County lies Gainesville High School. D’Marcus Simonds may be gone to Georgia State but KJ Buffen and more return. Even though he may never be the first option on his varsity basketball team, Bailey Minor is starting to look more and more like a college player. The 6-6 stretch forward gets it done inside and outside. In Coach Benjie Wood’s spread out balanced attack at Gainesville, the Red Elephants look to space the floor. That is where Minor comes into play with his ability to knock down the corner three. He scored 16 points in 16U North Georgia Elite’s championship loss to Da House and averaged 20.4 points on the weekend. On command, he drilled three balls and even added a put-back slam to keep the Elite close.
Teammate Xavier Bledson also plays for both Gainesville and the NG Elite. He looks more like a tight end on the floor as a thick 6-3 guard but his playmaking is more like that of a quarterback, riffling in passes to the open man. He will be a major piece for Gainesville the next two years and is on track to be a four-year varsity contributor along with Minor.
Middle Georgia Sleeper
Last but not least, Cameron Holden of 16U Team GA Magic put on a show Friday night. The 6-5 do everything guard out of Mary Persons dropped 35 points. Expect a monster next two seasons in middle Georgia. He averaged 18.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.1 blocks as a sophomore.