Taking the leap from underclassman to upperclassman can sometimes be hard for some high school players. These players below however, are no strangers to being “The Man” on their team. With another year of experience under their belt, these Class of 2018 rising juniors are ready to take their game to the next atmosphere. Here are some of the best of the best in the GHSA.
SG – Khavon Moore – Westside-Macon – 6’8”
The Class of 2018 starts and stops with Khavon Moore. The point-forward has garnered high-major interest since he was a freshman and his game continues to grow. He averaged 20.7 points, 11 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.6 steals and 3.1 blocks per game as a sophomore on his way to being named to the Sandy’s Spiel Class AAA All-State Second Team. Moore put up monster numbers leading Westside to a 22-7 record, but was shut down in a 71-43 loss to Calhoun where he finished 4-of-21 from the field. Moore will have more talent surrounding him next season at Westside and should have some of the burden lifted off his shoulders. With all the pressure on him to create, his only weaknesses were his three-point shooting (29%) and his turnovers (4.1). The sky truly is the limit if he continues to progress and has more shot-makers surrounding him.
PG – Jamie Lewis – Westlake – 6’2”
You’ll be hard pressed to find a guard that does a better job of controlling the tempo than Jamie Lewis of Westlake. Lewis netted a game-high 21 points and handed out nine assists in Westlake’s wild Class AAAAAA state championship victory where he outplayed fellow D-1 players Jared Harper (Auburn) and Collin Sexton. In terms of overall talent, Westlake might be the scariest roster from top to bottom in the state. By the time Lewis’ high school career is over, he may have multiple state championship rings.
PG – Drue Drinnon – East Jackson – 6’1”
It feels like Drue Drinnon has been on the GHSA scene for years now but in actuality the free-scoring guard is only now blossoming into a junior. Drinnon ran the show at East Jackson the past two years and helped carry the Eagles into the postseason. Drinnon might land elsewhere for his final two seasons and if that is the case, whoever gets him will be landing one of the best pound-for-pound guards in the state. Drinnon can create off the dribble and pull up in the lane, or find an open man on the block or the perimeter. The Class of 2018 in Georgia is loaded with playmakers at the guard position and the Sandy’s Spiel Class AAA All-State First Teamer and Best Scorer award winner will always be in the discussion as one of the state’s elite.
CG – Will Richardson – Liberty County – 6’4”
Nobody and I mean nobody, exploded onto the scene more than Will Richardson did last season. The 6-4 combo guard played third fiddle to Davion Mitchell (Auburn) and Richard LeCounte (UGA football) this past season as the Panthers won their first ever state title in Class AAAA and will do so again next year as the duo returns for their senior seasons, but make no mistake that Richardson could lead any team in the state in scoring and put up monster numbers if he wanted to. He averaged 13.2 points, 5.3 rebounds 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals as a sophomore but stamped his status as a major D-1 prospect in the state championship game where he smoothly poured in 19 points to deny Jonesboro’s quest of a three-peat. Once Richardson improves his three-point efficiency (30%), there might not be any glaring holes in his game offensively.
SF – KJ Buffen – Gainesville – 6’6”
Gainesville has a pair of strong rising juniors in Bailey Minor and Xavier Bledson but it is KJ Buffen who looks like the centerpiece in replacing D’Marcus Simonds (Georgia State). Buffen is a major talent that should explode onto the scene next season for Coach Benjie Wood. Buffen has looked great with the Southern Stampede this summer, always finding himself in the right place at the right time. Buffen constantly is hitting the glass, defending and scoring both inside and from the perimeter. His length helps him get to the basket in a hurry where he can finish with the best of them. Buffen screams D-1 talent if he can continue to get better each and every season and extend his range and the consistency of his jumper.
G – Travis Anderson – East Jackson – 6’0”
Another former East Jackson player in flux of potentially finding a new home, Travis Anderson is a dynamic scorer that can stretch the defense. Anderson isn’t afraid to attack bigger defenders inside and go to the basket. He has been a big time performer throughout his career, starting at Holy Innocents’ before joining the Eagles last season. He has heard from high major D-1 schools such as LSU and Virginia and has a chance to continue growing his list of suitors in the upcoming two years.
F – Isaiah Kelly – Pace Academy – 6’8”
The leap from private school in Augusta to playing with the big boys in Metro Atlanta went smoothly for Isaiah Kelly as the forward picked up a state championship ring in Class AA with Pace Academy. Kelly, a Sandy’s Spiel Class AA All-State Second Teamer, is a skilled forward that can play either the three or four. His good instincts around the rim make him a solid shot blocker, especially when paired up with Wendell Carter Jr. down low. Xavier, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and more are in on Kelly.
PF – Reggie Perry – Thomasville – 6’8”
It’s fair to say you haven’t heard of or seen Reggie Perry play yet during his high school career, but being that he is from southwest Georgia may no longer be an excuse. Perry transferred in from Maclay High School in Tallahassee this past year with his older brother Alex Perry (Tuskegee). Perry already has major interest from Big 12 schools and SEC schools with Mississippi State being the latest to offer. Perry is pretty mobile for a big man his size and can finish with authority at the rim. Thomasville was very balanced this past season but now that lead guard Jordan Willis (Albany Tech) is graduating, Perry should slide into being the No. 1 scoring option. Perry earned Sandy’s Spiel Class AA All-State Second Team honors.
SF – Cameron Holden – Mary Persons – 6’5”
This kid can play. Cameron Holden was the heart and soul of Mary Persons, averaging 18.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.1 blocks per game, rivaling the production of nearby Khavon Moore. Holden improved by leaps and bounds from his freshman year, growing two inches and scoring close to 12 points per game more. Patient with the ball in his hands, Holden isn’t afraid to take his time, size his man up and look in his eyes and determine whether to drive past him or shoot from long range (60-of-177, 34%). Much like his middle Georgia counterpart Moore, if Mary Persons can surround Holden with the right pieces they can take off in the next two years.
CG – Trey Doomes – Allatoona – 6’2”
A very good athlete and adept at getting to the hoop, Trey Doomes of Allatoona could take the next step into becoming a D-1 player. Doomes led 31-1 Allatoona in scoring and helped the Bucs to the Class AAAAA state championship game for the second straight year. Doomes saw playing time as a freshman but his production lifted off in year two when he averaged 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.6 steals per game. Coach Markus Hood implements a very balanced attack on offense and a sound defensive scheme which puts Doomes ahead of many of his peers in terms of defending the ball with his long arms. Developing a consistent jump shot will determine where he lands in college. This past season he shot just 10-of-47 from beyond the arc. He holds an offer from Kennesaw State currently.
C – Tolu Jacobs – King’s Ridge Christian – 6’11”
It’s hard to find a prospect more intriguing than Tolu Jacobs. He missed the majority of last season before becoming eligible. At 6-11, 280 pounds, there isn’t a player more intimidating than Jacobs in the paint. Once he became eligible, the Tigers didn’t take off like they might have expected and missed the playoffs. A full year of the massive center with a D-1 body should uncover what hidden potential lies inside.
PF – Gabe Bryant – Dawson County – 6’8”
Gabe Bryant is a bruising big man on the block that might be on the move to a bigger program. He is playing with the Southern Stampede this season and learning and playing with some of the best players in the nation. Bryant tears down the rim with his dunks and plays extremely hard. The size is there to be a D-1 player. He has a ways to go with his offensive polish but once the game slows down for him, he could develop into one of the better big men in the state of Georgia.
PG – Alex Jones – Buford – 5’9”
Alex Jones averaged 11 points, 5.9 assists and 2.7 steals on his way to being named Sandy’s Spiel Class AAAA Best Passer. Jones is a diminutive point guard but he is just that; a true point guard. Jones is able to see angles before they develop and finds ways to get his teammates the ball. Learning under the legendary Eddie Martin after transferring from Alpharetta his freshman season should continue to pay dividends. Jones shouldn’t be slept on just because of his size.
SG – Clarence Jackson – Wilkinson County – 6’5”
Wilkinson County might be hard to find on a map, but WilCo is no stranger to producing top notch talent at the high school level. Clarence Jackson did a little bit of everything this season as a combo guard, helping the Warriors to an eighth state title. Jackson can score inside and out and has covetable size for a two-guard at the next level. His progress needs to be tracked for the next two years as D-1 schools have already shown interest.