Tag Archives: On The Rise

Class of 2018 on the Rise

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.

Class of 2019 on the Rise

Being a four-year varsity starter isn’t the most common feat. A few freshmen made some major impacts as ninth graders this past season and should steadily improve throughout their high school careers. Here’s a look at some names that should become mainstays in the GHSA over the next three years.

PG – Ashton Hagans – Newton – 6’3”

Ashton Hagans, the Sandy’s Spiel Class AAAAAA Freshman of the Year, was so good this year I almost forgot he was a freshman. The dazzling point guard already holds high-major division one offers and is hands down the best young point guard in the state with his advanced floor vision. He helped the Rams to the Final Four this year and returns to a loaded backcourt which will be relied upon to take Newton deep into the postseason again.

PG – Kyle Sturdivant – Norcross – 6’2”

Ashton Hagans might be the best freshman point guard in the state, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention Kyle Sturdivant as a D-I talent too. Sturdivant may have won the award any other year if it weren’t for Hagans. The mature guard already has an offer from Kennesaw State and should continue to shine in year two.

SF – Isaac Okoro – McEachern – 6’5”
SG – Isaac Martin – McEachern – 6’4”

The Indians are loaded with players ready to take their game to the next level. Isaac Okoro already has shown brilliant flashes as a do-everything forward, hitting shots, rebounding and denying anything close to the hoop. Teammate Isaac Martin is a big shot maker. He drilled some big threes down the stretch when the Indians upset McIntosh at the Lake City Classic. Both are slated to have huge years now that Darius Jones, AJ Jones and Bryce Smith are all graduating.

PF – Kenyon Jackson – Grayson – 6’5”

Kenyon Jackson wasn’t known for his offensive prowess as a young buck anchoring Grayson’s Cinderella Elite Eight team that knocked off No. 1 Wheeler in the first round, but it is his long arms and advanced rim protecting skills that stood out. Jackson averaged a little over five points per game and close to 10 boards a night while swatting away four shots on average. He is already a battle-tested big man coming out of Region 8-AAAAAA. Jackson is a hot prospect on the football field but if he adds another inch or two and can grow offensively, Coach Geoffrey Pierce has a stalwart to turn to inside.

PG – Messiah Thompson – North Atlanta – 5’8”

Graduation and transfers hit North Atlanta hard following its 18-11 campaign in 2014-15. All that was left was a diminutive point guard on a rebuilding team that won nine games. Messiah Thompson shouldered the load and led the team in scoring with close to 12 points per game and looks like strong floor general to build around. Thompson has quick hands, picking over three steals per game this year. This summer he has manned the Atlanta Xpress 15U team at point guard. I watched him score 12 points, grab five rebounds and come away with three steals including a couple big ones late in a 54-50 victory. He finds a way to be in the right spot at the right time and is an easy lead guard to play with.

PG – Trae Broadnax – Islands – 6’2”

Islands had school record setting season going 20-7, but the Sharks still missed out on the playoffs. Who took the Savannah-based team to the next level as a third scoring option and the lead ball-handler to take pressure off 1,000-point scorer Justin Cave? It was Trae Broadnax. The freshman averaged 12 points per game and is continuing to improve. He has played with the 17U Savannah Terps, a team predominately populated with the returning Islands roster. Broadnax has good size already and a nice feel for the game. The Sharks see plenty of familiar faces in Region 3-AAA next year with Jenkins returning as the favorite. With Cave and Broadnax in the backcourt and another year of experience under their belt, it’s now or never for the Sharks to take a bite out of AAA.

SG – Alec Woodard – Morgan County – 6’1”

Alec Woodard finished with seven points and eight rebounds in Morgan County’s state championship victory over Jenkins. Not a bad way to start a career. Woodard is more known for his sharp shooting however. He banged home 10 threes in a game this year, good for a Morgan County school record. The Sandy’s Spiel Class AAA Freshman of the Year is in line for a big year as his role will increase for the defending state champs.

F – TJ Bickerstaff – Sandy Creek – 6’6”

Coach Anthony McKissic has a potential gem in TJ Bickerstaff. The long guard can play any position on the floor with his size and skillset but he looks most comfortable on the wing. If he can harness his talent and find a starting role with the Patriots, Sandy Creek could take off with Elias Harden and Evan Jester already in place. There is a lot of potential in Bickerstaff.

PG – Ryan Greer – Lovett – 5’11”

Ryan Greer made his presence known quickly as he and first-year head coach Ryan Koudele turned the Lions from a 13-15 team into a 22-7 Elite Eight team in Class AA. The Sandy’s Spiel Class AA Freshman of the Year averaged 13 points, six rebounds and six assists per game. Greer has a knack for making all the right plays and finding ways to win. He has been a standout for TNBC this summer.

G – Quinn Richey – Mt. Pisgah – 6’4”

Mt. Pisgah only won eight games this year but Sandy’s Spiel Class A-Private Freshman of the Year Quinn Richey gained some valuable playing time and led the team in scoring at 14 points per. He drained 40 of his 101 three-point attempts and knocked down 82 percent of his free throws. The pure shooter can already stroke it and will be able to take his game to the next level as he improves his handles and playmaking ability. He has already played well this summer, being named to the Norman Parker Showcase 15U All-Tournament Team by HoopSeen.

F – Jamar Moore – Loganville – 6’3″

Not a lot went right for Loganville last season as they slipped to 3-21 overall. There is however a glimmer of hope in Jamar Moore, an athletic forward who can change the game with his springs in the paint. Moore can alter shots, hit the glass and finish inside. His minutes should increase as a sophomore. As Moore polishes his game, the Red Devils will slowly improve around him.

PG – Kalen Williams – Lakeside-Evans – 5’11”

Kalen Williams, Sandy’s Spiel Class AAAAA Freshman of the Year, is going to be a popular name once all is said and done over in Augusta. He averaged 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists as a gritty guard with nice range. Williams is a good slasher as well and can get both feet in the paint. Jeff Williams takes over the head coaching job at Lakeside and will have a great piece to build around. Augbball.com’s Chad Cook is a huge fan of Williams’ game and has seen him play numerous times. Check out his site and videos to hear what the Guru of Augusta has to say about the young guard.

PG – Donell Nixon II – Mountain View – 5’7”

13-13 might not sound like a great accomplishment but when you take into account that Coach BJ Roy’s team was just 6-20 the year before and their .500 record is the first time in school history that the Bears didn’t have a losing record, there is reason to be excited for the future of the young school. Donell Nixon II might be little in stature but he isn’t little in game. He netted 12.4 points per game, good for second-best on the team. Nixon is a dynamo shooter from deep, hitting 69 of 154 for a 45 percent clip. He teams up with rising juniors Spencer Rodgers and Miles Long in the backcourt, a core that could be very good once they are all upperclassmen.

PG – Alex Kelehear – LaFayette – 5’10”

Sandy’s Spiel Class AAAA Freshman of the Year, Alex Kelehear, did it all for LaFayette this year. The Ramblers finished 12-13 and saw Kelehear lead them in scoring (14.1), assists (5.1) and steals (2.3) while placing second in rebounds per game at 5.6. He was able to get the job done inside and out, knocking down 44 percent of his threes and taking 85 free throw attempts.

PG – Kylan Curry – Johnson-Gainesville – 5’8″

Not related to Steph, Seth or Dell, Kylan Curry has a chance to take the reigns at Johnson-Gainesville sooner rather than later. The pass-first point guard is able to pick his spots and knows when to attack and when to get his teammates involved. The Knights are undergoing a rebuilding process and the keys to the car may be handed to Curry in due time if he keeps progressing.

PG – Ty’ree Gilbert – Northeast-Macon – 5’11”
CG – Darius Dunn – Northeast-Macon – 6’1” 

Northeast-Macon took its lumps big time going 3-24, but there is reason to stay optimistic with guards Ty’ree Gilbert and Darius Dunn back to run the show. Dunn averaged 12.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals while Gilbert chipped in a team-leading 14.5 points and hit 51 of his 130 three-point attempts. The Raiders are still a ways away from being competitive but at least they know who their go-to guys will be.

PF – Titus Wright – Thomasville – 6’8″

It’s hard to fathom how one could miss Titus Wright. Thomasville has a massive big man that will only improve. Wright is a sturdy 6-8 that probably pushes close to 235 pounds. He will share touches throughout his career with 6-8 sophomore Reggie Perry, and had to also take a backseat sometimes to Perry’s older brother 6-6 Alex who just signed to Tuskegee. Wright might not put up huge numbers since he will always be paired with another D-1 big man, but he could turn into something special once his four years are up.