Sunday, December 17, 2006

Holiday Hoops time

The holiday season is upon us and that means it is tournament time. We take a broad stroke look at the tournaments in the state and the trips that teams are making out of the state. If you notice an event is missing or have a website address for one of the listed events, please email Justin Young at

Chick-Fil-A Classic, Columbia, S.C. Dec. 19-22
Georgia teams involved: Dunwoody, Meadowcreek
(GEORGIAHOOPS will be in attendance)

Atlanta Public Schools Holiday Classic, Various schools (finals at Southside), Dec. 16-23
Teams involved: Therrell, Washington, South Atlanta, Southside, Mays, Douglass, Grady

Peach State Holiday Classic, Atlanta (Morehouse College) Dec. 27-30
Georgia teams involved: Banneker, Bradwell Institute, Creekside, Douglass, Griffin, Lithonia, Lovejoy, Mays, Miller Grove, Morrow, Mundy’s Mill, North Clayton, Riverdale, South Atlanta, Southwest Dekalb, Tri-Cities, Tucker
Website: (not updated)
(GEORGIAHOOPS will be in attendance)

Roundball Classic, Charleston, SC - Dec. 26-30
Georgia teams involved: Dunwoody, East Hall, Savannah Johnson

Deep South Classic, Lilburn, Ga. (at Brookwood & South Gwinnett HS) Dec. 27-30
Georgia teams involved: Brookwood, Central Gwinnett, Chattahoochee, Collins Hill, Mill Creek, Milton, North Atlanta, North Cobb, Peachtree Ridge, South Gwinnett, Tallulah Falls, Walton

Powerade Holiday Classic, Suwannee, Ga. (at North Gwinnett HS) Dec. 27-30
Georgia teams involved: Berkmar, Decatur, Douglas Co., Lakeside-Dekalb, Lithia Springs, North Gwinnett, Parkview, Redan

Campbell Classic, Smyrna, Ga. (at Campbell HS) Dec. 27-30
Georgia teams involved: Campbell, Kennesaw Mountain, Lassiter, Marietta, McNair, Pope, Roswell, Sprayberry

Kingdom of the Sun, Ocala, Fla. (at Vanguard HS) Dec. 27-30
Georgia teams involved: Columbia, Monroe, Whitfield Academy

Academy National Invitational, Houston, TX - Dec. 28-30
Georgia team involved: Norcross
(GEORGIAHOOPS will be in attendance)

Sweet South Classic, Madison, Ga. (at Madison Co. HS) Dec. 28-30
Georgia teams involved: Hillgrove, Loganville, McEachern, Monticello, Morgan Co., Northview, Putnam Co., Rockdale Co., Talifero Co., Winder-Barrow

Les Schwab Invitational, Portland, OR – Dec. 28-30
Georgia team involved: Wheeler

Jr. Orange Bowl Classic, Miami, FL – Dec. 28-30
Georgia team involved: Cherokee

Playground Classic, Fort Walton, FL – Dec. 28-30
Georgia team involved: Rome

High Point Enterprise Christmas Classic, High Point, NC - Dec. 28-30
Georgia team involved: Grayson

Bojangles High School Classic, Charlotte, NC - Dec. 28-30
Georgia team involved: Southwest Atlanta Christian

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dunwoody, Graham rams Rome

DUNWOODY, GA – With a minute left to play, Dunwoody forward Delwan Graham took a knee during a free throw and looked at his cheering section and said with a sigh, “Man, I’m tired.”

He should be. The 6-foot-7 junior put in a big time effort in Dunwoody’s 81-55 win over Rome.

Graham scored 19 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, blocked four shots, passed out four assists and recorded three steals. Rome simply had no answer for the athletic forward. In the first half, Graham was a monster on the boards and used his high-energy motor to grab nine boards and created opportunties for Dunwoody to score around the cup.

“I probably wake up about 4 o’clock tomorrow afternoon,” Graham said half joking, half serious.

Graham played 30 minutes and made the most of it on every possession. If he wasn’t rebounding, he was scoring on his own offensive rebounds. If he wasn’t blocking or altering shots, he was frustrating Rome’s 6-foot-10 center Tony Woods.

Offensively, Graham wasn’t the only weapon for the Wildcats. Dunwoody relied on sharp shooting of Georgia bound guard Zac Swansey. The 6-foot-3 senior finished with a game high 24 points. No one shoots a better midrange jumper than he does.

Swansey didn’t miss a shot in the second half and looked very comfortable with his dribble drive and pop and shot shooting. The future Bulldog has been Dunwoody’s scoring force from the backcourt this season.

Rome struggled with turnovers, with Woods turning it over eight times himself. Woods, a high-major prospect, finished with eight points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. Sophomore guard Jamalcolm Griffin led Rome with 17 points.

Dunwoody travels to South Carolina next week for the Chick-Fil-A Classic. Georgia Hoops will also be there.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Week 3 Superlatives

Top player of the week: Lance Storrs, Columbia
Top senior of the week: Lance Storrs, Columbia
Top unsigned senior of the week: Dexter Shaw, Cass
Top junior of the week: Al-Farouq Aminu, Norcross
Top sophomore of the week: Cory Warn, Cass
Top freshman of the week: Phil Taylor, Wheeler
Top sleeper of the week: Dexter Shaw, Cass

Teams watched in Week 3: Covenant Christian, Urban Christian, Shaw, East Paulding, Columbia, Wheeler, Norcross, Oak Hill Academy

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Countdown to the Main Event

I’ll admit it. I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas right now. Thursday’s games at Georgia Tech is as good as you are going to get in the state this year. Three of the top teams in the Peach State will be on national television and the nation’s most talked about basketball school is coming to town. Honestly, does it get any better than this?

Here are a couple of storylines that I’m incredibly interested in:

Columbia’s Jeremy Price vs. Wheeler’s J.J. Hickson

Hickson is the top player in the state in our senior rankings but he saw the 5A title slip out of his team’s hands last year to Beach. Price, a Georgia signee, helped Columbia win a 4A title. Both are big time big men. Both are giant in size and both are very solid players in the paint.

Price continues to get better and for whatever reason, he doesn’t have the same kind of respect that other big men in the state get. I am a big fan of his game and look forward to seeing him grind it out with Hickson.

Hickson, on the other hand, has been chomping at the bit to hit the hardwood. This is his first game of the season and with the goal of being a McDonald’s All-American, expect him to come out looking for a big game on national television.

Both big men should be double-double players in this one.

Oak Hill’s Howard Thompkins vs. Norcross’s Al-Farouq Aminu

Honestly, who doesn’t want to see this? The two have known each other since middle school and former Wesleyan teammates are looking forward to the match-up.

Before Thompkins left for Oak Hill this summer, I had Aminu as the top player in the state for a number of reasons. For starters, he looked outstanding against on the national circuit until July came around. Potentially, he could be downright scary. In their one-time meeting on the circuit, Aminu got the best of Thompkins at the Wallace Prather Classic.

Thompkins finished the summer strong and is in the best shape he has been in (maybe even before his appendectomy surgery last season). He’s a double-double machine at Oak Hill and is the team’s most versatile big man. I had him penciled in as the state’s second best player in his class prior to his move to Virginia.

In all likelihood, the two will play each other again for the majority of the game. Expect nothing less than a great back and forth battle amongst friends.

Both are amongst the top 12 players in the country in the 2008 class if that gives you any indication of how much of a regard I have for their game, skill set and pure potential.

FYI, here is a good read from the Gwinnett Daily Post on the match-up. Click link to read it.

Oak Hill’s guards

If Dunwoody’s guards had their way with Norcross, then can you imagine with Brandon Jennings (the top point guard in the nation in the 2008 class), Nolan Smith (a Duke signee and son of the late Derrick Smith) and Alex Legion (a Michigan signee) will do against the Blue Devils? Tony Neysmith can only defend so much.

Oak Hill’s guards will be the difference maker. It could get ugly if Norcross can’t match with their strength – size, speed and athleticism inside.


What a treat to have three of the best coaches in the state on the same floor on the same night. Each one brings a different facet to the game. Columbia’s Phil McCrary will slow the game down and pound it inside. Wheeler’s Doug Lipscomb will pressure you on defense from end to end and push the ball up the floor. Norcross’s Eddie Martin has done a lot with little and doing even more with a lot. This year is the best team he’s ever had. For the youngsters that are in the crowd or watching from home, take note of how the players respond to their coaches. You won’t see any selfish knuckleheads on these teams. Same goes for Steve Smith of Oak Hill. He’s coached at least two dozen pros.

Hi, my name is…

If you haven’t seen Columbia’s Travis Leslie or Wheeler’s Ari Stewart, you are in for a treat. Leslie could potentially crack into SportsCenter’s top 10 plays for the today on Thursday. The kid is a ridiculous athlete. He showed that at the Georgia Hoops Fall Showcase. Stewart, a 6-7 sophomore wing, is a budding star. He’ll pick and choose his moments. When those moments come, he’ll look like one of the top players in the state. Both are waiting to break out on the big stage.

Coming to the ACC shortly

There are six future ACC players in the field.

Gani Lawal (Norcross), Lance Storrs (Norcross) – Georgia Tech
Jordan DeMercy (Norcross), Julian Vaughn (Oak Hill) – Florida State
J.J. Hickson – NC State
Nolan Smith – Duke

The envelope please

Finally, here are my picks for the games on Thursday. Wheeler shakes off the first half dust and comes away with a hard fought win. Oak Hill’s guards prove to be the difference maker. The Warriors win by double digits.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cass rides Shaw, Warn all the way

CARTERSVILLE, GA - The plan was simple for Cass High School on Tuesday night against East Paulding. Don’t let the big guys on the other team get touches or rebounds. After all, the first time the two teams played, East Paulding used that formula to win.

Not this time.

Cass limited East Paulding’s big men to put backs and few touches in their offensive schemes and picked up a hard fought 83-72 victory. Of course, getting 61 points from their guards never hurts either.

Cass (3-1) head coach Ed Riddle looked to senior Dexter Shaw early and often as the unsigned prospect went off from all spots on the floor.

Shaw looked every bit of a top 20 player in the state. The unsigned senior was outstanding on the offensive side of the floor. Shaw finished with a flawless 32 points (9-16 FG, 13-15 FT, 3-10 from three) in the victory. Shaw, a 6-4 shooting guard, added seven rebounds, six assists and four steals to his attack.

“He plays like you want your seniors to play like,” Riddle said. “Any time you can have a scorer go to the line like he can, he’s going to be automatic for you. We’re going to try to get him to the line as much as we can.

“He can get up on you and then take one step and he’s gone. He’s so quick and real smooth with the ball and with his shot.”

Shaw, who is averaging 28.2 points a game this year, said he wants to go out swinging in his final year at Cass.

“I’m gong to try to the best that I can every time out and leave Cass High School the best I can,” Shaw said. “But I want to motivate some of these younger players for next year and the year after that.”

The young guys are watching and listening. Sophomore Cory Warn was just as spectacular. The 6-3 slasher finished with 29 points (9-16 FG, 6-11 FT, 3-5 from three).

“He’s just a sophomore and he’s realizing that it is all about players wanting it more,” Riddle said. “When we need to score, we’re going to look to him and to Dexter. Tonight, (Warn) was playing good defense the whole game and he was making things happen.”

Warn was a disruptive force on the defensive end and forced a number of East Paulding (2-1) turnovers.

East Paulding had success in the first match-up, particularly inside with 6-10 center Jon Pack. On Tuesday night, the senior big man was limited to five shot attempts. He finished with a season low five points but did coral 10 rebounds. Senior Rodney Johnson scored a team high 20 points and brought down 12 rebounds. Most of his points came on put back scores inside.

GEORGIAHOOPS Player of the Game: Dexter Shaw, Sr. , Shaw

Monday, December 04, 2006

November Player of the Month: Chris Allen, Meadowcreek

November is behind us and the first month of the season is in the books. After looking over our notes and talking with coaches from all levels, we are happy to announce the first player of the month of the season.
Chris Allen, the 6-4 senior guard from Meadowcreek High School, has been named the GEORGIAHOOPS Plyayer of the Month in November. The Michigan State bound guard put on a show at Georgia Tech against Whitefield Academy, one of the best teams in the state, two days after Thanksgiving.
Allen scored 42 points, including an eye-popping 20 of 24 from the foul line. Offensively, Allen is one of the best guards the state has seen over the last 10 years. He and his Meadowcreek club have the players in line to be a contender for the AAAAA state title.
Congratulations to Allen for the first Player of the Month award of the year.
(Photo: Courtesy of Tom McConnell)

Week 2 Superlatives

Top player of the week: Ralph Sampson, III, Northview
Top senior of the week: DeAndre Washington, McEachern
Top unsigned senior of the week: DeAndre Washington, McEachern
Top junior of the week: Ralph Sampson, III, Northview
Top sophomore of the week: None
Top freshman of the week: Trae Golden, McEachern
Top sleeper of the week: Daniel Stryzinski, Northview

Teams watched in week 2: Berkmar, Harrison, McEachern, Northview, Savannah and South Cobb.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

South Cobb gets early postseaon prep in win

AUSTELL, GA – For South Cobb High School, the games played at the start of the season are meant for preparation for the postseason. On Saturday, the Eagles learned a little something about what it will take to advance in the state tournament.

South Cobb picked apart Savannah High School 78-62 at home in a game that was dominated by guard play.

New South Cobb (3-2) head coach Daniel Bowles said the win was big for his Eagles club.

“Anytime you can get a win against a team like Savannah, you have to be happy,” Bowles said. “That was a game with pride on the line for these kids and to beat a team with that kind of rich tradition was good for them.”

Savannah is generally one of the toughest teams in the state and coach Tim Jordan will always have a roster with players that can fill it up in a hurry and challenge teams in the open court.

South Cobb (4-2) is no different. The Eagles relied on the speedy play of point guard
De’Marion Gordon and tough as nails senior Adam Callaway to help lead the charge. Gordon scored nine points and handed out six assists in the victory while Callaway had an effective 14 points.

“De’Marion hit the game winning shot the night before against Kennesaw Mountain and today he was just a player that made plays,” Bowles said. “He’s a special player. He shot some tough shots and made them.”

The Eagles are working senior wing Austin Kelly back into the rotation slowly. The Duke bound wide receiver injured his ankle in the last game of the football season. The 6-3 senior still provided a spark as he came off the bench to grab five rebounds, hand out three assists and block a couple of shots.

Alvin Jones, a 6-3 junior forward, was the junkyard dog for the Eagles as he did the dirty work inside and knocked down a number of midrange jumpers.

Savannah point guard Norris Rumph, a 6-1 junior, was injured on the first possession of the game, falling hard and injuring his back and neck. He sat out the first quarter because of the injury. His loss allowed South Cobb to go on a 18-2 lead to start the game.

Upon returning, Rumph helped close the gap and was the steady force in the backcourt in all phases. He finished with nine points, five rebounds and five assists.

While Rumph was the calm force, Savannah relied on leading scorer Kevin Williams. The 5-11 guard scored a game high 27 points (9-23 FG, 4-12 from deep) in the defeat.

South Cobb plays McEachern, a tough region battle, on Tuesday in Austell.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Northview is tall order for Berkmar

LILBURN, GA – Luckily for Northview High School, games are won by whoever has the most points and not by whoever plays the prettiest. The Titans picked up a 53-37 win against Berkmar High School on Friday night.

Northview (4-0) leaned on the presence of 6-10 big man Ralph Sampson, III inside the paint and played a solid defensive-minded game. The junior lead the way with 18 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots in the victory.

Sampson, who is coming off a MVP performance at the Forsyth Turkey Shootout, was an intimidating force around the basket and helped keep Berkmar from getting into the paint. Northview held the Patriots to 13 points in the middle quarters. Sampson’s presence had a lot to do with that. He blocked a number of shots on consecutive attempts and sent a message on the defensive end.

“At first, they weren’t too intimidated but as the game went along they became a bit shaky on bringing it inside. I feel like we just wore them down,” Sampson said.

Sampson wasn’t alone on the glass. Junior guard Daniel Stryzinski was outstanding on the boards, grabbing a dozen rebounds. The son of former Atlanta Falcon punter of the same name was a spark of energy for the team and helped set the tone on the defensive end.

The 6-3 junior added seven points, three assists and a pair of blocks. He didn’t take a shot in the first half but had a giant contribution in the flow of Northview’s success.

Junior A.J. Hawkins added eight rebonds and 11 points in the victory. The 6-6 post is a nice compliment to Sampson’s size and Stryzinski’s versatility. The trio combine for a strong force down low in region 6-AAAAA.

“Our combination is pretty good,” Sampson said of his frontline mates. “We do get a lot of rebounds and we work hard at cleaning the glass. We know we have to play together and rebound really hard if we want to win.”

That combination was the difference maker.

Berkmar (2-3) was led by junior wing Wesley Witherspoon, who scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds and swiped seven steals.