Monday, December 31, 2007

Home sweet home

After a month long, country wide tour, Georgia Hoops is finally home.

I spent a good part of the month traveling across the country for my national coverage for I started the month for a week's work in Huntington Beach, California for the Ocean View Tournament of Champions.

While on the West Coast, I saw two of the best guards in the nation in Jrue Holiday (a UCLA signee) and Demar Derozan (a Southern Cal signee) in action. The duo knows how to get it done.

The following week, I traveled to Fort Myers, Florida for the annual City of Palms tournament. This is my favorite event to cover each and every year. The fine folks of the tournament know how to run a big time event. Donnie Wilkie is one of the true gentleman in high school basketball tournaments.

Fayette County made the 1,000 mile round trip to the event and suffered a tough loss. Junior Noel Johnson put on a show, though. He shot seven of 10 to start the game and put up 21 points in the first half. Johnson was dominant on the offensive end of the floor. His legs ran out of gas in the second half and he finished with 31 points (11-23 FG, 2-8 from 3, 7-7 FT).

His offense isn't just about hitting threes anymore. Johnson did more off the bounce, scored more by creating for himself and went to the rim for buckets. He's one of the top pure scorers in his class and showed why in Fort Myers.

St. Benedicts out of New Jersey won the event and proved why they are the number one team in the nation.

Two days home with the family and a visit from Saint Nick was mixed into the calendar. That was the best two days of the month.

Another jump on a trusty Delta plane and a stop in Raleigh, N.C. yielded a great day of hoops at the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational at Broughton High School, the same gym where Pistol Pete Maravich did his thing as a prep star.

A three hour drive south to the Charlotte area placed us at the Bojangles Shootout, where South Atlanta and Miller Grove did some work.

Junior Derrick Favors put on a show on the first day of action, posting 42 points, 20 rebounds and 12 blocks. Too bad we missed it. He was an easy choice for the all-tournament team despite foul trouble in his other two games.

South Atlanta had a tremendous comeback against Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln. Down by 18 points to start the fourth quarter, the Hornets won the fourth quarter and held on for one of the best comebacks I've ever seen.

Senior Robert Jones stepped up big in Favors' absence. He put up 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win.

Junior Mfon Udofia also made the all-tournament team. He was a 20-point scorer all week for Miller Grove as they went 2-1 in the event.

I saw too many games to count and after seeing what a good part of the nation has to offer for talent, I'll stand by my thought that Georgia is the best place in the nation for high school hoops.

What's next? Good question. Getting back in the gyms around the state is the first order of business. I'll be making stops in central Georgia to start this month and then stop by the two major events at Norcross (Jan. 19) and Centennial (Jan. 21).

The power poll will be updated in the near future as well as a couple of other items of business. With football season now in the books. all eyes are on the hardwood. Are you watching? I will be.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Blue Devils put on the full court press

SUWANEE -- Norcross must be sending a message this season. The two-time defending AAAAA state champions are off to a hot start in the young season and dominated region rival Peachtree Ridge on Thursday night on the road.

The Blue Devils defended their way to a 70-37 stomping of the Lions and made it look easy. Norcross came out firing from the start thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from junior guards Taariq Muhammad and Denzail Jones.

Norcross never looked back despite a Peachtree Ridge run that lasted all of four minutes. The Blue Devils did a great job with the press and just forced the Lions into turnover after turnover.

Al-Farouq Aminu, the state's top senior, made it look easy, scoring 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds, had four big blocks, dished out three assists and collected a couple of steals. He is the most complete player in the state regardless of class.

Muhammad scored 18 points and had nine assists while Jones added 12 points.

What we learned:

- This Norcross club is finding its own identity early in the season. The big three from last year (Gani Lawal, Tony Neysmith and Jordan DeMercy) have been replaced by this year's big three (Aminu, Muhammad and Jones). The current big three have difficult skills than last year's club but similarly effective.

Aminu creates such much havoc defensively because of his length and agility. Muhammad is a great set up man with a developing three point shot and Jones, the energy spark in the backcourt, is a sharp-shooter. In 7-AAAAA, no one can match-up with them. In fact, we believe they will go undefeated against state teams this year in the regular season.

- The Blue Devils look like a team with a lot to prove this season and they've been doing it on the defensive end first and foremost this year. They might be a better defensive team in terms of overall quickness and keeping teams from getting the ball across the mid line than they were last year.

- Peachtree Ridge lost its big four from last year (Kevin Anderson, Zach Graham, Cameron Heyward and Bassy Inameti) and is currently going through a youth movement. The Ridge has a key senior in Bryen Pyles, who struggled mightily against Norcross, but the future is looking very strong. We were incredibly impressed with Khalid Mutakabbir, a 6-3 junior guard. He's a do-everything player that has a chance to be an emerging player in the state this year and beyond.

Freshman Cory Blackwell has created quite a buzz with his hot start this year and there were flashes of good things to come from the youngster in the defeat. He's big, strong and active.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Geogians finding fit in a Flash

Apparently there is a Georgia to Utah pipeline building. The Utah Flash of the National Basketball Developmental League has a three former Cobb County players involved with its team.

Former McEachern star Morris Almond was assigned to the Flash on Thursday by the Utah Jazz. Former Walton guard Kevin Kruger was the first selection by the Flash in the NBDL draft two months ago. Former Sprayberry guard Kevin Young is the Director of Operations for the club.

Almond, a 6-6, 225-pound guard out of Rice has appeared in three games for the Jazz, playing a total of 12 scoreless minutes. The Powder Springs native was selected by the Jazz in the first round (25th overall selection) of the 2007 NBA Draft.

Kruger, a 6-2, 185-pound guard from UNLV/Arizona State is second on the team in scoring (13.3) and tops in assists (6.3), three point shooting (36 percent) and free throw shooting (92.9 percent).

Young is in his first year with the Flash. He was the head coach and general manager for the Shamrock Rovers in Dublin, Ireland prior to coming back to the United States. He played at Clayton State for two years before his coaching career.

The Flash, a NBDL team and affiliate of the Utah Jazz and the Boston Celtics, are 3-3 on the season.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Plenty of Favors in South Atlanta blowout

COLLEGE PARK -- Total domination. That is about is about as good of a description as it gets in South Atlanta's 80-48 win over North Clayton on Tuesday night.

Derrick Favors, the top player in the state, dominated the game in every possible way in the blowout win. The 6-9 center scored 24 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, blocked 10 shots and had four steals in the victory.

South Atlanta set the tone early with its physical play, attention to defense and Favors' presence in the paint. The Hornets went into the halftime break with a 15-point lead. If that wasn't enough, a 26-4 third quarter slammed the door shut with a bang.

It wasn't a close one and things just were not clicking for North Clayton, a young team that should have a fine year this season. But when the state's best player is having the kind of game he was having on Tuesday night, there just isn't much a team can do.

What we learned:

- One observer that we sat with said Favors is better than Dwight Howard at this same stage and that the youngster from South Atlanta is a clone of Tim Duncan. That is strong company and it is hard to disagree with the notion that Favors is more skilled than Howard. The gap is small in my eyes simply because Dwight Howard was the best player I've ever seen here in Georgia. With a year and a half left, Favors could very well take Howard's spot in my eyes. He's an incredible, incredible talent.

- This did not look like the same South Atlanta team I saw last month in the ugly scrimmage against Redan. South Atlanta showed it's defensive tenacity and took the wind out of the sails early with intense pressure from end to end.

- North Clayton's band was great. They were fun to watch and their energy was the only thing that had the home crowd nodding in approval.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Vol. 3

This week's weekly wrap-up is shortened. We wanted to at least post the players of the week, the updated teams seen list and our schedule for this week. Hope to see you on the road along the way.

Week 2 Superlatives

Top player of the week: Jordan Callahan, PG, Blessed Trinity

Top senior of the week: Dequan Jones, SF, Wheeler

Top unsigned senior of the week: Jordan Callahan, PG, Blessed Trinity

Top junior of the week: Ari Stewart, PF/SF, Wheeler

Top junior sleeper of the week: Alioune Diouf, SF, McEachern

Top sophomore of the week: Phil Taylor, PG, Wheeler

Top freshman of the week: None

Georgia teams evaluated to date this season

26 – Blessed Trinity, Centennial, Chamblee, Collins Hill, Columbia, Decatur, Druid Hills, Dominion Christian, Dunwoody, East Coweta, Heirway Academy, Marist, McEachern, McNair, Mill Creek, Miller Grove, Milton, Northview, Redan, Riverdale, Sandy Creek, South Atlanta, South Cobb, Stephenson, Wheeler (twice), Whitefield Academy (twice)

Total games: 14

On tap for this week

Dec. 4 – South Atlanta at North Clayton

Dec. 6 – Norcross at Peachtree Ridge

Dec. 7 – Westlake at Fayette County

Dec. 8 – Mt. Zion-Jonesboro Hoopfest:

11:30 Griffin vs. Lassiter

4:00 Mount Zion vs. Shiloh

7:00 Miller Grove vs. Wesleyan

8:30 Jonesboro vs. Pebblebrook

All games are tentative.

Top 10 games of the week

You thought last week was interesting? Wait until this week. There are a number of quality match-ups in the state this week. We picked the top 10 and give our thoughts on each.

No. 3 Centennial at No. 1 Wheeler, Friday, Dec. 7

Another week, another big game at Wheeler. The Wildcats have an even bigger challenge after picking apart McEachern in last week's match-up of top 10 programs. This week isn't looking any easier. The region rivals square off in a great match-up. Centennial brought its entire team to Wheeler for the McEachern and Whitefield scrimmages while Wheeler is playing better than any team in the state. If the Wildcats can shoot like they did against McEachern, watch out. If Centennial can utilize of all it's tools, watch out. Buckle up, this one will be a lot of fun.

Georgia Hoops pick: Wheeler

No. 5 Columbia at No. 6 Miller Grove, Tuesday, Dec. 4

Hiding in the shadows of the Wheeler-Centennial game this week is this game of a game on Tuesday night. The two Dekalb County powers will grind it out in what should be one of the best games of the year. No one is playing better individually in the state right now than Mfon Udofia. And there might not be a better overall team from top to bottom in the state than Columbia. This one will be fun and it will be close.

Georgia Hoops pick: Columbia

No. 2 Westlake at No. 16 Fayette County, Friday, Dec. 7

This is one of the best rivalry games in the state and this year's series could be at an all-time high. Fayette County won the battle last year, winning two of the three games. Westlake is hot right now but Fayette County's Noel Johnson might be just a little hotter. We will be there for the match-up and expect to see this one go down to the wire.

Georgia Hoops pick: Fayette County

No. 6 Miller Grove vs. No. 15 Wesleyan at Mt. Zion-Jonesboro, Saturday, Dec. 8

Both teams have had major tests early on. Miller Grove will be coming off of a tough game against Columbia and Wesleyan will be ready for this one. The question has to be how much will the Columbia game take out of Miller Grove and how will Wesleyan defend Mfon Udofia?

Georgia Hoops pick: Miller Grove

No. 10 South Atlanta at North Clayton, Tuesday, Dec. 4.

If it weren't for the airport nearby, the noise from the gym in this one would echo through the south side of the city on Tuesday night. We are going to be in the building for this county border war. South Atlanta's Derrick Favors is off to a hot start and North Clayton is coming off a big win at Phillips Arena. Last year's match-up at the same time came down to one bucket. We don't anticipate this one being that close. South Atlanta's defense is just too strong thanks to Favors inside.

Georgia Hoops pick: South Atlanta

No. 8 Dunwoody at Rome, Saturday, Dec. 8

Dunwoody beat the brakes off of Rome last year at home. This year a trip to North Georgia has a different feel. After losing the season opener, the Wildcats should be playing with more fire and more determination to prove themselves. Rome matches up well with Dunwoody inside, especially with Wake Forest bound Tony Woods holding up the middle. It should be a close one for the first half. Dunwoody will likely push the gas down and floor it until the final buzzer.

Georgia Hoops pick: Dunwoody

Baldwin at Hancock Central, Saturday, Dec. 8

Hancock Central could crack the power poll this week if they can string together a nice run of victories. This game against Baldwin could push the class A team over the hump. No one is hotter right now in single A than Hancock Central. This game will have the gym rocking. If you ever have a chance to see them at home, do it. The folks at both schools know how to get a gym loud.

Georgia Hoops pick: Hancock Central

Turner County at Tift County, Saturday, Dec. 8

Keep an eye on both of these teams. Turner County, a class A program, is young and big while Tift County, a traditional power, always has a team ready to play. Turner County travels to Tifton and will be met with a hostile crowd on opening night for Tift County within the state and too much speed to deal with.

Georgia Hoops pick: Tift County

Tri-Cities at Mundy's Mill, Friday, Dec. 7

Mundy's Mill cracked into the coaches' poll on Tuesday, checking in at No. 5 in AAAAA. We'll admit it, we probably slept on the Tigers. Tri-Cities is a big-time defensive team but a game on the road with a hot team might be too much. Keep an eye on Todd Salters, he's a sleeper at the point and playing to win and earn a scholarship this year for Mundy's Mill.

Georgia Hoops pick: Mundy's Mill

Pebblebrook vs. Jonesboro at Mt. Zion-Jonesboro, Saturday, Dec. 8

This will be a track meet. And we can't wait. Georgia Hoops will be on hand for this one. Both clubs enter the week undefeated and could very well be come Saturday. Jonesboro guard Brandon Hosley is off to a hot start, putting up big numbers. His counterpart, Chris Beasley, is off to a similar start.

Georgia Hoops pick: Jonesboro

Note: All of the rankings for teams are from the preseason power poll. This will be updated on Monday. We went 6-3 in our picks from last week.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Top 20 Power Poll: Week 1


With the season's first full week of work in the books, the Top 20 Power Poll has a couple of big shifts, three new teams in and a number of key match-ups to watch this week.

1. Wheeler (1-0)
Notable victories: McEachern (No. 7 at the time) 87-78
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Alpharetta, Dec. 7 vs. No. 3 Centennial
Last rank: 1
Notes: If there were any questions about just how good the Wildcats are going to be this year, the AAAAA powerhouse certainly answered them. With a lineup of five Division I players, Doug Lipscomb might have his best team ever at the Cobb County school. But isn't that always the assumption at the start of the year? A convincing win over McEachern proved the point home. A huge match-up against Centennial awaits the team this week. Get your popcorn ready.

2. Westlake (2-0)
Notable victories: Creekside (NR) 76-61
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 at Fayette County (No. 16), Dec. 8 at Star's Mill
Last rank: 3
Notes: Senior Ray Willis is off to a hot start this year. The Oklahoma bound wing is averaging 23.5 points a game so far for the Lions. Junior forward Javoris Bryant scored 27 in the season opener against Creekside. A major test comes this week when the team travels to 2-AAAA foe Fayette County for a huge game in Fayetteville. Georgia Hoops will be on hand for this one.

3. Centennial (2-0)
Notable victories: Whitefield Academy (No. 6 at the time) 51-43
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 at Wheeler (No. 1)
Last rank: 4
Notes: The Knights are diving right into the season and have one of the best games of the year already on the calendar against Wheeler, the state's top team. Both victories haven't come easy for Centennial and playing on the road will be a challenge. We'll learn a lot about the Roswell school on Friday night. It proves to be one of the biggest games of the year, just three games into the season.

4. Norcross (1-0)
Notable victories: Collins Hill 76-43
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. Forsyth Central, Dec. 6 at Peachtree Ridge (Thursday game)
Last rank: 5
Notes: The two-time AAAAA state champions picked up where they left off from last year in a blowout win over Collins Hill. Al-Farouq Aminu, the state's top senior, scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the season opener. Guards Denzail Jones and Taariq Muhammad both did what they are known to do. Jones shot the lights out and Muhammad directed the offense well.

5. Columbia (4-0)
Notable victories: Antioch (TN) 85-62
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Miller Grove (No. 6), Dec. 7 at SW Dekalb, Dec. 8 vs. Cedar Grove
Last rank: 8
Notes: The Eagles traveled to Nashville to take on one of the best teams in the Music City and did some damage on the road. Travis Leslie, one of the top unsigned seniors in the state, scored 25 while fellow uncommitted 2008 player Kenny Mitchell put in 21. South Carolina signee Darius Morrow scored 15 points.

6. Miller Grove (4-0)
Notable victories: Redan 51-50, Tucker 70-62
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. Columbia (No. 5), Dec. 7 at Washington, Dec. 8 vs. No. 15 Wesleyan (at. Mt. Zion-Jonesboro for Georgia Hoopfest)
Last rank: 15
Notes: The Wolverines won the Dekalb County Thanksgiving Classic with a one point win over Redan. Junior point guard Mfon Udofia was named tournament MVP after averaging 26.6 points and seven assists a game in the tournament. Senior wing Justin Allen emerged as another scoring option for the Lithonia team. Udofia scored 40 against Tucker, the defending AAAA state champions on Saturday.

7. Blessed Trinity (5-0)
Notable victories: Dunwoody (No. 2 at the time) 73-68; Marietta (No. 9 at the time) 50-35
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Chamblee, Dec. 7 vs. North Atlanta, Dec. 8 vs. Pace Academy (5 p.m.)
Last rank: NR
Notes: Only two weeks into the season and we already have a major surprise in the state. The Titans went to Dunwoody and played a tremendous game against one of the top powers in the state. Senior guard Jordan Callahan led the attack with big shots and great passing. The team is well-balanced and well-coached. The spotlight is now on the Roswell school.

8. Dunwoody (1-1)
Notable victories: None
Notable loss: Blessed Trinity (NR) 68-73
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. Druid Hills, Dec. 7 at Grady, Dec. 8 at Rome (4 p.m.)
Last rank: 2
Notes: For the first time in forever, Dunwoody lost at home. Blessed Trinity came into Wildcat Country and defeated one of the best teams in the state handily. Dunwoody rebounded and beat a talented Chamblee team the game after. A big test comes when the AAA powerhouse travels north to Rome for a tough road match-up against Rome, featuring Wake Forest bound Tony Woods. Last year's game saw Delwan Graham go for 19 and 19 against Woods.

9. Whitefield Academy (2-1)
Notable victories: Marietta (No. 9 at the time) 66-54
Notable loss: Centennial (No. 4 at the time) 43-51
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. Our Lady of Mercy, Dec. 8 at Meadowcreek
Last rank: 6
Notes: After a tough loss on the road to Centennial, Whitefield rebounded well and came back for its first win of the year against Eagle's Landing Christian on the road. The Wolfpack also went on the road to Marietta, one of the toughest places to play in Atlanta, and walked away with a moral boosting 12-point victory over the Blue Devils. The brutal non-region schedule continues with a tough road game against Meadowcreek on Saturday.

10. South Atlanta (2-0)
Notable victories: None
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at North Clayton, Dec. 7 vs. Clarkston (at Price Middle School)
Last rank: 11
Notes: The state's best player, Derrick Favors, scored 42 points in the season opener against Washington High School. The Hornets have a huge non-region rivalry game on Tuesday night against a good North Clayton team on Tuesday night. Georgia Hoops will be on hand for that one.

11. Swainsboro (1-0)
Notable victories: Dublin 78-75
This week's schedule: Unknown
Last rank: 12
Notes: Won a tough one on the road against Dublin without a full roster of players. Alabama bound Tony Mitchell scored 39 in the win.

12. Jordan (3-0)
Notable victories: None
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Shaw, Dec. 7 at Hardaway, Dec. 8 at Central Talbotton
Last rank: 13
Notes: The defending AAA state champions are off to a hot start, blowing teams out by at least 20 so far. Unsigned senior Terrence Hill scored 40 against LaGrange. Don't sleep on the Jackets again this year. They have major scoring power.

13. Tucker (0-1)
Notable victories: None
Notable loss: Miller Grove (No. 15 at the time) 62-70
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 vs. North Springs
Last rank: 10
Notes: Junior Manny Atkins scored 25 points for the defending AAAA state champions in the season opening loss to Miller Grove. The Tigers have a light load this week but should still be counted on as a major contender within region play this year.

14. McEachern (0-2)
Notable victories: None
Notable losses: Harrison (NR) 65-68, Wheeler (No. 1) 78-87
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. South Cobb, Dec. 7 at North Cobb, Dec. 8 vs. Walton
Last rank: 7
Notes: Two games in and the Indians have some major soul searching going on right now. The Powder Springs club dropped its first two games of the year but don't sleep on them. The talent is there. Trae Golden is just a sophomore but he can absolutely go. The team has size and senior Darrius Garrett is showing a nice, and improved, offensive game early on.

15. Wesleyan (2-1)
Notable victories: None
Notable loss @ Christ School (N.C.) 72-74
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Creekview, Dec. 7 vs. Holy Innocents, Dec. 8 vs. (No. 6) Miller Grove (at Mt. Zion-Jonesboro, 7:00 p.m.)
Last rank: 14
Notes: Despite 31 points from Howard Thompkins, the AA powerhouse dropped a tough one out of state to a very good Christ School team. A game later, he put in 35 points on the second leg of the North Carolina trip.

16. Fayette County (5-1)
Notable victories: Creekside 74-72
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 at Woodward Academy, Dec. 7 vs. (No. 2) Westlake, Dec. 8 vs. Parkview
Last rank: 16
Notes: Junior Noel Johnson scored 42 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against McIntosh last week. The Tigers continue to win big games and the biggest test of the year comes this week against Westlake on Friday night.

17. Savannah Johnson (1-0)
Notable victories: None
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 at Camden County, Dec. 8 vs. Statesboro
Last rank: 17
Notes: The Atom Smashers picked up a 22-point win to start the season. Quietly, this team could string together a good run of wins and creep up on the state as the year rolls forward. Don't sleep on them.

18. Cherokee (1-0)
Notable victories: None
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 at Hillgrove, Dec. 8 vs. Etowah
Last rank: 18
Notes: Shawn Kemp, Jr. scored 24 points for the Warriors in a 94-84 overtime win that looked more like a track meet against East Paulding High School.

19. M.L. King (3-0)
Notable victories: None
This week's schedule: Dec. 4 vs. Lithonia, Dec. 7 at Luella
Last rank: NR
Notes: With wins over North Atlanta, Chattahoochee and North Gwinnett in the South Forsyth tournament, the Lions have shown off great balance and athleticism early. Seniors Greg Henry and Demetrius Bates are leading the team early.

20. Savannah (3-0)
Notable victories: Liberty County 88-82 OT, Beach 65-50
This week's schedule: Dec. 7 vs. Windsor Forest, Dec. 8 at Richmond Academy
Last rank: NR
Notes: The Jackets are off to a hot start with a pair of important wins against area teams. A 65-50 win over cross-town rivals Beach is equivalent to Georgia Tech winning a football game against Georgia. South Cobb made their way down to the coastal city and were beaten by 16 points. Guards Kevin Williams and Norris Rumph are tough to deal with in the backcourt.

Dropped out: Marietta, East Hall and Meadowcreek

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Any questions?

MARIETTA -- If there was any questions about just how good Wheeler High School will be this year, the Wildcats certainly put any sort of doubts to rest on Saturday evening.

Wheeler, the top team on the Georgia Hoops Power Poll, shot the lights out en route to a 87-78 victory over No. 7 McEachern. All five starters for Wheeler scored in double figures, including a team high 24 from sophomore Phil Taylor and 23 points from junior Ari Stewart.

Up only by three points at the halftime break, Wheeler went on a 15-0 run to start the second half and thus cracked the game wide open. The Wildcats mixed in hot shooting on the perimeter and athletic plays at the cup to spark the game-changing run.

Taylor, junior Tahj Tate, Dequan Jones and Richard Howell all hit key three-pointers in the second half. McEachern simply didn't have the answers to stop all of the size and athleticism that Wheeler rolled out on the floor.

Jones, a Miami signee, was outstanding in all aspects. He scored 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds, blocked four shots and handed out four assists. Tate, who had a monster dunk in transition, scored 14 points on great-looking jumpers. Howell added 11 points and key passes in the victory.

McEachern had it's bright moments, courtesy of Richmond bound Darrius Garrett. The 6-8 senior played big around the basket, scoring with thundering dunks, blocking shots with authority and knocking down three-pointers late in the game.

Garrett finished with 17 points while sophomore guard Trae Golden put in 19 points. Golden's game is predicated on aggressiveness and the Indians never seemed to find its edge. Thus Golden, an Ohio State commitment, was a little tarnished on the big stage.

Junior Alioune Diouf was quietly effective in the defeat as the wing put in 18 points.

What we learned:

- When all of the wheels are rolling, Wheeler is the best team in the state. No one has more weapons, size, athleticism an versatility in a starting lineup.

- Even with all of the size, Wheeler can be just as dangerous on the wing as shooters. They won't always be knocking down shots like they were on Saturday night but when they do, watch out.

- Phil Taylor, only a sophomore, looked like the most poised player on the court in this one for Wheeler. He's solid each time out, makes the right decisions and has done a fine job of running this team full of Division I talent.

- We're not sure how long we can say this but Tahj Tate is the biggest sleeper in the state. The 6-2 junior can fly, knock down shots and has the tools to be a nice looking guard at the college level.

- If Trae Golden can't power his way to the basket, he really struggles.

- McEachern seemed to play at half speed on both sides of the ball. With a team full of athletic players, it was odd to see the team move rather lethargically.

- McEachern showed some resiliency in the second quarter and battled back thanks to key plays from Darrius Garrett. But giving up a 15-0 run to start the second half will usually be detrimental.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wild weekend tips season off strong

The power poll is about to have a major face lift on Monday. There are a number of games that will have major implications to the poll as a number of top 20 teams in the state have important games.

The season is now officially under way this weekend and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top after Friday and Saturday's games. Here is a look at the top 10 games in the state this weekend.

Cobb County is looking like the place to be on Saturday.

No. 7 McEachern (0-1) at No. 1 Wheeler (0-0), Sat. 5:30 p.m.

The line is already starting form around Doug Lipscomb Gymnasium for Saturday's contest. Okay, maybe not just yet but you better get there early. This is our game of the week and Georgia Hoops will be there for the match-up. There will be at least nine Division I prospects in this game. The match-up to watch will be between McEachern's star sophomore and the stop shooting guard in the state Trae Golden and Wheeler's Tahj Tate, a junior move-in from South Carolina.

Georgia Hoops pick: Wheeler

No. 10 Tucker (0-0) at No. 15 Miller Grove (3-0), Sat. 6:30 p.m.

No one is hotter outside of the top 10 than Miller Grove. The Wolverines won the Dekalb County Thanksgiving tournament and Mfon Udofia is playing as good of ball as anyone in the state. Tucker, winner's of last year's AAAA crown, tip the season off officially on Saturday. Keep an eye out for Manny Atkins. He could go for 30 or more in this one.

Georgia Hoops pick: Miller Grove

Creekside (1-1) at No. 16 Fayette County (3-1), Fri. 8:30 p.m.

Two of the state's best scorers will be featured in this game. Creekside has a major scorer in the state's biggest sleeper and one of it's best senior scorers in Kevin Murphy. Fayette County has junior Noel Johnson, who is coming off a 42 point game on Tuesday.

Georgia Hoops pick: Fayette County

No. 6 Whitefield Academy (0-1) at No. 9 Marietta (1-1), Sat. 7:30 p.m.

Both teams are hungry after early season losses and this one should be an exciting one. Both teams should be full strength with the football season over and it will be interesting to see how well the point guards take over their teams.

Georgia Hoops pick: Whitefield Academy

No. 19 Meadowcreek at Beach (2-1), Sat. 7:30 p.m.

This game had a lot more umph to it last year. This year it is more of an early season test for both programs. Beach isn't the Beach from last season. The same goes for Meadowcreek. Beach has a big test the night before against Liberty County, one of the sleepers in the state.

Georgia Hoops pick: Meadowcreek

No. 20 East Hall (1-0) at Flowery Branch (3-0), Fri. 8 p.m.

This might be one of the best games in Hall County this year. East Hall is no stranger to the spotlight. Joe Dix has a full rotation of players and loves to keep his men fresh in the game. Flowery Branch is young but a team that has a lot of promise. This could be a great game that few outside of the Gainesville know about.

Georgia Hoops pick: East Hall

Collins Hill (2-0) at No. 4 Norcross (0-0), Sat. 7:30 p.m.

The two-time defending AAAAA state champs start the season off and the state is interested in seeing how well the Blue Devils do without the big three from last year (Gani Lawal, Tony Neysmith and Jordan DeMercy). The state's top senior Al-Farouq Aminu is ready but are the rest of the Blue Devils? Collins Hill is coming off two straight important road wins and big man Jeremy Olsen is off to a hot start.

Georgia Hoops pick: Norcross

North Cobb (2-1) at No. 9 Marietta (1-1), Fri. 7:30 p.m.

Keep an eye on North Cobb. The Warriors are one of the best coached teams in the state and Marietta is trying to find its identity early. Who shows up in this one? We'll see what the Blue Devils are really made out of after this weekend.

Georgia Hoops pick: North Cobb

Chamblee (1-1) at No. 2 Dunwoody (0-1)

Update: This game has been moved to Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. as Chamblee is still in the football playoffs.

East Paulding (1-1) at No. 18 Cherokee (0-0), Sat. 7:30 p.m.

This could be an interesting game. Cherokee starts life without Chris Singleton but Shawn Kemp, Jr., and Ryan Fleming had a big off-season. East Paulding will put up points and are looking to sophomore move-in Vincent Bailey early and often.

Georgia Hoops pick: Cherokee

Notable out of state games

Columbia is traveling to Nashville to play arguably the top team in the Music City, Antioch High School. The team features three players in the state's top 50 senior rankings, including Michael Macadoo.

Wesleyan has a tough road trip in North Carolina this weekend, where the Wolves will face off against the Christ School. Their opponent boasts Miles and Mason Plumlee. The Indiana natives are both skilled 6-10 forwards. Miles is headed to Stanford while Mason is one of the top 100 players in the nation. This will be a great road test for Howard Thompkins, Tanner Smith and the rest of the Wesleyan crew.

Note: All of the rankings for teams are from the preseason power poll. This will be updated on Monday.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Don't give up, don't ever give up

Those of you that have watched any sort of college basketball this week, have seen the Jim Valvano story and have been asked to donate to the V Foundation for cancer research. I'm a big believer in letting the American public judge for themselves with their own charitable decisions. I don't push and advise anyone when it comes to personal decisions. But I strongly urge you to donate to some sort of cancer research. We as a human race cannot run away from this disease. It has made an impact on my life and I'm sure it is has made an impact on you at one point of your life.

Let's come together, as we always do this time of year, and support a great cause.

Let's put a press on cancer. Let's cause it to turnover and not grab hold of our lives. If you wish, take a moment to help the world fight the cancer battle. The V Foundation continues to fight the fight.

The V Foundation

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday night stars

Fayette County junior guard Noel Johnson scored 42 points in a 64-59 win over McIntosh…South Atlanta's Derrick Favors, the top player in the state, put up 42 points over Washington. South Atlanta won big, 91-61…Georgia bound senior Howard Thompkins returned home in fine fashion, scoring 26 points in Wesleyan's 73-36 victory over Walker…Junior Lorenzo Brown scored 24 points for Centennial in a hard fought 62-58 win over Chattahoochee…Oklahoma bound guard Ray Willis is off to a hot start for Westlake. He scored a game high 27 points in a 73-56 win over Woodward Academy…McEachern lost to Harrison in the Indians' season opener but had 28 from Ohio State bound Trae Golden. Harrison had a big three from Matt Sundberg. The College of Charleston bound wing put in 16 points…Unsigned senior Terrence Hill scored 40 points for defending AAA state champions Columbus Jordan in a 93-71 win over LaGrange…Unsigned senior Byren Pyles scored 24 points for Peachtree Ridge in a 74-61 win over Mill Creek…Our Lady of Mercy had 36 points from junior forward Nnamdi Moh in a 66-55 win over St. Francis.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blessed Trifecta

DUNWOODY -- Don't look now but we have ourselves a sleeping giant on our hands. Blessed Trinity knocked off Dunwoody 73-68 on Tuesday night.

Despite a raucous crowd and on the road for Dunwoody's first game of the year, Blessed Trinity never seemed phased by the atmosphere nor the intensity. In fact, the Titans seemed to be fueled by everything.

Senior guard Jordan Callahan led the charge for Blessed Trinity, scoring 26 points on a cool nine of 12 from the floor. Callahan, a 5-11 guard, hit four three-pointers and sparked a 18-6 run in the third quarter to break the game open.

Callahan hit back-to-back three-pointers and made key assists to junior Ryan LeGates, senior Ryan Aquino and Tyler Cerone. LeGates, a 6-2 guard, was outstanding in the run as well. He scored with brave drives to the basket and found Callahan on the wing for threes.

Dunwoody (No. 2 in the Georgia Hoops preseason power poll) struggled to find its way throughout the game and never seemed to find it's basketball voice in the clutch. Blessed Trinity came up with a big three-pointer every time Dunwoody made a run.

LeGates finished with 12 points and six assists while Aquino 13 points and 11 points and three blocks. Sophomore Arris Brundidge added eight points.

Dunwoody was led by Chris Singleton, who scored 21 points in his Wildcat debut. Junior guard Isaiah Grayson added 13 points in his debut, too. LSU bound forward Delwan Graham added 12 points and seven rebounds. Florida State bound guard Pierre Jordan pitched in with eight points.

What we learned:

- Blessed Trinity is the real deal. After a win over Marietta and a very convincing win over Dunwoody, the Titans will make a debut in the new power poll on Monday. They are a major force to be reckoned with in the state.

- Blessed Trinity is a well-oiled machine that plays together, plays smart, only attacked when the opportunity presented itself, had great ball control and spacing, didn't turn the ball over and stayed calm in an intense situation.

- Dunwoody will be fine. They have plenty of talent and plenty of size and plenty of experience. But this loss was an eye-opener for the Wildcats.

- The defeat was the first loss at home for Dunwoody in over two years.

- Like most elite teams in the state that deals with transfers, Dunwoody has to figure out how to come together as a cohesive unit.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Weekly Wrap-up, Vol. 2

What we learned

If you have a chance next year to spend a day at the Dekalb County Thanksgiving tournament, do so. Dekalb County does a great job of supporting its athletics. The information is always accurate and up to date. The drive between Lithonia and Miller Grove is quick and easy. Miller Grove's gym is one of the nicest in the city, too.

I'm all for making a buck but charging for parking at the tournament is a bit, well, unthankful in a time for Thanksgiving. And I'm thankful for free parking.


After watching Columbia for the first time this year, I'll be the first to admit that I have them under-ranked at eighth in the state in our top 20 power poll (which will be updated next week). Coach Phil McCrary has a team that could do some damage this year. They are too big, too athletic and too experienced not to.

Columbia senior Travis Leslie is the state's most explosive athlete. He is a clone of former Georgia Tech star Isma'il Muhammad.


Collins Hill could be a team that will do some damage this year in Gwinnett County. Junior big man Jeremy Olsen had a great game against Milton last Tuesday. He stepped up to the challenge. He's coming into his own and his confidence is growing. A cool double-double in front of Utah assistant coach Jeff Smith was impressive.


David Boyd told us about a freshman he had five years when he was the head coach at Riverdale. We saw the rookie in his first game, liked what we saw and now he's at Georgia Tech. His name is Gani Lawal.

A couple of weeks ago, Boyd told us about a freshman he had at his new gig at Milton. We saw the 6-7 skinny forward in his first high school game and liked what we saw. His name? Julian Royal. And I think he was better than Lawal at this stage of the game.


I'll say it one more time: Adrien Coleman will lead Dekalb County in scoring this year. The 6-3 junior put up 31 points in front of us and he helped his Stephenson club pick up a big win over Chamblee. Coleman is a blur to the basket and does a great job of getting to the foul line more than 10 times a game.


Chamblee has had a rough start this year, going 1-2 in its first three games. Don't worry about it. They'll be a state playoff team this year. They have the talent. Working out the kinks now is important. Brandon O'Brien is a big time athlete that will contend for top honors in the athleticism department in his county.

Sophomore guard Chris Grier has a chance to be one of the top players in his class in the city over the next three years.


I've seen Centennial's Lorenzo Brown and Miller Grove's Mfon Udofia once already this year. I have Udofia atop my point guard power rankings and he won't be moving after seeing them both in action. Udofia has a lot of Javaris Crittenton in his game. And those that know me, know how much I loved Crittenton's game when he was at SACA.

Brown has more weapons around him and it will be interesting to see how he raises the level of play of those around him. A Centennial-Miller Grove match-up is in our fantasy top five games that won't happen this year.


Get ready for a battle on Saturday as McEachern and Wheeler square off. This will be a fun one. I've already seen Wheeler this year and they will be tough to contend. The match-up between Tahj Tate (Wheeler) and Trae Golden (McEachern) will be fun to watch. Keep an eye out for McEachern forward Kadeem Batts, too. He moved to Atlanta from the Boston area over the summer. The 6-7 junior could use this as his season spring board.


After spending a weekend in Texas for a 14 games, it was clear to me that Georgia and the Atlanta area is clearly one of the best cities for hoops. Not that that was ever a question. It was just more evident being away from our lovely city.

Week 2 Superlatives

Top player of the week: Travis Leslie, SF, Columbia

Top senior of the week: Travis Leslie, SF, Columbia

Top unsigned senior of the week: Brandon O'Brien, SF/PF, Chamblee

Top junior of the week: Mfon Udofia, PG, Miller Grove

Top sophomore of the week: Jershon Cobb, SG, Columbia

Top freshman of the week: Julian Royal, PF, Milton

Georgia teams evaluated to date this season

23 – Centennial, Chamblee, Collins Hill, Columbia, Decatur, Druid Hills, Dominion Christian, East Coweta, Heirway Academy, Marist, McNair, Mill Creek, Miller Grove, Milton, Northview, Redan, Riverdale, Sandy Creek, South Atlanta, South Cobb, Stephenson, Wheeler, Whitefield Academy (twice)

Total games: 12

On tap for next week

Nov. 27 – Blessed Trinity at Dunwoody

Nov. 30 – Tucker at Miller Grove

Dec. 1 – McEachern at Wheeler

All games are tentative.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Columbia sticks to its strengths

Some things just never change. Columbia stuck to the things that has worked so well since the turn of the century and had little trouble claiming an 82-52 win over McNair at the Dekalb County Thanksgiving Classic on Lithonia High School on Wednesday afternoon.

The AAAA powerhouse took advantage of its size, speed and athleticism to come away with an easy victory to start the season off strong.

Senior Travis Leslie led all scorers with 25 points (10-17 FG, 5-11 FT) while South Carolina bound center Darius Morrow added 16 points (7-11 FG, 2-3 FT) and 11 rebounds in the victory.

Columbia has relied heavily on a dominant big man for years. This year is looking no different with Morrow anchoring the middle. Leslie, last year's top scorer and rebounder for the Eagles, was too athletic and strong for McNair. Leslie was dominant in the paint and used his top-flight athleticism to his advantage inside.

Leslie, an unsigned senior, also added 10 rebounds, three blocks, three steals and a pair of assists in the victory.

Columbia had solid play from transfer David Forrest, a senior point guard. The lefty added 14 points (5-10 FG, 4-4 FT), five rebounds, five steals and four assists in the victory. Senior big man Kenny Mitchell scored 10 points despite early foul trouble.

Phil McCrary's team looks strong early on and didn't change our opinion that the Decatur school will be one of the toughest teams come February in the state. The Lions have great depth and talent at the positions that have shined in the past for the program.

After the DeKalb County Thanksgiving Classic, Columbia is headed to Nashville for the Music City Classic at the first of December.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Collins Hill picks up road win

The trend continues. Sloppy doesn't earn points but a win is a win and Collins Hill was able to pick up a 65-61 victory against Milton on Tuesday night.

Pretty points don't show up in the win column and Collins Hill learned a lot about itself in a close one and on the road. Thanks to the steady play of junior big man Jeremy Olsen and freshman guard Saah Nimley, Collins Hill held on and overcame a feisty Milton club in the fourth quarter.

Olsen looked good in the second half and owned the left side of the blocks. The big man scored 17 points (8-12 FG, 1-2 from 3), grabbed 11 rebounds, made three steals and tossed out an assist in the victory. An assistant coach from Utah made it out to see Olsen in action.

Nimley, a jitterbug point guard, was too fast for Milton to control and put the home team on its heels.

Milton freshman Julian Royal was solid in his debut scoring 15 points (6-9 FG), grabbed six rebounds, made two steals and had one big block. The 6-7 rookie is the real deal but he'll need time. There is a lot to like with Royal. Watching him develop over the next four years will be fun.

Milton guard Brody Littley came alive in the second half and was great in the midrange.

All and all, Collins Hill picked up an important road win, Olsen played well when it mattered, Royal looks like he's next and David Boyd is back on the sidelines.

The season is certainly underway and we look forward to developing storylines throughout the rest of the year.

Looking for writers, photographers

Interested in Georgia high school basketball? Love to write? Love to take pictures? You are just what I'm looking for. Georgia Hoops is looking for help with the blog. If you are interested in submitting articles for the site and/or contributing pictures to the site, email me samples of your work at

Ideally, I'd love to find high school students that write or take pictures for the school newspaper. I started my journalism career as a high school reporter when I wasn't playing. A couple of great writers for the Dallas Morning News took me under their wing and helped open doors along the way. I'm a big believer in giving back.

Parents, if you have a great camera and take action shots at games and wish to share any of your shots, by all means, I'd love to use them!

Georgia Hoops is a completely free site meant for a meeting place for basketball fans in our lovely state. Therefore, the job is a free and volunteer basis only.

Again, if you are interested in writing or sharing photographs, please contact me at

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weekly Wrap-up

The Georgia Hoops family vehicle logged some serious miles this week and overpaid for gas too many times to count in our first full week of work in the Peach State. But it was worth is as we saw a number of games, enjoyed great basketball conversations and saw the state at it's most beautiful time.

What we learned

The first games of the year are always ugly. Each game we saw had a number of turnovers, bad shots and poor officiating.


Lorenzo Brown stepped up in a big way in an ugly win for Centennial over Whitefield Academy on Saturday night. The junior had a solid game across the board, posting 17 points (6-9 FG, 1-1 from 3, 4-4 FT), 6 steals, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in the 51-43 win.

Centennial has the pieces of the puzzle now it is a matter of putting it all together. Key returnees Robby Johnson and Alex Coxworth combined for three of 22 shooting from the floor. They need more from them in order to win ball games. The same goes for Patrick Moynihan.


Wheeler has a load of talent but this might be a team that will be hard to really figure out until January. The talent is there. No question about. Dequan Jones and Phil Taylor are the only two players that know what Doug Lipscomb wants from his players.

Ari Stewart has plenty of talent but grasping the Xs and Os of the game is his key to playing time. He didn't play the second quarter of the Whitefield scrimmage. Richard Howell is the team's meat and potatoes guy inside. When he goes from the paint to the perimeter, he also goes from 6-7 to 6-1. Wheeler needs him to be 6-7.

Tahj Tate could be the X-factor. The South Carolina move-in is good and on the bubble or really good.


The price of playing top level teams will pay off for Whitefield Academy. Remember, Georgia Tech made it to the National Championship game with 10 losses. The Wolfpack has a great big man in Colin Reddick (who struggled with fouls against Centennial and was a non-factor) and guard Brandon Reed. Don't write them off despite a tough loss on Saturday and a defeat in a scrimmage against Wheeler.


The Derrick Favors-Kenny Hall match-up was a disaster. We're calling a mulligan on that one. It was ugly but sophomore guard LaTerrence Carter put his name on the map in a big way for Redan. We loved what he did in the game against South Atlanta.


Outside of Carter, the second best sleeper of the week was Sandy Creek guard Malcolm Jackson. The 6-2 junior is an athletic freak with a great pull-up jumper. He scored 17 points in a loss to South Cobb. He's a college prospect, without question and could be one of the top guards south of I-20.


Always double check your Mapquest directions and your final destination. If you are planning on going to South Forsyth, look that up. Not North Forsyth. Georgia Hoops had a great tour of Forsyth County on Saturday morning.


You can not beat the hospitality room at the Parkview Thanksgiving tournament. They embody the word there.


The first college coach that we saw in Georgia was Tennessee Tech assistant coach Russ Willemsen. He was all over the place on Saturday, logging even more miles than us. New Reinhardt head coach Jeff Pourchier was the second. We bumped into him at the Parkview tournament.

Week 1 Superlatives

Top player of the week: Lorenzo Brown, PG, Centennial

Top senior of the week: Dequan Jones, SF, Wheeler (MIAMI)

Top unsigned senior of the week: Jacob Pettway, PF, South Cobb

Top junior of the week: Lorenzo Brown, PG, Centennial

Top junior sleeper of the week: Tahj Tate, PG/SG, Wheeler

Top sophomore of the week: LaTerrence Carter, PG, Redan

Top sophomore sleeper of the week: Robert Sampson, SF/PF, Northview

Top freshman of the week: Kenard Bateman, PF, Whitefield Academy

Georgia teams evaluated to date this season

15 – Centennial, Decatur, Dominion Christian, East Coweta, Heirway Academy, Marist, Mill Creek, Northview, Redan, Riverdale, Sandy Creek, South Atlanta, South Cobb, Wheeler, Whitefield Academy (twice)

Total games: eight

On tap for next week

Nov. 20 – Collins Hill at Milton

Nov. 21 – Dekalb County Holiday Classic - Columbia vs. McNair (11:30 a.m. at Lithonia HS), Chamblee vs. Stephenson (4:00 p.m. at Miller Grove HS), Druid Hills at Miller Grove, 7 p.m.

Nov. 23-24 – Texas Hoops Jamboree; Houston, Texas

Friday, November 16, 2007

Top 20 power poll: Pre-season


Never has the state been as wide open as this year's season. Who really is the best team in the state? No one knows yet but we have a good idea going into the season. Georgia Hoops is happy to produce the first Power Poll of the season.

The games are the determining factor and wins and losses will alter the poll throughout the season. For now, here is our take at the best of the best, regardless of class.

  1. Wheeler – Doug Lipscomb has a team rich with talent, deep with athletes and size, speed and strength to boot. The Wildcats lost a McDonald's All-American in J.J. Hickson but have at least five Division I players on it's roster this season. They are the top dogs heading into the season across all classes.
  2. Dunwody – Delwan Graham and Pierre Jordan headline the returning players for Scott Bracco and alone, that 1-2 punch is scary enough. Now mix in move-ins Chris Singleton (Cherokee) and Isaiah Grayson (Druid Hills) and you have a team that could very well take that No. 1 spot in the state's power rankings.
  3. Westlake – Keep an eye on the AAAA school. Darron Rogers has a team deep with talent, experienced players, aggressive young prospects and a schedule that will have the team ready for the post-season. In fact, the Lions could very well be the best team in the state when it is all said and done.
  4. Centennial – After a great year that saw the Knights finish as runners-up in the class AAAAA division last season, expect great things again. Coach Allen Whitehart believes his team is deeper and quicker and with junior guard Lorenzo Brown back and an improved Robbie Johnson, the north Fulton County school could be a serious contender for the title.
  5. Norcross – The back-to-back AAAAA state champions lost a lot but return the state's best player in Al-Farouq Aminu, who is headed to Wake Forest next year. The biggest question with this team isn't so much the talent or coaching, it is the depth. Will the Blue Devils be able to find it this year?
  6. Whitefield Academy – The Wolfpack may only be a class A team but you can't argue with the talent and the schedule that will certainly prove just how good Tyrone Johnson's team really is. Don't sleep on this team full of talented juniors. Colin Reddick is the best big man in single A and Brandon Reed has big time scoring power.
  7. McEachern – With the most impressive guard in the state in Trae Golden and a roster filled with athletic and versatile players, the Indians are hoping to avenge their early season departure last year. They'll be fun to watch this season.
  8. Columbia – Gone are the familiar faces that had so much success at the Decatur school but back is Travis Leslie and Darius Morrow, two Division I talents that have paid their dues. And Phil McCrary is one of the best coaches in the state.
  9. Marietta – The Blue Devils are back. After a couple of unfamiliar years of mediocrity, Charlie Hood has a team that can do some damage. The team is well balanced and has a number of players back from last year. This club has Final Four potential.
  10. Tucker – Get ready to hear about another dynamic scorer for the AAAA school. Cameron Tatum and Marshon Brooks groomed junior Manny Atkins and now the 6-5 junior is ready for his moment in the spotlight. He's been hot in the preseason and ready to break out in the state this year.
  11. South Atlanta – Any time you have the state's best player holding down the middle you are a threat. But the team needs to be more than just Derrick Favors. If the guard play can steady the ship, the Hornets will be a major contender to Dunwoody in AAA.
  12. Swainsboro – There is always a stellar team from outside the Atlanta area and this year's top dog is the eastern Georgia club. Leading the way is Alabama bound forward Tony Mitchell. This team will score points and have plenty of plays that excite the crowd.
  13. Jordan – The defending AAA state champions return its top two players in Terrence Hill and Steve Peterson. The Jackets will be battle tested in a very competitive season in Columbus this season. They won't sneak up on anybody this year.
  14. Wesleyan – After winning 23 games last year and returning a good majority of the team returns this season. Oh, and Trey Thompkins is back after a year at Oak Hill. The Georgia signee will be impossible to defend in AA and Clemson signee Tanner Smith will enjoy the open floor in his senior year.
  15. Miller Grove – Mfon Udofia is far from being a secret. The junior guard has been the face of the program since it's inception. Now the athletic and quick point guard will be asked to score more than ever. He's a gamer, much like the player he is eerily similar too, one Javaris Crittenton.
  16. Fayette County – Junior Noel Johnson is ready to take his already skilled game to the next level. The Tigers have a football team mentality and one of the toughest players on the south side of the city in Terrence Turner.
  17. Savannah Johnson – The Atom Smashers boast the best nickname in the state and arguably the best roster outside of Atlanta. Coach Keith Arrington will lean on Colorado bound Toby Veal inside and a long lineup around him will be tough to guard.
  18. Cherokee – The Warriors have a young team and gone is Chris Singleton and Josh Kvam. However, Shawn Kemp, Jr., is a different player from last year and Ryan Fleming is one of the best guards in North Georgia. Roger Kvam will have this team prepared.
  19. Meadowcreek – It is time to see Teondre Williams in the featured role. The Oregon bound guard has a big mantle on his shoulders these days. Joining him in the post-Chris Allen era is Tennessee Tech bound forward Tyler McDaniels, a 6-7 forward.
  20. East Hall – It is hard to keep the Vikings out of the top 20. They Gainesville school will continue to play its helter-skelter, heavy pressure style and frustrate opponents on both ends of the floor. Few places in the state have a better home court advantage.

Talk about this story on the Georgia Hoops Message Boards.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Big men struggle, '10 guard shines in defeat

When two of the top five players in the class of 2009 meet head to head, you tend to get excited. However, after watching a turnover-laden game between South Atlanta and Redan on Wednesday, observers were trying hard to stay awake.

South Atlanta and star big man Derrick Favors held onto a sloppy 44-41 win over Redan and its star big man Kenny Hall.

Favors, the top player in Georgia regardless of class, struggled with foul trouble and constant double teams. The 6-9 center finished with a modest 10 points (3-9 FG), six rebounds and five steals.

Hall, a 6-8 junior, struggled with fouls and Hall finished with three points (1-6 FG, 1-5 FT) and six rebounds.

South Atlanta was up by 17 at the half but scored only eight points in a 12 minute span. Redan rallied thanks in large part to the star of the night LaTerrence Carter, a 5-11 sophomore point guard.

Carter was a jet to the basket, confident with the ball in his hands and the top offensive threat for Redan all night. He scored a game high 25 points, crashed the boards (six rebounds), grabbed three steals and was a menace all over the floor.

There was little secret that the scrimmage gave each team something to think about this week in preparation for the first real game of the year. Guard play, outside of Redan's Carter, was horrendous.

Both teams have talent and developing depth but for now, each club has plenty of room to improve.

What we learned:

South Atlanta

- Favors can't do it on his own. Big men need a guard that can and will feed the post with clean entry passes. South Atlanta don't look like they had one on Wednesday night.

- The usually even-keeled Favors showed some fire on a big block (and foul) and Hall, who was trying to pull off a Greg Oden like attempt from the National Championship game. Favors stepped up the challenge on that one.

- The X-factor for South Atlanta could be DeAndre Robuck this year. After a year in Charlotte, the 6-2 senior is back and proved a spark inside with tough scores and big rebounds. He fills the junkyard dog role nicely.


- LaTerrence Carter is for real. He was the only bright spot all night. We loved his energy and determination. There were times it looked as if he was the only player on the floor for Redan. He was worth the drive alone.

- Hall wanted this game badly and it will be interesting to see how he rebounds in his next game. The big fella has a world of tools to work with and those that saw him for the first time should call for a mulligan on this one. He's much better than that.

- Redan has good depth and good size. Senior forward Leonard Carter provided the team with a spark and was great on the glass. He'll have a number of quality games this season for the Raiders.