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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

32 seniors set to sign

Today marks the first day of the early signing period and 32 players from Georgia will likely ink with a Division I school.

Class of 2008 committed players (32)

Chase Anderson, SG, Mill Creek (Air Force)
Al-Farouq Aminu, PF/SF, Norcross (Wake Forest)
Elhanan Bone, PF, Washington County (UNC Greensboro)
Shane Burrell, PF, Sound Doctrine (Alabama A&M)
James Fields, PG, Beach (Georgia State)
Gideon Gamble, SG, Westlake (Winthrop)
Darius Garrett, PF, McEachern (Richmond)
Delwan Graham, PF, Dunwoody (LSU)
Yaw Gyawu, SF, Parkview (Colgate)
Dennis Harris, PF/SF, Mundy’s Mill (LSU)
Dequan Jones, SF, Wheeler (Miami)
Pierre Jordan, PG, Dunwoody (Florida State)
Joel Lamb, PF, Southwest Atlanta Christian (Charleston Southern)
Tyler McDaniel, PF/SF, Meadowcreek (Tennessee Tech)
P.J. Meyers, PG, T.W. Josey (Campbell)
Reggie Middleton, PG, Glenn Hills (Winthrop)
Tony Mitchell, SF, Swainsboro (Alabama)
Darius Morrow, C, Columbia (South Carolina)
Chris Reynolds, SG, Glenn Hills (Campbell)
Ralph Sampson, III, C, Northview (Minnesota)
Tanner Smith, SG, Wesleyan (Clemson)
Jerel Stephenson, SG, Glenn Hills (UNC Wilmington)
Matt Sundberg, SG, Harrison (College of Charleston)
Howard Thompkins, PF, Wesleyan (Georgia)
Toby Veal, PF, Savannah Johnson (Colorado)
J.C. Ward, PF, Marietta, (East Tennessee State)
Dustin Ware, PG, North Cobb Christian (Georgia)
Teondre Williams, SG, Meadowcreek (Oregon)
Ray Willis, SG, Westlake (Oklahoma)
Tony Woods, C, Rome (Wake Forest)
Cashmere Wright, PG, Urban Christian (Cincinnati)
Andre Young, PG, Deerfield-Windsor (Clemson)

Class of 2009 committed players (2)

Robert Chubb, PF, McIntosh (Auburn)
DeMario Mayfield, SG/PG, Franklin County (Georgia)

Class of 2010 committed players (1)

Trae Golden, SG, McEachern (Ohio State)

Class of 2011 committed players (1)

Marc Brown, SG, Westlake (Florida State)

Wheeler wins Cobb County battle

And we are off. Wheeler and Whitefield Academy went at it in a scrimmage on Tuesday night at the Doug Lipscomb Gymnasium, officially tipping off the season for Georgia Hoops.

Wheeler took advantage of the Whitefield turnovers and dominated the second half to an 83-66 win over the class A powerhouse.

The Wildcats showed off a balanced attack with five players that scored double digit points. However, the question with Wheeler is never about offensive firepower. The top team in the state rolls out five Division I players to start the game. The most impressive thing from Wheeler was its ability to frustrate Whitefield defensively and forced an incredible amount of turnovers.

Miami bound senior Dequan Jones led the way for Wheeler, scoring 19 points (5-10 FG, 5-6 FT), eight rebounds, five steals and two assists. Sophomore point guard Phil Taylor did a good job of running his team and making an impact on defense. He scored 16 points, swiped six steals and handed out four assists.

Newcomers Tahj Tate and Richard Howell both made their presence felt. Tate, especially. The move-in from South Carolina was the biggest surprise of the game. He's athletic, quick with the ball, good on the defensive side of the ball and was consistent throughout. Howell finished with 13 points (3-10 FG, 6-6 FT), five rebounds and three steals.

Whitefield's Brandon Reed led all scorers with 24 points (9-16 FG). The 6-2 junior hit three three-pointers in a row in a minute and a half span in the middle of the fourth quarter to put a spark back into Whitefield but it wasn't enough.

Big man Colin Reddick, a 6-8 junior, was incredibly impressive. Known more as a defender, the big man scored 16 hard-earned points inside. He still maintained himself as the best interior defender in the game with six big blocks and six rebounds.

Wheeler and Whitefield, two of the top teams in Georgia, learned a lot about themselves in the game.


- The Wildcats have plenty of talent but finding the right way to use all of the parts is the key.

- Tahj Tate has a chance to be a very good player this season and could be the difference maker in the biggest games.

- Richard Howell and Ari Stewart can co-exist but the two will have to fill each other out more. Howell does his best work five feet and in. Stewart must continue to improve his basketball IQ.


- Point guard needed. The Wolfpack forced the ball to places it just couldn't go. The team's success has predicated on a heady point guard in the past. Finding that guy this year is the key.

- Collin Reddick must continue his offensive game. He was impressive down low against a big, physical and athletic Wheeler bunch.

- Brandon Reed is the team's best offensive threat. He must establish himself early on the perimeter.

- How can they handle pressure? With a brutal non-region schedule ahead of them, it will be interesting to see where the calming force comes from.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On tap this week

Georgia Hoops will hit the road this week to start the season of our intense travel schedule within the state. There are a number of great games ready to tip off the year and we are excited to see the action.

Here is what we have on tap this week:

Tues., Nov. 13 – Whitefield Academy at Wheeler (Scrimmage)

What a match-up! Our preseason No. 1 AAAAA team, Wheeler, hosts our preseason No. 1 A team, Whitefield Academy, in what should be a tremendous match-up at all positions.

Wheeler boasts one of the deepest rosters in the Southeast and it will be the first time we see former Central Gwinnett star Richard Howell in a Wheeler uniform. Reports from the Wildcat Nation have also been positive about South Carolina move-in Tahj Tate, a 6-2 guard. Also back for the Wildcats are Dequan Jones (Miami), Ari Stewart (a top 20 national junior) and Phil Taylor (one of the top point guards in the metro Atlanta area).

Whitefield is no stranger to talent either. Leading the way is junior guard Brandon Reed and junior center Collin Reddick. Reed will be one of the top scorers in Cobb County this year while Reddick is one of the top post defenders in the South. Keep an eye on Cameron Baskerville, an athletic 6-6 forward. He missed the season last year with a knee injury. This year will be his breakout season and tonight's match-up is incredibly intriguing. Reddick's twin brother, Charlie, is a versatile and valuable player to Tyrone Johnson's club.

Weds., Nov. 14 - South Atlanta at Redan (Scrimmage)

For our money, this is THE match-up of the preseason. South Atlanta boasts the top player in the state in Derrick Favors. Redan boasts one of the rising stars in the state in big man Kenny Hall. For those that love great big men battles, you might not find a better one than this one. The two juniors are ready for it. As Terrell Owens would say, "Get your popcorn ready."

Fri., Nov. 16 – Heirway Christian Academy at Dominion Christian

We love games like this because it is a chance to see some under the radar talent. Heirway Academy boasts 6-10 junior Levi Barnes, a shot-blocking machine at the small, private school level. We've wanted to see him in action for a while.

Sat., Nov. 17 – Parkview Tournament

The Parkview Holiday has been a staple on the Georgia Hoops calendar for the last six years. It is one of the best run events in the state and the homemade food in the hospitality room is second to none. The folks at Parkview know how to run an event!

This year's field comprises of Parkview, St. Pius, East Coweta, Decatur, Mill Creek, Riverdale, Sandy Creek and South Cobb.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

GA has major fingerprint on college game

J.J. Hickson (left) is now at NC State and Gani Lawal is at Georgia Tech.

The college basketball world knows about Georgia basketball. Just look at the rosters at the Division I level. All but three of the Division I conferences have a Georgia player within it. The Peach State has its fingerprint on the college game with 185 players currently on the roster at the D1 level.

Norcross, Wheeler lead the charge

It shouldn't come as a big surprise that Norcross and Wheeler have developed the most Division I talent of any school in the state. The two programs have combined for five of the last six AAAAA state championships.

Eddie Martin's program has sent eight players to the next level. Last year's class sent Gani Lawal to Georgia Tech, Tony Neysmith to Oklahoma and Jordan DeMercy to Florida State. The year before Jodie Meeks went to Kentucky and Brenton Butler is now at Fordham.

Others in Division I ball from Norcross include Daniel Emerson, who is sitting out a year at Mercer after two years at Western Kentucky. Archie Miaway went to junior college for two years before signing with Auburn. Bryan Bostic is helping Presbyterian make the transition to Division I this year.

Doug Lipscomb's Wheeler has been equally successful with seven players currently playing Division I basketball. Last year's team developed J.J. Hickson who is now a freshman at NC State, guard Adrian Williams went to Brown and Trey Lang, who is now at UMass.

J.T. Tiller and James Florence, graduates of the 2006 class, are now sophomores in college. Tiller is at Missouri and Florence is staring at Mercer.

Providence has enjoyed Sharaud Curry in it's starting lineup since he arrived at the Big East school. The same goes for Richmond and David Gonzalvez.

Rounding out the rest

Columbia, the AAAA powerhouse, is close behind with five players in Division I basketball at the moment. Georgia will lean on Jeremy Price while Georgia Tech is looking to Lance Storrs for perimeter help.

Amu Saaka is now at South Florida while Johntavious Rucker is at Georgia Southern while Jordan Lemons is now at Grambling.

Darron Rodgers has had plenty of success at Westlake. He has watched five players move on to the Division I level, too. Jerome Burney is a sophomore at Maryland. Antoine Johnson is a key member of the Georgia Southern attack.

Furman landed forward Bryson Barnes while Norris Arnold is at Alabama A&M and Patrick Hardy is at Savannah State.

Five schools each have four players currently in Division I basketball. They are: Chattahoochee, Stone Mountain, Tucker, Whitefield Academy and Wilkinson County.

Dunwoody, North Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge, Savannah, South Gwinnett, Stephenson and Woodland each have three playing in Division I ball.

A total of 127 Georgia high schools are represented in Division I basketball.

Where is the talent going?

There are 185 players from Georgia playing Division I basketball this year. Of those, 71 are in the low-major division, 66 are in the mid-major division and 48 are at the high-major division.


SEC – 20 players

ACC – 15

Big East – 5

Big 12, Pac-10 – 3

Big Ten – 2


Southern – 21 players

CAA – 11

Sun Belt – 10

Conference USA – 8

Atlantic 10 – 7

Mountain West – 3

Missouri Valley, Horizon – 2

Mid-American, WAC – 1


Atlantic Sun – 25 players

Southwestern – 14

Ohio Valley, Independents – 13

Big South – 10

Mid-Eastern – 6

Southland – 4

Metro Atlantic, Patriot – 3

Ivy – 2

America East, Big Sky, Summit – 1

Talk about this story on the Georgia Hoops Message Boards.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

SEBA Hoop Festival to tip off this year

One of the best events of the year (and certainly in the future) is the Southeastern Basketball Academy Hoop Festival on Dec. 22 at the Cobb Civic Center. The SEBA group is one of the best supporters of Georgia high school basketball and have an event worth spending a day at in December.

2007 Atlanta High School Hoop Festival

Presented by Southeast Basketball Academy (SEBA)

Official Event Schedule:

Date: Saturday - December 22, 2007

Location: Cobb County Civic Center

Game Time Visitor Team Home Team

Game # 1 1:45 p.m. Morgan County vs. Osborne

Game # 2 3:15 p.m. Blessed Trinity vs. Etowah

Game # 3 5:00 p.m. Central Gwinnett vs Walton

Game # 4 6:30 p.m. Shiloh vs. North Cobb

Game # 5 8:00 p.m. Cherokee vs. McEachern

Note: “Home” Team will wear white uniforms while the “Away“ teams will wear their dark uniforms.

Preseason power rankings - Big men

Georgia has been a factory of late when it comes to producing college ready big men. This year's field of post players is tremendous with a number of nationally-ranked prospects. In our final listing of the top players in the season, we break down the bigs in the final pre-season power rankings.
  1. JR Derrick Favors (pictured), South Atlanta – Meet the state's best player regardless of class and one of the top 10 talents in the nation regardless of class. The 6-9 big man is a throwback player with an ever-improving game at every facet. He's a quiet killer and the ultimate team player with zero ego or attitude. Coaches dream? No question. Favors is the toughest player to defend in the state and his presence on both ends of the floor is felt immediately after the jump ball.
  2. SR Al-Farouq Aminu, Norcross – The 6-8 big man can burn you inside, burn you outside, can shoot, can pass, can run the floor and can win state championships. His role is increased this year and gone are the three other Division I prospects that helped Norcross win it all last year. That being said, don't be surprised to see the Wake Forest bound forward put up huge numbers this season.
  3. SR Chris Singleton, Dunwoody – Like Aminu, Singleton has the ability to beat teams in the paint or on the wing. Over the summer, he showed off great ball-handling skills, an ever present threat from the wing and quick springs as a shot-blocker. Now at Dunwoody, he'll shine in the up-tempo style and anchors an already talented club at the forward position.
  4. SR Howard Thompkins, Wesleyan – Returning back to Georgia after a year's stint at Oak Hill Academy (Va.), the 6-foot-8 forward is looking for a AA state championship this season. Why not? He's one of the most versatile players at his position in the state. Thompkins can burn teams both inside and out and is a crafty rebounder with gusto.
  5. SR Delwan Graham, Dunwoody – When it comes to maximizing a game from start to finish, no one does a better job of that than this 6-6 warrior. His motor doesn't have an off switch nor does it ever overheat. He is on constant alert, attacks the basket with his strength and athleticism, out works and out hustles anyone that steps in front of him.
Talk about the power rankings on the Georgia Hoops message board. Be sure to vote on the poll on the right.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Preseason power rankings - Wings

In our continued pre-season power ranking polls, we break down the best wings in Georgia. The position is loaded with talent, size, athleticism and scorers. The list will certainly change throughout the season. That being said, here is the first crack at the position.

  1. Wesley Witherspoon (pictured), Berkmar, Sr. – The state's most versatile and dangerous player with the ball in his hands. The 6-8 wing has steadily improved each year at the varsity level and he enters the season with oozing confidence and he wants to go out with a bang. He is the most difficult player to defend in Atlanta because his ability to play all over the floor.
  2. Dequan Jones, Wheeler – There is a future pro inside of Jones. He's a big time athlete with great strength and an ever-improving perimeter game. Like Witherspoon, Jones is playing his best basketball at the moment and Wheeler's success will be determined on his leadership.
  3. Ari Stewart, Wheeler – In a year's time, the bouncy 6-7 athlete has gone from a key reserve to a top 20 national talent. After shining on the AAU circuit, the locals will want to see what all the fuss is about. His role is increased and playing alongside Jones, Stewart will have the freedom and flexibility to show off his inside-out game.
  4. Tony Mitchell, Swainsboro – Tucked away at the AA school, Mitchell may not get a lot of notoriety in the state like he would if he lives in the metro Atlanta area. But don't discount him. He's a star. Mitchell, an Alabama commit, is a fine shooter and a tremendous athlete. His Swainsboro team could be the state champs this year.
  5. Noel Johnson, Fayette County – Like Witherspoon, Johnson is one of the most versatile players in the state. The 6-7 wing will likely be amongst the top scorers, assist men, shooters and triple teamed players in the state. He could very well climb the charts this year.
Talk about the power rankings on the Georgia Hoops message board. Be sure to vote on the poll on the right.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Preseason power rankings - Shooting guards

If there is a thin position in Georgia, it is the shooting guard spot. That being said, some of the most exciting players in the state are counted amongst the two guards. In our continued unveiling of the top players in the state, we break down our top five shooting guards in Georgia. The power rankings will be updated as the season progresses as we see how the players perform.

  1. SOPH Trae Golden (pictured), McEachern, Soph. – Arguably the best pure scorer in the state and he's only in year two of his varsity experience. Scary. The Ohio State bound is nearly impossible on his way to the basket and he's steadily improving on the wing. Athletically, we will see more from the super competitive sophomore this season.
  2. SR Tanner Smith, Wesleyan, Sr. – Fundamentally sound, big and skilled at several positions. The 6-5 guard averaged 25 points a game and helped Wesleyan win 23 games last year. Fueled with fire to advance further, he and his teammates could be one of the true elite teams in AA this season.
  3. JR Brandon Reed, Whitefield Academy, Jr. – Get ready for a big year from the top guard in class A. With an opportunity to shine even further this year, Reed is primed to lead the Wolfpack in scoring and has the tools to put up major points this year.
  4. JR Glen Rice, Jr., Walton, Jr. – Like Smith, Rice is fundamentally sound, skilled and possesses a high basketball IQ. Watch him for a quarter and you may not be impressed. Watch him for a game and you'll see why he's one of the toughest players to defend in the state.
  5. SR Teondre Williams, Meadowcreek, Sr. – When it comes to freakish athleticism, there is no one better in the Southeast and maybe even nationally than Williams at his position. The reigns are in his hands this season and if he can show off improved skills as a true two guard, he'll jump up the list.
Talk about the power rankings on the Georgia Hoops message board. Be sure to vote on the poll on the right.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Preseason power rankings - Point guards

Who is the best point guard in the state? It is a debate worth discussing as the season is right around the corner. The Peach State has a handful of talented floor generals. We ranked the top five players at the position regardless of class. The power rankings will be updated as the season progresses and we see how the players perform.

  1. Mfon Udofia (pictured), Miller Grove, Jr. – Tough as a bull, quick as a jet and a fiery competitive spirit, Udofia is primed for a big season this year. He has improved his young team year in and year out. This year is his most important to date. Udofia has a lot of the same characteristics as Javaris Crittenton.
  2. Lorenzo Brown, Centennial, Jr. – After a dynamic second semester last year as a sophomore and a trip to the state title game, Brown is back for more this season. He's a little bigger, a little hungrier and a little more focused for this season. Brown starts the year at the top of our point guard power rankings. And the second player on the list is very close behind.
  3. Dustin Ware, North Cobb Christian, Sr. – You haven't seen him probably. And you are truly missing out. One of the best pure leaders in the Southeast, Ware is every bit the high-major player and a winner to boot. He may play in
  4. Andre Young, Deerfield-Windsor, Sr. – When it comes to winning big games and raising the level of play of his teammates, few do a better job at it than Young. He's one of the best players in the state that most Georgians haven't seen in person.
  5. Cashmere Wright, Urban Christian, Sr. – Need buckets? Wright is one of the elite scorers in the state. He'll average 40 points a game this year at the Savannah private school before heading off to Cincinnati.
Talk about the power rankings on the Georgia Hoops message board. Be sure to vote on the poll on the right.