Thursday, February 26, 2009
Breaking down the brackets: AA
I was surfing the web this week and stumbled across a good story on Rivals.com about Greater Atlanta Christian head coach Eddie Martin.
I wondered aloud, “Can Eddie Martin win a fourth straight state title?”
He’s won three in a row and after leaving Norcross, the Peach State veteran is looking for his first state title at Greater Atlanta Christian in his first year at the helm. Doing so is not out of the realm of possibility.
He has a talented senior Taylor Metzger, the lone senior on the team, the warrior in Trent Wiedeman, the consummate role player in Bo Herbert and the point guard in Paul Dawson. The parts of the puzzle are there to go the distance. The question is whether or not the young team has grown up enough under Martin’s keen coaching eye.
The Spartans will have challenges along the way. The biggest challenge resides off of Interstate 16 at Dublin High School. The Irish have the best team in AA and could meet up with Martin and GAC in the semi-finals of the state tournament.
That is one of the many gems of what should be a highly competitive AA state tournament this year.
MUST SEE GAME
Dublin vs. NE Macon - What a match-up in the first round! It could be argued that this is the best game outside of Atlanta in the first round this year. Dublin, the top team in class AA, will have it’s hands full with the men from Macon.
Sherrard Brantley is one of the top shooters in the state while Reshard Smith, a N.C. State football signee pictured above, is one of the quickest players in the Peach State with the ball in his hands. Junior big man Tawaski King rules the paint with authority and the Irish have the advantage of playing at home for the first two rounds of the state. There are few better home court advantages better than Dublin’s.
Northeast Macon won’t be intimidated though. The Raiders have size, experience, a resume of close and hard fought battles from a rigorous regular season.
Dublin may be too much to handle on it’s home court. This game will be a fun one.
TOP 5 PLAYERS IN AA TOURNEY
Jimmy Bacon, SF, Long County – If you’ve read Georgia Hoops at all for the last three years, you know of my appreciation for the athletic 6-6 forward. He’s a do-everything stud that wants a taste of the Final Four. He’s the leading candidate for AA Player of the Year and a trip to Macon will solidify that position. Bacon is quite simply the toughest player to guard in this division.
Matthew Brabham, PG/SG, Central Macon – It seems like the 6-foot junior has been around forever. He’s been the top scorer in Macon for two straight years and he is entering the state playoffs ready for anything. Brabham dropped 40 points in the region 4 tournament last week and will be tested by an always-tough East Laurens team right out of the gate. Brabham has generally always shined in these types of games.
Sherrard Brantley, SG, Dublin – Try and find a better shooter in the tournament than the 6-2 guard. He can flat out bury the three-ball with ease. The Irish have ridden his hot hand this season and are ready for the battle that will face them over the next two and a half weeks. Brantley is a hot target for a number of low-major programs looking for a perimeter threat. Outside of playing for a title, he’s playing for a free education as a number of eyes watch him in the final weeks of his high school career.
Trent Wiedeman, PF, Greater Atlanta Christian – Behind every good Eddie Martin team is a good power forward. And Wiedeman is about as good as it gets in AA. He’s big, he’s strong, he rebounds, he can score inside and out and he can flat out pass. As Wiedeman goes, GAC goes. It’s as simple as that.
Wendell Williams, PG/SG, Appling County – The Region 2-AA Player of the Year has speed, strength and a knack for scoring the ball. The long time varsity star has performed at a high level in tough road games but always gets the job done when it matters. He and his teammates will have challenges in their section of the state bracket and his experience could be the difference maker.
YOUNGSTERS TO WATCH
Willie Clayton & Robert Carter, PFs, Thomasville – The dynamic duo of Clayton and Carter have played big roles for Bulldogs this season. Both stand in the 6-6 neighborhood Both work well on the glass. Both are solid athletes. Both only know winning. Clayton’s role is a little bigger at this stage of the game and he should have a productive run in the tournament.
Quan Bray, PG & LaMichael Fanning, C, Callaway – The sophomores are popular names on the football side of things but the duo are also good-looking basketball players. Bray, a speedy 5-11 guard, and Fanning, a mammoth 6-7 forward, are fire and ice. Bray can score by attacking the rim and defending well on the ball. Fanning is an immovable force in the low post.
Paul Dawson, PG, Greater Atlanta Christian – When the speedy point guard was out earlier in the season with a hand injury, GAC suffered one of it’s three losses of the year. Since he’s been back, the Norcross private school is flat out rolling. Dawson glues the team together perfectly and is poised for a deep run in the state playoffs.
Brandon Garrett, SF, East Jackson – The 6-3 wing is an athletic scorer that has helped put East Jackson on the basketball map. He has been his team’s top scorer for two straight seasons and can rebound well from his position. The pieces are starting to come together for the sophomore.
Top No. 1 seed: Dublin
Top No. 2 seed: Blessed Trinity
Top No. 3 seed: Long County
Top No. 4 seed: Northeast Macon
FIRST ROUND PREDICTIONS
Thomasville over Charlton County
Greene County over Screven County
McIntosh Academy over Cook
Swainsboro over Henry County
Riverside Military over Pepperell
Blessed Trinity over Jordan
Dade County over Union County
Callaway over Westminster
Dublin over Northeast Macon
Long County over Early County
Central Macon over East Laurens
Appling County over Mitchell County
Greater Atlanta Christian over Crawford County
Chattooga over Dawson County
Manchester over Decatur
East Jackson over Coosa
FINAL FOUR PICKS
Thomasville vs. Blessed Trinity
Dublin vs. GAC
Dublin over Thomasville
at 9:16 PM