BEST FIRST ROUND MATCHUP: Windsor Forest vs. Upson Lee
Upson Lee is certainly no stranger to making runs in state tournaments, and Windsor Forest is one of the best up and coming teams from down on the coast. Upson Lee is led by Region 2-AAA POY Milique Smith, athletic and explosive scoring wing. He and his teammates will have their hands full with Windsor Forest’s dynamic duo of Shamar Norman, the Region 3 POY, and forward D’Ante Bass.
BEST PLAYER MATCHUP: Shone Webb vs. Mitchell Taylor
This should be a really fun guard matchup between Hart County’s Webb and Carver’s Taylor. Both of these guards are really good off the bounce and are the engines that make their teams go. Hart County senior guard Webb, Region 8-AAA Co-POY and Emmanuel commit, does a little of everything for the Bulldogs and has had an exceptional career. Taylor is an up-and-comer and should be a solid stock riser over the next few months in Georgia’s 2022 class.
BEST LOOK-AHEAD GAME: Cedar Shoals vs. Stephenson
Cedar Shoals has become the program to watch in Athens over the past few years, consistently having great seasons and collecting hardware. They are led by Kashik Brown, the Region 8-AAAA POY, who is playing as well as anyone in AAAA right now. Stephenson is a tough, athletic team led by Edwin Walker and Jaylen Peterson. This one would be an absolute battle as both teams are loaded with toughness.
BIGGEST STORYLINE: Can Anyone Stop Sandy Creek?
Last year, we had the de-facto AAAA state championship in the quarterfinals between Woodward Academy and Sandy Creek. The Patriots came up short in that one, so they will be even hungrier this year, now in AAA. Five-star forward and Auburn signee Jabari Smith(pictured) is the most difficult player in the state to match up with and prepare for, bringing every quality to the table. Add in a guard like Washington State signee Myles Rice and a hard-nosed forward like Deshon Proctor and you definitely have your favorite to win in AAA.
SLEEPER TEAM TO MAKE A RUN: New Hampstead
I know, it’s hard to call a one seed a sleeper. However, people may not be familiar with the Phoenix as a newer program down on the coast. They took home the Region 3-AAAA title and are led by DeAndre Smart, who has proven that he can hold his own against Georgia’s best. With Smart’s toughness making an echo throughout the team, they can surely make a run in AAAA.
MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A NAME: Antonie Lorick
Cross Creek was the state runner-up last year and the Razorbacks look prime to make another run in this year’s tournament with some fresh faces. While they are more reliant on their seniors, the sophomore wing/forward Lorick has really caught our staff’s attention this year. His athleticism is off the charts and he plays his role really well, scoring at the rim and hitting the glass. He’s a name to look for in Augusta in 2023 and this could be a stage to advance his name.