GHSA Basketball Preview: Everything You Need To Know
Another high school basketball season is here! This week marks the start for a lot of teams across the Peach State, and we will take a look at everything Georgia hoops:
Who are the Contenders in 7A?
You have to start with the reigning state champions. Georgia commit Mari Jordan moves back to Georgia after a stint at Legacy Early College (SC), and he will be one of the primary scoring options for the Blue Devils. He will be joined in the backcourt by Mier Panoam, one of the state's most athletic players, and Bilal Abdur-Rahman, who comes in from WD Mohammed. Michael Zhang & Samarion Bond will provide a key veteran presence & 2024 guard Toby Ojukwu will be a new name to keep track of.
In a lot of eyes, the Wildcats will be the favorites, with consensus number one player in America Isaiah Collier at the point. He does it all from the lead guard spot and has a lot of pieces surrounding him this season. USC commit Arrinten Page is one of the state's best bigs and Iowa State commit Jelani Hamilton provides an extra playmaker in the backcourt. 2024 big man Josh Hill has garnered some big attention with his size and motor. Ricky McKenzie, DJ Mitchell, & Julian Ormond should be productive on the wing and in the backcourt for the Wildcats as well.
The Indians might have the most young talent in the state, but they're certainly a contender. Junior forward Ace Bailey is one of the state's best players regardless of class, as is sophomore forward JD Palm. Together, they will be one of, if not the, state's best frontcourts. Moses Hipps & JaMichael Davis provide new faces in the Indians backcourt and Rhys Cotton is a great underclass point guard as well, and senior forward Jalen Hilliard is an athletic, high motor guy that will help win games.
UConn commit Stephon Castle will lead the Rams again this season with his backcourt mate Indiana commit Jakai Newton. They have long been one of the state's best backcourt duos and this season will be no different. Marcus Whitlock is one of the state's best available guards, junior guard/wing Jabez Jenkins had a stock rising travel season, and senior Ashton Pennamon should play a big role on this team.
The Rams should have the players on the perimeter and the interior to challenge this season. Junior guard Gicarri Harris has taken a huge step forward this travel season and is wired to score and could put up some big numbers this season. The frontcourt consists of Alabama A&M commit Chad Moodie and super skilled sophomore Amir Taylor. Newcomers CJ Hyland and Anthony Alston should provide some much needed playmaking in the backcourt as well.
Best of the Rest
Pebblebrook is always going to be a contender with their hard-nosed style and toughness. Dayton commit Jaiun Simon is one of the state's best players and Jase McCullough could be a breakout guy in his senior year, and Prince Johnson & Cameron Smith should be key additions as well.
Osborne could be a solid sleeper led by sophomore Akai Fleming, one of the best young playmakers in the state. He's joined by Nehemiah Stowers, Justin McCarter, and Keyshawn McPherson and this group always plays hard and makes things tough on opponents.
Berkmar has reloaded as well with the additions of Roc Lee and Eddie Cooke III in the backcourt as well as Mekhi Ragland and Tyson Jones to add some good size in the frontcourt.
6A is a Competitive Classification
Grovetown took home the 6A title last season, and should be the favorites to do so again this year led by junior Derrion Reid, one of the state's most versatile players, Georgia State commit Malik Ferguson and Winthrop commit Frankquon Sherman.
Alexander will be tough yet again this season led by Chattanooga commit Noah Melson, junior wing Braeden Lue, and senior guard Marvin McGhee. They play a hard-nosed style that is always difficult to beat.
Etowah has dropped down to 6A and can beat anyone on any given night with their ability to shoot the ball. They are led by Virginia Tech commit Brandon Rechsteiner running the point and senior guards Mason Etter and Chase Clemmons. They should be in the conversation when it's said and done.
Shiloh always finds a way to have tough, talented teams and they should never be taken lightly either. Sophomore wing Tylis Jordan could be due for a huge breakout season.
Is Kell the Favorite in 5A?
We've seen Kell a lot this fall and they have been incredibly impressive. Junior center Peyton Marshall is the most unique player in the state with his size and skill level and has talent all around him. CJ Brown leads a very good backcourt that can do it all. The wings are athletic with Parrish Johnson Jr. and Aaron Smith, and the Longhorns go deep with guys like Jaylen Colon, Connor Staphylaris, and Cannon Richards providing production.
They'll be challenged by a few teams. Eagles Landing will be good yet again this season, led by Mercer commit David Thomas as well as some talented backcourt players like Chris Morris. Hiram has a scrappy bunch that can really get after it with guards like Lincoln Memorial commit Jay Boyd and senior point guard Amir Taylor. Tri-Cities is always going to be a threat with their hard-playing style, led by Presbyterian commit Kory Mincy.
Don't Sleep On 4A
The 4A Classification has a very different look with new teams, but it has some talented teams this season. A lot of eyes will be on Pace Academy as Sharman White aims for another state title. While the Knights lost Bryson Tiller to Overtime Elite, they still have plenty of talent with their backcourt of KJ Greene and Eric Chatfield as well as LJ Moore on the wing.
McDonough has been a challenger the past couple of seasons and that will remain the case this season, led by senior PG Da'Avion Thomas along with his backcourt mate Amon McDowell and forward Avante Nichols. Holy Innocents also has a talented young group led by sophomore forward Caleb Wilson and junior guard Will Hopkins.
The Best of the Rest
The AAA Classification looks the most like a two horse race between reigning back-to-back state champions Cross Creek, led by forward Antoine Lorick, and Sandy Creek, who has a talented group led by junior forward Micah Smith and guard Vic Newsom and Amari Brown.
Spencer won the 4A state title last year and now find themselves in 2A as the likely favorite. Tycen McDaniels, Tony Montgomery, TJ Cochran, and Vasean Moody are a talented group that can compete with anyone in the state. They will be joined in the conversation by Westside Augusta, Columbia, Drew Charter and Thomson.
1A is now split into Division I and Division II. King's Ridge should be one of Division I's favorites after making the state championship last season. Isaac Martin, Micah Hoover, and William Jobe lead a group that executes extremely well and can shoot the lights out. Mount Vernon has the talent to give them a run led by Keith Williams, Dennis Scott III, and Xavier Shegog.
Division II should be led by last season's state champions Greenforest and their dueling 7-footers in Mississippi State commit Gai Chol and Georgia State commit DK Manyiel.
Mr. Georgia Basketball
Wheeler senior PG Isaiah Collier and Newton senior CG Stephon Castle have to be the favorites for this award, and it could come down to if either one wins the state title.
Could anyone steal the show? Its certainly possible. Etowah PG Brandon Rechsteiner can put up huge numbers and Mari Jordan could score the ball at a high level this season at Norcross. There are plenty of talented non-seniors that could also do it as well like Ace Bailey and Derrion Reid, but the last time a non-senior won this award was a guy named Shareef Abdur-Rahim in 1994.