Is Georgia a basketball state? For players, yes

We got rankings – Columbia’s boys are No. 1. Milton kept its No. 1 spot despite losing. Redan’s girls keep winning. …

But here’s the issue of today. Is Georgia a basketball state?

From a player standpoint, there’s little question. Look at the NBA – Dwight Howard (SW Atlanta Christian), Louis Williams (South Gwinnett), Josh Smith (McEachern). There are a dozen active NBA players who played high school in Georgia. Derrick Favors, a freshman at Georgia Tech from South Atlanta High, will be another first-round draft pick from Georgia.

But what about from a fan standpoint?

There were games in Marietta last weekend at Wheeler (vs. Milton) and at Walton (vs. Wheeler) where the gyms were closed at least 20 minutes for the boys’ tipoff and fans were turned away. Norcross drew good crowds for an event last week that drew out-of-state teams.

But these are high school gyms. They don’t hold that many people.

Milton coach David Boyd wonders why some of the top match-ups can’t be played in big arenas and attract thousands of fans. Milton played earlier this month in Springfield, Mo., for a three-day tournament that attracted the kind of crowds that are seen in Georgia only for the state semifinals and finals.

“It’s a shame that people don’t realize just how good basketball is in this state because people in Missouri certainly do,’’ Boyd said. “They had 7,000, 8,000 and 9,000 people [each successive round] for that tournament just to watch high school teams. I realize this is a football state, but I don’t realize why it can’t be a football and a basketball state.’’

Boyd’s comments weren’t meant as criticism. In Boyd’s mind, people just don’t know what they’re missing. Sitting in Wheeler’s gym for the Wheeler-Milton game Friday, I wondered if Boyd wasn’t right.

Is it lack of marketing or vision? Is the media to blame? Is there a market in Atlanta for the kind of tournament that Missouri has? Or is it just lack of interest? Is this a football state?

Just fyi, here is the number of NBA players who have come into the league since 2000 from each state. (Not all are still active.)

Georgia rates pretty highly in the South:

Alabama: 7
Arkansas: 4
Florida: 23
Georgia: 22
Kentucky: 5
Louisiana: 15
Mississippi: 11
North Carolina: 19
South Carolina: 3
Tennessee: 11
Virginia: 19*

*All but two are from prep schools and academies such as Oak Hill and Hargrave Military.

Other states of note:

California: 62
Illinois: 38
Indiana: 12
Maryland: 22
Michigan: 27
Missouri: 9
New York: 26
Ohio: 20
Pennsylvania: 22
Texas: 43

Now for this week’s high school rankings. Don’t hesitate to opine on these, too.



1. Milton
2. Westlake
3. Centennial
4. Wheeler
5. Norcross
6. Walton
7. Meadowcreek
8. McEachern
9. Central Gwinnett
10. Groves

Class AAAA

1. Rockdale County
2. Tucker
3. Miller Grove
4. Chamblee
5. Richmond Academy
6. Fayette County
7. Hillgrove
8. Bainbridge
9. North Clayton
10. Lithia Springs

Class AAA

1. Columbia
2. Monroe
3. LaGrange
4. Elbert County
5. South Atlanta
6. Dunwoody
7. Westover
8. Liberty County
9. Washington County
10. Hart County

Class AA

1. Greater Atlanta Christian
2. Northeast-Macon
3. Laney
4. Dublin
5. Blessed Trinity
6. Thomasville
7. Decatur
8. Swainsboro
9. Dade County
10 Jefferson

Class A

1. Whitefield Academy
2. Wilkinson County
3. Wesleyan
4. Claxton
5. Wilcox County
6. Lanier County
7. Terrell County
8. Pace Academy
9. Greenville
10. Gordon Lee



1. Redan
2. Parkview
3. Norcross
4. Mill Creek
5. McEachern
6. Westlake
7. Douglass
8. Bradwell Institute
9. Campbell
10. Stephenson

Class AAAA

1. Fayette County
2. Rome
3. Southwest DeKalb
4. Northwest Whitfield
5. Bainbridge
6. Statesboro
7. Mays
8. Osborne
9. Forest Park
10. Douglas County

Class AAA

1. Kendrick
2. Washington County
3. Carver-Atlanta
4. Columbia
5. Chestatee
6. Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe
7. Westover
8. Spalding
9. Rutland
10. Pickens

Class AA

1. Buford
2. Laney
3. Rabun County
4. Vidalia
5. Greater Atlanta Christian
6. Northeast-Macon
7. Lovett
8. Henry County
9. Fannin County
10. Dodge County

Class A

1. Wesleyan
2. Randolph-Clay
3. Calvary Day
4. Taylor County
5. Paideia
6. Gordon Lee
7. Southwest Atlanta Christian
8. Holy Innocents’
9. Savannah Christian
10. Emanuel County Institute

49 comments Add your comment


January 24th, 2010
8:11 pm

The problem is that for virtually every article you go to David Boyd, who is an ego-maniacal media hawk.

Ask other coaches. Do better reporting. That’s your job, no?


January 24th, 2010
8:16 pm

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, you had a typo in your story over the weekend when you said that Milton hasn’t beaten Wheeler since ‘94.

Actually, Milton beat Wheeler on February 12, 1997 in the Sub-Region Tournament to end #1 Wheeler’s season behind two free throws by Milton’s Greg Rosinski. Wheeler featured Antwaun Dixon (Florida State) and soon-to-be member of Wheeler’s Basketball Hall of Fame, DA Layne (Georgia).

Again, facts and reporting, Todd.

I know you can do it, but you’re being very lazy.

BBall fan

January 24th, 2010
8:30 pm

Lets see you lose to the Number 4 rank team in the state Wheeler but you keep your Number 1 ranking? This is almost as bad as the BCS system. Milton is a great team but when games are played on the court they should count for something head to head. Westlake should be number 1, the young mean deserve that ranking.

BBall fan

January 24th, 2010
8:31 pm

sorry “young men”

Max Sizemore

January 24th, 2010
8:42 pm

Todd, you do a great job. But why no records? I know it’s a lot of work, but you’re a really organized guy, and I must say I’m surprised.


January 24th, 2010
8:52 pm

Westlake #1? How? They lost to Morrow!

Also, you say that Norcross had good crowds at their event this weekend, so you were there? If so you saw Centennial stink up the gym but they keep a #3 ranking?

This is pathetic.

Todd Holcomb

January 24th, 2010
9:53 pm

“Todd, you do a great job. But why no records? I know it’s a lot of work, but you’re a really organized guy, and I must say I’m surprised.”

We’d prefer to have records, but it would be almost impossible not to have errors. There’s no 100 percent reliable source with all the scores. Something to consider, though.

” … you say that Norcross had good crowds at their event this weekend, so you were there? If so you saw Centennial stink up the gym but they keep a #3 ranking?”

The games against in-state teams count more to me. Centennial beat Wheeler, and Wheeler also lost to Campbell. Do I think Centennial is better than Wheeler right now? No, but looking at the in-state games objectively, I think Centennial should be ranked higher.

“Lets see you lose to the Number 4 rank team in the state Wheeler but you keep your Number 1 ranking? This is almost as bad as the BCS system. Milton is a great team but when games are played on the court they should count for something head to head. Westlake should be number 1, the young mean deserve that ranking.”

I agree w/ Crazy 8 on this one. Westlake lost to Morrow. This is not the time to claim the No. 1 ranking after Milton merely lost to Wheeler on the road.


January 24th, 2010
11:08 pm

Todd, you wonder why basketball is not as big in GA? Its the AJC. The state is loaded with blue chips and nationally ranked teams and not a word in the AJC until not only the high school football playoffs are over, but also until the SEC is completely done. Even then, after all football is over compare the “morning after” coverage for basketball night vs. football night. not even close. Heck, football recruiting news and speculation overshadows HS basketball during basketball season. I know one of the problems is logistical. It is hard to pull together all of the scores, much less game narratives, from all over metro ATL – but it happens somehow for football. Also, it would help to follow AAU bball during the summer. Some of the best teams in the country are from here. I think you could use a little support from the AJC. I will volunteer to cover Milton for you. Now for the other 50 schools….


January 24th, 2010
11:16 pm

Hey Todd. I appreciate your hard work and coverage of high school sports. However, I did want to point out to you that they do play basketball in the southern 2/3 of this state. In other words, south of Atlanta. There are three teams just from Region 1-AAAAA that should be ranked in the state’s top ten…Coffee (13-2), Valdosta (15-2), and Tift County (16-2). Some of those great athletes that help the south Georgia teams dominate in football are also excellent basketball players.

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Santos Langer

January 25th, 2010
12:19 am

Agreed by what was stated above. The AJC does a very poor job with their high school basketball coverage. It seems to be nothing but an afterthought for you guys; which is sad. You’re missing the boat. It seems to get worse and worse every year….

While the basketball product is excellent here in Georgia, it will never be as “big” as it is in other hoops hotbed cities like New York/Jersey Metro, Chitown, Washington DC, etc or the rural places like Indiana, Kentucky, etc. because it is not a basketball “culture” here. A large portion of the sports population lives the game in those places; certainly not the case here.


January 25th, 2010
12:30 am

Man when I was in Highschool 01′-05′ Basketball was just as big as football. Might of helped that I went to Norcross. I hate that I moved to Tampa after I graduated cause there are a lot of good basketball players in Georgia expecially the metro Atlanta area. Also you forgot to mention Jodie Meeks! He’s going to be a good NBA player in a few years.


January 25th, 2010
12:38 am

I would have to agree that basket ball coverage at the AJC is woefully inadequate, I understand it is a budget issue, but even when was times were great this was still the issue.


January 25th, 2010
12:52 am

Good to see the girls of Douglass finally broke into the top 10. That was a close game with Redan on Friday. Now if only our boys can get back to winning. As far as Georgia being a basketball state. It’ll never happen. Football is too strong in this state. Too much money to be made on football, not enough to be made on basketball. Money Talks, you can finish the rest of that statement. Basketball in the city used to be so big with games between Douglass and Mays selling out Morehouse’s 6,000 seat Forbes arena. That’s when teams were either good or bad, it didn’t matter, but the arena was packed! Crowd control became an issue, so now those games are played at 2PM on Saturday afternoon and nobody goes the games anymore.


January 25th, 2010
1:05 am

Everyone knows that Basketball is just something to do to kill time between FOOTBALL seasons.


January 25th, 2010
5:20 am

Anyone care that a lot of these players that pump up these schools rankings are now cherry picked (recruited) from other areas of the city to play for these schools? How did the northern suburbs of Atlanta all of a sudden becoming loaded with schools that are basketball powerhouses?


January 25th, 2010
7:15 am

Northwest Whitfield girls still undefeated in region play!! They’ve won 15 straight!! GO BRUINS!!!

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January 25th, 2010
8:10 am

Bulldog20: Those teams do have “pretty records” against that inferior competition. When the playoff starts, teams from Region 2-3-4 will take care of those teams from Region 1-AAAAA like they always do. Teams from Region 5-8 hold their own in football better than teams in Region 1 do in basketball. Sorry, bud.

Todd Holcomb

January 25th, 2010
9:08 am

“Hey Todd. I appreciate your hard work and coverage of high school sports. However, I did want to point out to you that they do play basketball in the southern 2/3 of this state. In other words, south of Atlanta. There are three teams just from Region 1-AAAAA that should be ranked in the state’s top ten…Coffee (13-2), Valdosta (15-2), and Tift County (16-2).”

Miltonmania: Thanks for the offer to cover Milton, although I’ve been accused here of covering Milton and Boyd too much already, that I need to move on to some other school. I’m curious to hear if fans believe more basketball coverage is warranted. Just understand that as a reporter and blogger, it’s not my place to comment or respond on those issues because I don’t make those decisions.

Bulldog20: I respect your opinion, and I’m sure you’ve seen those teams play, and I haven’t. But do you really feel that all three are Top 10 teams? I don’t believe the history is there with that region in the state tournament recently to justify more than one being ranked, or even one team being ranked higher than 8-10. I think most coaches and fans would agree. But time will tell.

“Anyone care that a lot of these players that pump up these schools rankings are now cherry picked (recruited) from other areas of the city to play for these schools? How did the northern suburbs of Atlanta all of a sudden becoming loaded with schools that are basketball powerhouses?”

That’s another topic, and yes, people are interested in it. I wonder if that’s an issue in the sport’s popularity. Are some of these super teams not enjoyable because they are not homegrown? For me, I wish that when watching Milton & Wheeler that all 10 players on the court were from Alpharetta and Marietta. But that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying the spectacle of all that talent on display in one gym.


January 25th, 2010
10:06 am

Pants on the ground pants on the ground

Decatur 4 Life

January 25th, 2010
11:32 am


“Some of those great athletes that help the south Georgia teams dominate in football are also excellent basketball players.”

South GA teams dominates in football, huh? Camden is the only team that dominates football and it seems to me that they ran through their 1AAAAA opponents as well.

Eagle 1

January 25th, 2010
11:39 am

Columbia Eagles!!!!!!!!!


January 25th, 2010
2:38 pm

No one’s talking about the #1 AAAA ranked team (Rockdale County HS)! No complaints, we love it!


January 25th, 2010
4:35 pm

If you’re against athletic transfers then you have to be against academic transfers seeing as that would be fair. What happens with players changing schools in the metro area is no different then what happens everywhere else in the country (public and private schools). If a player thinks that by transferring to play for a better program or coach that they will earn a better oppurtunity at free college and a better career who is anyone to say they shouldn’t go for it? I transferred high schools for academic programs and I’ll say I benefitted from it. The athletes should be allowed the same oppurtunities as long as they follow the state guidelines in doing so- being which they must legally live or move into the district of the school they transfer to.

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

January 25th, 2010
6:17 pm

“I’m just curious to hear if fans believe more coverage is warranted?” Todd: OF COURSE more AJC coverage of basketball is warranted! As another poster stated earlier, the AJC is so football-heavy in its prep sports coverage because football brings home the bacon, more so than any other sport in these parts, but the prep-basketball scene in Georgia, especially in Metro Atlanta, is on the rise (as Georgia has the seventh-highest number of players in the NBA overall and the second-highest in the South!) and shouldn’t be taken for granted at the expense of a tunnel-vision like singular focus on football. While GA b-ball will never quite overtake football in popularity and revenue production, Georgia has an excellent up-and-coming basketball product that should be on display to the rest of the world, especially during the months when football is out of season.

“Are some of these super teams not enjoyable because they are homegrown?”
Todd: of course the super teams are not any less enjoyable because they are not homegrown (except for the actual homegrown teams enjoying little success that have to face them, they may have a different opinion on that issue). Metro Atlanta has over the last 20 years evolved into an international city of an exceptionally transient nature where probably at least two out of every three Metro Atlantans you may meet were born and or grew up somewhere else, a transiency that is reflected in some of the area’s prep b-ball stars of recent memory Walton star guard Ryan Harrow grew up in North Carolina, and thus, elected to play college ball at NC State while Collins Hill girls prep hoops megastar Maya Moore spent a large amount of her formative years of her childhood in the northeast and as a result went to UConn.


January 26th, 2010
7:37 am

Last week the Newton Boys were ranked in the AJC top 10. They don’t lose any games in the past 2 weeks and they drop out while others lose and stay in. It just sound like a little favoritism is going on. May the state GHSA poll shows a better picture of a true statewide poll.

Devil Lover

January 26th, 2010
7:38 am

Hey Todd….I am back!!

While some may say that Norcross is in a “building year” however after winning their last 11 games including beating 5 out of state teams with 4 on the road tell me they are ready to challenge Metro Atlanta’s top teams…Wilton, Wheeler and Centennial for the big prize.

Tonight’s game will tell us a lot about the devil development this year. After losing to Peachtree Ridge on their court because of some disciplinary reasons that required not playing some key player, Norcross received their worst lost in at least 10 yrs. However tonight the devils has an opportunity to revenge that lost. Based on their comeback win Saturday against a good team who was 4th in NYC public schools, Norcross’ has the players to upset some of Atl metro’s up teams.

Devil Lover

January 26th, 2010
7:55 am

….also Todd, follow the coach’s poll lead this week and move Norcross up to No. 2. in the state.

Aren’t you glad that “Devil Lover” is back?


January 26th, 2010
8:06 am

turner county girl’s should be rank ,show south georgia some love,got one of the best freshman in the state 6′2 antonia graddic, a beast


January 26th, 2010
12:51 pm

I hear Wilkinson County got another hardship transfer (Ha Ha Ha) in yesterday. Just so happens to be Dublin High School main stud in basketball. Someone tell Jeter we are not DUMB!!!!!!


January 26th, 2010
3:31 pm

Todd: At least last week’s games gave you your answer to your January 17th question, “What’s up with Wheeler?” The Wildcats are obviously just fine. ;-)


January 26th, 2010
9:29 pm

Devil Lover

Just watched Norcross v. P’Ridge and needless to say, I wasn’t very impressed. They seem to be a team that turns it on when they want to- which wasn’t until the last 5 minutes of the game. Region 6 is going to Kill Region 7 in the first round of playoffs if the best Region 7 could offer was tonight’s game.Peachtree Ridge is down from last year, Norcross has the talent to beat a Region 6 team (not Milton though), but as Wheeler learned twice earlier this season- if you don’t give 100% on a given night against whichever 4 teams come out of region 6- you will get beat no matter who is on your team or what your program is. If Wheeler and Norcross had played this past weekend Wheeler would’ve won by 15 and I’m not being biased, it’s just the way things are this year. If Norcross doesn’t win it’s 1st state tourney game, then I doubt anybody will for Region 7.

Devil Lover

January 26th, 2010
10:02 pm

e/w i appreciate your point of view even though I didn’t ask for it. Since you are a wheeler fan I am surprise that you would even open your mouth after Campbell beat Wheeler. And centennial continue to be beaten. While Milton is probably the beat eam in the state right now, as you probably know Milton only beat an average Norcross team by 4 pts.

e/w you have a very bad memory. Norcross who is the program to have won 3 state championship won the last champion by beating an excellent wheeler team by what most called an better than average Norcross team.

So while Norcross is in a rebuilding year they just keep winning. So keep coming to our games and maybe you will see the cha

Devil Lover

January 26th, 2010
10:14 pm

Hey e/w. Thanks for your observations evern though I didn”t ask for them. And since you are a wheeler fan, I am really surprised that you would even make a comment after Campbell beat wheeler this past week. Normally loser don’t even talk for seversl weeks which is sort of a understood rule.

And e/w you have a very bad memory. Norcross is the only 5A program that has been able to win three state championships in a row. And in their last championship, a great wheeler team got beat by what you guys were saying was an average team all year at best. So even though this is a rebuilding year for Norcross we just keep winning. And remember the best team by your evaluation does not alway win.


January 26th, 2010
11:53 pm

Campbell would’ve manhandled Norcross the way Norcross played tonight. I hope for your sake that they do show improvement. And as for that average Norcross team? Al-farouq Aminu + the only loss that year coming to oak hill= Great team. Wheeler’s talent across the board that year wasn’t that far ahead of Norcross seeing as Norcross had the Lamb brothers + an underrated AJ Hawkins, Denzail Jones, and Taariq Muhammed-who would be playing D1 if his grades hadn’t stunk (funny how those Centennial kids have problems with Getting eligible for D1 ball).


January 27th, 2010
12:01 am

And you have a bad memory as well- who won more this decade in every way- that would be Wheeler. Wheeler is also different now then the team that lost to Campbell. You know beating Milton is considered pretty good this year and beating Walton at Walton by 18 (with Harrow) is something that hasn’t been done in two years. Norcross isn’t nearly as strong on D as they were in the Eddie Martin years and you can quote all the stats you want… video doesn’t lie. Region 7 is weak this year and Norcross is just padding stats.

Devil Lover

January 27th, 2010
6:54 am

Hey e/w. You must have left the game early. It is not often when a team can beat a good rival by 17 pts especially a rebuilding team who does not have one returning starter from last yr or a true starting center. So don’t you think after all Norcross did a good job revening their earlier lost to Llons?

Devil Lover

January 27th, 2010
7:41 am

Enter your comments here

Devil Lover

January 27th, 2010
7:46 am

Hey Todd. Why is there such a gap between the coaches ranking of Norcross(who sees the teams play day in and day out) to AJC’s I mean your’s? The coach’s ranking is 2nd while AJC’s is 5th.


January 27th, 2010
12:05 pm

Jack Yates out of Houston, TX will kill any team team in the metro or state. People look at TX as a football state but the basketball being played there is the best in the country.


January 27th, 2010
1:30 pm

If by left early I tuned out with 3 minutes to go and Norcross up 10 then yes. Everybody except Milton and Westlake is rebuilding this year so I don’t see much validity in that argument. Wan’t Norcross rebuilding las year also? Could it be that Mcmillan is slowly coaching the Norcross program into a decline, I think so. Peachtree Ridge has no business even being close to Norcross in a game the only player on that team that is D1 is CJ Blackwell. Norcross on the other hand has Lamb and another handful of D1’s. Not great D1 prospects, but D1 prospects no less. The talent is still at Norcross, but is the coaching?

G-Dub I agree that Yates would scorch anybody in this state.

Eagle 1

January 27th, 2010
3:11 pm

Hey guys i saw first hand of the raft Yates will unleash on a team.
One thing i can say is Columbia held them to 88 points. Columbia is 1 of four teams this year to hold them way under 100 pts. Jan 21 2009 in Iolani Classic in Hawaii 88-66. Columbia played with them up until 4th gtr when Yates scored 15 straight pts. Once they get up on a team its a wrap!!! So give it up to the only Ga team to face Yates and represent for Ga basketball. Thats why Columbia should beat anyone in the state after playing Yates(88-66) and Oak Hill Academy(56-63) tough!!
Google Jack Yates in Texas and see about this team…no one in the Country will beat those guys!!!
Remember Columbia is a AAA school!!!

Devil Lover

January 28th, 2010
6:26 am

Where is everyone? Todd do you still work for AJC? Is AJC still following Atlanta High School basketball? Why does AJC make it so hard to find the basketball discussions? We are considered one of the best high school markets for basketball yet AJC still doesn’t feel it necessary to provide adequate coverage one month before the end of the season.

Mr. Dees

January 28th, 2010
8:28 am

I agree with you Devil Lover the City Schools get no press from AJC. It’s a shame we have great basketball players girls and boys. Like did anybody know that Jelan Kendricks, Khaalidah Miller, Jeshon Cobb, Diaman Swainn Four of the Top Players in Georgia come out of Ben Hill Rec. Center and Played on the Same Basketball team. Other top Players come out of Ben Hill Marcus Thorton , Newberry both out of Westlake and Von Von Williams at North Clayton all Out of Ben Hill Rec. We are so Proud of them . Job Well Done Coaches at Ben Hill . And Thanks Mr. Walker Director over Ben Hill Rec. Center.


January 29th, 2010
10:09 pm

i have noticed that this year has much less press on highschool basketball. it seems that last year there were full up-to-date blogs. this year i struggle to even find a list of scores.

the only reason football seems bigger is that ajc keeps writing about football during basketball season. football is over. give it a rest and lets start focusing on what is actually happening right now


January 30th, 2010
1:30 pm

I started watching high school hoops when i viset atlanta about three yr s ago and saw this young lady who happen to be KHAALIDAH MILLER and i followed her career from then to now i personally wrote ga coach ANDY LANDERS and explain to him why so many metro player leave the state to play elswhere case in point MYA MOORE. thank GOD he listen he saw what me and every other person see when in metro atlanta a lack of coverage from the AJC for its on local stars now what could be more stupid unless it s a under lining dislike for these kid s from this area now i notice that the AJC base its company in downtown atlanta, so how can you mis the coverage on the talent you can see from your work windows, please tell me that the south has change just a little bit how ever lets follow MR LANDERS lead and keep your stars home b cuz if you do that when they go on to be wealthy stars you get the money back where it s needed most, home town economy goes up it just make good sense. AJC stop hating and start congradulating your home grown talent P.S. they mite start up there own paper with there wealth then you ll be begging to cover them .NOW EVEN A OLD RETIRED USE TO BE GOOD SPORTMAN PIMP CAN FIGURE THAT ONE OUT COM ON GEORGIA YOU PRODUCE SOME OF THE GREATEST LEAADERS IN HISTORY GET THIS RIGHT I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT.

Jae Tyrone

February 1st, 2010
4:37 pm

I totally beleive it is the media’s fault. Way too much good basketball in GA…and no one knows about it. I have to search like three newspaper sites, then go to the school’s website to see when they are playing the BIG games against the other BIG schools.

You guys have at least like 12 games to watch during football season, but Wheeler, Cent, Milton…Walton are going head to head….and no one knows….

Get more coverage….hell, I’m available…let me know….

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