Here are five boys teams to watch in the Class AAA basketball tournament, which begins on Saturday:
Columbia: By almost any account, the Eagles (26-1) are the class of the class. Point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen is worth more than 30 points a game, scoring 12.7 and dishing out 9.6 assists. Three other players, Jarmal Reid, Jhaustin Thomas and Nate Mason, average double-figure scoring, and Thomas and Chris Horton are excellent rebounders. Columbia has won 35 straight games against teams from Georgia.
Carrollton: The Trojans (25-3) shoot well from the perimeter and have three legitimate threats in Josh Barge (19.6 ppg), Telvin Brown and Riley Criswell. Carrollton avenged its two losses to Georgia schools in the 6-AAA tournament, including a 61-58 win over Troup in the region title game. They’ve held 23 of 28 opponents under 60 points.
Washington County: The Golden Hawks reeled off 22 wins to start the season but have stumbled over their past four games, losing three. So they go into the state tournament as a No. 4 seed, and in AAA they’re probably the most likely 4 seed to make some noise. Leading scorer Juwan Burden (17 ppg) and freshman A.J. Gray are two intriguing players, and despite their swoon of late, their defense gives them a chance to advance.
Eagle’s Landing: The Golden Eagles were a state semifinalist last year and in 6-10 Desmond Ringer and 6-5 Eric Wortham, The Golden Eagles (25-3) have the size to stay with anyone inside. Ringer frequently draws double- and triple-team defenses, and is adept at getting the ball to teammates on the perimeter. If they shoot well, Eagle’s Landing is very difficult to beat. Their three losses are to Drew (twice) and Columbia.
Drew: The Titans (24-4), playing in just their third full varsity season, have hit full stride under Jarrod Davis. The Region 4-AAA champions may have the most senior-laden roster in the field, with 11 on their 14-man roster. Barry Mayes, Rufus Brown and Derrick Frye give them three legitimate scoring threats.