Class A Blog: First power rankings, 2 POTY candidates, true student athlete

S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Similar to football, 16 basketball teams will make the state playoffs, based on a power ranking system crafted and operated by MaxPreps. You can take a look at the rules and how points are determined here.

Region tournament champions will advance automatically to the field of 16 playoff teams. The top eight will host the first round playoff game.

But after just one ranking period, a lot of coaches are already upset. One of those is Paideia girls head coach Paul Meiere Jr. His Pythons have a No. 7 power ranking on the private school division.

“In [Division I] college [football], they’ve just decided to go to a playoff system instead of polls and rankings to determine the champion,” he said last week. “So what does the GHSA decide to do? Go to a power ranking system. It doesn’t make sense.”

We’ll have more thoughts from coach Meiere and others next week. In the meantime, here are the first rankings:



1. Wilcox County

2. Mitchell County

3. Wilkinson County

4. Seminole County

5. Treutlen

6. Hancock Central

7. Lanier County

8. Turner County

9. Portal

10. Marion County

11. Claxton

12. Stewart County

13. Trion

14. Jenkins County

15. Randolph-Clay

16. Lincoln County


1. North Cobb Christian

2. Greenforest Christian

3. Holy Innocents’

4. Mt. Paran Christian

5. Athens Christian

6. Excel Christian

7. Landmark Christian

8. W.D. Mohammed

9. Savannah Christian

10. Mt. Pisgah Christian

11. Mt. Vernon Presbyterian

12. Aquinas

13. Fellowship Christian

14. Lakeview Academy

15. Calvary Day School

16. St. Francis



1. Randolph-Clay

2. Treutlen

3. Gordon Lee

4. Turner County

4. Wilkinson County

6. Towns County

7. Irwin County

8. Marion County

9. Calhoun County

10. Claxton

11. Jenkins County

12. Hancock Central

13. Echols County

14. Clinch County

15. Portal

16. Mitchell County

16. Schley County


1. Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy

2. Darlington

3. Atlanta International School

4. Holy Innocents’

5. Strong Rock Christian

6. Calvary Day School

7. Paideia

8. George Walton Academy

9. Mt. Paran Christian

10. St. Francis

11. Greenforest Christian

12. Walker School

13. Savannah Country Day

14. North Cobb Christian

15. Prince Avenue Christian

16. Fellowship Christian

Battle for boys POTY already heating up

It’s still early, but two players are already making a strong case for being named Class A Player of the Year.

Will “Turtle” Jackson, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard at Athens Christian, is averaging 30 points per game for the Eagles (12-1), who he helped lead to the state finals last season.

Meanwhile, a little further east, Ahmed Hill is averaging 31 a game for Aquinas (10-5), which includes a season-high 35 point performance in a win over Class AAAAAA Centennial earlier this season.

Ironically, if the state playoffs began today, based on the power rankings Jackson and No. 5 Athens Christian would host Hill and No. 12 Aquinas in the first round.

Montgomery stellar on the court and in class
Austin Montgomery, a 6-foot-8 forward for Lakeview Academy in Gainesville, has perhaps the most impressive resume of any student athlete in Georgia.

The senior recently scored the 1,000th point of his career and is averaging nearly 25 points per game for the Lions (9-4) who he has led to a No. 14 power ranking.

But Montgomery is even more impressive in the classroom. He has a 4.0 grade point average, scored 2320 on the SAT (perfect score: 2400) and 35 on the ACT (perfect score: 36). He has offers from Holy Cross, Radford and MIT and plans to major in biomechanical engineering before enrolling in medical school. But before college, Montgomery will complete a two-year Latter-day Saints mission.

32 comments Add your comment

Just Terrible

January 13th, 2013
5:09 pm

This system is already broken. You’re telling me if the season ended today, St. Francis barely make it despite that fact that they beat #4 Mount Paran by 26, beat #10 Mount Pisgah by 11, and beat #13 Fellowship by 22? Not even a St. Francis fan, but this system is just terrible. It’s hardly even a reward to make the playoffs anymore. All of this thanks to the Public school coaches who cried about Private schools having an advantage. Does anyone think this actually better?


January 13th, 2013
9:57 pm

Will the Montgomery kid just go academic and not play ball? 5 star recruit for academics, i bet he has lots of scholarships. Just a thought

S. Thomas Coleman

January 14th, 2013
9:40 am

@Just: I’m not a fan of the power ranking system, though I can see why the GHSA implemented it. However, as long as SF keeps winning they’ll be fine and their power ranking should increase as the teams they beat pick up more wins as well.

Thanks for reading and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman


January 14th, 2013
10:45 am

@STC: The reason is Aquinas is so far behind is because they have played 3 or 4 teams out of state. Out of state games cant count towards the GHSA power rankings, so those games became worthless. GHSA didnt change that rule until half way through the football season, when basketball coach’s had already made their schedules. They also changed the rule about “bonus” points for playing against higher classes…which is why teams like North Cobb Christian and Athens Christina scheduled so many higher class games. Hopefully they wont change the rules again in basketball half way through the season haha

S. Thomas Coleman

January 14th, 2013
11:19 am

@athensball: Yes, Coach Meiere said in all of his years of coaching, this was the most difficult time he’s had scheduling. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in March.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman


January 14th, 2013
11:25 am

They should have given the coaches a full year of knowing the rules before implementing them. Then the coaches could have scheduled accordingly. To have the rules come out after the scheduling their season is just plain wrong. I strongly feel that this year’s class of Seniors are getting cheated because of this.


January 14th, 2013
11:44 am

@bballmomof5: unfortunetly football runs this state, and always will. so GHSA and administrators make decisions based on how it will affect football and nothing else. They didnt even take into consideration that basketball has region tourneys and private schools and public schools are still in the same region…thus they will be playing each other for the rights to go to seperate playoffs. Several regions will be totally left out of the playoffs all together. Look at conference reallignment in college though…its was all about football, every other sport be damned. it killed the big east (a great bball conference)


January 14th, 2013
12:07 pm

Coach Vining was contemplating retirement over the past couple of years, but this new playoff system was the final straw.. He has been very vocal in how frustrating it has been. I hate it for his last year to be so full of frustration.

Off Topic, but @athensbball you brought it up..
You know we are huge Boise State fans here, and the whole Big East conference was a good thought at first and then it just started to crumble. The school looked at athletics as a whole,and backed out. Basketball in the MWC is TOUGH this year, as was volleyball.. AD made a good decision. I didn’t grow up where Football was king, so this is all new to me, where it reigns supreme.


January 14th, 2013
12:24 pm

@bballmomof5: I know you are so right. But I think Vinings is also getting out because he sees the writing on the wall at lakeview and they will be down for the next few years. Lakeview is all seniors except for montgomery’s brother (which is pretty good). Doesnt help either that their rival athens christian is full of sophmores and should walk through that region for the next 3 years. But look at the bright side though, maybe your PA announcer wont lose his voice next year from Vinings not being there to sub everyone out every 3 seconds haha


January 14th, 2013
12:46 pm

Actually he wants to spend time with his grand-babies and his good wife, who has patiently stood by his side during all the decades of coaching. Don’t count out Lakeview yet, their 8th grade team has a couple players now that could start Varsity and a few on JV that weren’t eligible for Varsity this year, but will be next. Along with Z. Montgomery, who is ready to step out of his brothers shadow, and feels he has something to prove, you may be surprised at how good they will be.


January 14th, 2013
1:24 pm

You may be right….should be interesting. but this wont be the first time Vinings “retires” and then picks up at another school a few years down the road. dont count that out either. I hear he is also frustrated with the continuing increase in tuition at Lakeview academy which makes it even harder and harder to get good talent to go there. he already has to battle the fact that lakeview is in the middle of nowhere.

The Dogfather

January 14th, 2013
1:50 pm

Saw Mark Fox at the Aquinas v. Warren county game on Friday. Word is that he offered Ahmed .Word is that Ahmed likes the dawgs.


January 14th, 2013
2:00 pm

@athensbball LOL and Athens isn’t out in the middle of a cow pasture?. Really, that is the pot calling the kettle black. Lakeview doesn’t pride itself in having stellar athletes, it prides itself on stellar academics. It is a college prep school, and that is their main focus. Most of the kids at LV want a better education than the current public school system they reside in (as I would think it is at Ac too). They are students first, then athletes. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would NEVER trade the honor of being a National Merit Semi-Finalist for a state basketball championship. Where we live in the metro Atlanta area, we could have chosen a top ten 6A basketball program, but we went where there were far more educational opportunities..

@STC Do you think the GHSA will do any tweaking before next season, or is it set in stone?

@TheDogFather we played against A. Hill at State last year.. He is a great player, with a great attitude. He just goes out and does his job and has sportsmanship.. The Dogs should be excited to be on his radar..


January 14th, 2013
3:42 pm

@bballmomof5: Everything u say is correct, but keep in mind that is an opinion of a mother who wants their son to excel in life after basketball, as you should. But a coach needs to win and win now, which is why I think he is retiring because he knows that winning is not in their near future after this year. Like it or not, his job is to win basketball games, and if the coach realizes that he is at a school that can no longer compete for championships then he will leave…or be made to leave. Its just a fact. As a parent, I agree with everything you say, but the idea of student-athlete (like your son) is only great for the student and the parent. If a coach only has an All-Honor Roll team and never wins games, then he wont stay long…thats just reality.

NEGA basketball

January 14th, 2013
3:58 pm

@bballmom: well…when you have lost 7 out of the last 8 to your rival (4 in a row and counting after this year) then its hard to stick around knowing your graduating everyone and the rival has all sophmores. wont be the first time Link has forced someone out by beating them consistently. It happened to Eddie Martin when he was at Brookwood and Link was at South Gwinnett. South beat Brookwood 8 straight times and Eddie left to go to Norcross….Cant stand the heat….well you know the saying


January 14th, 2013
4:27 pm

@NEGA basketball I have lived in Hall county for a very long time and my kids attended NH, but if you think Coach Vining would ever be run out by Ron Link you don’t know the man.

northhall fan

January 14th, 2013
4:41 pm

@NEGAbbal: Maybe the PA announcer for Lakeview ran him off because he got tired of announcing subs every 5 seconds hahaha…Did Vinings used to coach hockey? LINE CHANGE!!


January 14th, 2013
4:56 pm

@athensbball Let us remember it is also their job to be examples to these impressionable young men. If all you are worried about is getting Wins, then you have lost sight of the long term goal. I am very blessed to have Seth Vining as a coach for my boys, sad he won’t be around for the baby. He has been a good example to us all.

@northhall fan you should know his name is Vining not Vinings. esp. if you are a NHfan.

S. Thomas Coleman

January 14th, 2013
8:11 pm

bballmomof5: In my conversations with Dr. Swearngin, he said he’s sure that the GHSA Executive Committee will be open to looking at tweaking the system for every sport. There will be tweaks in football for the 2013 season so I’m sure there will be tweaks for basketball for 2013-14.

Nice conversation, by the way, between you and the other hoop fans! Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman

Columbus MAn

January 15th, 2013
6:00 am

Dang you guys cry about everything…. You still got win your region for the other 16 positions… Heck If I was at the bottom .. I would be crying. The top has two ways to make it in… It saves you from the old school lose your first round game and you are going home.. Some people just want a free ride in dang!!!


January 15th, 2013
11:05 am

Athens Academy has actually seen all three players mentioned if I were to rank them it would be Turtle, Hill, Montgomery as far a BB skills, in regards to power ranking I expect it to be about 12 atlanta privates with 4 from around the state thrown in, then the outside of atlanta privates will be upset. ACS has recently scheduled larger schools since they have gotten to be a state contender it has nothing to do with power rankings but playing in a weak region they need those games to prepare for the playoffs. I think the question maybe will Turtle stay all four years at ACS the competition is so weak in that region and at practice I am not sure if it will benefit him as much as one of the elite prep schools in the country, I am sure he has a pick of what he would like to do next. Looking forward to the ACS/Lakeview game this week should be interesting. I have to go with ACS unless the depth of Lakeview and size inside can create problems.


January 15th, 2013
12:35 pm

@steve FYI the LV vs. AcS game is 1/25 .
the first half of LV season was playing against larger classifications, for the same reason.
Actually Montgomery’s brother Zach had a bigger game against AA, with 21 pts. big bro got into foul trouble and he and W. Cox battled well.
I must say our family always enjoys the AA fans and team. Several kids and parents stayed behind to speak with the boys.. Coach Banks has always been so gracious as well.


January 15th, 2013
1:35 pm

Not that this always matters, but if you want to compare competition…ACS was up on Athens Academy 52-8 at the half! Final score was 77-21. Lakeview barely squeeked by Academy by 10. Should be a good game though…Lakeview always plays ACS tough. And as far as Will Jackson goes, I dont see why he would want to leave with the way AAU ball is today. College coaches already know where he is and how good he is. He can get all the competition he needs during the summer. ACS is a good school and a good environment. Cant say the same for some of those big Atlanta powerhouses


January 15th, 2013
2:05 pm

Actually we won by 14, up by 30 until Coach put in the third string with near 6 min. in 4th quarter.
It wouldn’t shock me if Turtle moved on as well. Somewhere like Simeon or Oak Hill. Sure the college coaches know where he is, but if his goal is the NBA, it would make sense to move on to a school that is a NBA breeding ground.


January 15th, 2013
2:28 pm

@bballmom: actually you werent up by 30, i was at the game. you were up by 6 at half and your largest lead was 16 at one point. Ok, you won by 16 (not 10) and ACS beat AA by 56 and took their starters out at halftime. And lakeview doesnt have a 3rd string they have 10 players that Vining subs in and out to the point of annoyance. And im sure all of region 8 would love for turtle to move somewhere haha


January 15th, 2013
3:02 pm

You might be right about that game, I have so many kids that play basketball it all runs together, BTW curious as to how the girls basketball team is there?.. But, We do have a third string. He has 13-15 for any given game, that sit on the bench. So I am not sure where you get that idea. I should know I help keep the book. Come find me next time and say hi!


January 15th, 2013
3:39 pm

will do! make sure that bald guy that yells at the kids praying at half court and the obnoxious blue haired lady are at the game this year too…classiest people ive ever met! hahahaha…and everyone knows that the only people who care about girls basketball are the players, coach’s and parents.


January 15th, 2013
4:07 pm

Ive been readin the thread and athensbball = Hater . Callin fans out, COLD.

@STC next blog could be POTY for the girls?


January 15th, 2013
4:21 pm

Girls Basketball is just as important as boys.
We should support all the athletes who put their heart and soul into their sport!

And just so you know, it is NEVER okay to huddle in the center and pray on the other teams home court, esp. when they don’t want you to. Go to the locker room and practice the scripture of praying in secret.


January 15th, 2013
11:17 pm

I’m pretty offended by your comment about female sports. I, myself, am a high school athlete of basketball and volleyball. I can’t believe how sexist people are, but it sounds like something that would come out of your mouth.

Oh and btw, You sound like a fool. No one likes or respects AcA. Not the players and certainly not the coaches. So, you should really get off that high horse you’ve been riding.

S. Thomas Coleman

January 16th, 2013
1:27 am

@athensbball: Not true. Some of the best games I’ve covered have been girls games over the years. And I’d be willing to bet that most of those young ladies would beat you in a game of 1-on-1, going to 5 … even if they spotted you a 4-0 lead.

But thanks for reading and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman

S. Thomas Coleman

January 16th, 2013
1:28 am

@metro: I’ll work on getting that for you in the Thursday morning or Saturday morning blog. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman