AAAAAA basketball: Wheeler boys look to end the title ‘drought’

It’s been almost four years since Wheeler’s boys basketball team won a state title. That’s a full-blown slump for a program with four state championships since 2002. But the forecast is promising now for a team with only one senior starter and an epic sophomore class.

Wheeler beat Walton 67-63 in overtime on Tuesday to improve to 9-4 overall, 4-1 in Region 5-AAAAAA. Wheeler is the region leader after Roswell (11-6, 5-2) somehow was beaten Tuesday by Lassiter (4-13).

Wheeler should pick up the pace down the stretch with the debut of 6-6 Jaylen Brown, who is rated the No. 1 sophomore small forward in the nation by Brown has been injured but is practicing with the team and is about a week away from playing, coach Doug Lipscomb said Wednesday.

The team’s leader player is junior Elijah Staley, who scored 23 points in the Walton win as Wheeler erased an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Staley, also the school’s quarterback, made two free throws to tie the game in regulation. Staley averages 22 points per game.

247Sports ranks Staley (6-6, 205 pounds) the No. 14 dual-threat quarterback prospect in the nation among juniors. Rivals ranks him among the top 150 basketball recruits in the country. It’s not clear which sport that he will choose, or whether he’ll try both in college.

“It’s hard to say what he will do, but he’s a very skilled kid, very athletic, very explosive,’’ Lipscomb said. “Football helps him as far as leadership goes. It’s a pleasure having him on team this year.’’

Wheeler’s other starters are point guard Austin Smoak (6-1 senior), guard Avery Patterson (6-2 junior), guard Trevin Steede (6-3 junior) and center Daniel Giddens (6-10 sophomore).  Coming off the bench are guards Tim Sanders (6-2 senior) and Jerron Love (6-0 sophomore).

Love, Giddens and Brown make up perhaps the state’s most gifted sophomore classes. Giddens and Brown have offers from Georgia and Georgia Tech. Love, who played last season in California, also is a Division I recruit. He has played only two games after gaining his eligibility.

Lipscomb says that the recent addition of Love and the future addition of Brown won’t pose any special challenges for him or the team.

“They’re just coming off injury and becoming eligible,” Lipscomb said. “I’ve never had to deal with that, but the kids have a good attitude about trying to make contributions to the team, so I’m excited about having them.’’

As for the team, Lipscomb has the same hopes as usual.

‘’We hope to be at least a final four team,’’ he said. “That’s everybody’s hope. If we can continue to make progress, I like what I see. It’s a very good group that comes to work hard every day.’’

12 comments Add your comment

Hubert Green

January 16th, 2013
11:59 am

Wheeler’s chances improved dramatically with Milton’s demise. As for Roswell’s loss; just a return to past form. Tift County may be the team to beat this year, along with Wheeler, and Norcross. Other contenders include Shiloh, P Ridge, N Gwinnett, and whoever gets hot. I’ve heard Valdosta is very good this year. North Cobb has senior leadership. Campbell is playing well. And if Carlos Burse were playing for Alpharetta, they’d be right there.


January 16th, 2013
12:42 pm

Love (Soph) and Smoak (Sr.) are Wheelers two Pg’s. But in 4th qt Coach Lipscomb starts Love by himself with the struggling team down 8 points. Within 4 min. or matter of few plays Wheeler ties game. Then Smoak comes into game with 3 min. remaining. However, Wheeler goes in overtime as they eventually win.

Andre Elam

January 16th, 2013
1:44 pm

Westlake has a very solid and talented team, if the Coach could get out of his own way this team is scary good. Kejuan Johnson and Coach Rogers handling of him truly dictates how far this team goes into the playoffs. Check out the starting line up: Tony Bagtas, Andre Elam, Kejuan Johnson, Dominic Joseph, Jared Heard with Raymond Saunders, Tyler Williams and Renard Battle coming off the bench as well as other skilled players just sitting on the bench. Go Westlake!


January 16th, 2013
1:49 pm

Alpharetta is currently on a six game win streak with a win over then #2 ranked North Gwinnett on Saturday. Burse has been back with the team since first of the year.

Hubert Green

January 16th, 2013
2:15 pm

@Raiders; thanks for the update! With Toney and the big kid inside along with a great wing in Burse, Alpharetta is very dangerous!

sammie johnson

January 16th, 2013
2:23 pm

Wheeler needs to hire a new recruiting coordinator.


January 16th, 2013
2:41 pm

@ sammie Johnson…who’s Wheeler’s “recruiting Coordinator”?? and what r ur reasons for bringing up this situation?

Mike Geigerman

January 16th, 2013
3:09 pm

Sammie’s sad about Miltons hand caught in the cookie jar

Walton Guards

January 16th, 2013
3:16 pm

Every guard in America knows Love and therefor reluctant to defend him. Jerron’s a kid that all kids his age respect…he’s not a mystery to them. Lipscomb made intelligent decision to start Love in 4th without Smoak until wheeler tied game. however if Love started 1st qt Wheelr couldve coasted. IMO Lipscomb is a risk taker who likes to give crowd their money worth. And bc Smoak is a Senior he does need exposure for colleges. Congrats Wheeler on a beautiful comeback…Daniel n Staley drained free throws and made difficult shots. Daniels is best big man in the nation, better than Diamond Stone. Love is only good bc he follows coaches directions to a T, talking on defense N offense. Wheeler seems to be developing Love very well even though he not a starter yet

Hoop Science

January 16th, 2013
3:25 pm

Love attended few of Walton open gyms before season began, u dam right dey already knew what it was

Todd Holcomb

January 16th, 2013
5:12 pm

Thanks for all the comments. I’ll try to write a story on a different team most days. Maybe I’ll check in on Westlake soon.


January 16th, 2013
6:50 pm

Westlake is gonna be a problem if they can put it together….nobody is talking about Peachtree Ridge, they are gonna be heard from especially if the young pg continues to grow. Alpharetta is gonna be a tough out as well. Wheeler, Westlake, Alpharetta, Tift, Shiloh, Norcross, Peachtree Ridge, Berkmar, and North Gwinnett are the contenders…..i have never seen north cobb play.