My fellow PrepZone bloggers are providing previews of the top girls basketball teams in their classifications. I must’ve misread the memo because I’ve got nothing but boys this week. Ladies first? That’s only in life. We’ll have to get to them next week.
OK, let’s talk boys basketball. (Girls next week.)
Btw, Norcross plays Miller Grove in an exhibition game on Thursday at Norcross. Should be fun.
Here are six Class AAAAAA teams that ought to be good. Who did we miss?
- Wheeler – It’s been five years since the Wildcats won their fourth state title. They made the semifinals last season, and most peg them as the team to beat this year. They’re nationally ranked in a couple of polls, and they’ve got two five-star prospects (per Rivals.com) who are juniors. Center Daniel Giddens (6-10) is the No. 18 prospect nationally, and forward Jaylen Brown (6-6) is the No. 12 prospect. And the team’s best player might be senior Elijah Staley if he decides to stick around and not graduate early to attend Mississippi State on football scholarship.
- Norcross – The defending champs will contend again. They graduated Brandon Goodwin to Central Florida and Terrance O’Donohue to the College of Charleston. Back are Andre Chatfield (committed to Havard), Lorenzo Carter and Ricky Madison, each who made the Gwinnett Daily Post’s 15-player preseason all-county team. Norcross quarterback A.J. Bush, who transferred from Milton, also is a pretty good basketball player, as is Justin Kornegay, also from Milton. Remember that Myles Autry, lost last season to a knee injury, will return. Norcross also got a high-scoring transfer from a GISA school in A.J. Farrar.
- Tift County – The Blue Devils lost all-class player of the year Brannen Greene to Kansas, but coach Eric Holland made some bold statements this week. ‘’I think this team can and will be better at the end,’’ he said. “We will struggle early because our schedule is so tough. But if Tadric Jackson keeps playing the way he has been playing since June, we will be a final four team and possibly a team that can win it.’’ Jackson is the all-state guard who has committed to Georgia Tech. Four other seniors are mid-major recruits: D.J. Bruant (6-3 SG), Ladarius Stewart (6-1 PG), Rashawn Canady (6-5 SG) and Nate Thomas (6-6 F). Holland also has a very good freshman in Preston Horne (6-6).
- Hillgrove – The Hawks were the 2013 runners-up to Norcross. They return their best two players. Kyle Castlin (6-4 SG) averaged 20 points and seven rebounds. He is committed to Columbia. B.J. Brown (6-2, SG) averaged 13 points and five rebounds. Keith Ray (6-5 F) is another senior who played big role last season. Remember this is the team that beat Wheeler last year in the semis.
- Peachtree Ridge – The Lions got to the quarterfinals last season with a fairly young team. Some would say Aaron Augustin (5-11) was the best freshman point guard around Also back is Amir Warnock (6-8), who averaged 13.6 points and 10.2 rebounds. He committed to Jacksonville University this week. Peachtree Ridge did graduate all-state forward Jordan Capps. Region 7-AAAAAA will be tough with the Ridge, Norcross and North Gwinnett, among others.
- North Gwinnett – This is the team that was 19-5 last season when shocked in the region playoffs by Meadowcreek’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. North didn’t make the state playoffs despite a Top 10 rankings most of the season. T.J. Howard (6-0) and Ahmad Caver (6-0) are three-year starters and the team’s top two scorers from last season. The top rebounders, Owen Lewis (6-2) and Malik Carter (6-7), also are back, with most every key player from last year’s team.