By David Purdum / For the AJC
Both the AAAA boys and girls defending state basketball champions begin the season with new head coaches.
At Eagle’s Landing, Eric Wortham, Sr. takes over the program that his son, current Middle Tennessee State freshman Eric Wortham, Jr., helped lead to its first state championship last season. Wortham, Sr., follows coach Clay Crump, who took the coaching job at Harrison High School in the offseason.
Versatile big man Jordan Sessions is the only key contributor from last season’s team that graduated seven seniors. Wortham says expectations haven’t changed.
“Right now, the expectations are to win it again,” said Wortham. “To come in here after a team that graduated seven seniors with five D-I players, you’d think I’ve have to come in here and do a re-building type thing. But I’ve been impressed with these guys.”
Sessions has committed to Georgia State and will be the center piece for the Golden Eagles. Wortham also pointed to senior power forward Devyn Patterson, sophomore point guard Rodriquez Dennis and junior guard Darius Thomas as players to watch.
Wortham, who is familiar with Class AAAA’s talent through his time working with AAU, believes some of the perennial contenders are once again the teams to beat this season.
“Columbia is always going to be Columbia, and South Atlanta is always going to be South Atlanta,” Wortham said. “Statesboro, Rutland, Jonesboro, those same teams are always going to be in the mix.”
Eagle’s Landing opens the season against Greater Atlanta Christian on Saturday.
The Columbia girls also begin their defense of last season’s state title with a new coach. Carla Hollaway succeeds Chantay Frost, who led Columbia to three state championships in the last four seasons, before leaving to take over at Mays High School. Hollaway won two DeKalb County middle school titles, before taking over at Columbia, according to the DeKalb County athletic website.
Columbia opens its season Thursday against another defending champ, Southwest DeKalb of AAAAA.
Favor request from a clueless reporter: So this is my first season covering Class AAAA, and I’m in the process of trying to learn as much about as many teams, players and coaches as possible. It’s not nearly as easy to get up to speed on hoops as it is on football. The information just isn’t as readily available. Often, I’ve found in covering high school sports for 10 years, the best stories and insights come for readers, anyway. So, on this rare occasion when I don’t know it all, please take time to drop some your vast hoops knowledge on me below.
I’d like to know the following:
–Who are the legit contenders in AAAA boys and girls, and why?
–Who are the top layers in AAAA boys and girls?
–Who are the top coaches in the classification, and why?
Thanks … DP