2018 OTRH Tip Off Classic: 5 Things We Learned

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Georgia

Posted On: 11/19/18 4:52 PM

 

  1. 1. Jaire Eastmond Stirs the Wheeler Drink
    • The most anticipated matchup of the entire On the Radar Hoops Tip Off Classic did not disappoint as Wheeler came away with an impressive 62-55 road victory over Norcross. The loss marked the first time the Blue Devils dropped a game at home since January 10th of the 2016-17 season against Berkmar. The game was controlled by the Wildcats from beginning to end, primarily due to the play of senior point guard and Denver commit Jaire Eastmond. The 5’9” floor general had impressive steals in transition, initiated offense, and had timely baskets to quiet the Norcross crowd on numerous occasions, especially in the first half. Wheeler had four players (Eastmond, Malachi Rhodes, Charles Smith IV, and Sam Hines) in double figures in the win and having a point guard to get those scorers the ball in good positions was pivotal. It was a great team effort for Coach Larry Thompson and his team and it will take that same intensity to make a late run in March but the play of Eastmond will be significant as Wheeler makes their mark in Georgia’s highest classification early this year.
  2. 2. Class 7A is WIDE OPEN
    • The win by Wheeler certainly opened some eyes for those making predictions on a 7A state champion but the entirety of the Tip Off Classic proved that a lot of teams can be crowned State Champions in Macon, Georgia come March. Norcross should bounce back from this loss and be hungrier than ever to get back to the state championship game for a third consecutive year behind senior and USC commit Kyle Sturdivant as well as 5-star junior BJ Boston. Another team that had an impressive showing at the Tip Off Classic were the Discovery Titans. Led by Hasahnn Reynolds and Jaden Walker, the Titans are deep, have length inside with Longwood commit Leslie Nkereuwem, and plenty of ball handlers that can score and facilitate offensively. Grayson and Pebblebrook were final four participants a season ago that picked up impressive victories Saturday night and if you throw in the Lambert Longhorns, a sweet sixteen participant last year, you have a combined 6 teams in attendance Saturday night that can make a case that they will be championship caliber by seasons end (not even including defending 7A state champion Meadowcreek who did not participate in the showcase this year). 
  3. 3. Southwest DeKalb has a Legitimate “Big 3”
    • It is yet to be determined if Miller Grove transfers Maurice Harvey and Terrance Edwards Jr. will be able to play with the Panthers this season but if they don’t, the trio of KD Johnson, Eugene Brown III, and James Glisson III will leave Coach Eugene Brown in good hands regardless. Those three players mentioned combined for 48 of the teams’ 68 points in an overtime loss to Discovery with Glisson III leading the way with 27 points on this night. These three have played together for a while now and are battle tested, as they came within two points of reaching the third round of the state playoffs a season ago. The Panthers have help, some already eligible and others not, but with these three leading the way they have got to be considered a favorite in Class 5A and one of the better teams the Peach State has to offer on the young season.
  4. 4. Pebblebrook is Here to Stay 
    • Mentioned above, Pebblebrook was one of the 7A squads that walked away victorious at the On the Radar Tip Off Classic, doing so in convincing fashion against Cedar Shoals High School. The Falcons were led by senior Jalen Harper, but the sophomore quartet of Jamall Clyce, Dannie Stubbs, Tyler Shirley, and Kaleb Washington should keep them at the top of the Georgia state rankings through 2021. Stubbs, a balanced point guard, can score it on all three levels and possesses a tight handle on the basketball while Shirley and Clyce are two wings with high ceilings as they remain active around the rim and continue to improve shooting it from the perimeter. Washington, who did not dress Saturday night, can fill it from three-point range which provides balance for a team that lost five seniors from last year’s squad. With so much youth in pivotal roles for Coach Washington this year, the team may not reach 26 wins like they did a season ago but by the time region tournaments are underway, those sophomores should be tested and ready to compete in a win or go home environment.
  5. 5. Deivon Smith has Arrived
    • Playing behind two talented guards, like Travis Anderson and Nick Edwards, can allow those unfamiliar with you to forget about your individual talents; but make no mistake about it, it is Deivon Smith’s time to lead the way for the Grayson Rams. The quick and athletic 6′ guard made the most of the Tip Off Classic Showcase, finishing with 22 points and a win over a talented Dacula Falcons team. Smith’s performance did not go unnoticed as he received an offer from the University of Florida by the end of the night with Texas Christian University offering two days later. There is much to love about this floor general’s game, with or without the basketball, and now that he is the unquestioned leader of this team, the spotlight will be on him to see if he can lead Grayson back to a final four and beyond this season.