Posted On: 11/2/18 2:00 PM
Under the leadership of head coach, Mike Thompson, McEachern has very high hopes heading into the new season. Many projected McEachern to win Class 7A last season, but their season was cut short by Norcross in the quarterfinals. After a successful travel season, where many of their players run with Athletes of Tomorrow (AOT) EYBL, they are looking to change the narrative this season. They boast a national schedule including the City of Palms Classic (Fort Meyers, FL), Bass Pro Tournament of Champions (Springfield, MO), and Spalding Hoophall Classic (Springfield, MA). With the core group returning, McEachern looks to not only bring home a state championship, but also a national championship. Here are the McEachern Indians who will make an immediate impact this season:
Sharife Cooper (Class of 2020)– At the point guard spot, Sharife Cooper is a special talent. He is considered by many as the best player in the state regardless of class. I had a chance to watch Cooper at Nike EYBL Atlanta and was very impressed with his change of pace off the dribble and decision making in the half-court. Cooper consistently demonstrated the ability to operate the pick-and-roll and make correct reads. Standing at 5’10, he also finishes well over bigs and is very streaky from the outside. Cooper has All-American potential this season.
Isaac Okoro (Class of 2019)– Currently ranked as the best player in the state, Okoro is a perfect complement to Cooper in the backcourt. Fans will become accustomed to lob passes from Cooper to Okoro for two-hand dunks this season. The Auburn commit is relentless in the open-court and already boasts Division 1 size and athleticism heading into his senior year. The most underrated part of his game is his defensive versatility as he can guard just about any position on the court. He still needs to improve his outside shooting but that will come with repetition. Nonetheless, Isaac Okoro is a favorite this year for Mr. Georgia Basketball.
Babatunde Akingbola (Class of 2019)– A crowd favorite, Akingbola is the heart of this McEachern team. His motor at the big man position is unmatched by any player in the state. I was impressed at Nike Atlanta EYBL not only with his shot-blocking ability, but also his communication with his teammates on both sides of the ball. There will be many games this season where Akingbola will have more blocks than points. He knows his role and has perfected it leading up to his senior year. The Auburn commit also finishes well at the rim and his offensive game gradually improves each season.
Jared Jones (Class 2019)– The recent Northwestern University commit had a solid season last year after transferring from Pebblebrook. He will play a much bigger role this season with exit of Brandon Suggs to Massanutten Military (VA). He has good footwork for his size and is the team’s best scorer in the post. Jones has also proven the ability to step out and hit shots on the perimeter. Jared Jones will play an important role this season for the Indians.
Alyn Breed (Class of 2020)– Breed is a sleeper at the guard spot for McEachern. He is a proven knock down shooter who will spread the floor nicely this season. Breed is also athletic at his size with a few sneaky dunks last season on fast breaks. His hot shooting will open the lane for Okoro as teams will be less likely to help off him.
Quinton McElroy (Class of 2019)– Another sleeper at the guard spot, McElroy is a lefty with a smooth three-point shot. He had a good travel season last summer with A.O.T., where he showcased his scoring ability. With a lot of the attention on Cooper and Okoro, McElroy should be given his fair share of touches this season.
John Michael-Wright (Class of 2019)– Wright is a very good two-way guard for McEachern. Offensively, he attacks the paint well and does a good job of finishing with floaters or pull-up jump shots in the lane. He is also a very underrated passer as he continuously sets up his teammates for easy buckets. Defensively, he is very active and his energy can turn the momentum of games. At Nike EYBL Atlanta, Wright was the X factor in their win against Russell Westbrook’s Team WhyNot. John Michael-Wright could be McEachern’s X factor this season that takes them over the hump.