Posted On: 03/14/19 10:19 AM
Atlanta, Georgia – With the 2018-2019 season now officially over, we will now take a look on what could be in store for next year’s high school hoops season. Let us remember we are only in the month of March, so it is way too early to tell but we can always predict and to see what can potentially be in store for us. The Georgia state champions from this season include McEachern, Tri-Cities, Buford, Carver-Columbus, Morgan County, Therrell, St. Francis, and Calhoun County in that order of classification. Here we take a look at a few programs and how they can potentially be or look like next season.
McEachern High School (Powder Springs, GA) 32-0
McEachern High School was the best overall team in the state of Georgia and proved it by winning the class 7A state championship and finishing their season with a 32-0 overall record. With now senior forward Isaac Okoro gone and headed to Auburn and losing huge pieces in 2019 F Jared Jones (Northwestern commit), 2019 G Alyn Breed, and 2019 PG Quinton McElroy, the load has now been put on five star 2020 PG Sharife Cooper. The dynamic duo of Okoro and Cooper has now sadly came to an end and both have led McEachern to an overall 87-4 record together over the past three seasons which is incredible. With Cooper being one of the top players in the nation and playing on the EYBL circuit, let us not be surprised if a plethora of other top powerhouse schools around the country start recruiting Sharife to play for them for his senior year next season. If that were to happen, McEachern will rely on a very very young squad to defend their class 7A title next year.
Pebblebrook High School (Mableton, Georgia) 20-10
Speaking of young squads, HC George Washington and his Pebblebrook program finished this year with an impressive 20-10 overall record and reaching the class 7A elite eight game. The talent that has come out of the Mableton area high school has been consistent and they have a few players already ready to be the next big star at Pebblebrook. Although they are losing top senior guards in PG Jalen Harper and SG Devin Gordon, their young core include sophomores PG Danny Stubbs, F Tyler Shirley, W Jamal Clyce, W Kaleb Washington, and F Blake Hadley and let us remember the names Andre Young and Nile Hillmon, 2022 guards. In my opinion, next year’s Pebblebrook team could be one of the favorites in Georgia’s 7A class once again, especially with all the experiences this young group has gone through.
Norcross High School (Norcross, Georgia) 22-9
The Norcross Blue Devils are always a program to keep an eye on in the state of Georgia. HC Jesse McMillan has had the Blue Devils as one of the best programs in the south for a few years now and will look to continue that next season. Their main piece and next future star 2020 W Brandon Boston Jr., will be the main attraction once again next season during his senior campaign for the Blue Devils and especially with the lost of senior players like USC commit G Kyle Sturdivant, Xavier commit F Daniel Ramsey, and F Issa Muhammad. Junior guards Caleb Murphy and Kevon Eskridge will also be a couple key pieces expected to return to Norcross alongside 2021 PG Jaden Harris. Norcross could potentially end up getting a couple transfers in like they usually do almost every year but that will be determined throughout the summer.
Southwest Dekalb High School (Decatur, Georgia) 24-7
The Southwest Dekalb Panthers could certainly be one of the favorites once again to capture the Georgia class 5A state title next season. Over the last two season, the Panthers finished their season in the elite eight (2018) and the final four (2019). This season they were able to still compete at a high level, despite dealing with injuries and eligiblity issues, and to make a run for the state title and were led by 2020 PG KD Johnson, who had a tremendous season. With 2020 W Eugene Brown III suffering an injury midway through the season this year, Johnson, alongside senior F James Glisson III, had to carry the weight of the team. With the likes of Johnson and Brown III returning next season, let us not be surprised if the Panthers are right back in the final four and maybe even beyond that. 2020 G Dajon Dancil, 2020 W Terrence Edwards, and 2021 F Rion White will also be returing for the Panthers next season as well.
St. Francis (Alpharetta, Georgia) 28-4
As long as Xavier commit 2020 PG Dwon Odom is still enrolled at St. Francis I will expect them to be a threat and also one of the states best teams next season. The Knights have just cpatured their third class A-Private in the last six seasons and will be looking to capture another one next year. Odom will be joined next season with key pieces like 2020 G Chase Ellis, 2021 G Jusaun Holt, and 2021 F Kai Simmons, and 2022 PG Seth Hubbard. Their young talent was able to get some experiences this year during St. Francis’s state title run. Head Coach Drew Catlett is not afraid of the top competition in the state and will not hesitate to schedule the Knights against the heat. This year they competed in two of Georgia’s top events in the Holiday Hoopsgiving and the TOC Classic.
Wheeler High School (Marietta, Georgia) 17-12
Powerhouse Wheeler High School could potentially be an average team next season. The Wildcats this season finished with 12 total loses this season and that is the most loses Wheeler has suffered in a very long time. After starting the year 13-4, the Wildcats finished the season with a 4-8 record including an early exit in the class 7A sweet 16. Seniors Denver commit PG Roscoe Eastmond, Cal commit SG Charles Smith IV, Bucknell commit F Malachi Rhodes, G Kenny Burns, and G Khalil Hardison are all out the door and that is a lot to unload. 2020 C Darius Gaddy has also transffered from the program and is expected to suit up for Meadowcreek next season. Key pieces that are expected to return to the Wheeler program will be 2020 F Sam Hines, 2020 PG Nash Kelly, and 2021 G Prince Davies. Hopefully Coach Thompson and his staff and get some key transfers into next year’s squad like past years. Either way, I believe the Wildcats will compete at a high level with Larry Thompson in charge.
Grayson High School (Loganville, Georgia) 25-4
Head Coach Geoffrey Pierce has led the Grayson Rams to an overall 68-21 record over the last three seasons. That includes two final four appearances and just one sweet sixteen appearance in that span. The Rams have been a threat in Georgia’s class 7A for the last couple of years and this year was one of their best seasons in the school’s history. 2020 PG Deivon Smith was the definite leader and playmaker all season long and should be returning in a Grayson uniform next season. Smith has burst onto the national scene this season and will be receiving a lot of attention throughout the spring and the summer. Other guys like 2021 F Ian Schieffelin, 2021 F Taj Kelly, and 2022 PG Ashton Malone will have to step up their game next season if Grayson wants to continue to be a threat in Georgia’s highest classification. All three players received some experience this season and should be ready to go during next year’s campaign.
East Coweta High School (Sharpsburg, Georgia) 24-4
The East Coweta Indians had their best season ever in the school’s history finishing 24-4 overall and making their first playoff appearance under HC Royal Maxwell. Although they will be losing a few seniors including key PG Fernandez Jones, the Indians should still be up there as one of the best teams in the state. East Coweta seems to have made an identity and that is to play tough and physical defense full court all game. They already play in the states toughest region, region 2 class 7A, and are right now looking to make the region title game next season after going 0-2 in this year’s tournament. Their key guys next season will be 2020 W Brandon Stroud and 2020 SG Chris Youngblood without a doubt. Stroud and Youngblood will probably score most of their squads points next season. They are two intriguing prospects who could receive some attention throughout the spring and summer during AAU season.
Other Programs To Lookout For
Tucker High School (Tucker, Georgia)
Miller Grove High School (Decatur, Georgia)
Meadowcreek High School (Norcross, Georgia)
Tri-Cities High School (East Point, Georgia)
Therrell High School (Atlanta, Georgia)
Holy Spirit Prep (Atlanta, Georgia)
Woodward Academy (College Park, Georgia)
The Heritage School (Newnan, Georgia)
Sandy Creek High School (Fayetteville, Georgia)
Pace Academy (Atlanta, Georgia)