7A Boys Basketball Preview – The Who and the What

By: Keith Agran

A capsule look at 7A:

TOP 4 CONTENDERS (ALPHABETICALLY): Grayson, McEachern, Norcross, Wheeler

NEXT 4: Buford, Newton, Osborne, Pebblebrook

LURKING: Berkmar, Carrollton, Denmark, Lowndes, North Gwinnett, South Gwinnett

Grayson (20-9 last year, lost to Berkmar in Elite 8)

KEY LOSSES: G Tyrese Elliott, F Chauncey Wiggins, G Caleb Blackwell

A mere 2 possessions away from a Final 4 berth for what was a squad last year that had a bunch of talented young players in key roles, and now returns those key guys with some serious seasoning under their belt. Adding junior transfers Anthony Alston from Dacula and CJ Hyland from Lanier to a backcourt that already returned highly-ranked junior Gicarri Harris and rising juniors Laz Mason and Corey Gatlin features a now even deeper rotating group of bodies that can all score, pass and defend. Senior forward Chad Moodie finally settles into a feature role up front after playing behind some serious D1 talent over the last 2 seasons, and sophomore center Amir Taylor saw major minutes as a freshman and has taken another step from a year ago as one of the top 2025’s in the state.


McEachern (15-10 last year, lost to Newton in 1st Round)

KEY LOSSES: G Brandon Sparks, G Mike Jacobs

Just the returning core of top junior nationally Ace Bailey, active senior forwards Jalen Hilliard, Earnest Ofremu and Devin Moise and rising 2025 PG Christian Curl would have been quite the top group to run with, but in adding Alabama transfer 6-9 JD Palm at center, dynamic Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe senior guard Jamichael Davis and impressive-looking Philadelphia, PA transfer Moses Hipps, this dizzying cache of talent offers Indian-country a plethora of lineup options to ponder and some sure-to be exciting basketball. Bailey is the kind of individual talent that can carry a team all the way, and the quality level of transfers Palm and Davis vaulted a really good team with understood high aspirations to potentially championship material.


Norcross (26-6 last year, 7A Champions)

KEY LOSSES: G London Johnson, F Jerry Deng

The above two losses are surely large, both played their best basketball from February on and were monster catalysts in the title run. But the cupboard is far from bare with the type of experience back in seniors Mier Panoam, Samarion Bond and Michael Zhang, and what could be perceived as a lack of prominent frontcourt size which meant little last year (with the 6-7 Deng as their tallest starter) is easy this winter to again overlook when you include 6-7 transfer Mari Jordan to the mix, who returns to the ATL-Metro from Legacy Early College in SC. With such a devastating perimeter-oriented attack spurred by their stellar athletes, a classic post presence means little. Additional late fall transfers senior Bilal Abdur-Rahman from WD Mohammed and junior Toby Ojukwu from New Jersey provide speed, scoring and savvy to a winning core that is surely eager to show last year’s run was no one-year wonder.


Wheeler (25-5 last year, lost to Grovetown in 6A Elite 8)

KEY LOSSES: G Klairus Amir

As good as eventual champion Grovetown was and still is it wouldn’t have been outrageous to call Wheeler the best team in 6A last year, and returning essentially the entire core certainly makes the jump up to a rugged and nationally recognized dog of a classification in Georgia 7A a bit more palatable. Adding the likes of Iowa St-signee Jelani Hamilton from Cumberland Christian and junior transfers 6-10 Josh Hill from Vertical Academy (NC) and guard Ricky McKenzie from The Walker School, it looks and feels a lot like Cobb County rivals McEachern and their “good problem to have” with all the talent available. Number one nationally ranked 2023 guard Isaiah Collier is in his 4th year running the show for the Wildcats and is like Bailey for the Indians a player that can carry a team all the way, and he and Hamilton make for as good a backcourt duo as you’ll find in the Southeast. Future USC Trojan Arrinten Page anchors the frontcourt with Hill and senior Cameron Brown, all three 6-9 or bigger and terrific movers at both ends.


Keith Agran has lived in Georgia since 2011 and joined OTR as a National Evaluator in 2021. He previously scouted for Prep Hoops dating back to 2019 and has both a championship-coaching background on the HS-level and daily newspaper writing experience, both from New Jersey. You can reach him at keithagran1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.