AAU Workout Visits – Wood Elite & Georgia Fire
ATLANTA METRO – A new format for my weekly AAU Workout Visits, as we dig deep on some of these rosters before, during, and after tournaments throughout the next 4 months.
By: Keith Agran
Wood Elite 16U & 17U
INTRO: Still early in their existence, Quinton Wood and the Wood Elite have quickly taken up high-level status among the independent programs in the ATL-Metro with boys and girls programs going down to the younger ages, while the upper age boys groups in particular had a monster summer last year and have the rosters to do even more this year.
16U IMPRESSION-MAKERS: Back at the point after running the 15s and playing up a bunch last summer is Ryan Williams, and the North Paulding junior-to-be is bigger, stronger and faster. More confidence on the drive has been apparent to go with the great decision-making and deadly deep shooting. A recent addition of 6-5 Cal Liston out of Sprayberry gives them size and some key physicality, as Kennesaw Mountain’s hard-working Jake Whitaker was the only notable forward with any interior size prior to that. However it could be the wings that really hurt you with this group, sharp-shooting Luke Strickland of Vertical Academy was lights out most of the evening, while another good-looking Hiram product, Chase Tyler, has the kind of athletic ability in the open floor and of the break that can be eye-catching. Injured but of note is Will Kumjian, as the Pope CG had some terrific games this past year and can spell Williams at the point or be a primary, multi-level in the 2-spot. The Greyhound could be poised for a breakout spring and summer season.
17U IMPRESSION-MAKERS: Many of the names who stormed through last summer and parlayed that into strong high school seasons are right back in Wood colors, and a few weeks ago at OTR’s The Opening Cherokee guard Tayden Owens quickly put his stamp on what could be the kind of summer that takes him to the next level. He can put the height discussion to rest with more of the stellar play we’ve seen for virtually all of the last 12 months. Warrior teammates Cam Pope is the other half of the dynamic backcourt up in Cherokee County, and the two can go off even more in the free-flowing, often wide-open up and back travel ball action. Two more Cherokee products, last summer’s breakout Mason Bennett and vastly improved forward Dastin Hart, are keys for Coach Spencer Dixon. Augmenting the Cherokee flavor this year is Osborne’s monster-riser Keshawn McPherson, an immensely gifted and powerful specimen who at times in a workout setting is nearly unstoppable. He can play as a big guard or take his burly 6-5 frame down in closer to the basket and simply bully his way to hoop and harms. A star in the making for sure after more of a supporting, albeit impressively supporting, role with the Cardinals this past winter. Sequoyah breakout star Preston Parker is back and has a lot more in his inventory than just shooting after a terrific season for the Chiefs, while newcomers guard Jay Boyd of Hiram and forward James Leach of Beach HS in Savannah made big-time impression’s at OTR’s The Opening and are two names I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from in the next 4 months.
Georgia Fire 17U (Elite, Select and Premier)
INTRO: A southside of Atlanta staple in recent years, the Fire draw predominantly from the Clayton and Henry areas, but do dip further out for some hidden gems from programs in the Metro that might not get as much coverage as others
NAMES TO WATCH: With so many guys working out last week, we’ll handle the Fire the old-fashioned way, in list form:
Darius Reynolds, Cedar Grove >> The star of the night as he seemingly almost always is on effort and work-rate alone, the 6-6 forward is setting himself up for a big spring and summer as he adds more shooting range to the relentless rebounding and instinctive shot-blocking.
Kaidyn Montfort, Miller Grove >> The high-flying has already garnered interest, but the deep shooting is underrated, and as he puts more on that on display at 6-4 with his athleticism it’ll be a hard package to ignore.
Chris Foster, New Creation >> The former Locust Grove product has really nice length at around 6-5 for a guard who can get hot from distance but showed some really nice creativity around the basket, wiry strong as a big-guard rebounder.
Demauriye Gasque, McDonough >> Has some wiggle with the ball for a guy 6-4 or so and a pretty good handle from the top of the key, a little more from him putting it on the floor to the basket will garner attention with his good frame as the shooting is solid but may not be enough to gain separation in a crowded guard field.
Josh Dixon, New Manchester >> With fellow Jag Rhian McCoy had a good workout, I like the body and the willingness to be physical with it, his best work appeared inside 15 feet and bulling his way around the basket so showing off more shooting range could get some eyeballs in his direction.
Joshua Lordge, Banneker >> Always shows off the defensive chops (as did 2022 Midtown guard Khris Washington 2023 Lovejoy guard Henry Dowdell) which are at a next-level pitch, great speed gets him downhill in a hurry and he can run a team for you, consistent deep shooting as it is for most PG’s these days will be key.
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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.
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