Hawks-Naismith Holiday Classic – Top Performers

NORCROSS, GA – Always one of the early season’s most anticipated and classiest events, after a successful Thanksgiving version in November at Holy Innocents, the folks at the Atlanta Hawks took us back to Norcross HS for their holiday version, and three high-level evening boys matchups pitted top ATL-Metro teams once again.

Some top performers from the evening:

By: Keith Agran

Peyton Marshall | C | Kell | 2024

The big 7-footer continues to show off his noteworthy improvement in both movement and understanding of the post position, each time out becoming less of just a dunking machine and more of a well-rounded post threat, certainly can clean the glass and affect shots regularly as he added a pair of blocks to his 19 pts and 13 reb in their win over Mt Vernon and there was no backdown against as big a frontline as he’ll see all season, the resume of wins for the Horns places them firmly in discussion as best team in the state as of this publication.

AJ Patterson | PG | Mt Vernon | 2023

If MV is going to make a run at the A-D1 title despite all their impressive size and athleticism it’ll be Patterson’s play I think that makes the biggest difference, with a college-sized frontcourt in the forms of Keith Williams and Xavier Shegog working from 15 feet and in and Dennis Scott III looking to do most of his damage from the perimeter it’ll take a steely general to right the ship, when Patterson keeps his emotions in check and slows the game down a bit he is among the better true floor leaders in the Metro.

Gicarri Harris | SG | Grayson | 2024

With just one senior in Chad Moodie as a key contributor it might be easy to say next year’s Rams team is the one to watch for a 7A title, but Harris in particular has such a star quality and clutch performer gene in his game that when CJ Hyland gets back from his shoulder injury this ’22-23 group is firmly very much among the favorites in a stacked 7A, knocking down key shots and most importantly not being afraid to take them has been a trademark of his as his impressive all-around SG game continues to thrive.

Mekhi Ragland | C | Berkmar | 2025

While the move of 2024 guard Roc Lee over to Mays isn’t great news for the Pats as a whole it may have actually helped Ragland as he should see more quality touches and be more involved in the base sets, and the New Jersey transfer has a sweet soft touch with his jumper and while he plays his ways into better physical shape the upside to what he has in the tank around the basket and with his obvious IQ as a hooper is obvious, his future battles with Grayson 2025 Amir Taylor will be must-watch stuff and quickly now has placed himself in the convo at 6-9 as one of the top big man sophomores in the state.

Bilal Abdur-Rahman | PG | Norcross | 2023

It was always going to be interesting to see how Rahman and fellow transfer Mari Jordan were going to mesh with the state-championship core returning, despite starting off 6-0 prior to the nightcap with Newton we got our first real taste at Hawks-Naismith of just how well things appear to be going, knowing how good Rahman has been the last two years as a pure scoring PG it shouldn’t have been too big a surprise to see the Alabama A&M commit drop 22 pts versus the Rams and add a huge defensive play late in the game as the Blue Devils erased a 4Q double-digit deficit and won 73-71 in an OT thriller.

Jabez Jenkins | SF | Newton | 2024

In watching the Rams you see how good they are as they move along this early season still without the recovering Jakai Newton, 28 pts from Steph Castle was nearly enough to drive them to a win on Norcross’ home floor and it remains fascinating with this roster to see who will fill the 2nd chair each time out, Jenkins has enormous ability both as a knockdown shooter at 6-4 but also as an athletic defender of multiple positions and a gritty competitor, while they wait for Jakai to return perhaps in January Jenkins will continue to be huge for them and draw more eyeballs to his growing recruiting profile.

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 also spent 3 years as a sports writer at two newspapers in New Jersey. After a championship-coaching background on the HS-level also in NJ, he accepted the Girl’s Basketball Head Coaching position in May 2022 at Mt Bethel Christian Academy. You can reach him at keithagran1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.