“Make The Trip” – Must-See Guys in Clayton/Henry

CLAYTON, HENRY COUNTIES, GA – Some love for the south side of Atlanta, as we continue out Metro look at “Must-See” guys from surrounding counties.

I traveled a lot out of market for hoops coverage this spring and summer, so my canvassing of teams featuring predominantly players from the south side is at best incomplete, but here are some dudes I did catch and require attention from fans and recruiters alike.

By: Keith Agran

Yannis Woods, 6-7, PF, Jonesboro, 2022 (Georgia Fire, pictured above)

The Fire is a program I got to see a lot of including a visit to one of their combined workouts, and the team is flush with intriguing talent emanating from schools south along 75 who don’t get near the hype that the northern ‘burbs draw, Woods is another who took to the Showcases before June and did himself a ton of justice with his play at both ends against some notable bigs, plays much bigger than 6-7 particularly at the defensive end where he’s an absolute eraser, on the offensive end he’s a high-riser as a finisher whose length plays a key role in what he gets around the basket, great work rate and competitiveness is a staple and this will be a get for a next-level program that has the potential to develop into something really special under the right staff, Maryville and Voorhees were smartly and prominently on his tail during the early summer and more will come.

David Thomas, 6-2, PG, Eagle’s Landing, 2023 (Team Huncho)

David Thomas

In a 2023 class loaded with guards of all; shapes and sizes, it’s the combo of physicality and speed that brings Thomas to light, easily morphing between the point or the wing, he can do the pass-first thing and carve up a defense with penetration and vision, or he can move off the ball and kill you with the blow-by and 3-pt accuracy, all of this is done with the frame of a running back and the mind more importantly of a seasoned lead man, LSU is the headliner to offer but Tennesee Tech, Presbyterian, Western Carolina and Troy are among the others, already a state champion from a year ago nearly everyone is back down in McDonough and the guard rotation returns dynamic athlete 6-4 2022 Jordan Fordyce and will welcome greater contributions from an exciting pair of 2023 classmates in Khylan McKennie and Isaiah Parrott.

AJ Barnes, 6-6, SF/SG, Eagle’s Landing, 2022 (Game Elite Big 5) 

A team as good as Eagle’s Landing was last year and is sure to be again warrants two on this list, 2022 combo G/F Fabian Desilva, coming off a monster summer of his own for Quiet Storm, could easily be a worthy mention and much is expected from the 6-5 senior this coming season, but it’s Barnes and his noticeable versatility at his size which becomes must-see, in a feature June GBCA Camp game against Kaleb Banks and Fayette County he was dominant at both ends without doing a ton of scoring as he locked up the skilled Banks on D and got in on plenty of action on the glass and attacking from the perimeter, it was that kind of display which makes Barnes’ skillset attractive as he can fill up the points column but just as equally impact the game in the the other categories, didn’t necessarily emerge from the live periods with offers coming out of the woodwork, but that’s a mistake and will surely change when coaches hit the road during the regular season.

Keenan Gray, 6-4, SG, McDonough, 2024 (Game Elite Blue)

Made a statement both at the Pro Movement Showcase held at his home school in the spring and over at SSA shortly thereafter with Game Elite Blue making for a devastating backcourt combo with Kell 2024 Jaylen Colon, has a slyness about the way he gets around the floor and it surprises defenders for a player this young, high IQ scorer who can get you with power, wiggle or explosion, a physical guard who goes to the glass hard and plays with an edge, one to keep a close eye on along with 2025 riser Nigel Thomas for what could be a sleeper of a Warhawk bunch, who has a lot more in the tank with good-looking 2022 veterans Demauriye Gasque and Howard Fagan and a pir of 2023’s to watch in guard Avante Nichols and big man Grant Randall.

Kaymen Brown, 6-4, SG, Jonesboro, 2022 (D-Favors Celtics)

Easy to get lost on a D-Favors team with the sterling Gaddis Heath but Brown nonetheless was hard to miss with his fight, grit and sneaky skillset that includes him being one of the better passes I saw all summer, add him to a list of best rebounding guards as well, can guard 3 spots with a good frame and plenty of foot speed and while his shot doesn’t come out of the Jerry-West catalog of Aesthetics he still manages to post numbers and stuff the stat sheet for whatever his team needs, an elite athlete who translates well to the next level who just kept popping up all summer on Scouts and Coaches Twitter feeds for all the positive things he does out there.

Khalil Stead, 5-11, PG, Stockbridge, 2022 (Georgia Fire)

Khalil Stead

Fits the classic mold of the undersized point man who can get overlooked on size alone, from what I saw in a summer where he was often among the most sound guards on the floor that would be a mistake, plays with smarts and skill and his defensive instincts and on-ball pressure alone make him someone to watch, love his composure with the ball but that doesn’t hide a lot of fight in his game as he can get things going out in the open floor or hurt you as a penetrator, paired well this spring and summer with rising 2023 F Darius Reynold of Cedar Grove on that Fire Premier bunch and will have another Fire member intriguing 6-5 2022 wing Trenton Dillard alongside him in the Tigers lineup.

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.