OTR Thanksgiving Showcase – PREVIEW – October 26, 2023
On the Radar Hoops will host the second annual Thanksgiving Showcase November 22, 2023, at Central Gwinnett High School. Some of the area’s top teams will compete to get an early test of their mettle. It will also provide an ideal opportunity for individual players to showcase their abilities in front of Atlanta’s top media outlets. Here is a rundown of what to expect.
By: Jonathan Hemingway
Central Gwinnett vs. Tri-Cities (8:00pm)
The host school, Central Gwinnett, is poised for a breakout season. Coach Marcus Spivey has put in work developing his roster and has several athletes that are on the radar of college coaches. Senior guard Tim Smith elevated himself this past summer as a reliable playmaker off the dribble. He will be flagged in the back court by fellow senior Caden Goins and sophomore Malik Rideout. Senior post, Amadou Barry, figures to play a big role in the paint for the Knights as well. His defense and rebounding will be key for the team’s success.
Tri-Cities under the direction of Omari Forts has enjoyed a run of success over the past four years. His teams have earned GHSA Final Four berths in each one of those years and brought home a state championship in 2019 and 2022. The Bulldogs have found the recipe for success in recent years with strong guard play and stout defense. Last year it was Presbyterian bound guard Kory Mincy who led the charge. Malique Johnson was set to take over the reigns for Tri-Cities, but he recently separated his shoulder. Freshman guard Tre Keith has filled in nicely picking up the scoring slack in this early season. See his highlights from the OTR Breakout Camp here.
Peachtree Ridge vs. Grayson (6:30pm)
Peachtree Ridge looks to continue the momentum they created with a 22-win season last year under the direction of Jordan Griffin. Connor Teasley is the Lions top returning scorer. He is off to a hot start with a few 20-point games in this young season. He is a big-time scorer who does not need a lot of time nor space to get his shot off. Senior guard Trey Hobbs also figures to be a key figure in this equation. The 6-foot-1 guard had a terrific showing this fall at the Southern Hoops Report Showcase. He is an athletic slasher capable of scoring or dishing to open teammates. Also be sure to watch for 6-8 forward Derwin Hodge in this match-up. He is a prospect with a high ceiling and will get a good test versus the Rams frontcourt in this matchup.
The Rams are looking to finish the business of winning a state championship this season. Last year’s Final Four run came to a end after being edged out by Wheeler, who went on to claim the 7A championship. Coach Geoffrey Pierce’s roster got even more talented. They have added senior transfers Jacob Wilkins and Laz Mason. Gicarri Harris returns as one of the nation’s premier two-way guards. He is joined in the back court by CJ Hyland and Anthony Alston, which will form one of the toughest backcourts in the state. Forward Amir Taylor will continue to anchor the front line for the Rams. His size, strength, and footwork will figure in as key attributes for the 6-8 junior.
Kell vs. Newton (5:00pm)
Kell notched the 6A GHSA Championship last season under the coaching of coach Jermaine Sellers. This year’s Longhorn team should have a different look with the departure of Peyton Marshall. The 7-footer is a nationally ranked talent, but this year’s team might be able to play a bit faster than they were able to last year. Senior guard CJ Brown will continue to be the team’s primary playmaker. The South Florida commit is one of the most explosive guards that we have evaluated in the state of the Georgia in recent memory. He will play alongside guards senior Jaylen Colon and junior Connor Staphylaris, which will form a diverse threat for the Longhorns. Colon played very well this fall at the Southern Hoops Report Jamboree as he showcased his slashing and playmaking skills. Stophylaris is solidifying his reputation as one of the top shooters in the state with each outing that we see. The potential x-factor in this game is forward Cannon Richards. With the departure of Marshall, Richards will play a lot more on the interior. But the 6-7 senior has versatility to stretch the defense with his jumper and take slower defenders to the rim with his handle.
Barry Browner takes over as the new head coach at Newton. He inherits a roster that looks to be competitive right away. Senior guard and Belmont commit, Jabez Jenkins, looks to lead the way for the Rams. He is joined by senior guard Katayvon Jefferies and junior guard Tim Prather in the back court. Also be watching for the development of junior wing Davin “Ted” Neal this season. He has been a consistent performer at OTR events in the past year.
Cedar Grove vs. Osborne (3:30pm)
Cedar Grove notched a 20-win season last year that was credited largely to senior experience and solid guard play. But they did boast of an up-and-coming freshman who will be ready to take the lead this year as a sophomore. Manny Green, a 6-6 wing, flashed talent, potential, and versatility when we watched him last year at the Thanksgiving Showcase. We expect to see Green take steps forward in his development this season.
The Cardinals are situated in one of the toughest regions in the state. They still managed to earn 17 wins and make a run into the second round of the state tournament. Junior guard Akai Fleming returns as the team’s go-to player and will be asked to shoulder a fair amount of the playmaking. Coach DeMarques Lakes will look for new faces to step up this season as his team lost several key contributors to graduation last season. There are high expectations for Omari Chaundrey to contribute right away. Add in transfer Hakeem Weems, who is a junior 6-8 prospect who is big, physical and versatile. Another junior to watch for in this game is Jeremiah Waters. He demonstrated go-to scoring ability this summer and pocketed a Kennesaw State offer in the process. Sophomore guard Aiden Aponte is another watch-list prospect as a sharp-shooter.
Pebblebrook vs. Greenforest (2:00pm)
Coach George Washington continues to assemble great teams at Pebblebrook. For a decade, the Falcons have been a steady force every year in GHSA play. This year will be no different. Look for junior guard duo of Max McNiell and Caleb Thomas to shine this season. Both players were standout performers at the fall OTR camp series.
Greenforest notched another 20-win season last year but were shocked in the Final Four by a last second shot that prevented a chance at a back-to-back championship run by the Eagles. Coach Rory Griffin loses several key contributors to graduation, but the cupboard is not bare. Senior guard Elijah Lewis returns as the team’s leader in the back court. Lewis proved to be one of the steadiest perimeter scorers at OTR tourneys this spring and summer. He will be joined by Caleb Kawela along the front line. The 6-6 pivot man is a nightly double-double threat. But the player that most people ought to be most interested in is junior forward Daniel Daramola. The 6-10 prospect flashed some serious skill and versatility at the OTR Super 64 Camp to add to his fantastic athleticism.
Walnut Grove vs. Gainesville (12:30pm)
Coach Witherspoon’s squad finished with a 17-win season last year. And realistically, his team could have easily had 20-plus wins if he chose to schedule easier opponents before Christmas. The Warriors finished with a State Tournament birth and valuable experience that ought to make them a favorite coming out of the Region-AAAA this season. Their success will likely hinge upon the play of junior guard Marcus Smith II. The lefty is a proven handler and distributor. He seems poised to take his game and his teams up another notch this season. Check his video from the SHR Showcase here.
Coach Charlemagne Gibbons looks to re-establish the Red Elephants as a top program in the state of Georgia. He is cultivating a young group of players who are set to establish a culture of winning in Gainesville. Guard Trey Hobbs showed us this fall why he will be in the mix for this squad.
Jonathan Hemingway has been a National Evaluator for On the Radar Hoops since 2013. He has been involved in the basketball community since 1995 as a coach, camp director and evaluator. You can reach him at JLHemingway@gmail.com and follow him on twitter @JL_Hemingway.
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