OTR Tip-Off Classic Preview – November 12, 2022

NORCROSS, Georgia, – The OTR Tip-Off Classic will host some of the top teams in the state of Georgia on Saturday November 19. For more than a decade this event has provided an early season test for teams looking to be competitive during the regular season and beyond. Here is a rundown of the teams and players to watch at this year’s TOC.

Media Credentials 

12:00pm Central Gwinnett vs. Lovett

Coach Marcus Spivey in his first season at the helm at Central Gwinnett is looking to position the Knights as a competitor in Region 8-AAAAAAA. Transfer John Mark Avitabile ought to be a big part of that equation. The 6-4 guard is one of the top shooters we evaluated during the travel basketball season. He is poised for a standout senior season.

Coming off a 2021-22 season where the Lions finished 17-12 and earned a Sweet 16 appearance, coach Mike Harner and his staff are geared up for another strong season. Michigan commit, Christian Anderson Jr., figures to be a focal point for this season’s success. The junior guard earned attention and notoriety on a national stage this fall. He is primed for a breakout high school season as well.

1:30pm Walnut Grove vs. Tri-Cities

Coach Witherspoon and the Warriors are coming off a 18 win season and a State Tournament appearance. Look for sophomore point guard Marcus Smith to lead the way this season. Despite being an underclassman, he plays the game with poise and confidence. Witherspoon’s roster has great balance with a frontline presence from Alex Cannon and Deston Christian.

Tri-Cities has the recipe for success, a strong back court. Senior Kory Mincy and junior Malique Johnson ought to combine for one of the most lethal guard tandems in the state. Coach Omar Forts looks to put the Bulldogs back in contention in Class AAAAA.

3:00pm Mount Vernon vs. Lanier

Mount Vernon is ready to build upon a 16-win record in 2021-22. Coach Tarrik Mabon will look to junior forward Dennis Scott III to carry a big load this season. The 6-10 prospect can stretch the floor with his shooting range but can be a force in the paint when necessary. Scott is joined by senior center Keith Williams who is a strong, physical presence who ought to compliment Scott’s hi-lo game. Point guard AJ Patterson brings a steady hand at the lead guard spot. He is effective at getting the ball to the right spot and the right time. Also give Xavier Shegog a close look in this match-up. He is a 6-6 wing who transferred in from Tennessee this season. He is a high-flyer that should be a nice fit for the Mustangs.

There is optimism surrounding this year’s Lanier Longhorn program. With four returning starters and the addition of senior forward Osmar Garcia, coach Branden Mayweather has a roster full of experience and balance. Forward Jayce Nathaniel is a prospect who is trending in Sugar Hill. The 6-8 forward has reported offers from Georgia and Georgia State.

4:30pm Greenforest vs. Parkview

Coming off a State Tournament bid, the Parkview Panthers are looking to level up in the area. The return junior point guard Chasz Holmes who we noted as an emerging prospect at the Southern Hoops Report Showcase this fall. Jacob Wilkins is one of the top sophomores in the Peach State, at 6-7 Wilkins is a versatile forward who can score at multiple level and be a force on the defense end of the floor. Also keep an eye on junior Adonai Mussie. The 6-8 F/C showed a diversity of skill this summer on the circuit and at fall camps.

Greenforest continues their tradition of keeping their frontline stacked with talented prospects. Mississippi State commit, Gai Chol, is the latest (perhaps most talented) product to come through for the Eagles in recent years. Chol, a 7-1 senior, is joined by another 7-foot prospect in DK Manyiel, who is head to Georgia State next season. Coach Rory Griffin looks to have another squad ready to compete for the Class A Private School championship in March.

6:00pm Grayson vs. Pebblebrook

Coach Geoffrey Pierce has turned the Grayson Rams into perennial contender in the state of Georgia. Last season marked the seventh straight 20-win season and an Elite Eight finish. Senior forward Chad Moodie should anchor the paint for the Rams. He recently committed to Alabama A&M. Junior guard Gicarri Harris established himself as one of the top guards in the Southeast this summer. While class of 2025 forward Amir Taylor is one of the most promising underclassmen in the state.

Coach George Washington and the Falcons continued their streak of 20-win season last season. Finishing 28-3 and a Final 4 birth, Pebblebrook returns a roster ready to compete with anyone in the state. Senior Jaiun Simon, a Dayton commit, has proved his merit as a strong two-way wing who can get buckets. He is joined by a pair of sophomores who appear ready to contribute in major ways. Cameron Smith and Caleb Thomas are both class of 2025 guards who showed their talent at this fall’s Super 64 camp. Add in senior transfer Prince Johnson, who is a 6-7 forward, and 6-3 shooter Jase McCullough and coach Washington looks to have a full roster ready for battle.

7:30pm Norcross vs. Marist

The Norcross Blue Devils added their sixth state championship in school history last season. Coach Jesse McMillan has built a culture of excellence that will translate from year to year regardless of who is on the roster. This year’s team returns contributors from last season that include Samarion Bond, Mier Panoam, and Michael Zhang. Also watch for seniors Lamariyon Jordan and Bilal Abdur-Rahman. Jordan is a 6-6 wing Georgia commit who brings a high athletic ceiling with an all-around skill set. Abdur-Rahman is an Alabama A&M commit.

The outlook for Marist is bright coming into the 2022-23 season. Unfortunately, the War Eagles will not be at full strength on Saturday night. Talented senior forward Ben Ritger is out with an injury until January. Junior guard, Luke Harpring, is currently helping the Marist football team on a post season run. Coach John Bauersfeld will still have Jesse Gaynes and Garrett Ledford to lean upon in the night’s premier match-up. Gaynes is a senior point guard who is trending up by evaluators within the city. Ledford is a 6-4 wing who we watched this summer with Team Harpring on the OTR circuit. He is a high energy prospect that brings a diverse skill set to the court.

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.