OTR Tip-Off Classic PREVIEW – November 14, 2023
The annual On the Radar Hoops Tip-Off Classic returns to Norcross High School on Saturday November 18th. This event showcases many of the city’s top teams and provides an opportunity for exposure and competition. For basketball fans and aficionados alike, it provides a look at great individual talent as well. Here is a glimpse into a few of the names who headline the event.
By: Jonathan Hemingway
Norcross vs. Shiloh (9:00pm)
Coach Jesse McMilllan looks to continue the tradition of excellence in the House of Blue this season. The 2022-23 season ended with another 20-win season and a Final Four appearance. The expectations will be similar with guard Michael Pace in the back court for the Blue Devils. The 6-foot-4 senior is smooth slasher who can elevate and finish in the lane as well as any player that will compete on the 18th. Jaron Sulsberry created a buzz this fall with his showing at the OTR Super 64 Camp. The sophomore is a terrific athlete capable of giving highlight dunks in the open court. He already holds multiple high major offers. The Blue Devils added Casey Williams who transferred in from Tennessee this school year. He holds an offer from Morehouse. Also count senior point guard Toby Ojukwu as a key part of the Blue Devils trajectory this season.
The Generals have high expectations for this season. Much of that optimism is based upon the talent of junior forward Tylis Jordan. The 6-foot-9 prospect is rated as a 4-star and top 100 prospect in the class of 2025 nationally by 247 sports.
Grayson vs. Woodward Academy (7:30pm)
The Rams created a buzz during the offseason with a couple of additions to the roster. Jacob Wilkins, who recently committed to the University of Georgia, joins coach Geoffrey Pierce’s squad for his senior year. The 6-8 wing-forward boasts of the heralded Wilkins athleticism and is surefire bet to deliver a highlight dunk every night. Senior point guard Laz Mason will also join the squad as added fire power in the back court, which already boasts of Gicarri Harris, Anthony Alston (App State commit) and CJ Hyland (Western Carolina commit). Check out Mason’s highlights from the fall here. Do not disregard the role that Amir Taylor will play either. The 6-8 forward will be called upon to anchor Grayson in the paint.
Woodward Academy has guards to challenge the Rams in this early season match-up. Their back court features junior Zac Foster who has a host of offers including Cincinnati, South Florida, and Mississippi State. The 6-3 guard was on campus in Starkville last month. Seniors Brandon Peters and Devin White Jr. showcased their skills well in the SHR Jamboree in a preseason tune-up. They will be complimented well by Deke Cooper Jr. along the wing. He is a 6-5 prospect with excellent athleticism and a college ready frame. His perimeter jumper is a skill that should not be ignored either.
Central Gwinnett vs. Berkmar (6:00pm)
There will be plenty of guards to watch in this match-up. Look for Malik Rideout to emerge as a top sophomore in the state this season. His reputation as an athlete with a hard-nosed defensive mindset is complemented with emerging playmaking skill. Watch is highlight from OTR Breakout camp here. Senior guard Donte Golden will also figure to be a key piece to the Knights formula this year. He committed to Voorhees this fall. Coach Marcus Spivey looks to blend Rideout’s athleticism with senior guards Tim Smith (Vorhees Commit) and Caden Goins skill. Senior post Amadou Barry is a player with athletic tools that are worthy of a look from college coaches.
Berkmar will look to 6-10 post Mekhi Ragland as their focal point in the half court. Although the rugged and strong Ragland can score on the interior, the junior is capable of stretching the floor with his jumper. He recently picked up an offer from North Carolina A&T. Coach Greg Phillips will also look to a pair of transfer guards to pace the offense. Corey Gatlin and Michael White are two kids that can get up and down the court with quickness. They will be flanked by Eddie Cook on the wing who is a noted shot maker with size. Cook picked up an offer from Georgia State this fall. Also keep an eye for freshman Janon Singh who is looking to impact with his energy and effort.
Pace Academy vs. Langston Hughes (4:30pm)
Langston Hughes graduated a lot of experience and production from their roster last season. But do not count them out from making a run in the post season quite yet. A trio of up-and-coming prospects are worth tracking. Senior guard Brentis Schaeffer earned attention this summer with his play both on the travel circuit and at the GBCA Live period event. Alongside of Schaeffer in the back court is 6-5 Cameron Catholic who flashed talent and production at the OTR The Opening with Game Elite. Add in class of 2025 forward Jaron Lamelle is a player who can provide an interior presence with rebounding and scoring.
Coach Sharman White earned another ring to add to his collection last season with Pace Academy. Things look promising for another opportunity this season with many key contributors returning. The guard duo of KJ Greene (UCF Commit) and Eric Chatfield are a handful to contain for opposing defenders. Write down the name MJ Madison as a name to remember in this one. The 6-7 forward is a promising prospect with a versatile skill set.
Mount Vernon vs. Sandy Creek (2:00pm)
This game will feature two of the top forwards in the city. Mount Vernon’s Dennis “Trey” Scott III has a reputation as a floor stretcher. The 6-10 senior continues to garner recruiting interest heading into his final year of high school. Scott will be flanked by fellow senior Xavier Shegog along the front line. The 6-6 forward recently committed to West Georgia. Check his highlights from last year’s Tip-Off Classic here.
Coach Jon-Michael Nickerson returns senior forward Micah Smith off a 3A state championship season. Smith is a 6-8 do-it-all prospect who committed to James Madison earlier this year. Fellow senior Amari Brown will join Smith in the lineup. The lefty is a playmaker and a reliable distributor. Look for junior Jared White to step up and contribute this season. He showed promise on the OTR circuit this spring and summer.
Pebblebrook vs. Walnut Grove (12:30pm)
Coach George Washington looks to continue the Falcons string of 20-win seasons on the backs of a couple of talented guards. Max McNeill and Caleb Thomas are dynamic playmakers dripping with athleticism. The tandem will make their case as the top 2025 backcourt paring in the state.
The Warriors are led by junior point guard Marcus Smith II, who will make his case as a top prospect in the state this season. Coach Will Witherspoon will put the ball in his hands early and often to create plays for himself and others. Look for the emergence of Chase Roux this season as well. The senior guard is primed for a stellar year.
Lanier vs. Parkview (11:00am)
Coach Branden Mayweather has the Longhorns on the right trajectory these days. With a pair of Final Four appearances and region championships in hand, the Longhorns are a force to pay attention to yearly. This year’s group in Sugar Hill will be led by Tahai “Boogie” Morgan at the point. The hardnosed lead guard is a handful on the defensive end and capable playmaker on the offensive end. Boogie’s brother, Amari Morgan is a different type of player, but poised for a breakout season. He is a 6-5 wing oozing with talent and potential. But it could be Cameron Thornton who is the difference maker this season for the Longhorns. The senior guard is poised to shoulder the load this year.
Coach Jonathan Collins looks to keep the Panthers on track despite losing a few key pieces from last year’s roster. Junior guard Kiaundrey Thomas will get plenty of opportunities to show his talent this year. He has earned a reputation this fall with shooting range and a defensive mindset.
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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