#OTRHoopsReport: 2017-18 GHSA State Basketball Playoffs Preview – February 15, 2018
Can Shariffe Cooper and the talent rich roster of McEachern take home the Class AAAAAAA championship in 2018?
The Georgia High School Association’s state basketball playoffs get underway this weekend and teams from seven classifications will begin their quests to become state champions. On the Radar takes a look at a couple favorites, dark-horses, and deep sleepers in the 6A and 7A classifications.
The juggernaut Indians suffered only two losses during the regular season, which both came against national powerhouses, University School (FL) and DeMatha (MD). McEachern handled in-state competition rather handedly and we don’t see that trend ending anytime in the foreseeable future. With a junior laden team back from a 29-1 (Final 4) campaign a season ago, look for the Indians to take care of unfinished business in the GHSA AAAAAAA classification this postseason.
The talent and depth on this team is unparalleled, but if there is one thing that gives us cause to pause, it’s the late season addition of 4-star wing Charles Smith IV. If things get tight, will identity and chemistry issues rear their ugly heads?
Key Players: Isaac Okoro, Sharife Cooper
Glue Guys: Babtunde Akingbola, Brandon Suggs
Sharife Cooper of McEachern (GA) made a name for himself this season on the national stage
— Shun Williams (@OntheRadarHoops) February 1, 2018
Norcross Blue Devils
The Blue Devils enter postseason play riding an emotional high from a heroic effort by Kyle Sturdivant in the Region 7AAAAAAA championship game. The savvy floor general nailed the game-winning basket as time expired to lift Norcross to a 53-52 victory over Meadowcreek. If it’s anyone that can challenge McEachern in the 7A classification, the Blue Devils are our pick. They certainly have the star power and experience to match up, so don’t be totally surprised if Norcross ends up hoisting the trophy in mid-March.
Key Players: Kyle Sturdivant, Brandon Boston, Dalvin White
Glue Guys: Issa Muhammad, Joseph Toppin
Class of 2019 guard Kyle Sturdivant of Norcross (GA) delivered a win for the Blue Devils in the region championship game
— Shun Williams (@OntheRadarHoops) February 12, 2018
The Falcons come into to the postseason with a 22-game winning streak and feel confident in their chances of getting it done. Pebblebrook will need consistency from the frontcourt to go along with its excellent backcourt duo in order to win it all. If the Falcons can find a way to make this formula work, we give them a puncher’s chance at bringing home the state title.
Key Players: DJ Murray, Grant Howard
Glue Guys: Mervin James, Josh Graham
Grant Howard @iam_g10 scores a lay up as time expires to help Pebblebrook (GA) @gewj2391 pull off the victory over Wheeler (GA)
Final: Pebblebrook 61 Wheeler 60@GaHoopCircle @KyleSandy355 @CoachHines28 pic.twitter.com/CWrrFjSjF7
— Shun Williams (@OntheRadarHoops) February 11, 2018
The Wildcats are a team that inexplicably inconsistent. They have all the tools needed to go on a run, but the big question is, which Wheeler team will show up? If McDonald’s All-American EJ Montgomery and the crew, Brandon Younger, Isaac Martin etc. come in laser focused, watch out!
Key Players: EJ Montgomery, Brandon Younger
Glue Guys: Issac Martin, Roscoe Eastmond
Wheeler (GA) forward EJ Montgomery @E_Montomery has been named Region 2 AAAAAAA Player of the Year @lthompson4lt pic.twitter.com/9EdCk2uZ4P
— Shun Williams (@OntheRadarHoops) February 8, 2018
*Deep Sleeper Team-Mountain View*
Gainesville Red Elephants
Gainesville started the season on a 4-game losing streak, but got on track winning the next 20-of-22. Going into the postseason, we feel this is a case in point where tough regular season scheduling will pay off. The Red Elephants are battle tested and more than likely won’t see any competition tougher than what they’ve already faced. Middle Tennessee signee KJ Buffen and company are the favorites heading into the playoffs.
Key Players: KJ Buffen, Xavier Bledson
Glue Guys: Jarred Rosser, Jarrel Rosser
Gainesville (GA) forward KJ Buffen @kbuffen1 has been named Co Region 8-AAAAAA Player of the Year pic.twitter.com/TX1MV2GWOc
— Shun Williams (@OntheRadarHoops) February 6, 2018
Langston Hughes Panthers
The reigning AAAAAA state champions are back to defend their crown. Two words explain the Panthers, LANDERS NOLLEY! The Virginia Tech signee can get hot at the drop of a dime and that happens more often than not. At 6-7, 205-pounds, Nolley is arguably the peach state’s best scorer and can get buckets at will. However, other players will need to step up over the next five games if Langston Hughes wants to repeat as 6A state champions. Who will it be?
Key Player: Landers Nolley
Glue Guys: Tyler Smith, Tyrel Morgan
Virginia Tech signee Landers Nolley has had multiple 50 point games this season for Langston Hughes (GA)@JLHemingwayPSB has tabbed Nolley as one of the front runners to be named Mr. Georgia Basketball
— Shun Williams (@OntheRadarHoops) January 17, 2018
The Pirates don’t get a lot of press, but they have been a pretty solid squad as of late. In fact, last season, Brunswick lost to Langston Hughes in the state championship game. However, this postseason, the key will be if the Pirates can maintain their mental focus from game to game. Brunswick got away with some big mental lapses during the regular season and will have to change that on the fly if it wants to make another deep run.
Key Players: Marcus Scott, Tarique Gray
Glue Guys: Jaylen Jackson
Marcus Scott @Marcusscott23 of Brunswick (GA) has been named Region 2-AAAAAA Player of the Year pic.twitter.com/ovSorReERF
— Shun Williams (@OntheRadarHoops) February 14, 2018
*Deep Sleeper Team- Tri Cities*
Kowacie Reeves is a contributor to On the Radar Hoops.
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