#OTRHoopsReport: 2017-18 GHSA State Basketball Playoffs Preview Part II – February 16, 2018

To be the man in Class AAAAA, you got to go through Tye Fagan and the Upson-Lee Knights. Can anyone knock them off this year? Photo cred – City of Palms Media

2017-18 GHSA State Basketball Playoffs Preview

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 4A and 5A classifications.

By: @HypesouthMedia

AAAAA Favorites

Buford Wolves

The Wolves have seemingly gotten hot at the right time. The defending 5A state champions have a favorable path to get back to the finals. Four-star Marcus Watson and company are winners 9-of-10 games to close the regular season and look to continue trending up in the postseason. For us, Buford isn’t the clear cut favorite as it were a year ago, but still remain a legitimate contender to bring home the ultimate prize.

Key Players: Marcus Watson, David Viti, Alex Jones

Warner Robins Demons

Warner Robins has knocked on the door to a championship a couple times in recent years, but have yet to walk through it. The Demons flaunt a senior heavy core group that are ready to take that next step. Georgia State signee Nelson Phillips leads the way and Jacolbey Owens is the perfect second fiddle. When Phillips and Owens are clicking, the Demons are hard to beat, but it will be the “others” that ultimately decide how far they go. Champ Dawson, Jaron Zanders, MJ King, Keshun Houser, Jaydon Norman, Jam’l Dillard and more have all seen valuable minutes and will have do to their fair share of contributing in order for Warner Robins to win it all.

Key Players: Nelson Phillips, Jacolbey Owens

Glue Guys: Champ Dawson, Jaron Zanders

AAAAA Darkhorses

Maynard Jackson Jaguars

Maynard Jackson won 24-of-26 games in the regular season and are ranked in the GHSA top-10 by many reputable peach state media outlets. However, many state analysts believe that the Jaguars schedule was not up to par and feel they are pretenders rather than contenders. However, I beg to differ because I know Coach Travis Williams will have his troops ready to do battle. Marquavis Carter and Damari Johnson anchor the backcourt combining for 35.9 points per game while Terrance Boykin and Timipa Ogoun handle frontcourt business. Maynard Jackson isn’t expected to threaten any of the “top teams” in this classification, but beware because the Jaguars have more than enough firepower to make some serious noise.

Key Players: Marquavis Carter, Damari Johnson

Glue Guys: Terrance Boykin, Timipa Ogoun

*Deep Sleeper Team- Columbia Eagles*

AAAAA Favorites

Upson-Lee Knights

The Knights bring Georgia’s longest active winning streak (58) with them into the postseason and are arguably the best overall team in the state regardless of classification. National media outlets such as USA Today and Fab 50 consider Upson-Lee among the nation’s best. A big reason for the Knights success is Middle Tennessee signee Tye Fagan’s presence and leadership. The 6-3 south-paw guard is at his best this time of year and his teammates follow his lead. We are firm believers of… in order to be the “man,” you have to beat the “man” and until someone does so, Upson-Lee is our pick in the AAAA classification.

Key Players: Tye Fagan, Travon Walker, Zyrice Scott

Glue Guys: Cameron Traylor, Jacorey Smith

St. Pius X Golden Lions

Last season’s AAAA runner-up St. Pius X is seemingly on its way back to the championship game, where the aforementioned Upson-Lee Knights more than likely will be waiting. With that said, St. Pius X is very capable of dethroning the Knights and will have all the motivation it needs to do so. I know we’ve gotten way ahead of ourselves, but anything short of a rematch in this classification would be somewhat of a surprise to many.

Key Players: Everett Lane, Matthew Gonzalo

AAAA Darkhorses

Sandy Creek Patriots

When I look at this team, I can’t help but to recognize how well constructed it is. The Patriots have just as much talent, size, depth, and experience as any team in the state, but for whatever reasons can’t seem to get over the hump in the postseason. Just to put everyone on notice, Sandy Creek can win the AAAA state championship if Jared Godfrey, TJ Bickerstaff, and Xavier Brewer can put up consistent efforts over the next five games. As much as we like the top two teams in this class, the threat of Sandy Creek getting on one accord could be scary.

Key Players: Jared Godfrey, TJ Bickerstaff, Xavier Brewer

Glue Guys: Chris Porter, Julian Alexander

Westover Patriots

Westover’s three-headed backcourt monster is probably the best in 4A. Camryn Weston, Jordan Brown, and Kris Gardner pumped in a combined 45.5 points per game during the regular season, accounting for over 60% of the Patriots offensive production. Westover will be a tough out and could pose a threat if it can get help from the frontcourt guys. Michael Isler Jr. and Ikenine Ochie both stand at 6-foot-4 and are blue collar workers on the interior who could be key in the Patriots postseason run. Also, 6-foot-6 freshman Isaac Abbide could be a difference maker playing spot minutes.

Key Players: Camryn Weston, Jordan Brown, Kris Gardner

Glue Guys: Michael Isler Jr., Ikenine Ochie

*Deep Sleeper Team- Baldwin Braves*

 Kowacie Reeves is a contributor to On the Radar Hoops

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