#OTRHoopsReport: Thanksgiving Tip-Off Classic PREVIEW – November 2, 2018

The Grayson Rams are positioned to be one of the top teams in the Greater Atlanta Metro area. Photo – Ty Freeman

NORCROSS, Georgia, – With high school teams practicing and preparing for the upcoming season, our focus shifts to prospects and teams are poised to make the most noise during the winter months. OntheRadarHoops.com will host its’ annual Thanksgiving showcase featuring many of the top teams in the Atlanta-Metro area. We take a look at this year’s match-ups and which players are positioned to have the standout performances.

Article composed by Jonathan Hemingway
Shun Williams contributed to this article

All games to be played at Norcross HS

Central Gwinnett HS Basketball. Photo – Ty Freeman

10:00am Central Gwinnett HS vs. North Clayton


Head Coach Emmett Rouse enters his second year at Central Gwinnett. He has a young squad and will be looking for class of 2020 guard Skylar Adams Jr. to step up in a big way this year. He is a returning starter and a potential shooting specialist for the Black Knights

Class of 2020 forward Xavier Valley is a name to track for North Clayton High School He is a 6-foot-7 prospect who is proving he can score the ball inside and out.

Shiloh High School Basketball. Photo – Ty Freeman

11:30am Langston Hughes vs. Shiloh


Coach Kim Rivers and Shiloh High School always put together a talented and competitive roster. Class of 2020 Toneari Lane will be asked to fill a major role for the Generals this year. The 6-5 wing-forward blends strength, finishing ability and face-up skill and projects as one of the top players in Gwinnett County. Add in class of 2019 forward Kendall Lewis who holds offers from Kent State and Tennessee State and coach Rivers has a core to build around again this season.

Langston Hughes and coach Rory Welsh come off a state championship in the 2017-18 season. That success was largely powered by one of the state’s most prolific scorers in Landers Nolley (Virginia Tech freshman). Look for a new trio to step up and fill that void this season. Class of 2019 post Pa Pa Samba is a proven finisher in the paint. Class of 2019 guard Tyrel Morgan is a high flyer and a great transition finisher. And pay attention to class of 2020 guard PJ Carter who is a proven shot maker. He was on campus at North Florida earlier this year.

TJ Bickerstaff of Sandy Creek HS

1:00pm Sandy Creek vs. Lithonia


Sandy Creek made a terrific run in last year’s GHSA tournament. They finished runner-up to Upson-Lee in the class AAAA state championship game. They return a big piece of that success in TJ Bickerstaff who gave his verbal commitment to Drexel earlier this year. Also put class of 2021 forward Jabari Smith on the watch-list this season. He is a potential high-major prospect with offers already from Georgia and Georgia Tech.

Lithonia features class of 2020 guard Eric Gaines who proved he can put up points in bunches last year as a sophomore. Middle Tennessee State was in to see him earlier this fall. Justin Myles is another prospect worth noting. He is a 6-7 forward full of potential who also contributed last season.

Class of 2020 forward Colin Granger of Lambert. Photo – Kris Watkins (Southern Hoops Report)

2:30pm Woodward Academy vs. Lambert


Class of 2020 forward Walker Kessler is one of the top players in the Atlanta area…and in the nation. He is a 5-star prospect with offers from over 20 different schools from around the country. The 6-10 prospect will be a must-watch for Woodward Academy at the Tip-Off Classic. Also look for Kevin Powell to make an impact in this game.

Lambert has been one of the most successful teams in the area over the past four years. Scott Bracco’s team reached the Sweet 16 last season and return a group of players that seem poised for another successful season. Class of 2020 Colin Granger is a 6-9 forward that has received plenty of attention this fall. His versatile skill set should provide an interesting match-up versus Kessler from Woodward. Point guard Mitch Ganote could be the difference in this game. His ability to affect the game in multiple ways is notable. Also watch for 6-6 wing Luke Champion as one of the event’s best shooters. He holds an offer from Georgia State.

Discovery HS Basketball. Photo – Ty Freeman

4:00pm Discovery vs. Southwest Dekalb


Coach Cory Cason and the Discovery Titans will no longer have the services of forward Kalu Ezkipe (Old Dominion freshman) this year. Replacing double-double stats is never an easy task, however they return a squad that might be more complete than last year. Class of 2020 guard Jaden Walker has been recognized nationally as one of the best at his position. The 6-4 guard has the shooting touch, athleticism and all around skill that has earned him an offer from Mercer last month. Class of 2019 Leslie Nkereuwem is a 6-7 forward that cleans up the glass consistently. He committed to Longwood earlier this month. Watch class of 2019 Hasahnn Reynolds at this event. He might be the best newcomer in Gwinnett County this season. The 6-6 wing is a Miami native and has all the tools to play high level college basketball. Add in class of 2020 sharp-shooting guard London Riley, who has several Division-1 schools tracking, and the Titans have the depth to make a run in the postseason.

Southwest Dekalb has the firepower to run with anyone this season. Point guard KD Johnson made an impression at this fall’s OTR Super 64 Camp (Recap HERE). Last month he picked up a Georgia offer. Johnson’s back court running mate, Eugene Brown, has had plenty of college attention recently as well. Clemson, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State have all offered this 2020 guard. Providing interior balance for the Panthers is post James Glisson III. He has picked up interest from several low major D-1 schools recently. Class of 2020 guard Dajon Dancil burst onto the scene this fall at the SHR Elite 150 Camp (highlights HERE). He is an explosive guard that should show up in recruiting reports all year long. Keep an eye out for Panther transfers Maurice Harvey and Terrance Edwards who figure to be major pieces in this year’s success.

Quincy Canty of Cedar Shoals HS. Photo – Ty Freeman

5:30pm Cedar Shoals vs. Pebblebrook


Cedar Shoals is looking to build something big this season. Class of 2020 forward Quincy Canty looks to be at the center of the potential success. On the Radar contributor, Willie Evans, wrote about Canty at OTR Super 64 camp (read HERE). He recently picked up an offer from UAB and should see more offers roll in if he continues on this trajectory during the high school season. Teammate Tyler Johnson is another prospect to watch for the Jaguars. He is a do-it-all player who can contribute in a variety of ways.

Pebblebrook is lead by guard Jalen Harper and forward Devin Gordon. Gordon transferred in this season to play with coach George Washington’s squad. He picked up a SIU-Edwardsville offer this fall. Pebblebrook has a strong roster of contributors that include Kaleb Washington, Danny Stubbs, Jamall Clyce and Tyler Shirley. They are equipped to battle with most teams nightly because of their depth and experience.

7:00pm Grayson vs. Dacula


This match-up of two Gwinnett County teams should feature the strongest guard play of all the match-ups of the night. Grayson will bring a back court of class of 2019 Reco Hallmon and class of 2020 Deivon Smith. Hallmon is being tracked by a number of schools in the Southeast. Smith is one of the region’s biggest stock risers this fall. After being tabbed a standout at the OTR Super 64 camp (read HERE), he entered the 247 Sports top 100 rankings nationally (see HERE). Class of 2021 Ian Schieffelin is poised for a breakout season. The 6-7 forward showed a versatile skill set at the SHR Elite 150 camp last month (see HERE).

Dacula features a back court that is filled with play-making and scoring ability. Class of 2019 guard Brenden Tucker gave his verbal commitment to College of Charleston this fall. He is one of the most explosive finishers in the area. It can be argued that Mekhail Bethea is the player that makes the Falcons go. The 2019 point guard handles the duties of distributing and play-making efficiently. He is a high academic qualifier and should be considered one of Atlanta’s top uncommitted lead guards. Class of 2020 wing Quincy Ademokoya is a prospect with the highest ceiling in this match-up (read HERE). He is a 6-7 wing that is beginning to show high major scoring ability. When this trio is clicking, they might be one of toughest outs in the post season given their blend of experience and talent.

Norcross HS Basketball. Photo – Ty Freeman

8:30pm Norcross vs. Wheeler


Here is a match-up of the two of the highest profiled high school programs in the state of Georgia. Both programs have produced a number of professional basketball players and dozens of Division-1 signees. There are plenty of future stars stepping onto the court for this match-up.

Coach Jesse McMillan’s Blue Devils features class of 2019 point guard Kyle Sturvidant (Southern California commit), who might be the top player in the Atlanta Metro area. While there are other players that are certainly more physically gifted and talented, Sturvidant’s pedigree as a winner and competitor cannot be overlooked. Also in the Norcross back court is class of 2020 Brandon Boston, who is consensus top 20 prospect nationally (read more HERE). Class of 2020 guard Caleb Murphy is looking more and more like an impact player this season for the Blue Devils (read HERE). Add in important additions such as Daniel Ramsey (Xavier commit), Isaac Martin, Jaden Harris and Norcross is poised to make another deep post season run.

Wheeler will have the experience and the talent to compete with Norcross. Seniors Roscoe Eastmon, Charles Smith IV (Cal commit) and Malachi Rhodes (Bucknell commit) are ready to prove that they have the chemistry to compete with any team on any night. Most notably, Smith, who has a reputation as a premier shooter. He is looking to solidify his mark as one of the region’s top players as well.

Photo – Ty Freeman

Jonathan Hemingway is a National Evaluator for the OTRHoopsReport. Hemingway serves on the Board of Selectors for the Naismith Trophy. He is also the publisher of CoachHemi.com. He has been involved in the community since 1996 as a coach, camp director and evaluator. You can reach him via email at JonathanHemingway@PeachStateBasketball.com and follow him on twitter @JLHemingwayPSB

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