Playing for a Change at Pace – Standouts

ATLANTA, GA – Back to Pace Academy, as the Knights and Head Coach Sharman White hosted the Playing for a Change tournament once again to help continue shining a light on social injustices, and provide the fans with some excellent basketball along the way.

Some standouts from Dec 17:

By: Keith Agran

Da’Avion Thomas | 6-0 | PG | McDonough | 2023 

Part of the returning core for what is expected to be another run at the 4A crown, doesn’t have the flash per say of Avante Nichols or the pure bulk scoring ability of top 2024 Keenan Gray (featured below) but Thomas is unquestionably the glue to this group and possesses all the qualities you want in a floor general, can go on some scoring runs of his own with a sweet stroke and a frame that can get at the basket (18pts in a win over Tucker), among the better on-ball defenders in the ATL-Metro look for him to be right in the thick of it all come playoff time as the Warhawks look to silence the doubters and hang the 4A banner they’ve hungered for since this core of guys was young.

Keenan Gray | 6-3 | SG | McDonough | 2024 

Terrific respect for the senior core as well as the Warhawk 2025’s on the way with twins Zion and Zaiden Greene joining fast riser Nigel Thomas in that class to watch, but for this team to climb the mountaintop it may have to rely on the singular scoring talents of Gray (19 of 21 pts in the 2H of the Tucker victory), with the shot-clock running down or the possession stalled by good defense it’s Gray who has the ability to make something out of nothing or simply clear the floor and let him go to work, the power and creativity at the rim is a lot to handle for any opposing 2’s, athleticism and talent surrounds him on this Warhawk team once again looking to go deep in 4A and in his talented hands title rings could very well be unveiled down in Henry County.

Josiah Lawson | 6-6 | SG | Tucker | 2024 

This Tucker team intrigues with a bevy of good-looking 2024’s at the core as the likes of Khayri Dunn, Jamar Graham and Tahmar Mann (five 3s and 21 pts vs McDonough) can ably support a scoring talent like Lawson as they will look to make a run in a deep 5A classification, any squad that has a bucket-getter like Lawson who has the kind of inside-out ability colleges covet has a chance in a one and done playoff scenario, since his freshman campaign where he was automatic eye-catcher with his advanced ability Lawson has grown both physically and mentally with an approach to scoring and setting up teammates that anyone can see is ahead of the curve, must be marked out to 22 or 23 feet but has plenty of get-go off the bounce to cover that distance into the mid-range or all the way to the cup, this critical pre-senior year summer more D1 schools will almost surely get in on the race to land him.

Kenny Brayboy | 6-7 | PF | Eagle’s Landing | 2023 

David Thomas is the undisputed star and engine for what is yet another supremely talented ELHS club but watching Brayboy do so many little things was really interesting, he’s put some bulk on allowing him to more comfortably guard 4s and 5s from the opposition and that combined with his great leaping ability has him working hard stuffing the stat sheet in more categories, you can still find him at the arc for his nice jumper or get the ball to him in closer and he can force his way through traffic and to the FT line, clearly a top 2 or 3 team yet again in 5A look for Brayboy to make some key plays as the Eagles set their sights on a third straight trip to Macon.

Moses Hipps | 6-3 | CG | McEachern | 2024 

Among all the roster changes down in Powder Springs it’s clear watching a healthy Hipps just how talented the Philadephia-area transfer is, 2024 monster Ace Bailey will most often capture headlines and grab the scoring lead for the Indians but in getting a closer look at Hipps at Pace he will be a massive factor in any deep playoff run for this group, the deep shooting in itself (four 3s vs Jonesboro) is a big-time weapon but you love the composure and understanding from the guard spot that he brings to a cadre of wildly talented guards and active forwards up and down the roster, you can turn the ball over to him as a 1-man or let him stretch defenses from the wing and both will likely be key roles at different junctures as the Indian campaign with 7A title aspirations moves along.

JaQuez Akins | 6-0 | CG | Jonesboro | 2023 

The Cards had McEachern on the ropes early before succumbing by 10 with the kind of spirited and athletic play we’ve come to know from them, no Devon Rainey was surely a factor and Akins stepped up big knocking down some tough shots against superior McEachern size, can hurt you with speed and physicality from all levels as he can be a bowling ball getting downhill or calmly linger at the arc and hurt you from distance, with underclassmen doing a lot of the ballhandling for Jonesboro Akins too can step into that role and be an experienced floor leader, like the whole of the Cards team he gets after it on defense joining a unit like few others south or north of I-20.

Eric Chatfield Jr | 5-11 | PG | Pace Academy | 2025 

With all deference to 2024 stars KJ Greene Jr and LJ Moore who are the undisputed leaders of a yet again tough Pace team my first extended look at Chatfield brought on a few chills for sure, 17 pts in a dominant win over a really good Langston Hughes team and Chatfield was at the center in this one dicing up one of the best defenses teams in the state and looking the part of a much more experienced player, high IQ stuff for sure and that type of play from young guards is getting less and less surprising in this day and age, it seems whether playing with a superior burst or slowing things down to analyze you can see the wheels turning and the high-level upside of this sophomore, tremendous on the drive and a gorgeous stroke from the outer two levels he’s must-see stuff down off West Paces for sure.

LJ Moore | 6-6 | PF | Pace Academy | 2024 

Still very young is this Knights group even with a pair of steady seniors starting in Kendall Evans and Ben Leach as significant minutes and scoring numbers come from two juniors and three sophomores, but Moore like fellow 2024 star KJ Greene Jr are the clear figureheads for this year’s team and seeing Moore’s game evolve further has been eye-opening, from a gifted natural athlete the last 2 years now to a balanced scoring threat from multiple levels is not only key for this Knights iteration but opens up doors in his recruitment as the light bulb has gone off, and while he may not be former Pace star Josh Reed his all-around contributions are beginning to resemble the now Cincinnati Bearcat more and more.

Keith Agran has lived in Georgia since 2011 and joined OTR as a National Evaluator in 2021. He previously scouted for Prep Hoops dating back to 2019, and also spent 3 years as a sports writer at two newspapers in New Jersey. After a championship-coaching background on the HS-level also in NJ, he accepted the Girl’s Basketball Head Coaching position in May 2022 at Mt Bethel Christian Academy and now balances scouting and coaching still with a keen eye on talent around the region. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.