Sage Speaks – 2/1/22
CUMMING, GA – Three trips, 2 of those close to home to check in on North Fulton and Forsyth teams with playoff aspirations, make up this week’s Sage Speaks.
North Atlanta at Tucker (1/25/22)
WHAT HAPPENED: Tucker W 69-28 – Not the visiting Warriors night as they couldn’t get anything going and the host Tigers were sharp and impressive.
TUCKER STANDOUTS: It was a Raylan Barrion kind of night, as the physical senior guard took on all comers and showed off his creativity and bullish nature around the basket before sitting out most of the 4th qtr. He’s been such a solid contributor for Coach James Hartry for the 2 previous years I’ve watched him and now as a senior you can see all that maturity paying off both in his leadership with another talented and dangerous Tucker bunch and his evolving skillset.
NORTH ATLANTA STANDOUTS: As said, a tough night on the road at a quality opponent for the Warriors, but recently cleared junior guard Isaiah Louro impressed both with his energy and fearless approach to the drive. He gives this guard-heavy bunch another perimeter player who can make things happen on multiple levels.
KEEP AN EYE ON Josiah Lawson >> The Tucker sophomore is one of the real gems in the 2024 class, not so unknown to those in the know in the grassroots community, but on the full winter scene he’s still to have a true breakout moment or set of games where the 6-6 baller takes his wide-ranging skillset at the hybrid guard spot to the headlines before a lot of eyeballs. There’s a ton there to like whether people have seen it or not, his size is ideal for an attacking wing but he can also ease his way down to the block area and show off an array of moves with his back to the basket as well.
Pinecrest at King’s Ridge (1/27/22)
WHAT HAPPENED: King’s Ridge W 55-35 – Not just a gaudy record for this Tigers group, they can definitely play and will be a thorn or more in the A-Private playoffs, as they easily dispatched on senior night non-region local foe the Paladins.
KING’S RIDGE STANDOUTS: There’s depth of talent on this roster that can hurt you from multiple spots on the floor, and they can play with pace or slow you down and get more going with cutters and screens. Junior point guard Isaac Martin is the engine, and he’s come such a long way from when I first saw him as a freshman in June 2020 coming out of Covid lockdowns, as he was carving up older Atlanta All-Stars all over the floor in some of those early workouts. Bigger, stronger and faster, he now adds to his already exceptional vision and lead guard natural gifts more daring on the drive and certainly a more efficient and regularly available green light from deep range. He’s good enough and smart enough to be an X-factor in any deep playoff run for Coach Bob Martin.
PINECREST STANDOUTS: The Paladins play hard and feisty basketball, but there just isn’t a ton beyond the consistent excellence of Oscar Lynch (22 of their 35 pts) to hang with a club the quality of KRCS. That said, Lynch has been and remains a terrific ballplayer, as unsung in the ATL-Metro as any 6-6 wing with his accomplishments could be.
KEEP AN EYE ON Micah Hoover >> The 6-6 junior forward, much like Martin, holds a lot of the cards for KRCS if they’re going to be that playoff surprise many would label them to be. The frame and movement with Hoover have never been in doubt, and he’s shown with more consistent play the motor necessary to be that force he’s shown at times in the past. When he is engaged and going after it like he was last week and has at many junctures so far this season, he can do a lot of damage on the interior and as a rim runner for this predominantly perimeter-driven bunch.
Lambert at West Forsyth (1/28/22)
WHAT HAPPENED: West Forsyth W 93-82 – Up and back stuff that was super fun to watch as both never let off the pedal in what was a closer game than the final result, particularly in the 2nd half as the Horns made several runs, but the size advantage for West was absolutely the difference.
WEST FORSYTH STANDOUTS: Another senior night, and it was 2022 forwarded Jake Mooney who had the big showing. A school-record 23 rebounds kept the 2nd chances in some key spots away from a surging Lambert team, while he ‘added’ 26 points to that line, obviously a massive factor in the win as well, as we’ve seen him really add to his growing arsenal with more ballhandling and face-up attack moves. You add his instinctive defense as a shot-blocker and deep shooting prowess and it’s easy to see why he’s having a Region POY kind of year playing alongside solid senior teammates Grant Moore and Caleb Lesch among others.
LAMBERT STANDOUTS: Junior guard James Tyre (25 pts) was fired up all night by the big crowd from both sides, as the local flavor of this rivalry came out early and often. In that fun and skilled Longhorn guard trio with Niko Wilson and Keenan Gagen, it can seem like Tyre at times is playing third fiddle, but that’s both a misnomer and patently unfair to the slick PG. His fight and hustle are equal to the scoring ability, which can come in waves from 3-land or on fearless drives into big bodies and around multiple defenders. A fun watch for sure.
KEEP AND EYE ON Cam Bland >> Guard #4 in the dangerous potpourri being thrown at opponents by Coach Clay Wages, the freshman is staking his own place alongside their other stars. You can see the rapid development in his play now versus earlier in the season when he was naturally finding his way. Looking more seasoned and confident, he’ll be back next year as well with the other 3, and it will be fascinating to see his next step as these Longhorns will surely continue to be a blast to watch.
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 has both a championship-coaching background on the HS-level and daily newspaper writing experience, both from New Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.