“Sage Speaks” – Observations and Nuggets 9/2

CUMMING, GA – From my chair in the town named for decorated War of 1812 Colonel William Cumming, we start a new series titled “Sage Speaks”.

In this column, we’ll discuss things I’ve seen, heard and might want to pontificate about in the GA high school basketball scene.

By: Keith Agran

SHOT CLOCK? YES PLEASE

Several June and Fall league spots I’ve been already have incorporated the shot clock to ingratiate teams to what they’ll be seeing this coming regular season, and not only have I been a huge proponent of this from the first moment I heard it, but it hasn’t seemed to affect the level of play among the teams I’ve seen and know well. It’s a fast-paced, frankly patience-lacking kind of game we live in now anyway, and kids are getting downhill or hoisting shots inside of 20-22 seconds a lot more often than they are 30+. Strategy and clever offense late in the game to avoid violations and rewarding of hard-fought team defense during the meat of the contest are both positives. These are engrained aspects of modern basketball going back to the 80’s that have naturally (and albeit slowly) trickled down from the higher levels. It’s advancement in an age of limited attention spans that we remove the incessant fouling and stoppages that naturally need to occur late in games with no clock and the trailing team desperate to extend the game through the FT line. Certainly, some coaches are opposed, and it’s another set of adjustments to add to a stressful profession, but go coach Badminton if honing your craft to a fine point keeps you up at night. The game is better for it, and most importantly, the kids are better for it.

INTENSITY AND HUSTLE

The level of play around the Fall Leagues I’ve visited to this point (several more are opening next week) has been pretty solid, as I expected, as probably 75% or even more of kids in ATL-Metro high schools have either been playing AAU ball all the way into July or are basketball dedicated athletes who have trainers and training facilities available to keep the fire burning. We are so fortunate in Georgia and north Georgia in particular to not only have some of the best facilities in the country at our fingertips but the opportunities put on by circuits like On The Radar that keep weekends busy almost non-stop from March to July. Catch your breath as school opens in early August, then the fall season kicks in from August to November with leagues spread all over the Metro and Showcases and Camps (OTR’s Breakout Camp Sept 4 and Super 64 Oct. 2!!) to up the ante with mixed competition and coaches and evaluators in the stands. Kell-Etowah at LakePoint Aug 26 and Tri-Cities-Sequoyah at Banneker Aug 28 were both high-level matchups featuring a bevy of kids who starred this summer across the scene, and it showed as they returned to wear their school colors.

SLEEP ON DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHOOLS AT YOUR PERIL

Like what I’ve seen so far from the likes of Lithia Springs, Alexander and New Manchester in early fall league action. Lithia Springs backcourt combo of Cristian Willis and Langston Terry is skilled and savvy, both are veterans and have logged quality minutes on the grassroots side with AC Georgia and Atlanta Nets. In my Banneker Fall League roundup I highlighted what should be a wildly interchangeable bunch of athletes for Alexander down in south Douglasville, and they did it without star players Zion Fruster and Braedan Lue. New Manchester has a fun backcourt of their own in Jordan Edmond, transfer Josh Dixon and top under 6-footer Chase James Robinson, Robinson can really get hot from deep and has been fun to watch for awhile now. Saw Chapel Hill at ISA in June and they have great size and length with the likes Chi Shannon and Kelvin Hunter and boast a big-time riser in guard Khirus Doucet, while you know Douglas County is going to be tough, feisty and full of confidence.

OTR BREAKOUT CAMP IS THIS SATURDAY!!!

If you’re a 2024 or 2025 haven’t signed up for this weekend’s OTR Breakout Camp at McEachern, there’s still time, you can sign up here:

AND LOOKING FURTHER AHEAD…

Upperclassmen get the attention come Oct 2 as OTR’s hosts Super 64 also at McEachern, 2022’s and 2023’s register below for the fall’s top opportunity to increase your visibility in front of Coaches and the best Evaluators in the Southeast!!

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 keithagran1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.