Sweet Sixteen Session 1 – Full-Court Workers

ATLANTA, GA – With a large part of our staff hovering around some high-quality action at Next Play 360, for OTR’s massive Sweet Sixteen Session 1 I took in some action from the outer gyms, and as is my want uncovered plenty of guys and teams that can play.

Guys with high work rates attract me, and I’m certain coaches appreciate guys not devoid of talent gutting it out there as if it’s a state semifinal game. Some Workers, Part 1,  from my weekend jaunts included:

By: Keith Agran

Stephen Akwiwu | F | 2023 | Atlanta Stars

Superb available big man goes near 6-7 and has the body of a defensive lineman to use as a demo machine, playing with Georgia Stars offshoot Atlanta Stars the team is filled with interesting guys who can fill multiple roles, the Mill Creek frontcourter is a tireless worker on the glass and on the O-boards in particular he can get you a lot of easy points with his effort, can step out and shoot it a bit but to be true to his frame and game he will be most at home in the paint area bodying up bigs on D and getting after it around the cup on O.

Hedrens Bartelus | G/F | 2024 | South Florida Elite (pictured at top)

Probably would have fit better in my “Hybrids” piece from April 25 but he was so all over the place for SFE his work rate jumped as well, he adds serious talent to the effort which will undoubtedly up the college attention on this dynamic G/F, at 6-5 or so he was playing forward and guard and matching up with a variety of sizes in either spot, exciting finisher off the break and in the halfcourt and showed off volume scoring ability, never stopped playing hard Friday night as the tournament was getting underway.

Colton Wilbanks | F | 2024 | Hoop Atlanta

Already a 1,000 pt scorer he just recently joined this 17u group after finishing off his baseball season with Chestatee, you see both the scoring talent he used to eclipse the 1k mark in his junior season and the hustle it requires to be in position to do just that, good size at 6-5 enables him to be an active rebounder but he’s a better athlete than you might think and that speaks to the baseball diamond, very little in the quit department possession to possession and this is a rapidly emerging sleeper from Lake Lanier country up above Atlanta.

James McGriff | F | 2024 | ATL Timberwolves

Entered the is past winter impressed with McGriff off his 16U work last summer and after a really good regular season with Wesleyan he’s looking bigger, stronger and more dangerous, another guy who like Wilbanks for instance is talented as a scorer from multiple levels but utilizes a high work rate to create good chances for himself and others as a smart passer, love the deep shooting at 6-6 to complement a willingness to get inside and play with his back to the basket and do a ton of dirty work, one of my favorite guys as a riser in these early tournaments of our schedule.

Brittney Reed | F | 2024 | Team Dr1ven

Wide bodied guy but moved really well and was a quick and efficient finisher either in traffic or with room to work, one of those guys you look at in the post and see that he gets how to operate down there, like this whole Dr1ven group plays hard and is a competitor getting after it in the full court game, when I got court level with him he was even more imposing than he looks from the seats and I like this guy’s potential to become a real monster at the next level under the watchful eye of a good strength and conditioning regimen.

DJ White | F | 2024 | Atlanta Nets

One of the top workers from Sweet 16 Session 1 that I saw, multi-positional guy with good size and agility for both the 2 and the 3 creating matchup problems for shooting guards and hustle problems for bigger forwards, will pair with fellow 2024 guard Brandon Peters and touted 2025’s Deke Cooper and Zachary Foster for what should be really dynamic Woodward Academy group next fall.

Matt Aronowitz | F | 2023 | Atlanta Stars

Playing with Akwiwu on that good Stars team I was impressed with how far Aronowitz’s finishing game has come, can shoot it out to 15 feet as well not confining him to the block, the extra height at near 6-8 helps but he was aggressive and looking for offense when the time came and a guy with size and ability to play within a system is a useful commodity for sure on the unsigned market.

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