Preseason boys basketball rankings

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Class AAAAAAA sees Region 2 open up No. 1-2-3 and for good reason. No. 1 Wheeler has undeniable talent. If Coach Doug Lipscomb is able to keep everyone focused, the Wildcats have more than enough firepower to capture their seventh state title…if not, it will be an unmitigated failure, even with how strong the rest of the state is. Super sophomore Terry Armstrong has already transferred back to Michigan. No. 2 Pebblebrook and defending state champion No. 3 Westlake won’t go down without a fight and don’t be surprised if either one of them is back in the state championship.

Void of a defending state champion, Class AAAAAA will hopefully sort itself through the year but right now spots 2-10 look close to interchangeable with each team having their own strengths and weaknesses. Jonesboro will sit atop the perch to begin the season large in part that every game they play in, they will have the best player on the floor in five-star senior wing MJ Walker. The defensive minded group headed by Coach Dan Maehlman will likely remain one of the toughest teams to score on in the entire state.  Hall County’s Gainesville slots in at No. 2. The Red Elephants have length with three players standing 6-foot-6, a core of good shooters and an overall wide open offense with Coach Benjie Wood teaching and holding everyone accountable on the sidelines.

The balance of power in Class AAAAA runs through Region 5 with Columbia, Miller Grove and Southwest DeKalb battling each other. In a virtual coin flip, No. 1 Columbia gets the top spot over No. 2 Miller Grove. Miller Grove boasts a plethora of guards and strong depth while Columbia has more length and size 1 through 5. The return of five-time state championship coach Dr. Phil McCrary inches the Eagles over Miller Grove who sees seven-time champion Sharman White head to Georgia State while Rasul Chester steps in as head coach. Expect these two teams to trade blows throughout the season and jockey for the No. 1 ranking.

No defending state champions reside in Class AAAA, truly making it a wide open, up for grabs type grouping. With that being said, Henry County opens up at No. 1. The Warhawks have two D-I guards in Javon Greene (George Mason) and Damion Rosser (New Orleans) and have versatile experienced athletes around them in Kovi Tate and Seth Brown.  No. 2 Sandy Creek is loaded with young talent. Elder statesman Evan Jester will need to be Coach Anthony McKissic’s leader on and off the court. The Patriots might have the most long term talent in the state in Class AAAA.

As wide open Class AAAA is with no perennial powers in the field, Class AAA is the exact opposite. Three reigning state champions will try to defend their titles against a deep pack of proud programs. No. 1 Pace Academy, the defending Class AA champs, open at No. 1 behind Wendell Carter Jr. and Isaiah Kelly. Those two alone make the Knights as scary as nearly anyone in the state. Championships however are usually won with guard play. Pace will need seniors Barrett Baker and Mark Sommerville to hold their own against some tough competition. No. 2 Westside-Macon gets the advantage over No. 3 Liberty County, the defending AAAA champs.

The stranglehold over Class AA by private schools is finally defunct thanks to the new shuffling around of the classifications. The spotlight turns to South Georgia as No. 1 Thomasville is now the heavy favorite to win it all after dominating last year before running into Pace Academy. 6-foot-8 Reggie Perry is only a junior but has committed to Arkansas.

The best team in the entire state last year was Class A-Private No. 1 Greenforest and they will be the heavy favorite to repeat as state champs. The addition of Mo Merritt to the North Cobb Christianfrontline gives them enough length to be a force as the No. 2 team in the state. Merritt brings a toughness to pair with high scoring wing Demiere Brown. Florida-commit DeAndre Ballard has plenty of firepower around him for No. 3 Southwest Atlanta Christian to make some waves across the state.

You can’t pick against the most dominant Class A-Public program until they are knocked off their perch. That’s why Wilkinson Countyopens at No. 1 as the Warriors begin their quest for state title No. 9 and fourth in a five year span. Clarence Jackson leads the charge while 6-foot-6 power forward Greg Couson continues to recover from a torn ACL. New to the Class A-Public scene is No. 2 Crawford County. The non-stop motor of 6-foot-6 senior Marcal Knolton will now terrorize a new field of teams. He averaged 20 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per game last season.

Class AAAAAAA

1. Wheeler
2. Pebblebrook
3. Westlake
4 .Norcross
5. Newton
6. McEachern
7. Shiloh
8. Berkmar
9. Collins Hill
10. Tift County

Class AAAAAA

1. Jonesboro
2. Gainesville
3. Langston Hughes
4. South Paulding
5. Allatoona
6. Heritage-Conyers
7. Dacula
8. Alexander
9. Alpharetta
10. Brunswick

Class AAAAA

1. Columbia
2. Miller Grove
3. Cedar Shoals
4. Buford
5. Eagle’s Landing
6. Warner Robins
7. New Hampstead
8. Southwest DeKalb
9. Fayette County
10. Riverwood

Class AAAA

1. Henry County
2. Sandy Creek
3. Upson-Lee
4. St. Pius X
5. Thomson
6. North Clayton
7. LaGrange
8. Westover
9. Perry
10. Cartersville

Class AAA

1. Pace Academy
2. Westside-Macon
3. Liberty County
4. Jenkins
5. Morgan County
6. Cedar Grove
7. Greater Atlanta Christian
8. Lovett
9. Islands
10. Crisp County

Class AA

1. Thomasville
2. South Atlanta
3. Dublin
4. Monticello
5. Vidalia
6. Callaway
7. Butler
8. Banks County
9. Swainsboro
10. Chattooga

Class A-Private

1. Greenforest
2. North Cobb Christian
3. Southwest Atlanta Christian
4. Holy Innocents’
5. St. Francis
6. Lakeview Academy
7. Tattnall Square Academy
8. Aquinas
9. King’s Ridge Christian
10. Whitefield Academy

Class A-Public

1. Wilkinson County
2. Crawford County
3. Turner County
4. Calhoun County
5. Taylor County
6. Hancock Central
7. Manchester
8. Quitman County
9. Lincoln County
10. Hawkinsville

 


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