The Buford boys and girls rolled through Class AAAAA this season and each won the state championship. That’s only happened 17 other times since they started playing basketball.
And when the preseason polls come out next fall, don’t be surprised to see the Wolves draw the No. 1 ranking. And when the state championships are held next spring, don’t be surprised to see the Wolves with a good chance to repeat.
Both teams are deep, talented and young.
The boys (29-2) started two juniors and two sophomores, with only a couple of seniors as main contributors. Forward Marcus Watson will be a big-time recruit with the size (6-foot-6), quickness and inside-outside skills that are drool-worthy. Point guard Alex Jones is only 5-10, but he’s a playmaker who can run the offense and nail the 3-point shot. Forward David Viti has the body of a football player, but uses a nice outside touch to balance some inside power. Guard Donell Nixon, a fine player who is dangerous on 3-pointers, is overlooked at any opponent’s peril.
The girls (29-2) return 6-foot-1 point guard Tori Ozment, a do-it-all player who can drain the 3 and consistently find the open teammate with a pass. Ozment had three Division I coaches waiting for her to come out of the locker room after the championship game.
The girls lose three starters and they will be missed. They return emerging wing Audrey Weiner, an excellent 3-point shooter, center Jessica Nelson and a roster full of girls who played a lot of minutes. Buford coach Gene Durden used players in waves and a lot of girls got many minutes of experience, a result of winning their five state playoff games by an average of 30 points.
Buford’s boys lost only two games all season, both to out-of-state opponents at a Christmas tournament in Tennessee. Buford’s girls lost only two times, once to Class A private finalist Wesleyan, one to Class A semifinalist St. Francis.
Very unofficial, much-too-early Top 5 for 2017-18 preseason rankings:
- Miller Grove
- Warner Robins
- Flowery Branch
- SW DeKalb
- Arabia Mountain