Top boys, girls players to watch

As the basketball season heats up, here’s a list, in no particular order, of some of the better players in Class AA. This list is incomplete and other players will emerge to earn statewide recognition, so feel free to leave your picks for the best in AA in the comment section.

Boys

Reggie Perry
School: Thomasville
Class: 2018
Position: Forward
Height: 6-8
Notes: Perry is a five-star recruit and the 15th overall player in the country according to 247Sports, which also has him as the No. 2 overall power forward and top player in the state. In November, signed his National Letter of Intent to play for Mississippi State. He’s coming off back-to-back selections to the AJC all-state first team.

Kameron Pauldo
School: Dublin
Class: 2018
Position: Guard
Height: 5-9
Notes: Fresh off an AJC all-state first team selection, Pauldo is coming off a season in which he averaged 27.7 points in which he led the Fighting Irish to a semifinals appearance.

Jaylan McKinney
School: Swainsboro
Class: 2018
Position: Guard
Height: 5-7
Notes: Last season, McKinney led the Tigers on a magical run that saw them overcome the death of their coach and reach the AA title game as an unranked team. He outdueled Pauldo in the semifinals, scoring 32 points to Pauldo’s 27 in a 68-64 win. McKinney was an AJC all-state first team selection.

Ashton Bonner
School: Monticello
Class: 2018
Position: Guard
Height: 5-8
Notes: Bonner was an AJC all-state honorable mention last season, with averages of 20.5 points, 3.7 assists and 1.1 steals. He guided the Hurricanes to a second round appearance, where they narrowly lost, 68-62, to Swainsboro.

Donald Henley
School: Laney
Class: 2018
Position: Guard
Height: 5-6
Notes: Henley is averaging 15.5 points, 5.5 assists and 3.5 steals so far, following up an AJC all-state honorable mention last season, when he guided the Wildcats to a semifinals appearance.

Girls

Victaria Saxton
School: Model
Class: 2018
Position: Forward-Center
Height: 6-1
Notes: Saxton, who led the Lady Blue Devils to the semifinals last season, is a five-star recruit and is considered the 50th best overall player and No. 8 power forward according to ESPN. She’s highly athletic and plays taller than her height, as she is an elite shot blocker. She’s earned back-to-back AJC all-state selection honors and has signed a LOI with South Carolina.

De’Sha Benjamin
School: Laney
Class: 2018
Position: Forward
Height: 5-11
Notes: Benjamin is a four-star recruit and the No. 28 overall guard in the country according to ESPN. She is the AJC’s reigning AA player of the year and has earned back-to-back all-state selections, including in AAA in 2016 as a sophomore. Last season, she led Laney to the AA title and the Lady Wildcats are a favorite to win again thanks to Benjamin, who is signed to play for Alabama.

Dynesha Brown
School: Swainsboro
Class: 2019
Position: Guard
Height: 5-6
Notes: The lone junior to make this list, Brown has the Lady Tigers off to a 9-2 start with averages of 7 steals, 21.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.3 blocks. Last season, she was an AJC all-state second team selection, when she led Swainsboro to a playoff appearance.

Kirstin Crook
School: Fitzgerald
Class: 2018
Position: Guard
Height: 5-6
Notes: Crook was an AJC all-state second team selection in 2017, when she led the Lady Purple Hurricane to the quarterfinals. So far she’s picked up where she left off last season, averaging a team-high 17.3 points, 3.2 steals and 3.2 assists.

Jahnaria Brown
School: Bleckley County
Class: 2018
Position: Forward
Height: 5-11
Notes: Brown was an AJC all-state second team selection last season, guiding Bleckley County to a 20-12 record, a region title and a trip to the semifinals.

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