Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pre-Season Top 10 (Part 3)

In part 2 of the "Pre Season Area Top Ten High School Teams" posts, I highlight teams 4, 3, 2, and 1.  This Friday and Saturday's ABR Live Tip Off Invitational (see full schedule here) marks the first weekend of high school hoops action where we will get to see most of the area's teams in action for the first time.  The top 3 teams on this list will all be in action.  Throughout this week, I have shared my thoughts about who the area's best ten teams will be.  Let me know what you think in the comment section.

***See Part 2 of the rankings here***
***See Part 1 of the rankings here***

#4 - Glenn Hills
Last season I notoriously left the Spartans out of my preseason top ten.  After coach Travis Mcrae's team won something like its first 18 games, I had certainly been proven wrong.

Placing this year's team in the 4 spot may still open me up to accusations that I am not giving the team enough credit.  But the truth is I can't tell much difference between the top 4 teams on my list.  I think they are the "best of the best."  In my opinion, only tiny differences exist between them.

#3 - Laney
It is difficult to order the top four teams in these rankings.  Laney fell to Glenn Hills twice last season.  But I give the Wildcats the nod because I think 6'4" junior guard Jashawn Brooks started a process of maturation last season that will accelerate this season.  Brooks has always been a pure shooter.  And he is beginning to use his size and athleticism to put the whole package together.

In addition to athletic wings Christian Keeling, Jalen Taylor, and Jervon Walker, the Wildcats have something relatively rare: a smart point guard who loves to distribute the ball and has the ability to score in the paint and from deep when needed.  Zep Jasper is always mentioned when coaches talk about Augusta hoops.  And the sophomore dynamo will be around for three more seasons.

Because of the team's age (the core players from last year's freshman/sophomore dominated team are back as sophomores and juniors), I expect this team to make the biggest year over year improvement of any team.

#2 - Butler
Butler wins.  The Bulldogs swept Glenn Hills and took 2 of 3 games against Laney last season.  And although coach Cervantes Boddy's group will miss the 1000+ career rebounds of Ronald Jones and the steady play of point guard Marquis Leverett, he will still have the player (besides Aquinas' Ahmed Hill) who may have made the single biggest impact in local GHSA basketball last season: junior Don Coleman.

I am invoking the "Frank Booker theory" in picking Butler this high this season.  High school teams often struggle to score 50 points.  If a team has one guy who will consistently score 25-30, that team will have a major advantage.  Coleman added credibility to the theory last season, scoring over 35 in four of his team's biggest six games of the season, including 49 versus Statesboro in the region tournament championship game.  Booker was able to score in bunches while being every opponents' sole focus.  As a sophomore, Coleman was able to sneak up on foes.  If Don is able to keep applying the pressure, the Bulldogs will continue their winning ways.

Another reason I am high on Butler is the size of their frontline and the ability of their returning guards.  Coach Boddy gets a lot out of his players.  And they all are constantly improving.  I am a big fan of Butler Bulldog basketball.

#1 - Aquinas
For the second straight season, I have placed the Irish at the top of my preseason list.  Despite a deep 1A post season run, last year's team proved to be not quite up to the task.  But that team lacked scoring punch after the first two options.  This team has an improved, confident, and hungry Ahmed Hill leading the way, and a group of big and athletic players with him.

Hill's impact needs no explaining.  He scored 30+ points regularly as a junior and the absence of Michael Scott means that oppoments' worst nightmare will come true:  an unstoppable player with the ball constantly in his hands, constantly attacking.

And senior transfer Tamyrick Fields may have been our area's most productive inside player last season. Additional players 6'4" and taller include Shiloam Alvarez and San Antonio Brinson.

Last season's team lost to area public school rivals Glenn Hills, Laney, and Evans.  This season's group will have plenty of chances to prove me right, facing Glenn Hills twice, Laney once, an Butler once.

And the top two teams on this list meet Saturday evening at Evans High School (7 P.M.) at the ABR Live Invitational!

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