What to watch at the #ATLJAM: Georgia edition

Brandon Thomas

With the Live Period upon us, it’s time for coaches from across the nation to migrate down to the south to catch a Peach State staple, the Atlanta Jam. While the competition will be fierce, 10 home teams from Georgia will vie for the 17U titles.

Among the group of contenders, AC Georgia will be a favorite for Mid-Majors to check out. Coach Kevin Morris’ team is anchored inside by Discovery High School’s Kalu Ezipke, a bruising 6-foot-7 power forward who has seen offers pour in over the past two weeks with Troy, Tennessee Tech, UAB, Middle Tennessee State, Mercer, South Alabama and UNC-Greensboro all joining the mix. Unsigned seniors JaQuavius Hayes and Phillip Cirillo round out the frontcourt. Hayes, 6-foot-6, was a double-double machine at Maynard Jackson High, averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds while Cirillo, a former Air Force-commit, is a scoring 6-foot-5 wing. 2018 sharpshooters KJ Jenkins and Marquavius Carter pace the backcourt. Jenkins is a name to familiarize yourself with as a wired-to-score guard from Creekview High School who has some moxie.

The always well-coached Atlanta All-Stars return to Atlanta Jam with firepower and an efficient offense. Alex Jones mans the point position after helping Buford to a state title. The 5-foot-10 point guard grades out as the best passer in the state with court vision and confidence aplenty. Jones will rack up the assists with a perimeter loaded with knockdown shooters. Adam Flagler, Arusha Hunter, Cole Guenther, Austin Deckard and Bailey Minor pepper defenses with their three-point touch. Flagler, 6-foot-2, erupted for 43 points at the SEBA Hoop Festival back in December with Duluth High School, setting a tournament record for points in a game, knocking down nine three-pointers. Hunter was one of the most the most improved players in the state in Class 6A at Dacula. Guenther, 6-foot-7, is continuing to improve his ball handling and Minor, 6-foot-5, is a tough-nosed rebounder out of Gainesville who is lethal from the corners. Inside 6-foot-9 center Gabe Bryant plays with a reckless abandon, looking to tear down rims at every opportunity while the lone unsigned senior on the team, 6-foot-9 Ralueke Orizu, is a recent Kennesaw State decommit and a lanky rim protector.

A pair of habitual winners in the Georgia Bulls and the Middle Georgia Supersonics are two teams that rely on their chemistry to win games. The Bulls, based out of the Augusta area, are led by Ryan Jolly and Kalen Williams. Jolly, 6-foot-2, is a GISA All-State pick over at Augusta Prep. The unflappable point guard is the engine for the Bulls and is clutch down the stretch. You will see Jolly icing games from the foul line throughout the summer. Williams (Lakeside-Evans), is a 2019 guard that has a score-first mentality. He’s best at playing off the ball and can thrive when defenses are stretched out. 2018 forward Michael Dukes is an absolute bulldog that plays anywhere from the 2-5 positions for his team. From Westminster-Augusta, the 6-foot-4 Dukes plays with a chip on his shoulder. He is the energy man and an exceptional rebounder. Unsigned senior Deon Berrien is another pogo stick. At 6-foot-6, Berrien was a walking double-double over his final two seasons at Lakeside-Evans and has improved his game every step of the way. Berrien can put the ball on the deck, finish around the rim and even can knockdown the three-ball when open.

The Supersonics boast five players from Georgia’s lone undefeated team in the state, the Class 4A champion Upson-Lee Knights. Tye Fagan is the catalyst. At 6-foot-3, the lefty can control games even without scoring. Middle Tennessee State, Georgia, Georgia State, Mercer and Troy have all offered one of Georgia’s smoothest scorers. Inside, Travon Walker is a 6-foot-5 mountain of a man with elite hands. He rebounds the ball as well as anybody and uses the law of verticality well on defense. Walker is a blue-chip 2019 defensive end with an offer to play football at Alabama. Rising junior Zyrice Scott makes things easier for his teammates. He has a strong feel for the game and can pop teams who don’t guard him tight. First Presbyterian Day’s Maurice Gordon is a high-flying 6-foot-6 forward that helps on the boards. He is also a standout receiver on the football team.

Out of their 15-man roster, 10 Smyrna Stars are unsigned seniors. DeMierre Black is a tough as nails combo guard who had a great senior season at Hillgrove. Black is well-respected around the state as having one of the best mid-range games around. Standing at 6-foot-1, Black’s deceptive athleticism helps him play bigger than he really is. Trey Foster of Westside-Macon saw a Stetson offer back in January but is still looking for a home now in April. At 6-foot-2, Foster is a good lead guard that plays with pace and has big game experience. 6-foot-8 Reyhan Cobb is an active rim protector and runs the floor in transition. Keep an eye on 2018s Terrence Boykin (6-foot-7) and Stantravious Smith (6-foot-3). Boykin is a known-commodity over at Columbia High School with tons of talent while Smith has been a dark horse this offseason. Smith is a walking bucket and has started to garner some buzz. Over in the seldom-tapped GICAA, Smith was a prolific All-State performer at Sherwood Christian Academy averaging 29.1 points and 10 rebounds per game. He is worth a look after showing well thus far against much better competition.

The Warner Robins All-Stars, aka the Warner Robins High School varsity team, has already put together some deep tournament runs and have slayed shoe teams such as the Atlanta Xpress. Nelson Phillips and Jacolbey Owens have blossomed into leaders on both ends. Phillips, 6-foot-5, has an offer from Texas Tech and most recently Georgia State. Phillips played like a High Major at the Norman Parker Showcase and was out of his mind, draining threes, throwing down monster finishes, blocking shots and locking up opponents. Whatever court he is on will be a popular one especially with how Owens has played alongside him. The 6-foot-1 guard is explosive and has some junkyard dog in his game. He is starting to heat up with Low-Mid-Major schools. Jalen “Champ” Dawson, Jaydon Norman, JaRon Zanders and Jam’l Dillard round out an experienced group who all know and buy into their roles.

Long time Augusta power, Team Power is headed by Eagle’s Landing’s Brandon Thomas (pictured above). The 6-foot-3 off guard has an offer in hand from Kennesaw State. He is a dangerous three-point shooter when he gets his feet set and is continuing to improve his ability to create his own shot. Team Power’s frontline goes 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-9 with Babatunde Sowunmi and Caleb Towns.

Team EAT always has some bouncy athletes and this year’s comes in the form of 2017 forwards Cameron Gaines (6-foot-7) and Christopher Bois (6-foot-6). Bois was a Senior Showcase Top Performer back in March. Point guard Ashton Bonner is only 5-foot-7, but the Monticello High rising senior is tough on tough and can score in handfuls. His teammate Malik Crawford is a 6-foot-6 forward in the class of 2019 who holds promise.

Middle Georgia is well represented with Team GA Magic. Cameron Holden is the go-to man. The 6-foot-5 wing over at Mary Persons High School is an All-State performer who has started to hear from Low Majors. Jah’Nile Hill plays extremely hard as an athletic point guard who is at his best in up-tempo settings.

Game Elite Blue turns to Myles Hamilton (North Cobb Christian) and Lorenzo Anderson (Miller Grove) to spark transition points. Anderson has worked on his bounce over the offseason and should see more scoring opportunities his senior season after tossing in a fourth-best 7 points per game with the Wolverines. Southwest DeKalb’s Tabias Long has had a good start to his travel season. The 6-foot-5 wing can score inside and out with his strong frame.

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