The Shot Clock with Josh Tec: Collier off the board, McEachern vs Grovetown notes, MORE
I haven’t gotten sick in a while, but cold season got to me, and sidelined me for much of the week. I’ve tested negative for COVID twice, but I still didn’t want to be out spreading my cold across the state.
I think most people know that I hate streaming games. It never beats being there in person, but, hey, I’m an addict at heart, and streamed basketball is better than no basketball.
It was an absolutely loaded Saturday in Georgia. You know I wasn’t going to miss out on the action.
So, this week’s edition of The Shot Clock will mostly be based on what I watched from bed. That’s working remotely in this universe, I guess.
The biggest thing of the week
Isaiah Collier—the No. 1 player in the country—has made it official. The Wheeler (GA) HS guard is off to Los Angeles to play for Andy Enfield and the USC Trojans.
Collier chose USC over UCLA, Michigan and Cincinnati.
He’s the kind of player that can propel a team from good to great. He’s a winner who comes from a program that places high expectations on its players. While Collier generally has a quiet demeanor, he’s a leader who demands greatness from those around him.
A quick anecdote that can highlight that point: I went to a Wheeler workout over the fall, and during the practice, Collier fouled one of the younger, players who was newer to the program. The player griped about the foul not being called or being too hard. Collier immediately let him know that crying about fouls wasn’t going to cut it at Wheeler. “That’s not what we do here,” Collier said.
While Collier expects greatness from those around him, he also makes the game easy for them with his elite combination of feel, vision and passing. He’s the rising tide that lifts all ships.
Justin Young has been referring to Collier as a power guard, and I can’t think of a more apt descriptor after the work he’s done on his body. He looks bigger and stronger than ever which is saying something because he already had plus positional size. Keeping him from getting into the paint is going to be harder than ever.
With Collier off the board, Frankquon Sherman and Mier Panoam are the top available seniors in Georgia.
The decision is in! @isaiahcollier04 is headed to USC. The nation's No. 1 player from @WheelerHoops & @TheSkillFactory? @_joshtec & @JustinDYoung chime in on the top dog in 2023. 💥💥💥 pic.twitter.com/hmEfCqOyTW— HoopSeen (@hoopseen) November 16, 2022
McEachern’s backcourt makes an emphatic statement
Boy, the rich got richer this summer when McEachern added a pair of high-level guards to their already stout roster.
JaMichael Davis (2023) is running point after transferring from Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe and Moses Hipps (2024) is operating off the ball since moving to Georgia from New Jersey.
This duo was the difference for the Indians in their marquee win over Grovetown on Saturday night.
FINAL McEachern 88, Grovetown 80.— Josh Tec (@_joshtec) November 20, 2022
A tremendous game between two of the state’s best teams.
What a statement win from @McEachernBoysBB.
Moses Hipps (@m0seshipps) exploded in the second half and finished with 27 points.
JaMichael Davis (@23jmike) added 18.
Hipps’ 16 second-half points turned a close game into a comfortable win for McEachern over one of the top teams in the south. After seeing three free throws go down at the end of the first quarter, Hipps was lights out for the rest of the game. He was electrifying from the 3-point line and finished the game with five-made shots from beyond the arc.
Already in HoopSeen’s top 100 for the 2024 class, Hipps could climb up those rankings with more outings like the one he had on Saturday.
JaMichael Davis did most of his damage in transition in the first half. As a disruptor on defense, he influenced several Grovetown turnovers and turned them into easy buckets for himself.
While he was at his best at the rim, Davis reminded everyone that he can step out and hit with some range by knocking home a pair of 3-pointers in the second half.
He’s one of the best available seniors in Georgia.
McEachern was already neck-and-neck with Wheeler as one of Georgia’s top teams, and their backcourt ensured that everyone knew just how dangerous the Indians can be with their performance on Saturday.
A battle between two top juniors lives up to expectations
When Grovetown and McEachern met on Saturday night, the marquee matchup saw a headlining battle between two top-75 players in the 2024 class.
No. 5 Ace Bailey (McEachern) and No. 57 Derrion Reid (Grovetown) went head-to-head and neither disappointed. In fact, both proved that their current HoopSeen rankings are likely too low.
Starting with Bailey, the 6-foot-9 forward impressed with his first-quarter scoring barrage. Right off the bat, Bailey showed improvement on his already good jumper with back-to-back 3-pointers. He’s been a killer from mid-range with his ability to rise over defenders, and his ability to create separation and consistently hit on fadeaways and stepbacks.
When McEachern’s guards took over, Bailey’s scoring slowed, but his impact on the game didn’t. He has a great motor and uses his length well on the glass. Even more impressive to me, Bailey made some tremendous skip passes to open shooters when he drew help defenders.
Moving to Reid, he was one of the most impressive players on the floor, and he continues to shine when the lights are the brightest. Reid was aggressive on offense while not forcing the issue. Despite giving up some size to Bailey, Reid didn’t back down from the challenge and finished with 20 points. He may have had more if he wasn’t battling late-game cramps.
Reid’s passing has been highlighted by those who have seen him frequently, and he showed off some of that vision with some slick dimes.
I’ve seen Grovetown twice this week, and both times, Reid was tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player, and he’s thrived in those situations. After Bailey’s early 10 points, Reid kept the star forward in check for the remainder of the game. Bailey didn’t score again until the fourth quarter when Reid was ailed with cramps.
I don’t want to make more of one game than I should, but Reid was so good on Saturday, that I think we have him far too low at No. 57 nationally.
Quick hitters from day one of the Jared Cook Tip-off Classic
- Sophomores impressed when Brookwood took on Cumberland Christian.
Max McNeill led Cumberland Christian to a win with 20 points, and he finished with around 8 rebounds and five assists as well. McNeill was especially great from the 3-point line with five made from out there. He had a great fall that gave an indication that he could have a monster winter with the Patriots. To this point, he’s lived up to that hype.
Alex Young was terrific for Brookwood. He was particularly great on the glass. Young finished with 12 rebounds, and his production picked up in crunch time when the Broncos were trying to mount a comeback. He also added 7 points.
RJ Williams led the Broncos in scoring with 14 points. He was a consistent source of offense for Brookwood when they needed a bucket.
- King’s Ridge returns pretty much everyone from the team that made it to the A-Private championship game a season ago. Because of that, they had high expectations coming into the season, and they certainly met expectations with a 58-41 win over a great St. Pius X team.
It was a balanced attack that got the job done for the Tigers. Four King’s Ridge players finished in double figures. Jaydon Cole and Micah Hoover led the way with 14 each. Isaac Martin added 11 and Zak Thomas scored 10.
I love watching this King’s Ridge team because of how well-coached and how disciplined they are. Sometimes high school basketball can be a slog to watch when teams are recklessly running around, turning the ball over, and playing sloppy basketball. King’s Ridge minimizes that, and it’s refreshing to see.
For that matter, the same can be said for St. Pius X.
- Eagle’s Landing looks poised to operate among the elites of 5A again with an impressive win over North Gwinnett. For the last several seasons, Eagle’s Landing has been on the shortlist of favorites in 5A, and that looks to be the case for another season.
This program has especially succeeded with tough-as-nails guards, and that player archetype was one of the major differences for the Eagles on Saturday.
Chris Morris was particularly effective for the Eagles. He’s a two-way junior guard who brings physicality, athleticism and a high motor to the floor with him. In other words, he’s a low-maintenance player who gets most of his production by doing the dirty work.
That player description can be applied across the board for Eagle’s Landing, and it makes them a tough matchup for any team they go against.
Kymel Williams and the Spartans pick up a decisive win
2024 guard Kymel Williams has made a name for himself out at Athens Academy and with Team Dickerson. He’s one that should draw plenty of D1 attention in the spring and summer.
On Friday night, Williams put on an impressive display to help lead Athens Academy to a commanding win. With a guard as talented as Williams is, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see him be more of a spotlight-dominating player, but Williams impressed by not forcing anything and by not letting the ball stick.
That doesn’t mean that he was passive. No, Williams was assertive throughout the game. He was particularly great when attacking the basket. He put pressure on the defense and worked his way to the free-throw line for easy points. Williams was able to use his athleticism to get by defenders and get to the rack at will. He had a bit of a posturizing dunk in the game to show off some of his bounce.
Williams wasn’t the only standout in this one though. As a whole, Athens Academy impressed with their overall effort, hustle and unselfishness.
In the first half, Isaac Rorey was particularly good for the Spartans. His activity on both ends of the floor was indicative of how the team played as a whole. He got most of his production via pure effort whether that was on offense, on the glass, on defense, etc. Throughout the game, Rorey was a facilitator for the Spartans. Markel Jennings, Ben Shar and Charlie Walton also had impressive performances.
This team could make some noise when February and March get here.
What to watch for
Holiday tournaments will be going down across the state, and two of them will have my attention in particular.
Monday and Tuesday will see the remainder of the Jared Cook Tip-Off Classic.
Monday’s slate includes:
Archer vs Hillgrove
Parkview vs Buford
Etowah vs Grayson
North Gwinnett vs Wheeler
Mt. Vernon vs Denmark
Greenforest vs Etowah
Buford vs Grovetown
North Gwinnett vs Milton
I’ll have Monday covered remotely as I continue to recover. I embark on holiday travels on Tuesday, so I’ll be following those games but not covering intently.
Holiday Hoopsgiving takes over Shiloh HS on Friday and Saturday, and it’s another monster field.
Langston Hughes vs Meadowcreek
Shiloh vs Buckhorn (AL)
So Cal Academy vs Combine Academy (NC)
Gonzaga (DC) vs Carmel Christian (NC)
Greenforest vs Kell
Prolific Prep (CA) vs TSF
Calvary Christian (FL) vs Pebblebrook
McEachern vs Wasatch Academy (UT)
Shiloh vs Woodland
Buckhorn (AL) vs Lovett
Etowah vs Gonzaga (DC)
Carmel Christian (NC) vs Greenforest
So Cal Academy vs Prolific Prep (CA)
Kell vs Pebblebrook
Wasatch Academy (UT) vs Calvary Christian (FL)
Grovetown vs Wheeler
I’ll be missing that because of holiday obligations, but you better believe that I’ll be tuning in from afar for some of those matchups. Family? Ha. Grovetown vs Wheeler is going to have my full attention.
Feast Week is the best week of the year
The best, BEST, B-E-S-T time on the sports calendar is here. That’s right, it’s Feast Week!
No, there isn’t a better anything that comes close to Feast Week. I love conference tournament season and the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, but those don’t quite hit in the same way that Feast Week does. They aren’t far off though.
So what makes this week the best?
- Okay, so first off, it’s a week of wall-to-wall college hoops. Basketball psychos can sit and recklessly consume until their eyeballs disintegrate. There’s no better feeling than seeing college basketball on the schedule ALL DAY LONG.
- We get GREAT games throughout the week. I mean, do you remember Dayton and Kansas from last year? What about when they met in Maui? How about Duke and Gonzaga in Maui? Look at Sunday (Yesterday). We got Gonzaga/Kentucky, Illinois/UVA, Baylor/UCLA, Houston/Oregon, Maryland/Miami, VCU/Memphis, and more. That’s before the big tournaments even get going.
- There’s a built-in day off during Feast Week, and that day just so happens to celebrate food. Are you kidding me? A free day to sit and stuff my face all day while watching basketball? Sign me up.
- The headlining locations are great, unique holiday staples. It’s not Thanksgiving without seeing Jay Bilas in a lei. The two best tournaments are in a small gym in Maui and a ballroom in the Bahamas. No stale, cavernous NBA-sized arenas that are a quarter full. The Lahaina Civic Center hits differently. True heads feel me.
- Feast Week is the unofficial beginning of the holidays. I love the holiday season. It’s a heart-warming time of year. I hit play on my holiday playlist (movies and music) as soon as a Maui Invitational champion is crowned. When I see people hooping on the islands, I know Christmas is right around the corner. (I’m an equal opportunity holiday celebrator. I’ll hit Hannukah or Kwanzaa or anything else. Just show me the ropes.)
- It’s early enough in the college basketball calendar to take advantage of the early-season excitement. By February, fatigue can set in. It especially hits if you’re like me and go hard with basketball all season long. Feast Week is perfectly placed at a time in which I’m itching to see high-level matchups, and I’m still wide-eyed with season-opening excitement.
- I straight up lose any interest in football when the college basketball season starts, but Feast Week provides outstanding college football rivalry games on Saturday. Iron Bowl, Egg Bowl, Toilet Bowl, whichever one you like, it’s there. If you like the NFL, Thanksgiving is a good day for that too. Miss me with that. Just give me my hoops.