The Shot Clock with Josh Tec: TOC Holiday Classic Recap
After being sick for a week, and then spending the next week out of town for the holiday, I felt like I hadn’t been out on the road in years. This week, I hit the ground running and got back into gyms around town.
That means that I saw a ton of basketball and that I have a lot to discuss. The brunt of the action that I saw came on Saturday at Wheeler HS during the Tournament of Champions Holiday Classic.
It was 12 hours of action featuring some of the state’s best teams and players, and boy oh boy there was a lot to take away from this loaded field.
Consider this week’s edition of The Shot Clock a notebook recap of the event. Let’s take a look at what went down over at Wheeler.
USC signees lead Wheeler in a chippy win
In what could be described as a contentious game, Isaiah Collier and Arrinten Page put in dominant second halves to give the Wildcats a comfortable win over a Kimball (TX) team that gave Wheeler trouble in the first half.
Page was dominant around the basket. Kimball had no answer for the 6-foot-9 forward. Page’s dunk-everything mentality saw him spend a lot of his time hanging on the rim. He also owned the glass. Page ended his night with 19pts and 8reb for the Wildcats.
A number of the dunks Page finished came from Isaiah Collier's assists. The No. 1 player in the country never ceases to amaze with some of the passes he can whip around the court. His vision and feel are elite. He broke the game open with multiple possessions in a row in which he connected with teammates for easy baskets. Collier finished with 16pts and 7ast.
Those assist numbers don’t tell the full story. He made some video game passes in this game to find open teammates. Some food was left on the table, but Collier made comically great passes throughout the game.
These guys aren’t highly-touted for no reason, folks.
Ace Bailey makes his case for the top spot in 2024
At HoopSeen, the discussion about the No. 1 player in 2024 has been taking place for a little while. There are plenty of candidates, and McEachern’s Ace Bailey is certainly one of them.
On Saturday night, the 6-foot-9 forward continued to make his case in a resounding fashion. Bailey finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds against Kell.
The stats are eye-popping, but watching it unfold in real time was a marvel. Bailey’s shooting is real. He’s been a great mid-range threat for a while, but his 3-point shot is a bonafide, consistent weapon for him. He can get his shot off the catch and off the bounce.
He’s also impressed with his passing and decision-making to start the season. He’s drawing the focus of defenses, and rather than force things, Bailey is passing over defenders to open teammates.
Of course, one of his strongest traits has been his motor and intensity around the basket. He’s a vacuum on the glass and looks to dunk everything. He had one of the highlights of the day when he drove to the basket from the corner and threw down a monster dunk.
I have no doubt that he’s a top-five player in the class, but now I’m starting to think that he could be No. 1.
Cannon Richards is going to be popular in the spring and summer
Give me all of the Cannon Richards stock now. I can’t get enough of this guy. He’s been one of my favorite players to watch in Georgia.
The Kell forward has a motor that never quits, he’s tough as nails, he’s athletic, and he has good length. All of those combine to make one of Georgia’s most formidable presences around the rim.
He’s not the biggest guy around the basket, but he plays like he is. Richards produces by pursuing the dirty-work parts of the game harder than anyone else on the floor.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s shown plenty of upside as a wing and has been hitting shots from the perimeter, but everyone who watches him is going to be won over by his impact as a rebounder and rim protector before anything else.
“When you tell a kid to go get it (a rebound), that’s what you mean.” That’s what a high school coach told me when we were marveling over a rebound that Richards soared in from out of his area to grab.
His game reminds me of Sean Stewart’s in a lot of ways. The Duke signee is a favorite among coaches and evaluators for the same reasons that Cannon Richards is.
I can tell you this right now, he’s going to be a popular guy when the spring and summer live periods get here. He’s a guy that coaches will absolutely love. He’s a guy that every program needs.
Kell is off to a hot start
Before the season, 5A looked like it was Kell on a tier of its own at the top. Well, that’s proven to be the case so far this season.
The Longhorns weathered the Ace Bailey storm and held on to beat McEachern 67-62. That win puts Kell at 4-0 with wins over traditional Georgia powers like Pebblebrook, Greenforest and McEachern.
It’s been their combination of elite star power, veteran leadership, and buy-in that has driven their success.
Their junior stars—CJ Brown, Peyton Marshall, and Cannon Richards—have given them the talent to compete with anyone on their schedule and it’s a trio that nobody in 5A can match.
The program’s veterans like PJ Johnson, Aaron Smith, and Jaylen Colon played roles on the team when Scoot Henderson was leading the charge, and they’re significant contributors on this team that could reach heights that the program has never seen before.
Kell has some tough, tough games left on the schedule as we navigate through various holiday events. To this point, they’ve passed their toughest tests. While an undefeated season is unlikely, they certainly look to be in a league of their own at the top of 5A.
Jase McCullough catches fire for Pebblebrook
Pebblebrook has been a program that has killed teams from the 3-point line in recent years. In their matchup with Tri-Cities on Saturday, Jase McCullough torched nets for the Falcons.
McCullough was feelin’ it from beyond the arc with 8 3-pointers en route to 28 points. The senior guard transferred to Pebblebrook over the summer and appears to be fitting in well with his new squad, to say the least.
If McCullough can be a consistent 3-point threat for the Falcons, they should be in contention for another deep playoff run.
I’m very, very interested in Cam Smith
Pebblebrook’s Cam Smith, a sophomore guard/wing, has my full attention. He has a chance to be a hell of a prospect.
Smith is about 6-foot-6 or so. He’s all arms and legs with big feet, so his physical development appears to be far from over. He’s long too. His wingspan is impressive. His physical potential is something to marvel at, but he’s got the game to back it up.
Smith is a lefty who looks comfortable as a shooter with range. Pebblebrook always loves to attack teams with a 3-point barrage, and I think Smith can turn into a guy who can fit that well. The Falcons are also a relentless defensive team year after year, and Smith’s length can be smothering on that end.
He still has plenty of developing to do, but as of now, I’m sold on his upside.
Grayson’s depth wins out
Grayson has dudes, and they have a lot of them. To this point in the season, CJ Hyland and Chad Moodie have been their best players. Well, Hyland sat early with an injury and Moodie was good, but he wasn’t as much of a force as he has been in past games.
For most teams, two top players not being major factors would result in an L. Not for Grayson.
Let’s not forget that the Rams have Gicarri Harris and Amir Taylor who are among the state’s most talented players in their respective classes. Both guys stepped up and bolstered much of the production in a close win over a talented Alexander squad.
The pair combined for 35 in the win. While it comes as no surprise that that duo was terrific, it proves that the Rams have no shortage of options at their disposal.
Grayson has a host of players who can step up and lead them to a win on any given night.
Milton’s 2025 backcourt features two rising stars
Milton has been a powerhouse in Georgia in recent memory. They lost most of the production that made them an elite program in the country for the last couple of years. Particularly, they lost Bruce Thornton who’s having a hell of a season at Ohio State, and Kanaan Carlyle elected to go the OTE route for his last season before college. That left a lot of questions about how good this team would be compared to their standards. Well, the Eagles are undefeated against a solid in-state schedule, and their sophomore guards are leading the charge.
Josh Dixon and Avery White have been tremendous for the Eagles to this point. On Saturday, the pair combined for over 40 of the team’s 67 points. This duo has been potent on that end of the floor.
Both guards score fluidly and effortlessly and look like stars in the rise for the Eagles. Milton had produced some fantastic guards over the years, and this pair of sophomores are next up.
Jacob Wilkins dazzles again
6-foot-8 sophomore wing Jacob Wilkins has been nothing short of outstanding for Parkview to start the season. I mean, he’s looking like a serious challenge for the top spot in the state and like one of the top players nationally.
In the two games that I’ve seen Parkview play this season, Wilkins has averaged 26.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4 blocks.
On Saturday morning, he did everything for Parkview in another dazzling performance. Early on, he was on point with his jumper hitting mid-range shots and connecting for a pair of 3-pointers.
In the second half, he turned into a one-man dunk show and did most of his damage above the rim.
He’s the kind of player that’s all the rage in basketball right now. Wilkins is a big wing with plenty of skill and athleticism. He shoots the ball well already, and he’s an impactful wing rebounder.
An area that he probably hasn’t gotten enough credit for in the past is his passing. On Saturday, Wilkins made some fantastic reads and probably should have added multiple assists to his already impressive stat line.
He has the basketball pedigree—Dominique Wilkins’ son—and it's translating well. As more national people get out and see him, Wilkins should shoot up rankings quickly. He already has in HoopSeen’s 2025 rankings.
If you’re reading this, I’d have to assume that you're tangentially interested in the recruiting world in some regard.
Whether you’re in the middle of a recruitment, expecting to be involved in a recruitment in the future, or other, CJ Moore at The Athletic wrote an article about what college coaches look for on the recruiting trail.
In it, Moore talks to Bill Self, John Beilein, Mark Few and Tony Bennett on the record, and those coaches delve into some traits they value in players and more.
It’s worth a read if you’re a prospect or a parent of a prospect. It’s also interesting and a general audience can enjoy it just as much as those involved in recruiting.