The Shot Clock with Josh Tec: Notes from MLK Weekend in Georgia
It’s Tuesday, an atypical release day for The Shot Clock, but MLK Day hoops festivities occupied Monday, so in order to include a full day’s worth of evaluation, pushing this back a day seemed to make the most sense.
MLK weekend is relentlessly busy in Georgia when it comes to basketball. A dizzying amount of games and events take place across the state. It’s hard to keep up with it all. The beauty of it is that people like me can trip and stumble into pretty good basketball with all of the action going on.
I spent my time bouncing around Atlanta trying to see some teams that I haven’t been able to get eyes on yet this season.
Whether it was the Peach Ball Classic hosted by Double Trouble, the MLK Classic hosted by Holy Innocents', or individual games, my journey around the Atlanta metro provided me with plenty of notes.
Let’s get into some of what I saw over the busy weekend.
Ace Bailey commits to Rutgers
The biggest news of the week came on Sunday evening when McEachern's Ace Bailey committed to Rutgers. The commitment came as a surprise, but it took another one of the top juniors in the state off the board.
Both part of the AOT and McEachern programs, Bailey and 2023 G JaMichael Davis will be continuing their basketball careers together in Piscataway.
Being from that general area, this now begs the question of whether McEachern's Moses Hipps will also be suiting up for Steve Pikiell down the line. Only time will tell.
Akai Fleming puts on a show
The moment that will stick with me the most from the weekend was 2025 G Akai Fleming’s performance for Osborne on Saturday night in the Peach Ball Classic. While the Cardinals didn’t win, Fleming’s second half electrified, and he showed that he ranks among the best sophomore guards in the state.
After a slow start to the game, Fleming exploded in the second half, scoring 25 of his 29 points. To narrow the scope even further, he scored 18 in the fourth quarter to try to win it for Osborne.
The 6-foot-4 guard caught fire from the field and showed his three-level scoring. The Cardinals’ best offense was to let Akai cook. To say that his jumper was working would be putting it lightly. He was able to create space for it off the dribble, and he hit when contested too.
His offensive outburst was the story, but he showed plenty of upside and versatility on defense. He used his lengthy frame well to disrupt and guard multiple positions.
With the Atlanta Celtics, Fleming is going to have a performance like this that makes him pop on a national scale. While he’s not a local secret by any means, he has all the makings of a national stock riser.
Fleming holds offers and insterest from: Kansas State, Kennesaw State, Cincinnati, Georgia, Indiana, Alabama, SMU and others.
Moustapha Diop’s near triple-double
Mustapha Diop continues to shine in his freshman season at The Walker School. He's been averaging a double-double and didn't lose any ground in that regard on Monday.
Diop was three blocks away from a triple-double. The 6-foot-9 freshman finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocks at the MLK Classic hosted by Holy Innocents’.
While we do our best to not make too much out of freshmen, Diop’s high school debut has resounded enough to garner serious attention.
Preston Parker leads Sequoyah on Saturday
One of the summer’s stock risers in Georgia was Sequoyah’s Preston Parker. The Alabama-Huntsville commit has continued to build on the momentum he drove during the AAU season during the high school season.
He's the leader of the Chiefs now, and he led them to a hard-fought win over St. Francis on Saturday.
Parker finished with 21 points, and he hit the free throws that ultimately decided the game in its waning seconds.
Senior Tyler Hammond added 20 for Sequoyah.
Mt. Pisgah picks up a big win
One of the teams operating toward the top of A D-I is Mount Pisgah. The Patriots have been getting it done this season and added another quality win over Osborne on Saturday.
They survived an 18-point fourth quarter from Akai Fleming behind 18 points from unsigned senior wing Grant Randall, who has emerged as one of the risers of the high school season. Schools should certainly circle back on him because of how much he brings to the table in terms of versatility.
2025 guard Micah Tucker added 15 points. He was evasive on drives and routinely made guys miss when he made his way to the basket. Tucker was also a disruptor on defense and bothered whoever he was guarding for most of the game.
Juniors Max Tucker and Tyson Pittman added 15 and 13 respectively while freshman Grant McDuffie hit some big 3-pointers en route to 13 points.
In one of the tougher regions in Georgia, Mount Pisgah has shown that they have the depth to make a run during the playoffs.
Reynolds Escher has a strong outing for St. Francis
One of the best performances of the weekend—from what I saw—came when St. Francis’ sophomore guard Reynolds Escher dropped 29 against Sequoyah.
His aggressive pursuit of the rim was impressive. While most younger players are okay with settling for shots, Escher looked to attack the rim and put pressure on the defense. Because of his emphasis on getting to the rim, Escher got to the line frequently against Sequoyah.
Escher showed off his vision with some tremendous passes that led to assists too.
Mt. Bethel rallies on the road
Despite playing without big man Mo Diao, Mt. Bethel came from behind on the road to pick up a win over Wesleyan.
While they didn’t have their 6-foot-8 forward, the guards handled business for Mt. Bethel. Four guards finished in double figures for the Eagles in a balanced outing.
James White led with 12, Will Kuimjian and Jackson Bell added 11 each, and Zach Rodene finished with 10.
With that kind of balance, Mt. Bethel is going to be a difficult tea to contend with for the rest of the season, and they’ll be even more dangerous if Diao returns.
That win paired with their Monday win over South Gwinnett maintains the Eagles’ position toward the top of A D-I.
Quick hitters and observations
- Eagle’s Landing improved to 19-0 with a win over Greenforest on Monday. The Eagles have five games left, and they’re all region opponents that they’ve already beaten. Back-to-back road games against Jones County and Dutchtown will be tough, but if they can handle that, we should be looking at a 24-0 team going into the postseason.
- Southwest Dekalb won a close one on the road against Holy Innocents’. The Panthers are a scrappy, tough group that has been one of the best in 4A.
- 2023 G Jaden Emory goes for 27 against Walker on Monday. The Southwest Atlanta Christian guard was electric for the Warriors. He was able to get wherever he wanted on the floor and was especially effective in scoring at the rim.
- Gainesville’s Octavian Demory and Cade Simmons combine for 36 (18 each) in a win over Galloway.
- Sticking with that game, Galloway’s Amir Arrington went for 27 for the Scots.