The Shot Clock with Josh Tec
Let me continue to wish everyone a happy holiday season. I’ve gotten all of my Christmas shopping done, so I’m pretty happy about that. I just need to wrap everything, but every year, that’s a battle that I lose more often than I win. I don’t know how people are actually good at that. It never ceases to amaze me to watch people actually wrap presents well. I’ve started to dig into my favorite holiday movies. Eyes Wide Shut is one of the ultimate Christmas movies. If I owned a movie theater, I’d program that to kick off December every year.
College basketball is getting ready to dip into a bit of malaise for the remainder of the year with a few singular exceptions here and there. I don’t particularly obsess over the NBA, NFL, or college football as much, so I don’t have my hands full in regards to those sports. High school basketball, however, takes a step forward in December with approximately a million holiday showcases and tournaments featuring great games from morning to evening. I’ll review one of those via articles coming out throughout the week, and I’ll preview another one below.
Luckily for us here in Georgia, we have a great basketball community, and we have no shortage of holiday hoops to satiate our appetites. So, in order to do my small part in fulfilling your craving for Georgia basketball content, here’s the latest edition of the Shot Clock to kick off your week:
Where in the Peach is Josh Tec: As always, here’s my schedule for the week. I always look to fill open dates if possible, so if there’s a day that’s unfulfilled, hit me on Twitter (@_joshtec) and let me know where I should go.
Monday, Dec. 6: OPEN
Tuesday, Dec. 7: McEachern at Hillgrove.
The Hawks are off to an impressive 7-0 start this season, and McEachern is coming off of an impressive performance against Wheeler on Saturday. The Indians have been a force in Cobb County historically, and Hillgrove’s new staff is building a program that looks to be held in similar regard. One thing to note for this game is that Hillgrove should see the debut of transfer guard Rob Dix. With Dix in the mix, the Hawks’ ceiling significantly improves. It’ll be interesting to see if McEachern can keep their momentum from the weekend going into this tough road test.
Wednesday, Dec. 8: Paulding County at Calhoun.
There aren’t many games on Wednesday, so I will likely make the trip to Calhoun for this one. The Yellow Jackets have a pair of forwards in Dylan Faulkner and Peyton Law who are two guys who are going to have the opportunity to play at the next level. They’re on my list of teams who I wanted to make sure to see this season, so this seems like the perfect opportunity for me to get out and see them.
Also, it’s a good chance for me to see Paulding County for the first time.
Thursday, Dec. 9: OPEN
I may go out to Mill Creek to see them play North Gwinnett, but I may use this day to finish some final papers for school. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Friday, Dec. 10: Norcross @ Berkmar.
This region battle between two of the more heralded teams in the state is certainly not one to miss. Berkmar has only played one game so far, and they lost it to Greenforest. It’s not how we expected the Patriots to start their season, but it’s not the end of the world for them either. Between now and the Norcross game, Berkmar has a tough test when they go to Archer to take on the Tigers on Tuesday, and they immediately follow the Norcross game on Friday with a game against Milton on Saturday. Despite having a small sample size to this point, we’ll learn a lot about Berkmar by the end of the week.
Norcross, on the other hand, has doled out some lopsided losses to five teams, including Pace and Fayette County, but they took one at the hands of Newton. The Blue Devils have been impressive overall, but this will be among their toughest tests of the season to date. They also face a bit of a challenging week. On Tuesday, they play Meadowcreek on the road, and on Saturday they play Westlake. Neither of those are guaranteed wins.
Whichever team pulls out this game on Friday will have one mighty impressive win under their belt.
The Hawks-Naismith Holiday Classic has some great action on Friday as well, so if I have the time, I will try to catch some of the action there too.
Saturday, Dec. 11: Hawks-Naismith Holiday Classic.
See below for more.
Sunday, Dec. 12: OPEN.
Hawks Naismith Classic Preview:
Friday at Holy Innocents’:
5 p.m. - Mt. Pisgah vs Holy Innocents’
If you’re looking for some exciting, young prospects, this is a good game to take in. Mt. Pisgah’s Micah Tucker and Holy Innocents’ Caleb Wilson are two of the more interesting players in Georgia’s 2025 class that I’ve seen. Tucker is a fantastic guard who can put points on the board in a hurry, and Wilson might have the highest upside in the class. Indiana has already extended an offer to Wilson.
6:45 p.m. - McEachern vs North Gwinnett
McEachern hasn’t run from challenges. They’ve faced some of the best teams in the state across multiple classifications. They’ve taken their lumps, but they’ve also picked up some nice wins. North Gwinnett is another team that will serve as a challenge for the Indians. Braden Sparks, Mike Jacobs, and Jalen Hilliard have all had some great moments so far. That trio will need to have a big night for the Indians on Friday if they want to walk out with a win.
North Gwinnett has RJ Godfrey back in the lineup which significantly raises their ceiling. They’ve picked up good wins over Greenforest and Male High School—a team from Louisville with a top-75 junior. Thomas Allard is one of the better unsigned seniors in the area, and Dylan Gary has had some tremendous games this season.
This is a matchup between two name brands in the state, and it’s a great test for each team.
8:30 p.m. - Newton vs Greenforest
To date, these have been two of the state’s most interesting teams. Newton has asserted themselves as Georgia’s best team, and Greenforest has picked up some impressive wins.
Newton is talented and deep. They have at least seven players who are capable of beating you on any given night. Their strength is in their junior guard class, which has to be among the best in the country—at least in terms of public schools.
Greenforest lives up to their name and employs a forest in the frontcourt. They run out a cavalcade of guys who push 7-feet.
It’s essentially guards vs bigs in this one. Newton is the better team overall, but if we’re discussing a Greenforest win, I wouldn’t be surprised. After I leave Berkmar, I’m going to bolt over to Holy Innocents’ to try to catch the end of this one.
Saturday at Norcross:
5 p.m. - Kell vs Sandy Creek
Kell has a stable of athletic guard/wing hybrids who excel in transition, and they have Peyton Marshall on the block who’s going to get his points via bullying his way around the paint. Jaylen Colon is a guard capable of getting hot from the perimeter too. The Longhorns are going to look to turn Sandy Creek over and let their transition game take over from there.
Jabari Smith is down at Auburn looking like a top-3 NBA Draft pick, but the Patriots still have a solid group this season. They’re 5-0 with solid wins over teams like Cumberland Christian, Providence Christian and Meadowcreek. Micah Smith has drawn a lot of attention from high-major programs, and he’s been off to a nice start this season.
6:45 p.m. - Berkmar vs Milton
Prior to the season, this was one of the matchups I was most interested in watching unfold. Both teams last played in the 7A championship back in March. Milton pulled out the win after Berkmar led for much of the way. The Patriots will look to avenge that loss on Saturday.
Both teams have taken losses, Milton is looking to recalibrate after some early-season tumult, but the fact remains that these teams are still uber talented. This will be a great test for each.
The one area in which Berkmar will have a decisive advantage is in the paint. As far as I know, LT Overton is still in football mode, so I believe the Eagles will have to try to stop Malique Ewin by other means. That’s a task that I wouldn’t want to take on.
8:30 p.m. - Westlake vs Norcross
I’m interested in seeing Westlake. I haven’t gotten a chance to see them yet, and I have high expectations for them this season. They’re 4-3 on the season, but I don’t think that record is indicative of how good they are or will be. Gaddis Heath and Jalal McKie make for one talented tandem, so I expect the Lions to right the ship.
However, I don’t know that they will quite get that done on Saturday because Norcross is a daunting team to have to face. Who knows, though, Norcross will have to play Berkmar a day prior to this matchup, so maybe that game results in a less-than-fresh set of legs for the Blue Devils. Regardless, I can’t wait to see this one.
Best Thing I Saw This Week: I’d have to give this distinction to Braden Sparks’ shooting performance on Saturday at the Tournament of Champions Showcase. Sparks hit six 3-pointers in a blowout win over Wheeler. He finished his game with 25 points. Five of his shots from deep came in the first half.
Sparks has waited his turn in the McEachern program. He’s played alongside some supremely-talented players, but now, he’s the Indians’ leader, and he’s making the best of his opportunity.
His game on Saturday wasn’t an anomaly. In the other game of McEachern’s that I have been to this season, Sparks hit five 3-pointers and scored 22 points.
ICYMI: Throughout the season, I’d like to highlight unsigned seniors as much as possible, so I will be putting out various articles about those guys, so college coaches can add some names to their lists if they're looking for guys. I already put out two listicles shining a light on some of the best unsigned seniors in the state. If you missed out on them, you can find the first list here and the second one here.