Put on your dancing shoes, kids. The postseason is officially here and we are excited to see how the state tournament brackets all shake out. The AAAAAA bracket has some of Georgia’s heavy hitters. We dive deep into the class and preview the first round of action.
• Did Gainesville’s aggressive schedule help prepare them for a state championship run?
• Region 5 has four teams that could all advance to at least the Elite 8.
• Is this a repeat year for Langston Hughes in AAAAAA?
THREE BEST FIRST ROUND GAMES
Creekview (22-4) vs Douglas County (20-5): What a match-up this is right out of the gate. This is one of the best overall games in the opening round, regardless of classifications. Both teams are 8-4 against state playoff teams. Both teams can score in bunches. Both teams are guard-heavy offenses. Plenty to like in this match-up.
Tri-Cities (19-8) vs South Cobb (18-8): When the brackets began to materialize, this was one of the first match-ups that jumped off the page to us. Tri-Cities is paced by terrific (available) senior Eli Lawrence and his 22 points a game. For South Cobb, coach Greg Moultrie runs a deep rotation that emphasizes on aggressive defense.
Lanier (19-9) vs Cambridge (24-2): Lanier’s Adrian Martin and Cambridge’s Kamar Robertson should be one of the best player match-ups in round one. Both anchor their teams from the backcourt and both are capable of a big scoring night. Keep a close watch on this one as both players could explode for 20+ points in this game.
Longest winning streak going into the bracket: 17, Gainesville.
Leading scorer, according to MaxPreps, in the bracket: Langston Hughes’s Sanchez Nolley and 30.9 per game.
Biggest Cinderella in the bracket (team with the worst record): Lee County at 9-17 was a No. 3 seed out of Region 1. The Leesburg team will play Richmond Hill in the opening round game.
Best Player in the bracket: Sanchez Nolley, Langston Hughes. The Virginia Tech-bound wing drilled five three-pointers in the fourth quarter of Langston Hughes’s Region 5 championship game. He’s the best scorer in the state and has the Panthers primed for a return run to the state championship.
Junior to Watch: Brendan Tucker, Dacula. Few players in the Southeast have the first step that Tucker has. He’s deadly in that space and always seems to be a play away from a highlight. Tucker can score in bunches, has improved from three and is good enough to push his team deeper in the playoffs.
Underclassman to Watch: Sophomore Quincy Ademokoya, Dacula. The Falcons don’t have quite the record they were hoping for but they are dancing. The role Ademokoya plays could be the reason why the Gwinnett County school has the ability to advance to the Elite Eight. He’s a good rebounder but also a mismatch on the wing, where he’s at his most comfortable.
RELATED: Previewing Georgia's 7A state bracket's 1st round games
STORY STARTER POTENTIAL
Messiah Thompson, North Atlanta, JR: The speedy point guard has been terrific all year long. He averaged 16.2 points and 8.1 assists a game this season. Keep in mind…seven of North Atlanta’s losses came by a bucket and the Warriors finished their season and region tournament with a bang. Thompson was an anchor in that run.
Brady Spence, Alexander, JR: There is always a big man that uses the state tournament stage to jump start a big year on the travel/recruiting season. Spence could be that guy this year coming out of AAAAAA. The 6-foot-8 big man is a double-double machine, athletic in the paint and has steadily improved throughout the year. Don’t be surprised to see low-majors jump on board.
Jayce Moore, Coffee, JR: In Georgia basketball circles, there is no secret that players from the southern parts of the state get looked over more than metro Atlanta players. So, meet Mr. Moore.The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 18.5 points, 12 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3 steals and 1.2 blocks a game this year.
NUMBER ONE SEEDS
Region 1: Coffee (18-7)
Region 2: Brunswick (24-3)
Region 3: Heritage-Conyers (14-8)
Region 4: Stephenson (20-5)
Region 5: Langston Hughes (21-5)
Region 6: South Cobb (18-8)
Region 7: North Atlanta (19-9)
Region 8: Gainesville (20-6)
FINAL FOUR PICKS
Justin Young: Gainesville, Langston Hughes, Douglas County, Brunswick
Tai Young: Gainesville, Langston Hughes, Douglas County, Jonesboro
2018 PLAYERS IN OUR GEORGIA RANKINGS
3. Sanchez Nolley, Langston Hughes (VIRGINIA TECH)
10. KJ Buffen, Gainesville (MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE)
21. KJ Jenkins, Creekview
23. Jamari Smith, Jonesboro (QUEENS)
27. Khalyn Weekley, Bradwell Institute
38. Xavier Bledson, Gainesville (LINCOLN MEMORIAL)
TOP FIVE UNSIGNED SENIORS IN THE BRACKET
KJ Jenkins, Creekview
Khalyn Weekley, Bradwell Institute
Eli Lawrence, Tri-Cities
Bryce Latimer, Stephenson
Tyler Culbreath, Lee County
2019 PLAYERS IN OUR GEORGIA RANKINGS
9. Brendan Tucker, Dacula
17. Kamar Robertson, Cambridge
21. Kalen Williams, Lakeside-Evans
23. Mekhail Bethea, Dacula
32. Brandon Barron, Alpharetta