The basketball season is entering the post-holiday, pre-region stretch, making it the perfect time to take a look at a few of the top players who have propelled their teams this season:
Player: Matthew Cleveland
School: Pace Academy
Notable: Rated by 247Sports as a four-star (.9890) recruit, Cleveland is averaging 22 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals per game to lead the top-ranked Knights. He has interest from Arkansas, Louisville, Florida State and Alabama, to name a few programs. At 6-foot-6, 183-pounds, he has powered Pace to an 11-4, 5-0 record. Cleveland is rated as the No. 2 recruit in Georgia for the class of 2021 and the No. 3 shooting guard nationally.
Player: Brandon Harris
Notable: A three-star recruit verbally committed to Elon, Harris had offers from Georgia Tech, Georgia, Tulane and Kansas State, to name a few. He is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the senior class and No. 45 shooting guard, nationally. After transferring from Beach before his junior year, Harris has helped lead the Atomsmashers to an 11-3, 6-0 record this season.
Player: Jasper Gibson
School: Dawson County
Notable: With the ability to score at will, Gibson is a player you will want to remember. In a 72-40 victory against Greater Atlanta Christian on Dec. 5, Gibson had 36 points … at the half. He finished with 42 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Tigers. The 6-2 senior guard leads a cast of six seniors at Dawson, which lost to Hart County last season in the semifinals.
Class AAA boys rankings
1. Pace Academy
2. Dawson County
3. Hart County
4. Windsor Forest
6. Franklin County
10. Long County
Player: Jaida Burgess
Notable: A transfer from local-rival Beach, Burgess leads the top-ranked Atomsmashers with 13 points, six steals, four assists and three rebounds per game. She and two other seniors – Antalazia Baker and Marylashia Westbrook – each average double-figures in scoring. Burgess has signed with the University of Tampa. She averaged 17 points and four rebounds during her junior year at Beach.
Player: Livi Blackstock
Notable: After losing out to eventual-champion Johnson in the quarterfinals last year, Blackstock leads a No. 2-ranked Dragons team that has experience. The 5-7 guard was named all-state honorable mention last season, and there’s look forward to in 2020. Blackstock averaged 14.2 points during her junior year.
Player: Sophia D’Oliveira
School: Dawson County
Notable: The Liberty commitment has helped lead Dawson to a 9-6, 3-1 record this season after a quarterfinal loss to Beach in her junior year. Against Stephens County in the East Jackson Tournament, D’Oliveira led with 14 points in a 53-38 loss. In a 59-43 victory against Oconee County on Dec. 20, D’Oliveira scored 14 points to lead the Tigers.
Class AAA girls rankings
4. Dawson County
5. Cedar Grove
6. Fannin County
7. Greater Atlanta Christian
8. Lumpkin County
9. Coahulla Creek
10. Pierce County
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