Class AAAAA blog: Basketball landscape faces big shift for ‘21

The Class AAAAA basketball champions have been crowned and both are worthy winners. 

The Buford girls played at a high level all season and won its fourth straight title, outlasting a young, talented Kell team in the title game. Those two teams were easily the best in class. 

The Dutchtown boys emerged from a very balanced field and thumped Cedar Shoals in the championship game. There were probably 10 teams that could have won the state championship – the boys field was deep and talented – but the Bulldogs put together five winning games and overcome some obstacles en route to winning its first state title and only the second for a Henry County school. 

As the attention turns to next season, the landscape will change quite a bit. Buford and Kell will both move up in classification; perhaps they will play for the AAAAAA championship next year. And Cedar Shoals is dropping into AAAA, meaning the Jags can’t duke it out with Dutchtown.

Dutchtown will have a chance to defend its title, but it won’t be easy. The Bulldogs graduate Region 4 Player of the Year Jamaine Mann and double-figure scorers (and leaders) Cameron Bryant and Kameron Hubbs. 

Realignment will play a large role in how basketball will play out for 2020-21. Here’s a long-range look at how next year’s regions will stack up:

Region 1: Veterans and Warner Robins both return. Wayne County and Ware County get shifted over from Region 2 and Coffee drops down from AAAAAA. Looks like a very solid league for boys and girls. 

Region 2: This a new-look region. Griffin, Starr’s Mill, Harris County, McIntosh and Whitewater appear to be the cream of the crop. The field looks wide open for boys and girls. 

Region 3: This could be one of the best basketball leagues in the state. Class AAAA boys champion Woodward Academy moves up, 2019 boys champion Tri-Cities (23-5) moves down and AAAA girls champion Forest Park moves in. And holdover Jonesboro is a consistent playoff threat. 

Region 4: This Henry County remains intact, with Dutchtown leading the way. The Eagle’s Landing boys and girls are both again threats to win the region and Woodland’s girls reached the semifinals this season. 

Region 5: Miller Grove, Arabia Mountain and Columbia moved on, but this tough league retains Southwest DeKalb and Lithonia and added M.L. King, Decatur, Northview, Stone Mountain and St. Pius. Watching SWD slug it out with St. Pius – boys and girls – will be a pleasure. Probably remains the toughest region in the state.

Region 6: Maynard Jackson remains the centerpiece of this new hybrid league, which has a heavy Douglas County influence (Chapel Hill, Lithia Springs and New Manchester) and adds a very underrated Villa Rica program. 

Region 7: Another newly formed league features imports Blessed Trinity, Calhoun and Cartersville to join with holdovers Hiram, Cass and Woodland. 

Region 8: A good nucleus remains with Clarke Central, Walnut Grove and Loganville. Newcomer Eastside is the best basketball addition of the new faces. 

Here is a far-too-early projection of the possible preseason Top 10 for the new Class AAAAA:

Boys

  1. Woodward Academy
  2. Tri-Cities
  3. Pius
  4. Dutchtown
  5. Eagle’s Landing
  6. Clarke Central
  7. Southwest DeKalb
  8. Warner Robins
  9. Lithonia
  10. Jonesboro

Girls

  1. Forest Park
  2. Eagle’s Landing
  3. Southwest DeKalb
  4. Woodward Academy
  5. Jones County
  6. Pius
  7. Veterans
  8. Griffin
  9. Maynard Jackson
  10. Villa Rica

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