Two of the best players in the state just happen to play in the same region. That means fans will have multiple opportunities to watch Southwest DeKalb’s Eugene Brown and Lithonia’s Eric Gaines go against each other.
Brown is a 6-foot-6 shooting guard who missed last season with a broken leg. It didn’t prevent from being a highly sought recruit – he’s ranked No. 7 in the state by 247 Sports -- and he has committed to Ohio State. That hasn’t stopped Georgia Tech from continuing to pursue Brown, who has been a longtime target for coach Josh Pastner. Brown is averaging 15.4 points and 7.9 rebounds for the Panthers.
Gaines is a 6-foot-2 point guard who was an all-state selection as a junior. Gaines has multiple offers and is highly sought by Georgia State. He is averaging 18.3 points, shooting 57 percent from the field, 5.1 assists and 2.6 steals. He averaged 16.9 points as a junior.
Lithonia won the first meeting between the clubs. They play again on Jan. 17 at Southwest DeKalb and could always play again in the Region 5 tournament.
Here are three other top boys in Class AAAAA:
Jamaine Mann, Dutchtown: The 6-5 senior shooting guard is ranked as the state’s No. 23 prospect by 247 sports. He has committed to Gardner-Webb. Mann transferred from Starr’s Mill to Dutchtown this season and leads the Bulldogs in scoring (18.3 points).
Zarion Griffin, Statesboro: A 6-3 shooting guard is the sparkplug for the always-dangerous Blue Devils. Griffin averages 16.9 points and 5.1 rebounds for Statesboro. Griffin went for 27 against No. 1-ranked Lithonia earlier this season.
Anthony Hardy, Lithia Springs: The 6-2 shooting guard is the reigning Region 6 player of the year. Hardy, a four-year starter, averaged 26.3 points and 7.1 assists last season. Hardy is capable of putting up big numbers; he once scored 58 in a game.
Missing: K.D. Johnson, who led DeKalb County in scoring last year (21.9), left Southwest DeKalb to attend Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. He has committed to Georgia.
Here are five of the top girls players:
Stacie Jones, Veterans: A 6-1 senior, Jones is a good all-around player who averages 11.2 points and 11.8 rebounds. Jones is a four-year starter who had 21 double-doubles as a junior. Jones has 20-plus rebounds in three games and holds the school record with 25 rebounds. She has signed with Kennesaw State.
India Terrell, Columbia: The 5-foot-6 junior is of the top playmakers in Region 5. Terrell is averaging 15.3 points and 4.3 assists (second in DeKalb County).
Tate Walters, Buford: A returning all-state player from the state championship team, Walters does a lot of things well for the Wolves She’s adept at the outside shot and doesn’t mind mixing it up on Buford’s all-out full-pressure defense. Walters is going to play at Furman.
Jasmine Wills, Locust Grove: The 5-foot-5 senior leads the state in scoring with 20.1 points per game, as well as 3.5 assists and 3.8 steals. She went for 31 points against Lamar County and has been limited to single digits only once all season.
Lacy Robins Statesboro: A 6-1 combo guard doesn’t have to be scoring to be effective. She’s a good passer, enjoys pushing the pace and playing defense. She helped the team got 25-3 last year and was a first-team all-state selection who averaged 19 points. 5.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Robins has signed with Georgia Southern.
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