Class AAAAAAA basketball are still in the early stages of region play, but top teams have emerged. Here is a look at the top five teams in the latest top-10 rankings and how they got there.
1. Grayson (14-1) – Grayson is ranked No. 10 nationally in the MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25. The Rams lost to Newton (ranked No. 7) in December but have victories over six other top-10 teams (Wheler, McEachern, Archer, Milton, Shiloh, Pebblebrook). They’ve also beaten Mountain Brook, an otherwise undefeated team that won Alabama’s Class 7A title last year. Grayson returned four regulars from its 25-4 team of 2018-19. The Rams also picked up transfers Caleb Murphy from Norcross and Toneari Lane from Shiloh. Both are major Division I recruits. Murphy (signed with South Florida) and guard Deivon Smith (Mississippi State) are among the consensus top-10 senior prospects in Georgia this year. Grayson has a rematch with Newton on Jan. 14, this one at home.
2. Norcross (15-2) – Norcross’ best player, five-star recruit and Kentucky signee B.J. Boston, transferred to Sierra Canyon, the California school that also trots out the sons of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. All-state guard Kyle Sturdivant has moved on to Southern Cal. Another top player, South Florida-signed guard Caleb Murphy, left for Grayson, which is now ranked No. 1. Those casualties would wipe out almost every other program. But not Norcross. The Blue Devils received the following transfers of their own: Josh Taylor, a Georgia signee from Greensboro Prep; J.T. Thor and Kok Yat, major D-I prospects from Huntington Prep in West Virginia; and Quincy Ademokoya, a Temple signee from Dacula. Four other Norcross players who started or played significantly on the 2018-19 semifinal team are back. Norcross’ two losses are to Mater Dei of California and Roselle Catholic of New Jersey.
3. Shiloh (15-1) – The Generals were unbeaten until last week, when knocked off by No. 1 Grayson 72-60. Shiloh lost its top two players from last season, Kendall Lewis to Appalachian State and Toneari Lane to region rival Grayson, but returned most everyone else who played a lot. Point guard Zawdie Jackson, a first-team all-Region 8 player last season, came over from South Gwinnett. Shiloh has wins over No. 5 McEachern and No. 10 Archer.
4. Milton (12-3) – Milton lost to No. 1 Grayson 81-80 in November and hasn’t been beaten by a Georgia team since. The Eagles have defeated No. 8 Pebblebrook and Lee of Huntsville, the No. 4 Class 6A team in Alabama. The Eagles’ marquee player is guard Bruce Thornton, a sophomore with offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech and several other major Division I programs. He’s a son of former Georgia cornerback Bruce Thornton.
5. McEachern (10-4) – McEachern is coming off the most impressive season for a Georgia team in 40 years. The Indians were undefeated and ranked No. 1 nationally in several polls for much of the season. Point guard Sharife Cooper and forward Isaac Okoro were co-players of the year in the state. Okoro is off to Auburn, but Cooper, an Auburn signee, returns. His presence and McEachern’s growing national fame have attracted four prominent transfers – Dylan Caldwell from Oak Hill Acacdemy in Virginia, Mercer-commit Jovan Tucker from Cumberland Christian, Bobby Moore from North Cobb Christian and Randy Brady from Brentwood Academy in Tennessee. Brady has offers from Florida State, Tennessee and others. McEachern’s 39-game winning streak was snapped with an 83-57 loss to No. 1 Grayson on Dec. 14. The Indians also lost to Shiloh 82-64 last month. But the roster talent remains top-notch. It just needs more time to gel.
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