Class 7A blog: Pebblebrook ranked No. 2 despite 4 new starters

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Pebblebrook’s boys basketball team lost four starters from its 2021 semifinal team, but the Falcons are in their familiar position of contending again, ranked No. 2 in Class 7A with a 13-2 record that includes losses only to out-of-state teams.

The reason is patience and culture, says coach George Washington. He’s got four seniors and a junior who are full-time starters for the first time.

“All those guys have been sitting the bench, getting spot minutes, waiting for their turn,’’ Washington said. “Their opportunity is here, and they’re seizing the moment.’’

Kami Young and Andre Young, who are not related, played extensively last season, often starting, but now they are shining.

Kami Young is committed to Rider. He’s a 6-foot-2 guard averaging 26 points per game. Andre Young, a 5-11 point guard, has signed with Troy.

“Kami (pronounced Ka-MUY) is a guy who has the ability to score the basketball,’’ Washington said. “He can shoot deep really well. Andre can score too, but he’s really been running the team, getting them right. And he’s an elite defender.’’

Jordan Brown and Nyle Hillmon are 6-2 senior guards. Brown is another outstanding scorer, and Hillmon is more of a defensive stalwart, leading the team in taking charges and defensive deflections.

Like Young and Young, they’ve hung around until their senior seasons to play more prominent roles at a program famed for having developed NBA talents Collin Sexton and Jared Harper.

“Those guys are what we call culture guys,’’ Washington said of his seniors. “They just continue to pass the torch on. They teach some of the younger guys on the JV and freshman teams. They tell them, ‘You may not get the minutes right away, but you’re going to go against some of the best guys in practice.’ ’’

The lone junior starter is Jaiun Brown, a 6-7 forward that Washington praises for his versatility. “We’re requiring a lot of him from rebounding to defending the other team’s big players, and he’s accepted the challenge,’’ the coach said. “He can also shoot the 3 or put the ball on the floor.’’

Pebblebrook goes to its bench often. Craig Adams, Jaylen Perry, T.J. Holmes and Xavier Bell get quality minutes. Adams, a 6-3 junior, also is a star football player, coming off a season of 54 receptions for 936 yards and 11 touchdowns for a team that had a breakout season, going 9-2-1. Holmes also is an outstanding football wide receiver.

Pebblebrook likes great size but thrives with a guard-oriented lineup.

“They remind me so much of the team I had three or four years ago, the 2018 team,’’ said Washington, who has coached two semifinal and four quarterfinal teams in his eight seasons. “We had four or five guys who scored the basketball, and we had a lot of guards and played really fast.”

Pebblebrook has played in Nevada and South Carolina this year, beating a number of out-of-state teams. The Falcons also have defeated Milton, the defending Class 7A champion and the team that knocked Pebblebrook out in the 2021 semifinals.

This weekend will be a huge test. Pebblebrook plays at No. 5 McEachern in a region game, then against No. 1 Newton on Saturday.

“Class 7A is treacherous,’’ Washington said. “McEachern is playing phenomenal right now. And Newton is the measuring tool for all of Georgia basketball right now. They’re the best team in the state. We’ll find out how good we are.”

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