Sports writer Brian Paglia
My apologies, Desmond Ringer. Sincerest regrets, Tiffany Wilson. You start making lists and find that they can be constraining.
You can only have one prom date, even if there are other worthy suitors. Right?
That’s how it felt when we picked five boys and girls basketball players to follow this upcoming season. Only five spots, but many, many more worthy candidates.
Among the most notable girls players not on the list:
• Morgan Jones, of Woodland, who’s almost a basketball clone of Dominique Clune (who did make the list). The rising senior was second on the team in points and first in assists last season. She’s a complete player.
• Victoria Florence, of Jonesboro, another one of the Lady Cardinals’ dangerous guards. She scored 33 points in a game against North Clayton last season. It wouldn’t surprise me if she does it again at some point this season.
• Tiffany Wilson, of Forest Park, who like her teammate Kayla Potts (another on our list) missed last season with an injury. But the rising junior’s reputation is solid after an impressive freshman season.
Who missed the cut for the boys?:
• Temarcus Blanton, of Luella, a rising junior who is already being hailed by some as the best talent to ever come through the Lions program. An early offer from Mercer sounds like validation.
• John Egbunu, who doesn’t even play high school basketball, but at 7-feet is the top rated player on Rivals.com from Clayton or Henry counties. Currently, he walks the halls of Eagle’s Landing as a student and is the No. 141st-rated prospect in the country. He’ll likely climb after a strong performance at the recent National Basketball Player’s Association Top 100 camp.
• Desmond Ringer, who does play for Eagle’s Landing and has started from day one since he entered the program. The 6-foot-8 center has offers from Auburn, Cincinnati, Marquette and more.
• Jonesboro’s guards, a trio comprised of Daniel Peace, Patrick Petty and Cameron Sutton, who have started since they were sophomores and accounted for 35 points a game last season.
• Rest of Eagle’s Landing, a team whose talent is reminiscent of a Milton or Wheeler. There’s Ringer, but also point guard Isaiah Dennis, 6-foot-8 rising junior Jordan Sessions, Stockbridge transfer Trevin Joseph and 6-foot-7 Montverde Academy transfer Chris Davenport.
All of which is to make one simple observation — basketball talent in the Southern Crescent feels like it’s at an all-time high.
This isn’t meant to overlook the past — the 1993 North Clayton boys state champions or the Morrow girls dynasty, Toney Douglas (Jonesboro) or J.R. Pinnock (Eagle’s Landing), Precious Persons (Drew) or Briana Williams (Henry County.
But mathematics seems to favor the present over the past. There’s more exciting talent spread across more schools. There’s even players missing from the list of missing players.
Which makes creating lists hard, but watching basketball season fun.
Brian Paglia covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter? Follow him at @BrianPaglia.