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CLAYTON COUNTY BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Photo by Derrick Mahone
North Clayton forward Devin Lewis was a key reason the Eagles reached the Class AAAA semifinals last season. He will take on a larger scoring role this season.

Photo by Derrick Mahone North Clayton forward Devin Lewis was a key reason the Eagles reached the Class AAAA semifinals last season. He will take on a larger scoring role this season.

Drew Titans

Coach: Jarrod Davis (fourth season)

Last season: 28-5, lost in Class AAA finals to Columbia

Region: 4-AAAAA, Div. A

Returning starters: None

Others to watch: F Brandon Clyde (6-4, Sr.), F Davis White (6-3, Sr.).

Outlook: Davis refuses to call this a rebuilding season despite the graduation of all its starters. He said it could be January before the team really starts to gel as the Titans head into the region tournament. The coach was impressed with what he called a “pretty good” summer of competition and camps. Despite the graduation of several talented players, Davis said the team will style use its running and trapping style of play.

Dutchtown Bulldogs

Last season: 15-15, lost in first round of the Class AAAA tournament.

Coach: Terry Herrod (first season)

Region: 4-AAAA, Div. A

Returning starters: G Donovahn Jones (6-3, Sr.).

Others to watch: Kalvin Hobbs (5-9, Sr.), TurQuin Mott (6-2, Jr.), Aundre Reid (6-0, Jr.).

Outlook: Dutchtown tapped the school’s defensive coordinator on the football team, Terry Herrod, as the Bulldogs’ new head coach after going through three coaches in two seasons. A familiar face for Herrod will be his team’s best player — Donovahn Jones, who is committed to Missouri to play college football, averaged almost 20 points per game last season and was named second team all-state. A new region won’t make it easy for the Bulldogs.

Eagle’s Landing Golden Eagles

Last season: 28-4, lost to Columbia in semifinals of the Class AAA tournament.

Region: 4-AAAA, Div. A

Coach: Clay Crump (sixth season)

Returning starters: PG Isaiah Dennis (6-0, Sr.), F Desmond Ringer (6-9, Sr.), G/F Eric Wortham (6-5, Sr.)

Others to watch: F Chris Davenport (6-7, Sr.), G Maurice Green (5-11, Sr.), G Trevin Joseph (6-4, Sr.), G/F Jordan Session (6-9, Jr.)

Outlook: After consecutive trips to the Class AAA semifinals the last two years with just about the same team, the Golden Eagles are expecting a breakout season. Returning is Henry Daily Herald Player of the Year Wortham, who averaged 14.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists last season. He will sign with Middle Tennessee State this evening. Also back to give the team some inside muscle is Ringer, who averaged 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots a season ago. He will sign with South Carolina in a ceremony before tonight’s scrimmage. Dennis has had a season under his belt at the point guard position. The team picked up two big surprises over the summer when Davenport moved in from Florida and Joseph transferred from Stockbridge. Last season, Joseph averaged 21 points for the Tigers.

Forest Park Panthers

Coach: Antonio Wade (fourth season)

Last season: 16-12, lost first round of Class AAAA playoff to Alcovy

Region: 4-AAAAA, Div. A

Returning starters: None

Others to watch: C Kadarius Kendrick (6-5, Soph.); SG Kendarius James (5-9 Jr.); PG Covousier Stallings (6-2, Jr.); PF Branden Williams (6-2, Jr.)

Outlook: The Panthers will start fresh this year after a senior-heavy squad led them to the state playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09. There, they lost 78-65 to Alcovy, but inspite of breaking in a whole new starting five this season, Wade is optimistic. With four players listed at 6-4 or taller, this will be Wade’s biggest team in his four years at Forest Park. With the transfer of sharpshooting sophomore Costa Anderson, Wade is looking for junior guard Covousier Stallings to step up on the perimeter.

Henry County Warhawks

Last season: 18-13, lost to Drew in Class AAA quarterfinals

Region: 2-AAA

Coach: Vincent Rosser (seventh season)

Returning starters: G Sheldon Williams (6-5, Sr.), C Dre Souder (6-6, Sr.), G Tondric Johnson (6-3, Sr.), G Nick Brown (6-0, Sr.)

Others to watch: PG Duvale Johnson (6-1, So.), G Quez Souder (6-0, So.)

Outlook: Rosser is calling this the “most talented” group that he has had at the school. He said scoring shouldn’t be a problem with the return of four starters, including Souder, who averaged 16 points and four rebounds last season. The Warhawks will probably miss point guard Zavier Rosser, but Duvale Johnson is expected to fill that role. “He had a great summer and fall league,” Rosser said. “He got plenty of time as a freshman so he knows the system.”

Jonesboro Cardinals

Coach: Dan Maehlman (seventh season)

Last season: 26-5, lost to Miller Grove in Class AAAA semifinals

Region: 4-AAAA, Div. B

Returning starters: C Chukedubem “Duby” Okeke (6-8, Sr.); SG Patrick Petty (6-0, Sr.), PG Cameron Sutton (6-0, Sr.); PG Daniel Peace (6-0, Sr.).

Others to watch: SG Casey Wells (6-0, Sr.)

Outlook: The nucleus of the squad that made consecutive Class AAAA semifinal appearances is back. All five starters are back, including guard Casey Wells who missed a large part of last season with a torn ACL ligament. Coach Maehlman said Wells was “coming on strong” before the injury. His return should deepen an already stellar backcourt featuring four-year starters Cameron Sutton and Patrick Petty, as well as point guard Daniel Peace, who averaged 5.3 assists and 3.3 steals. Okeke could be a force in the paint that few teams are equipped to tame. Petty led the team in scoring last season with a 19.3 point per game average followed by Sutton, who averaged 15.4 points and 3.2 steals.

Locust Grove Wildcats

Coach: Greg Wilson (third season)

Last season: 3-22

Region: 4-AAAA, Div. A

Returning starters: G Cameron Clayton (5-9, Jr.)

Others to watch: F Trey Cook (6-2, Jr.), G Javon Harris (5-9, Sr.), G Keenan Wise (6-0, Sr.).

Outlook: Call this pre-season the Wildcat scramble for Wilson. Fred McKibben was expected to return and be a key inside but will miss the season after a football injury. Two players expected to handle point guard duties moved. The football team’s playoff contention means Keenan Wise, one of Locust Grove’s best returning guards, is just now joining team practices. And still Locust Grove won its scrimmage Tuesday night against Ola, though Wilson said he doesn’t put too much stock in scrimmages. “We don’t have a lot of experience, but hopefully some guys will step up,” Wilson said.

Lovejoy Wildcats

Coach: Rick Francis

Last season: 24-6, lost to Jonesboro in Class AAAA quarterfinals.

Region: 2-AAAAAA

Returning starters: SG Michael Harden (6-2, Sr.); PG DeAngelo Anthony (6-0, Sr.); PF Darius Bridges (6-4, Jr.).

Others to watch: G/F JuMichael Ramos (6-4, Sr.), G Alejandro Bennifield (6-4, Sr.).

Outlook: With 6-9 center Justin Tuoyo gone to Virginia Commonwealth, the Wildcats have suddenly become a smaller team. Francis will send out a lineup that includes three combo guards that should give Lovejoy a boost in quickness and perimeter scoring. Last season, Anthony averaged 12 points and three steals a game. Harden, who averaged around 11 points a game last season, is also one of Lovejoy's top returners. Francis will have a better idea of the team once the football squad is done in the playoffs because three players on that team will be asked to help.

Luella Lions

Last season: 17-9

Region: 2-AAAAAA

Coach: Jamond Sims (sixth season)

Returning starters: SG TeMarcus Blanton (6-4, Jr.), PG Nyrryk Evans (5-11, Sr.), SG Jared Hendricks (6-0, Sr.).

Others to watch: G Andre Banton (6-0, So.), F Charles Brown (6-4, Jr.), G Kedarious Compton (6-1, Sr.), C Doral Moore (6-11, So.), PG B.J. McNeal (Jr.), G Jabraun Newsome (6-2, Jr.), G Kylin Terrell (6-0, So.).

Outlook: Here come the Lions. A program that’s been known more for second-half collapses than state tournament appearances (they have none) could be poised for a breakthrough season. Blanton is an athletic scorer with offers from George Mason, Mississippi State, Murray State and others. Evans is a deft point guard with recruiting interest of his own. Hendricks is one of the team’s best shooters. At 6-foot-11, Moore gives Luella a dimension inside it’s not used to having. But with so many newcomers to the team, Sims is tempering expectations. “As far as athletic ability and being able to compete, I think they’ll be fine,” he said.

Morrow Mustangs

Coach: Creswell Foy (first season)

Last season: 12-14

Region: 2-AAAAAA

Returning starters: None

Others to watch: PG Cameron Davis (5-8. Soph.); SG Anthony Calloway (6-3 Jr.); SF Demarkus Loman (6-3 Soph.); PF Sahr Joe (6-4, Jr.); C Kris Bell (6-6 Jr.).

Outlook: With a new coach, it looks to be a rebuilding year for Morrow who has had just two winning seasons in the last eight years. Foy and his young roster will likely spend some time learning each other before settling into a groove this season, but the first year coach said his squad’s overall versatility should be an immediate strength.

Mount Zion Bulldogs

Coach: Maurice Triche (second season)

Last season: 4-22

Region: 4-AAAAA, Div. A

Returning starters: SG Jarius “J.R.” Holder (6-6, Sr.); PF Tristan White (6-4, Sr.).

Others to watch: C Momodoo Senghor (6-7, Jr.); PF Cody Simmons (6-5, Sr.).

Outlook: Excitement is building around Mount Zion in Triche’s second year at the helm of the program. And much of it centers around Holder. The Jacksonville signee averaged 24.5 points, seven rebounds, 4.2 assists and five blocked shots a game last season and is arguably one of the best to come from Mount Zion in recent years. With solid size surrounding him in the front court and a deeper bench, the Bulldogs could be a team to keep an eye on.

Mundy’s Mill Tigers

Coach: Royal Maxwell (second season)

Last season: 11-17

Region: 4-AAAAA, Div. A

Returning starters: SG Darrius Sizemore (6-7, Sr.); C Larry Glass (6-6, Sr.)

Others to watch: PF Michael Flores-Lorenzo (6-7, Sr.); PG Jahbari Morris.

Outlook: Despite this being Maxwell’s second season as head coach, he will be very familiar with the six seniors on this year’s squad. Maxwell was their freshman team coach before moving up to varsity ranks. The Tigers’ size and athleticism will cause fits, and Maxwell’s team is hoping that last season’s late season success — Mundy’s Mill won four of its last six games — will carry over.

North Clayton Eagles

Coach: Maurice Troup (seventh season)

Last season: 20-11, lost to Southwest DeKalb in Class AAAA semifinals

Region: 4-AAAA, Div. B

Returning starters: F Devin Lewis (6-4, Sr.), G Stafan Bradley (6-0, Sr.)

Others to watch: C Reggie Scurry (6-6, So.), G Justin Varner (6-0, Sr.), F Tracy Hector (6-3, So.).

Outlook: This will be the first full season in four years that the Eagles will be without all-star forward Marcus Hunt, who is now a freshman at Georgia Tech. Troup calls this guard-heavy team the “quickest” that he has had during his tenure at the school. The nucleus of the team will be built around Lewis and Bradley, who have played varsity the last couple seasons. Troup was awaiting the arrival of five players from the football team that are expected to be in the rotation. With the return of several seniors, Troup said court leadership should not be an issue. A tough schedule should help mode the team come region tournament time.

Riverdale Raiders

Coach: Tony Brinson (first season)

Last season: 13-13

Region: 4-AAAA, Div. B

Returning starters: F Quincy January (6-3, Jr.).

Others to watch: G Malik Johnson (6-0, Sr.), G Demetrius Johnson (5-10, Sr.)

Outlook: After four seasons as the girls’ varsity coach, Brinson takes over this season to replace Derrick Powell. He last coached boys during the 2006-07 season when he worked at Carver High in Atlanta. Brinson said having been at the school coaching, the players are familar with him and his style. Because of a lack of height, the Raiders are expected to play an uptempo style. He said that the team’s perimeter game and speed should be the team’s biggest strength. A couple players from the state playoff football team should add some inside muscle for the team.

Ola Mustangs

Coach: Curt Miller (sixth season)

Last season: 13-13

Region: 4-AAAAA, Div. A

Returning starters: PG Andrew Caldwell (5-10 Sr.); SG Malik Smith (6-1 Sr.); F Bungha Bengyella (5-10 Sr.).

Others to watch: SG Coleman Seabolt (6-2 Soph.).

Outlook: Last year’s team set a school record with 13 wins and posted the first winning regular season in school history. Miller is excited about the basketball IQ of his 2012-13 version. Improved depth will allow Miller to play 10-12 guys each night. And with a large class of sophomores and juniors, the Mustangs should get better as the season goes on.

Stockbridge Tigers

Coach: Robert Latham (first season)

Last season: 9-17

Region: 4-AAAA, Div. A

Returning starters: SG Nathaniel Green (5-10, Jr.); SG Jesse Murray (6-0, Sr.); PF Ryan Sims (6-3, Jr.).

Others to watch: SF Darius Alexander (6-5, Sr.) SG Jared Broknan (6-2, Sr.)

Outlook: The loss of standout guard Trevin Joseph who transferred to Eagle’s Landing will leave a void to an otherwise inexperienced team. But junior Nathaniel Green showed flashes of brilliance last season and should, with experience, be even more dangerous. Worth watching will be who will emerge to provide scoring help to compensate for Joseph’s departure. Alexander and Broknan, a transfer, will add size and athleticism to the backcourt.

Strong Rock Patriots

Coach: Stuart Spencer (season)

Last season: 4-20

Region: 5-A

Returning starters: PG Jesse Welch (5-9, Sr.), G Tyler Mangrum (6-0, Sr.)

Others to watch: G Torey McKissick (5-10, So.), G Zack Jones (5-11, So.)

Outlook: The Patriots graduated six seniors, but Spencer still remains excited about the upcoming season. He is high on McKissick and Jones, who played a lot of minutes last season as freshmen. The two will increase their roles with the team. Mangrum is the team’s returning leading scorer after averaging 12 points per game.

Union Grove Wolverines

Last season: 1-20

Coach: Russ Atkins (fifth season)

Region: 4-AAAAA, Div. A

Returning starters: F Grayson Fuller (6-1, Jr.), SG/SF Caleb Ham (5-11, Jr.), F Jay Shorts (6-2, Jr.).

Others to watch: SF Rod Dunlap (Jr.), G Jordan Johnson (Jr.), G/SF Kyle McRae (Jr.), PG J.P. Plummer (5-8, Jr.), SG Sean Williams (5-7, Sr.).

Outlook: Last season’s loss is this season’s gain. Williams, a starter two years ago on the Wolverines’ region runner-up team, moved to Las Vegas before last season. Now, he’s back and Union Grove’s shooting instantly improves because of him. No, Union Grove isn’t very big. No, it won’t have Fuller and Ham until the Wolverines football team is done with the state tournament. But with the addition of Dunlap, McCrae and Johnson from junior varsity, Atkins believes his team is more athletic this season, which should allow Union Grove to get back to pushing the tempo on both ends of the court.

Woodland Wolfpack

Last season: 13-14

Region: 4-AAAA, Div. A

Coach: David Bice (fifth season)

Returning starters: None

Others to watch: G Mark Bussey (6-0, Jr.), Finche Kelly (Sr.), C Brandon McLean (6-6, Jr.), G Dontae McLannahn (6-1, So.), SF T.J. Riles (6-0, Jr.).

Outlook: Wolfpack coach David Bice understands the challenge. Entering a region with heavyweights Eagle’s Landing, Jonesboro and North Clayton without a single returning starter, Woodland figures to have some growing pains ahead of it. But that’s OK, Bice said. “It’s kind of re-energized me,” he said. He’ll need that energy to help a young, but promising junior and sophomore class — led by McLannahn, a good-sized combo guard — get acquainted with varsity competition. Bice said Kelly figures to be the key role player — and senior — who can impact the game on the defensive end.

— Compiled Derrick Mahone, Brian Paglia and Gabriel Stovall

Comments

csmretirede9 1 year, 10 months ago

Why isn't returning senior from Lovejoy High School, Michael Harden (#12) who played point, shooting guard and small forward not mentioned. This is an excellent young player who averaged 11 points per game, 4 or 5 rebounds and a couple of assist per game. Michael Harden was the starting point guard while Jermaine Hough was playing football and Michael Harden moved to small forward when Hough returned. I just can not understand how someone who averaged double figures during the regular season and the playoffs no be mentioned at all when it comes to Loveyoy Boys basketball.

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