Photo by Jason Mussell
Mount Zion forward J.R. Holder averaged 25 points this season as the Bulldogs had one of its best seasons in recent years.
Vitals: The versatile senior swingman paced Mount Zion, averaging 25 points, six rebounds and four assists per game. He was named Region 4-AAAAA, player of the year and was selected third team all-metro by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club.
Highlights: January was a spark plug for the Raiders in coach Tony Brinson’s first season leading Riverdale’s boys program. His leaping ability and athleticism helped him play bigger than his 6-foot-4 stature.
Highlights: A two-year starter averaged 14 points and 3.6 assists for the Region 4-AAAA runner-ups. He also averaged 3.8 rebounds per game to help the Cardinals reach the state quarterfinals.
School: North Clayton
Highlights: Scored a career-high 34 points twice this season in leading the Eagles into the state playoffs. He averaged 18.1 points and had 28 points in a loss to eventual state champion Eagle’s Landing.
School: Mount Zion
Highlights: The 6-foot-5 forward averaged a double-double for Mount Zion this season and was a key addition to the Bulldogs roster as a compliment to Clayton Player of the Year Jarius Holder. Simmons was the second leading rebounder in all of Class AAAAA, averaging over 16 boards per game.
Highlights: Averaged 16 points and eight rebounds for the Titans. Known as an electrifying dunker, the 6-foot guard also averaged seven assists and two blocks per game.
DeAngelo Anthony, Lovejoy, Sr.; Duby Okeke, Jonesboro, Sr.; Darius Sizemore, Mundy’s Mill, Sr.; Sahr Joe, Morrow, Sr.; Michael Harden, Lovejoy, Sr.; Devin Lewis, North Clayton, Sr.; Cameron Sutton, Jonesboro, Sr.
BOYS COACH OF THE YEAR
The first-year coach led the Mustangs to the state playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 playoffs. Morrow advanced to the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals. The Mustangs finished with a 21-11 record.
Why Holder: The 6-foot-7 Jacksonville signee’s stats this season looked strikingly similar to last season’s. But his team’s record doesn’t. The Bulldogs, winners of just four games in 2011-12, went 18-6 overall and 13-2 in the region. Although they lost in the first round of the region tournament, Holder’s leadership is a huge reason for the unlikely turnaround.
Others considered: Jonesboro senior guard Patrick Petty, who was the school’s leading scorer, averaging14 points per game for the Cardinals as they were just one win away from their third straight state semifinals appearance.
Where are they now: Former North Clayton standout Marcus Georges-Hunt was the leading scorer at Georgia Tech this season by averaging 10.8 points and making 30 starts.
Coach Maurice Triche on Holder: “He was the heart and soul of the Bulldogs squad. And he set the standard where we should be able to carry on. His work ethic and what he brings to the game. He’s out there already getting ready for the next level. He doesn’t have to, but that’s just what he does. He’s working out to get stronger, taking 150-200 shots each workout. He sets the tone for what you’re looking from a student athlete off the court, in terms of being in the classroom, his character and on the court, his work ethic.”
Q & A
Question: What was the highlight for you this season?
Answer: “Just bonding with the boys and playing with them for one last time. This year we did fall league, we worked out every day on our own, but we did everything as a team which bonded us together.”
Q: How did you improve this season?
A: “I thought more about ‘we’ as a team, where last year it was more about ‘I.’ So in that way I matured as a player.”
Q: What was your biggest challenge?
A: “Proving everyone wrong. No one thought that we would do as good as we did. It felt good. It let people know that Mount Zion is back on the map.”