The high school season is over, and the Class of 2020 in Georgia is on its way to accomplish big things at the next level. Before they leave to the next step of their basketball careers, our LakePoint Hoops team wanted to give out some Senior Superlatives.
BEST SCORER: Sharife Cooper, McEachern (Pictured)
For four years, the Auburn-bound guard lit up scoreboards in Georgia and routinely went over 30 points in effortless fashion, including leading the Nike EYBL in scoring for AOT. He is a true three-level scorer, with deep range on his jumper and a high level of craftiness that allows him to get into the paint and get all the way to the rim. He is the best ball-screen operator in the state, which will bode well for him in the SEC, and could allow him to continue to be a highly productive point man at the next level.
MOST NBA POTENTIAL (guard): Eric Gaines, Lithonia
He has the size (6-foot-4), skill and athleticism that will get him looks early and often in his career at LSU. Coming off an injury during last travel season, Gaines had a terrific senior year for Lithonia. He has become a basketball folk hero in Atlanta and DeKalb County for the sheer level of skill, explosiveness, and excitement he brings to the game. He could become the same in Baton Rouge. If his trend of improvement continues over the next couple of years, don’t be surprised to see him on NBA draft boards sooner than later.
MOST NBA POTENTIAL (post): Walker Kessler, Woodward Academy
Kessler fits the mold what we have become accustomed to from a modern day big man. He can score inside, he can stretch the floor, and he protects the rim. He has all the tools to be the next productive Tar Heel post and there has been no shortage of North Carolina big men that have had their name called in the NBA Draft. He should be able to make a solid immediate impact in Chapel Hill and as he adapts to the college game, he should become a highly productive player and one that NBA scouts cannot ignore.
MR. WINNER: Dwon Odom, Saint Francis
How about back-to-back state championships to finish a career? That'll put anyone in this category. In his four years at Saint Francis, Odom’s teams posted a 109-17 overall record. His Atlanta Celtics teams won at a high level too, including an appearance in the 17-under championship of last year’s Battle For Georgia. Odom has done nothing but win over the course of his career at Saint Francis and with the Atlanta Celtics, and he does so in a commanding way. You have no choice but to respect him. Did we mention he's also a track state champion and has posted a number of school records for that at Saint Francis?
MOST VERSATILE: Ja’Queze Kirby, Jeff Davis
He might not get the same amount of attention that prospects in the Atlanta area receive, but our team appreciates what the Kirby can do. Murray State has been no stranger to nabbing some of the highest level mid-major prospects in the southeast over the past few years, and this is par for the course for Matt McMahon and company. He tallies numbers in a lot of columns on the stat sheets, and he’ll stuff those sheets for the Racers and win a lot of games over the next few years.
MOST EXCITING: Caleb Murphy, Grayson
No prospect in Georgia combines a super tight handle that often make defenders look helpless with great athleticism to finish with highlight reel dunks like Murphy. Throw in the fact that he's a lock-down defender and can take opposing players out of the game, and you have an electrifying player. He was leaned on heavily all year for Grayson, and has proven that he can be a go-to guy and hit shots when they matter the most. He’ll be a ton of fun to watch at South Florida.
BEST REBOUNDER: Josh Taylor, Norcross
Playing in one of the toughest regions in the highest classification in Georgia against a tough schedule, the Georgia-bound forward routinely matched up with talented post players and was always up to the challenge cleaning up the glass. Throughout his high school career, he has developed his frame and become a monster in the paint and will be a very valuable piece for Tom Crean and the Dawgs. Don't be surprised if you see his name near the top of the rebounding category in the SEC in upcoming years.
BEST DEFENDER: Emory Lanier and Michael Whitmore, Woodward Academy
One of the biggest adjustments players have transitioning to the college level is on the defensive side of the ball and not taking defensive possessions off. That won't be the case for these two. No two defenders put more pressure on opposing backcourts this year than the Woodward Academy duo. Their defense was key in the win over Sandy Creek that propelled the War Eagles to a state championship.