Talent invades Atlanta
ATLANTA -- The metro Atlanta area has become a hot spot for top high school basketball tournaments. Over the weekend, the city hosted three quality events as the On The Radar Hoops Thanksgiving Showcase, Atlanta Hardwood Jam Fest and the Holiday Hoopsgiving tournament all took place. The three events brought several top teams to Atlanta and those teams featured many highly regarded basketball prospects. Rivals.com was on hand to take in all the action.
St. Francis still a contender
Alpharetta (Ga.) St. Francis has all the key pieces back from a state championship team last year in the single A private classification in Georgia, and they certainly played like it in a Saturday night matchup with Douglas County.
The star of the night for St. Francis was Florida State signee Malik Beasley. The 6-foot-4 four-star wing pumped in 36 points and did so with flair. He's more than capable of getting hot from three-point range and has a nice pull-up jumper, but what will get Seminole fans most excited during his time in Tallahassee is his ability to throw down highlight reel dunks. Along with his 36 points he tallied nine rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Beasley's backcourt mate Kobi Simmons had a rough outing shooting the ball, but still managed to finish with 25 points, five assists and five rebounds. The five-star junior prospect has a lengthy list of schools making him a priority. Schools such as Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Ohio State, Missouri and Syracuse have been involved with the 6-foot-5 lead guard and he just recently took an unofficial visit to Kentucky.
Xavier signee Kaiser Gates missed the game with an injury while Coastal Carolina signee Josh Coleman chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds for St. Francis.
Sophomore big man has huge effort
Though he's just a sophomore, Atlanta (Ga.) Pace Academy power forward Wendell Carter has been a known commodity in the metro Atlanta area for a few years now.
Many times when kids receive a lot of hype before ever playing a high school game, they fizzle out and don't live up to expectations. That's not the case with Carter, who just recently transferred to Pace from Fulton Leadership Academy.
Already ranked 14th overall in the 2017 class, Carter lived up to the hype in Friday afternoon matchup with Columbia (AL). He scored 18 mostly on free throws, but that's not where he did the most damage. The potential five-star prospect seemingly grabbed every possible rebound he could, finishing with 25 of them unofficially. He's a very intriguing prospect long term with his size, strong hands, and soft touch in the post.
According to his travel coach Chris Monroe, schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, North Carolina and Connecticut have been involved with Carter so far. Look for that list to continue to grow over the next couple years if he continues to play like he did this weekend in Atlanta.
New kids on the block?
Pebblebrook made a Final 4 run last year in Georgia's highest classification, and like St. Francis, they return all their top performers from last year's team such as Clemson bound point guard Ty Hudson and Georgia bound big man Derek Ogbeide. What could take them to the next level though is the addition of three-star junior guard Jared Harper, who transferred to the school from Mt. Vernon (Ga.) Christian.
In a Saturday matchup with Berkmar, usually one of the better programs in Georgia, Pebblebrook came out a little flat but held a 72-37 lead with three minutes left in the game when the starters came out.
It's not just Pebblebrook's talent that overwhelmed Berkmar. It was the unselfish play that makes them such a tough team to defend. Take Jared Haprer for example. The 5-foot-9 guard known for his ability to kill opposing teams with his three-point stroke finished with 20 points but also dished out six assists in the blowout win. Per Haper's father Pat Harper, Ole Miss, Kansas State, Richmond, Old Dominion, UAB, Brown, Penn, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State have offered scholarships. Auburn, Creighton and Xavier have shown varying levels of interest.
Georgia signee Derek Ogbeide continues to show signs of improvement. His 17 points came mostly off dunks and put-backs, but he did score off an impressive low post move and connected on a mid-range jumper from the left elbow. The three-star prospect is known more for his presence in the paint on the defensive end at this point in his career, and he showed why on Saturday night with his 12 rebounds and five blocks.
Pebblebrook will be tested this year with a tough national schedule. Next week, they take on AA state runner-up Augusta (Ga.) Laney High School in the Nike Explosion event. They travel to California in late December to participate in the Max Preps Holiday Classic. In January, they will take on Montverde (Fl.) in the Wally Keller Classic and will face Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha in the Hilton Invitational at Norcross High School.
Dan McDonald is a contributing national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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