Top 10 games to watch in Georgia high school boys basketball during Thanksgiving week

Basketball season has arrived in Georgia, and the top teams have come out to play early.

Most eyes will be on Montverde Academy (Florida) vs. Wheeler, and deservedly so as Montverde is the top team in the country and Wheeler is among the top teams in Georgia. But with the Jared Cook Classic, Holiday Hoopsgiving and Hard in the Paint Classic, many of the top teams in Georgia will face off this week. 

(Dariq Whitehead feature photo courtesy of Montverde Academy)

TOP 10 GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK

10. McEachern (1-2) vs. Shiloh (2-0), 10:30 a.m. Friday

McEachern hasn’t jumped out to the start it was hoping for. Last season the Indians’ second loss came 11 games in, and now there is a chance they could suffer their third loss four games in. The Indians had seven straight seasons with fewer than five regular-season losses under head coach Mike Thompson, and they’ll try to keep that going with new coach Tremayne Anchrum Sr. Shiloh has also enjoyed some success in multiple consecutive single-digit-loss seasons. Shiloh lost its leading scorer from last season, but keep an eye out for Trevon Payton to make a big leap and impact for the Generals. This is the opener of the two-day Holiday Hoopsgiving event at Shiloh High School.

9. Baldwin (1-0) vs. Veterans (1-1), 5 p.m. Saturday

Baldwin has not lost a game in over a year. The Braves went undefeated (17-0) last year, winning the 4A state championship, and although they are 1-0 this season, they scored only 36 points in their opener after averaging 67 last year. Veterans has already matched its total number of losses from last season in which they went 23-1. Not that one loss is an indication of bad things to come, but head coach Brett Hardy has to deal with some big-time roster changes, and there will be plenty of new faces getting onto the hardwood this season for the Warhawks. 

8. Archer (3-1) vs. Etowah (2-1), 6 p.m. Tuesday

Archer and Etowah are set to face off in the Jared Cook Classic at North Gwinnett. Archer has already started the year out on the right foot. The Tigers have three wins but are coming off their first loss, and this is their second consecutive tournament game. Etowah has back-to-back games against top 25 opponents. Its first was Monday, a 62-55 loss to Grayson, in the Jared Cook Classic. Etowah has scored some big early victories in which it has outscored their opponents (Creekview and RiverRidge) by a margin of 20 points. 

7. Grayson (2-1) vs. Greenforest (1-1), 5 p.m. Friday

Grayson is 2-1, and even with the one loss the Rams have played three complete games. They put up 87 points on iSchool of Lewisville (Texas) and went toe-to-toe with the reigning 6A champs in Wheeler, and then beat Etowah. Two players to watch on the Rams are three-star recruits Tyrese Elliot and Chauncey Wiggins. Greenforest is known for its basketball prowess in the A Private ranks in Georgia. Greenforest may have the most dominant interior presence in the state in 6-foot-11 DK Manyiel and 7-footer Gai Chol, both four-star players who are two of the best big men in the state. 

6.Pace Academy (2-0) vs. Norcross (1-1), 5 p.m. Saturday

After blowing out Therrel 70-27 and giving McEachern its second loss of the young season, Pace Academy should be feeling good about the team’s outlook. The Knights face another tough challenge in Norcross, which has shown some early inconsistency. In the Blue Devils’ first game they scored 94 points on Fayette County, then in their next game they scored 67 points but allowed 83. So look for the Blue Devils to continue to score points but shore up some things on the defensive side of the ball. 

5. Pebblebrook (3-0) vs. Wasatch Academy (Utah), 3:30 p.m. Friday

Pebblebrook has lost four three-star players to D-1 programs and will be playing some underclassmen this season, but the Falcons have gotten off to a 3-0 start, averaging 80 points in those games. They take on Wasatch Academy from Utah in the Holiday Hoopsgiving tournament at Shiloh High. Wasatch Academy is the No. 11 team in the SBLive/Sports Illustrated Power 25.

4. Newton (2-0) vs. Westlake (1-1), 8 p.m. Friday

Newton has three four-star players in the 2023 class — Jakai Newton (committed to Indiana), Stephon Castle and Marquavious Brown (committed to UGA). With that type of talent, the Rams will cause problems at every turn for their opponents. Westlake is coming off a big 20-point win against Creekside. The Lions, under longtime head coach Darron Rodgers, are trying to get back to the years of 20-plus wins. Even though it is early in the season, this is a good game to test where they are at. This game is part of the Hard in the Paint Classic at Jackson High School in Atlanta.

3. Tri-Cities (1-0) vs. Jones (Florida) (0-1), 4 p.m. Friday

Tri-Cities is coming off a season-opening victory against Westlake last week. Now they travel to Orlando to face Jones High School. The Bulldogs are coming off a state championship game loss last season, ending the season 24-5, and before losing that last game they had won 16 straight. If they look to transfer that momentum into this season, they will need big contributions from Ryan Mathieu and Eric Smarr Jr. 

2. Kell vs Carmel Christian (NC) (5-0), 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Kell opens its season against one of North Carolina’s best teams in the Holiday Hoopsgiving at Shiloh High. Carmel Christian has already gotten its feet wet this season, averaging 77 points per game. Kell is coming off a trip to the 6A state championship game, which they lost. The Longhorns lost three of their top performers from last season, and they are expecting big improvements from Parrish Johnson Jr. and Aaron Smith. 

1. Wheeler (1-0) vs. Montverde Academy (Florida), 8 p.m. Saturday

The No. 1 game of the week has Game of the Year potential. Wheeler was No. 1 last year as the reigning 6A champs, and the Wildcats have the No. 1 recruit in Georgia’s 2023 recruiting class, Isaiah Collier, the fifth-ranked point guard in the nation. To continue with the trend, Wheeler faces the No.1 team in the country in Montverde Academy. Montverde is a basketball powerhouse, has been for years, and this year the Eagles are stacked with talent per usual. Montverde has five five-stars recruits on their roster, and that is just in the 2022 class. They also have the No. 2 overall player in the 2023 class in Kwame Evans Jr. This is the marquee game of the Holiday Hoopsgiving.

10 HONORABLE MENTIONS

Archer vs. Parkview, 1:45 p.m. Saturday

Collins Hill vs. St. Francis, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday

North Gwinnett vs. Greenforest, 7:40 p.m. Tuesday

Lanier vs. Archer, 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Jonesboro vs. St. Pius X Catholic, 5 p.m. Saturday

Sandy Creek vs. Meadowcreek, noon Friday

Eagles Landing @ Woodland, 8:30 p.m. Friday

Greenforest @ Berkmar, 3:30 p.m. Saturday

Dacula vs. Denmark, 3 p.m. Saturday

Windsor Forest vs. Friendship Collegiate Academy, 2:30 p.m. Friday

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