John Bednarowski: Boys hoops in Cobb could be special this season

·3 min read

Sep. 16—Please let me interrupt this football season with a high school basketball public service announcement.

Boys basketball in Cobb County — and around the state of Georgia — is going to be ridiculous this fall and winter. And before you resume watching your favorite high school, college or pro football teams this weekend, let me whet your appetite.

The HS Circuit, partnering with The Season Ticket (theseasonticket.com), is dedicated to high school basketball. It is loaded with recruiting analysts, scouts and people who are educated in nothing but the prep game across the country.

As an example, they may be the national version of what Kyle Sandy, owner of the Sandy's Spiel website, does within Georgia.

Unfortunately for Sandy, it looks like he is going to have to share many of the state's best teams with the nation this year.

The HS Circuit released its preseason boys public school top 25 from across the country this week. Six are from Georgia, and even better, three are from Cobb County.

Two of the county's best are in the top 10, with Wheeler (25-5 in 2021-22) coming in at No. 4 and Pebblebrook (28-3) at No. 10.

The Wildcats are expected to be led by five-star recruit Isaiah Collier, who is considered the No. 4 prospect in the country. Collier, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound point guard, should be joined by 6-9, 225-pound power forward Arrinten Page, another senior looking for one more state title before they leave for college.

Wheeler also has 6-9, 170-pound junior power forward Josh Hill, while former Cumberland Christian shooting guard Jelani Hamilton — a 6-6 Iowa State commit — and former Walker shooting guard Ricky McKenzie also joined the program, according to Sandy.

Pebblebrook boasts 6-6, 190-pound senior Jaiun Simon — a three-star small forward — 6-4 junior guard Jalen Lee, senior wing CJ Adams and others.

The national top 10 was topped by Duncanville (Texas), followed by Imhotep (Pa.), Centennial (Calif.), Wheeler, Camden (N.J.), Newton, Simeon (Ill.), Oak Cliff (Texas), John Marshall (Va.) and Pebblebrook.

McEachern (15-10) came in at No. 12. The Indians have five-star forward Airious Bailey and four-star guard Moses Hipps, who transferred into the program from Archbishop John Carroll in Pennsylvania. Both are juniors.

Along with Newton, the other Georgia programs in the poll are No. 19 Grovetown and No. 22 Grayson.

"Why does the state of Georgia have six total teams currently in the public school top-25 rankings?" Samad Hines, an Atlanta-based contributor to The HS Circuit, tweeted. "Wheeler, Newton, P'Brook, McEachern, Grovetown, and Grayson. It is a gauntlet every year in the Peach State — any of these teams can win that state championship this season."

One of the best things about this is, for the aforementioned Georgia powers to win a state championship, they will all have to go through one another. Wheeler, Pebblebrook, McEachern, Newton and Grayson are all in Class AAAAAAA. Grovetown is the only one that isn't, but it has Wheeler — which it beat in the state quarterfinals last year — and McEachern already on the schedule.

They will also likely see one another in holiday tournaments throughout the schedule, but that is far from all the talent around Cobb.

Hillgrove (23-4) will be in its second season under former South Cobb coach Greg Moultrie, who is rebuilding the program in his own image. Kell is led by 6-11, 310-pound four-star junior center Peyton Marshall, while Osborne has brought in a slew of transfer players. North Cobb Christian is consistently full of talent, and there are always surprises when it comes to programs getting better.

Is it basketball season yet?

John Bednarowski is the sports editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and former president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. He can be reached at sportseditor@mdjonline.com or on Twitter

@cobbfballfri or @jbednarowski.