Every year in Georgia, there are numerous freshmen who burst onto the scene and show that they’ll be household names during their time in the high school ranks. While some have already started to solidify themselves as the top dogs in the class, there are others who are also making significant impacts on their respective varsity squads in Year 1. Here are 6 first-year players who fit the latter.
6’7” F Gora Niang (Cumberland Christian Academy)
It’s hard to believe that Niang is a freshman at first glance. He’s a legit 6’7” with a built upper and low body that you don’t even see from some seniors. In GAPPS, there are hardly any other guys that can match up with him physically. Niang is mobile, has leaping ability, and has a good motor that allow him to be a force in the paint often. In Cumberland’s game that I attended against The King’s Academy, he was particularly impressive on the offensive glass. He already shows some flashes of a few different things on offense and should continue to become more polished on that end.
6’2” G Brent Bowman (Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe)
Bowman is averaging 14.6 PPG on the season so far and just recently had his best game of the year against Ridgeland with a 31-point outburst that included 8 3’s. You can tell that Bowman is confident by the way he carries himself on the court, but he’s not a guy who is going to celebrate a ton or show a lot of emotion. He just goes about his business and acts like he’s been there. Shooting is his best attribute right now (50 3PM, 42 3P%), but he is definitely more than that. Bowman is pretty quick with the ball, changes speed, and already has some strength and dexterity to score in the paint. He should be a guy that people become more familiar with this travel season.
6’3” W Mason Etter (Etowah)
It hasn’t taken long for the younger Etter to start leaving his imprint on the Etowah program like his older brother Jaxon did while wearing an Eagle uniform. Head Coach Jason Dasinger will immediately tell you this when talking about Etter- he is one of the smartest players you will find. Etter always knows where to be on the court both offensively and defensively, making things easy for himself and creating opportunities without a ton of extra effort. He has a rare ability to draw charges; earlier this winter he drew 6 charges in one game alone. Offensively, he keeps things simple and has a compact, effective outside shot. I’m really looking forward to tracking his development over the next few years as he grows into his body and continues to progress physically.
6’1” G Jase McCullough (Roswell)
A region foe of Etter’s, McCullough proved to be an important piece for the Hornets early on this season. He already has a strong, mature body and does not mind using it at all. Each time I’ve watched him this winter, McCullough has had some impressive moments attacking the basket. He seeks out contact and has pretty good downhill speed while staying under control most of the time. McCullough also uses his body and athleticism to chip in with rebounding and while he’s not a great outside shooter yet, he will take and make 3’s occasionally. He should continue to develop nicely in Roswell’s program.
6’3” F Gabe Omoregie (Dacula)
Omoregie won’t overwhelm you with his height as a forward, but his body and aggression are hard to handle for opponents. He moves well with his 200+ lb frame, invites physicality, and stays active inside. Omoregie can be a problem on the offensive glass and never gives up on a play, securing and finishing on 2nd and 3rd chance opportunities often. He’s already putting up double-double like numbers for the Falcons, with averages of 8.8 PPG and 7.8 RPG on the season. If he gains a few more inches, it will spell trouble for his region the rest of his high school career.
6’3” SG Kyle Walters (Lovett)
I’ve watched Lovett in 2 big games this year. In both, Walters was productive and did not show any tentativeness, averaging 11 PPG and 5 RPG with 6 made 3’s between the 2 contests. He’s already right around 6’3” with exceptional shooting ability and a quick release on his shot. Walters gets himself going from deep and has also displayed some nice touch on floaters and other in-between shots. He is a really smart player who understands what he’s capable of and knows where to be on the court. He’s skinny right now, but is not afraid to go rebound or fight for loose balls. His skill and approach to the game will allow him to keep producing and improving.