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Georgia Live 2023: A Smashing Success Long Overdue

By Bob Corwin, 06/28/23, 7:45AM PDT


The 2023 GBCA Girls Live Event (known locally as Georgia Live) was held June 15-17 at Suwanee Sports Academy in Suwanee, Georgia.  For those three days, 123 Georgia high schools played four running-clock games (scoring was kept during the games but no results posted afterward) which almost always were completed within the hour of time slot.  The event gave college coaches an opportunity to see recruits in a high school (often with more structure but fewer D1 players per team) rather than club ball setting (often more D1 talent per team but less structure).  A total of 70 colleges (50 NCAA D1, 12 D2, 5 D3 and 3 NAIA) attended one or more days of the event.   

This year marked the second addition of Georgia Live for girls but the first year NCAA Division 1 schools could attend.  With as many as seven courts going at one time, some schools had more than one coach present at the same time.  Teams were broken into Red (strongest), Pink and Blue Divisions.  There was talent spread out over the divisions but you had to hunt harder past the ‘Red.’ With many more schools wanting in than slots available, teams were somewhat pre-screened for participation.  Overall, like the event, talent in Georgia is spread out over the state although the Metro Atlanta area has by far the largest chunk of it.      

College packet plus and minus 

One big plus of the college packets was the inclusion of players’ club teams on the roster.  This will enable the colleges to better track recruits during the July viewing period.  The biggest negative (as in club basketball) was incomplete rosters with players entirely left off and perhaps even worse, playing with a number different than listed in the packet.     

Some terrific match-ups 

Kudos to all concerned as to numerous well played, quality match-ups of teams at the event.   I only wish the regular season had as many between good teams of different classes (see below why this happens less frequently in much of girls’ high school ball in the USA).  

Best team present 

Amongst media, scouts and college coaches present, it was pretty much agreed Hebron Christian Academy was the standout team at the event.  It won all four of its contests and impressively at that.  Hebron won the GHSA 3A (with 7A largest schools) this past year going undefeated but did not play the top teams in the larger classes as they did at Georgia Live.  The team returns all key players from last year and has added to that.  With the schedule reportedly being upgraded (important in setting national pre-season rankings), look for Hebron in one or more national pre-season polls {Having been involved in doing national rankings, I can say normally about half of the teams which start in a national top 25 finish there (obviously the goal!)}. 

Some other teams viewed that impressed (do note some teams were playing shorthanded and thus did not do so well as might have been expected): 

In 1A Private: St. Francis and Galloway  

In 2A: Mount Paran 

In 3A (besides Hebron Christian mentioned above): Wesleyan and Columbus Carver 

In 4A: Baldwin 

In 6A: River Ridge and Langston Hughes 

In 7A: Buford and Norcross   

Georgia Live needs to be viewed as the start of the next high school season 

Going forward, may I urge club coaches not to have any player participate in June events like Georgia Live if anticipating transfer to another high school come fall. In a sense, Georgia Live was the start of the next high school season although there is a full month of club basketball in between June and the start of high school practice in the fall.      

Why teams refuse to play each other  

This keeps coming up so let it be addressed here. 

Nationally, I have been told that on the boys’ side, much more than not good high school teams seek out the best possible opposition.  On the girls’ side, in Florida the top teams regardless of class designation generally play each other in the regular season.  However, in most state this is not true and unfortunately Georgia, more than not, falls into this majority.  You might ask the reasons why. Here are some that one might encounter. 

  1. Larger school coaches fear a dressing down from their school officials if they lose to a team in a smaller class.  Some states even have systems discouraging play versus schools outside their class.  So many educators still do not understand that in basketball size of school is much less of a factor than in a sport like football (which more than not governs high school sports). 

  1. In some state, the boys’ team and girls’ team are somewhat tied together and both coaches sometimes do not agree on certain opponents so they do not get scheduled. This is less of a factor now than in previous times. 

  1. Coaches may not like each other and refuse to schedule each other. Sometimes there is bad blood between schools that cause otherwise quality match-ups never to occur. 

  1. In some cases, coaches are friends and do not want to tarnish each other’s record. 

  1. A common excuse (perhaps valid at times) is not wanting to play a team likely to be faced in the post-season during the regular season.   

  1. Some schools are not willing to pay an entry fee into a weekend or holiday event staged by a third party where one or more quality match-ups/college exposure could take place.  It takes time and money to put these events on but numerous schools choose to pass on such events if they must pay to play.   

  1. Fear of taking an unnecessary loss when there are so many ‘safe’ opponents to schedule.  Most states do not have a tournament of champions or ‘open division’ having the season end with multiple state champions (Louisiana probably tops the list with 10.) most of whom never meet. 

  1. Most schools require an administrator to be present at games and all too many do not want to work on a Saturday when many of these better match-ups might be scheduled.  

  1. Some teams are locked into all, or all but a very few, games by leagues or regional play.  Thus, the coach may have few to no game dates available to strengthen a mediocre schedule otherwise handed to the coach by its league/conference/region/governing body.     

Results of the above often leave one wishing for more quality high school games in all too many states! 

Georgia’s obsession against 8th graders 

Most people do not realize how different rules regarding eighth graders are around the country.  Most state federations (Georgia included) do not allow players below grade nine to play sanctioned varsity games. However, the states surrounding Georgia (except North Carolina) allow eighth graders to play varsity basketball to varying degrees.  Where Georgia’s Federation (GHSA) differs, is that its members are supposed to leave the court and forfeit if an eighth grader on an opposing team from another state enters the game.   

When playing out of state, is it fair to ask a team which can legally play an eighth grader on varsity not to play the student-athlete?  It is extremely unlikely that any coach would play someone who physically was not up to the challenge.   I would hope Georgia would consider not enforcing the above when playing contests out-of-state.   

Those familiar with the Georgia rule endeavor not to pair any GHSA member team with any team that has eighth graders (or younger) on the varsity in interstate match-ups.  However, in large tournaments, this sometimes cannot be easily avoided in later rounds.   

Players below are listed alphabetically by graduating class along with listed height, position, and high school within Georgia.  Those discussed below are at least mid-major prospects.  Do note with so many teams/players present, others could have merited mention as well.  Players may not necessarily be at the listed high school come the high school season.  


Jania Akins, 5-10, guard, Norcross High School 

A good athlete with size, Akins can do a bit of everything from attacking to shooting the three.  

Jada Bates, 6-2, forward, McEachern High School  

Bates is a high-quality athlete who prefers to attack from the perimeter.  Given her desire to play outside, perimeter shooting probably needs to improve. 

Danielle Carnegie, 5-9, guard, Rockdale County High School 

Considered to be one of the top guards in Georgia’s 2024 class, Carnegie can run the point, attack off the bounce or score off the catch.  

Emaya Lewis, 6-3, power forward, Loganville High School 

Above average athletically with a fairly-solid build, Lewis scores mostly in the lower paint, but also showed some face-up stroke further up the key.    

Bryanna Preston, 5-9, shooting guard, Wesleyan School 

Preston’s strong drives and pull-ups were some of the highlights of the event.   

Ava Watson, 5-7, guard, Buford High School 

Recently committed to Ohio State, Watson is one of the best perimeter shooters in the 2024 class.  With above average basketball IQ, she also knows when to pick her spots to drive.   


Aubrey Beckham, 5-11, guard, Hebron Christian Academy 

Considered to be one of the top players in Georgia’s 2025 class, Beckham can play either guard slot able to score going to the rim or shooting from the perimeter.  

Tatum Brown, 5-6, point guard, Grayson High School 

Medium in build, Brown showed above average athleticism and IQ in running her team.  

Jessica Fields, 6-1, power forward, Mount Paran Christian School 

Fields plays harder and with more physicality than most.  Improving shooting range might be one are to work on.  

Kameron Herring, 6-0, shooting guard, Woodward Academy 

Lean in build and light on her feet, Herring showed an ability to get to the rim.  

Danielle Osho, 6-0, forward, Hebron Christian Academy 

Able to power to the rim, Osho can also face up to score. 

McKayla Taylor, 6-2, power forward, Langston Hughes High School 

With medium-solid frame, Taylor has a nice stroke scoring mostly in the paint. 

London Weaver, 6-0, guard/forward, North Forsyth High School 

A lefty with medium-solid build, Weaver showed she can stroke the three-ball and should not be left unguarded on the perimeter. 


Camryn Golston, 5-5, point guard, St. Francis High School  

A tad thin, Golston impressed with her ability to shoot the three and finish on the fast break.  

Isabella Ragone, 6-2, forward, Millcreek High School 

Able to create her own shot on the perimeter or score in the lane, Ragone is considered one of the top 2026 prospects in the USA.  She recently made an impressive showing at the USA U16 trials advancing to the next to last cut. 

Za’Rihanna Rudolph, 5-7, guard, Central Gwinnett High School 

A springy athlete, Rudolph showed above average driving ability. 

Taryn Thompson, 5-8, guard, The Galloway School 

Thompson showed above average skills in handles, court vision and stroke.  


Kia’Aundria Acree, 6-1, guard, Monroe High School (Albany)  

Acree is considered one of the top 2027 prospects in the USA due to her combination of above athleticism and size on the perimeter, able to come at the basket with force.  Being very young, at times she needs to let the game come to her.   

Aila Courtenay, 6-2, power forward, St. Francis High School 

Strongly built with good hands and mobility, she just needs to complete her physical maturation. Currently she does most of her scoring near the rim. 

Bristol Kersh, 5-7, guard, Cherokee Bluff High School 

Kersh impressed with her ability to shoot the three and move with and without the ball.  She showed above average basketball IQ particularly for a player not focusing on basketball. Kersh is considered one of the best at soccer for her age in the USA.  She is one of the rare athletes who excels at soccer who probably could play a nice level of college D1 basketball as well if she worked at it.  

Finley Parker, 6-2, small forward, River Ridge High School 

Parker is one of those tall, mobile wings who can knock down the three-ball.  

Trinitee Thomas, 5-9, guard/forward, Warner Robins High School 

Thomas is well above average athletically, having a nice perimeter stroke as well. 

Nakhai Worthy, 6-1, small forward, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School 

Strongly built, Worthy is a baseline to basket operator able to finish with either hand when attacking the rim.   


Leah DeWitt, 5-7, point guard, Marietta High School 

For such a young player, DeWitt showed above average ability to handle and shoot the ball. 

Loriel Murray, 6-1, center, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School 

Fairly solid in build and above average athletically, Murray’s game appears to be in the lower paint.