Both the boys and girls lists are comprised of the top 40 players in the nation. After this past season, Cobb County has one boy and one girl on the list as former Whitefield Academy standout Kenny Gaines and former McEachern star Pachiyaana Roberts made the list.
On the girls side, Roberts was the lone player from Georgia to make the list, while Gaines made the boys list alongside former Miller Grove star Tony Parker.
“That speaks volumes right there because everyone knows that Georgia has a wealth of basketball talent,” said former Whitefield Academy coach Tyrone Johnson about Gaines being one of only two players to be named. “It’s an unbelievable accomplishment for a guy who didn’t really start playing competitive ball until three years ago. In fact, when I told him about it, he didn’t know about it too much at all. But I told him how big it was and how proud we were of him.”
Despite playing basketball at a high level for only three years, Gaines earned plenty of attention within the first two, starting with his junior year.
“He played some prior to (sophomore year), but it wasn’t on a big scale” Johnson said. “His recognition and growth came quickly. He grew exponentially over a short period of time. I tell everyone today that I have never seen a kid grow and improve as quickly as with Kenny Gaines.”
In his senior campaign, Gaines was a key component of Whitefield Academy’s Class A state championship winning team. He averaged 25.2 points per game, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 1.9 assists and 1.6 blocks. But more than just numbers, Johnson said that there are several parts of Gaines’ game that will translate well to college.
“He can score the ball,” he said. “Any time you can score the ball, I don’t care if it’s high school, college or pro, that’s always a premium for a basketball player. The second thing is just his level of physicality, especially for guards making the transition from high school to college.
“Lastly, his intensity, he loves winning and doesn’t back down from challenges. He can transfer those assets to the next level.”
Gaines, who signed with Georgia and is currently on campus, said he was unavailable for interview because of team policy as handed down by coach Mark Fox.
While Gaines is preparing for his freshman year with the team, Roberts is still training at home before leaving for Syracuse, where she signed.
“I’m leaving June 29,” she said. “I’m doing three workouts a day. The first workout is lifting weights and running. The second workout is mainly a basketball skills workout and the third practice is scrimmaging.”
For Roberts, training is a part of her life, and it’s why she has been able to earn the recognition that she has. Although Roberts played with four other Division I signees, Roberts was able to stand out because of her size, skill and determination, much of which can be shown from that workout regimen.
In her senior season, Roberts averaged a double-double in points (17.9) and rebounds (10.5), while also averaging four steals and 1.7 blocks.
“My year was great,” she said. “I mean, I had a great team and coach. (Coach Phyllis Arthur) helped me out and helped me to get better. Having five other D-I players on a team makes things competitive. When we scrimmaged, everyone played at their best. It was very productive and it was fun.”