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Wheeler basketball carries same expectations into a new classification

Among the top-ranked teams in the nation, the Wildcats are only focused on completing a state title run

Wheeler Boys Basketball

Head Coach: Larry Thompson

Region: Region 5-AAAAAAA

Last Season: 25-5, lost 6A state title game to Grovetown

Standout Players: PG Isaiah Collier (Sr.), F Arrinten Page (Sr.), G Jelani Hamilton (Sr.), F Josh Hill (Jr.), G Damion Mitchell (Sr.)

MARIETTA, GEORGIA – A new team, a new classification, and the same expectations.

The Wheeler basketball team is one of the top-ranked teams in the country, but that isn’t something veteran head coach Larry Thompson wants to hear. WIth a new roster of players and the bitter taste of losing in the Class AAAAAA state championship last season, Thompson doesn’t care much about where they’re ranked in November.

Five-star point guard Isaiah Collier is the No. 1 ranked player in the nation and Wheeler is counting him to help erase the bitterness of last season's loss in the Class AAAAAA state championship game.

Five-star point guard Isaiah Collier is the No. 1 ranked player in the nation and Wheeler is counting him to help erase the bitterness of last season's loss in the Class AAAAAA state championship game.

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“I think some of the notoriety is a little predetermined,” Thompson said. “We’re not as good as people say we are. I still think Grovetown and Mceachern are two teams that are probably topped in Georgia right now. Grovetown beat us last year and McEachern is playing like one of the best teams in Georgia.”

The potential to be the class of Georgia is there, however with two five-star players in the Wildcats starting five. Senior point guard Isaiah Collier is the No. 1 ranked player in the nation and forward Arrinten Page isn’t too far behind.

Both are committed to the University of Southern California and both will determine whether or not the Wildcats are able to compete for a Class AAAAAAA state championship. After the recent reclassifications, the Wildcats are now a member of Georiga’s largest classification.

“We’re going to go as he goes,” Thompson said of Collier. “Nobody can really stop (Page) when he’s got his mind on doing things correctly. (Page) has just got to get out of the immature habits of playing every other day and become the guy that people think he is right now. He’s still got a long way to go. He’s a really good athlete. Just got to get more consistent in his motor and how hard he plays.”

The Wildcats added several transfers to the team for this season, including forward Josh Hill and Iowa State commit Jelani Hamilton. Guard Damion Mitchell is back for his senior season and will be another key piece for the Wildcats.

Senior forward Arrinten Page is also a 5-star player, giving the Wildcats two of the top players in the nation in their starting five.

Senior forward Arrinten Page is also a 5-star player, giving the Wildcats two of the top players in the nation in their starting five.

After two games, the Wildcats are 2-0 wth wins against Etowah and North Gwinnett. After not playing their best in a 63-49 win against the Bulldogs in Game 2, Thompson said it will be very important to get back to practice and start correcting their mistakes for the bigger game that are to come.

“We have a lot to learn,” Thompson said. “We have to get tougher in some areas and have to rebound the ball better. We have to defend at a higher clip. We’re just not doing that right now.”