©Dale Zanine 2019_10_16 00657.JPG

Jabiri Smith's scoring numbers may be slightly down from his Gwinnett County-best 21.1 points per game from last year. However, 6-foot-5 senior's overall game has taken a major step forward, and he's a big reason the Collins Hill boys have done the same so far in the 2019-20 high school basketball season.

COLLINS HILL EAGLES

Region 6-AAAAAAA

COACH: Joe Dix

2018-19 RECORD: 8-18

RETURNING REGULARS:

F Jabiri Smith, 6-6, Sr.

G Khayleb Belton-El, 5-9, Sr.

G Travis Hunter, 6-2, Soph.

OTHERS TO WATCH:

G Jabré Mills, 6-3, Jr.

C Babel Diallo, 6-10, Sr.

G Donovan Morris, 6-2, Sr.

OUTLOOK: Coming off the struggles of an 8-18 campaign his first season as head coach last season, Dix is far more optimistic about the prospects for 2019-20.

It helps to welcome back Smith, who led Gwinnett County in scoring at 21.1 points per game a year ago, as well as athletic sophomore Hunter and a steady hand in hard Belton-El.

The addition of three solid newcomers, led by 6-10 Diallo, who was a solid contributor for New Jersey powerhouse St. Benedict’s Prep a year ago, should also give the Eagles a good chances at improvement this season.

“I like our group,” Dix said. “We’re not very big outside of (Diallo), but we’ve got several guys who can do something with the ball in their hands — some shooting and passing and dribbling, which works well in our offense. The press was good to us (defensively) last year, and I think it will continue to be good to us. And we’re a little bit better offensively, so I think we’ve got a chance to do something.”

Aside from the personnel, Dix said there is another reason to believe things will be better for the Eagles this season, and that is the fact he and the team have simply gotten a better chance to know each other and how to work together.

“Ir’s just a year of knowing the system and being a little more comfortable, and that includes me,” Dix said. “Really, we had a short abbreviated summer last year, and things just happened so quickly. The guys were learning kind of on the fly. We’re in a much better place than we were this time last year.”

Stay Informed

Graduated from GSU in 1990. Have worked in sports journalism for the past 28 years, covering a variety of sports at the Gwinnett Daily News, AJC, Lafayette (La.) Daily Advertiser and Marietta Daily Journal before returning to Gwinnett at the Post in 2007.

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