When Greater Atlanta Christian head coach David Eaton was considering where to spend the latter part of his Christmas break there was no place quite as alluring as North Charleston.
For Eaton and his Spartans, as is the case for most high school teams, Christmas time means tournament time. And where better for the former Wando coach to show off his new toys than in the 24th annual Roundball Classic.
“When we were looking for a tournament to play in, the Roundball was one of the first places that I thought of,” Eaton said. “Really nice, big tournament, out of state, with a great environment and really good competition. It was a perfect fit.”
The Roundball Classic has featured some of the East Coast’s top high school basketball talent mixed in with the Lowcountry’s best for more than two decades in Charleston.
Eaton spent seven years as the head coach of Wando, leading the Warriors to their only state championship in school history in 2014 before departing for his alma mater, Greater Atlanta Christian, in 2015.
Wando returned to the Roundball in Eaton's second season in 2009 after a short hiatus and has competed in the annual holiday tournament every year since. The Warriors won the tournament in 2010 and fell a buzzer-beating 3-pointer short of winning it in 2014.
“We had a lot of great memories at Roundball,” Eaton said. “I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces. I’m still probably more familiar with South Carolina basketball than I am with Georgia basketball. I still keep up with some of the teams and players.”
Greater Atlanta opens against James Island in the first round of the Foundation Bracket. Eaton is 10-5 all-time against James Island, facing the Trojans twice each season in region play at Wando. The Foundation Bracket also includes a host of familiar faces for Eaton with Porter-Gaud, North Charleston, Northwood, but most notably, Wando.
Wando is now coached by Chris Warzynski, a former assistant and friend of Eaton's, who took over after he left for Atlanta. For Wando and Greater Atlanta to play each other at Roundball, both would have to advance through the first two rounds and into the finals of the three-day tournament.
“It’d be a lot of fun,” Warzynski said of the possibility of Wando facing Eaton and Greater Atlanta. “He still knows some of our seniors and for the guys on our team, I think it’d be fun to go up against him. It’s always exciting to play against or coach against one of your friends. We both know each other so well and know each other’s schemes so well. It’d definitely be an interesting game.”
“Some of their seniors, I remember coming to our basketball camp as fifth or sixth graders,” Eaton added. “I still like to check on some of them and see how they’re doing. It’s fun keeping up with them.”
Eaton brings with him the top ranked team in Georgia’s AAA classification. Senior 6-foot-9 forward Charlie O’Briant is an Air Force signee. Sophomore guard Hunter McIntosh is getting looks from the likes of Stanford, Cal and Davidson, and 6-4, 270-pound sophomore Chris Hinton is a Power 5 football recruit.
“We’re still developing in some areas but physically and skill-wise, I really like this team,” Eaton said. “It’s kind of like us at Wando for a while how we were good but you could always see the potential for the future. This tournament should be a great opportunity to see where we are.”