Basketball Player of the Year: Luke Chism & Carl Cleveland

The impossible task of taking the top seven boys basketball players and voting for a Player of the Year revealed a split decision. Both Luke Chism (Dawson) and Carl Cleveland (Banks) earned the honors as Co-Players of the Year for 2018-19 after seasons that saw them rack up stats like they were going out of style.


Luke Chism came into his senior year embracing a new change. Dawson Christian Academy, a private school, closed its doors, which led to Chism and others making a move to nearby Dawson County High School. The move paid dividends for the athletic forward.

Chism led the Tigers to a Final Four run, the first in school history, and a school-record 27 wins. He often didn’t play a full game, but still put up north of 19 points per game and nearly 10 rebounds per game, as well as 4.7 assists, 3 steals, and 2.1 blocks on average. Chism eclipsed the rare 2,000-point mark late in the season, finishing with nearly 2,100. He was named Region 7-AAA Co-Player of the Year as well for his efforts.

There was not a more dynamic all-around player than Chism in this year’s crop in Class 3A, and nightly he put on a fantastic clinic for all in attendance. He flourished in a new system, and the intangibles that can’t be measured made him even better than he appears on paper.

2018-19 By the Numbers

  • 19.3 PTS, 9.3 REB, 4.7 AST, 3 STL, 2.1 BLK


Carl Cleveland was knocking on the door for this award last year, and becomes the first non-senior to win it since 2009-10. A glance at the numbers will boggle your mind – 28/11 on a nightly basis, including 4 assists and a block and steal per game. He had 19 double-doubles and a triple-double to his credit, and constantly beat the double- and triple-team defenses while taking the Leopards to the state playoffs.

Cleveland eclipsed 1,000 career points extremely early this year, meaning he will likely hit 2,000 next season possibly around the midway point. The guard/forward combo is well-known for being able to score whenever, wherever on the court, and finished with a 55-point effort (breaking his own school record) in the first round loss to Callaway. His breakdown looks like this: 23 20-plus point games; 12 30-plus point games; 3 40-plus point games. While the 40- and 50-point games were awesome, one of his most impressive outings this year was a 34-point performance against Social Circle on January 11, as he made good on 11-of-18 shots (61%) which included 7-for-10 from 3-point distance, and added 15 boards in the win.

He had a triple-double against Commerce (35 pts/10 reb/13 ast) on December 22, and had a four-game stretch of 30-plus points early in the year. Cleveland connected on 48% of his shots, including 33% from long range and 67% from the charity stripe.

2018-19 By the Numbers

  • 28.1 PTS, 11.4 REB, 4.0 AST, 1.2 BLK, 1.1 STL
  • 23 20-PT GAMES; 12 30-PT GAMES; 3 40-PT GAMES

Voting Results

  1. Luke Chism – 70 pts (8 first-place votes) *highest weighted-avg vote
  2. Carl Cleveland – 70 pts (10) *most first-place votes
  3. Jasper Gibson – 41 pts (1)
  4. Austin Harris – 24 pts
  5. Ty Nails – 13 pts
  6. Kolby Moss – 9 pts
  7. Sawyer Drake – 5.75 pts

Voting included our 19-person panel made up of sports reporters, writers, video producers, former coaches, players, GHSA officials, and sports experts. The voting is Heisman-style, with the following points system:
1st place votes: 5 pts; 2nd: 3 pts; 3rd: 2 pts; 4th: 1 pts; 5th-6th: 0.5 pts; 7th: 0.25 pts

History of Boys Basketball POY

  • 2018-19 – Luke Chism (Dawson Co SR F) & Carl Cleveland (Banks Co JR G/F)
  • 2017-18 – Dylan Orr – Banks Co SR F
  • 2016-17 – Kahmal Wiley – Banks Co SR G/F
  • 2015-16 – Zez Steeple – Banks Co SR G
  • 2014-15 – Austin Venable (Banks Co SR C) & Austin DiNofrio (Rabun Co SR G)
  • 2013-14 – Spencer Adams – White Co SR G
  • 2012-13 – Tyler Dominy – Dawson Co SR G/F
  • 2011-12 – Patrick Burns – Habersham SR F
  • 2010-11 – Jacob Evans – Dawson Co SR G/F
  • 2009-10 – Luke Crumley – White Co JR C

The award has been a Banks County award for five straight years now, at least partially. Cleveland is the fifth straight Leopard to win the award, and the first junior since the very first year. Chism makes the third Dawson star to earn it. This award also was awarded to two players as recently as 2014-15.

Looking Ahead – the Next Favorite(s)

Carl Cleveland…it’s his to lose next season for sure. Jasper Gibson will also be a front-runner. The only other returning finalists will be Kolby Moss and Sawyer Drake. There are others that will work their way into the conversation, including a Jefferson player or two, Commerce’s Creed Dunbar, Union’s Pierson Allison, Dawson’s Eli Burruss perhaps, and likely a surprise player or two.

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