McEachern’s Ace Bailey and Grayson’s Tim Slater named as finalists for 2024 Naismith Awards

Rutgers basketball commit and McEachern boys basketball forward, Airious “Ace” Bailey, and Grayson girls basketball coach, Tim Slater, have each been named finalists for Naismith High School Basketball Awards in separate categories. Bailey has been named a finalist for Naismith Boy’s High School Player of the Year and Slater a finalist for Naismith Girl’s High School Coach of the Year.

Bailey has been dominant for McEachern, averaging over 30 points and 14 rebounds throughout this season, helping the Indians reach an impressive record of 23-5 and an undefeated 8-0 record in Class 7A-Region 3. On Wednesday, Bailey led the Indians in a 33-point victory against Westlake in the first round of the 2024 GHSA Boys Basketball State Playoffs. He scored 32 points, brought down 17 rebounds and almost posted a near triple-double by adding six assists to his stat line.

His dominant play is nothing new to his opponents around the state. The 6 ’8 small forward has been a force to be reckoned with this season, making a name for himself as one of the clear top players in the 2024 recruiting cycle. Bailey is a high-flying forward with a great combination of size and speed to go along with his second-to-none explosiveness. In January, Bailey was named as a McDonald’s All-American, a prestigious honor for select high school players around the country.

The Powder Springs-native is currently ranked as one of the top two recruits in the country across major recruiting platforms and is committed to continue his basketball career at Rutgers University, joining fellow top-10 prospect Dylan Harper to create a dangerous duo for the Scarlet Knights.

Bailey was also included in the Naismith Boy’s High School Player of the Year Midseason Team, along with Holy Innocents’ forward and 2025 top recruit, Caleb Wilson.

Slater has been nominated for the Naismith Girl’s High School Coach of the Year as he has led the Rams to an undefeated season thus far with a perfect 28-0 record. Slater is in his third season with the Rams girls basketball program, joining Grayson after a successful stint at Lanier High School, including a 2019 State Championship.

In his short tenure as the Grayson head coach, Slater’s teams have won more than 20 games since he started coaching with the school, earning the reputation as a consistently competitive program across the state. Led by Slater, the Lady Rams have blown out their opponents by more than 30 points in 13 of their 28 games this season, including an 80-point victory in December, as they decimated New Dorp, 112-32.

This season, the Lady Rams have been nationally ranked all season and are the top overall seed in the 2024 GHSA Girls Basketball State Championships, looking to make it to Macon Coliseum for the state championship for the first time in their program’s history.

Slater’s Grayson squad added to their undefeated season on Wednesday night as they defeated Richmond Hill 74-50 to advance to the second round of the state playoffs. The Lady Rams will face McEachern in the second round with their sights set on the Elite Eight and beyond.

The Naismith High School awards will be announced during the second week of March with the Girl’s High School Coach of the Year on March 7 and Boy’s High School Player of the Year on March 8.


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