Monday, December 31, 2007

Home sweet home

After a month long, country wide tour, Georgia Hoops is finally home.

I spent a good part of the month traveling across the country for my national coverage for I started the month for a week's work in Huntington Beach, California for the Ocean View Tournament of Champions.

While on the West Coast, I saw two of the best guards in the nation in Jrue Holiday (a UCLA signee) and Demar Derozan (a Southern Cal signee) in action. The duo knows how to get it done.

The following week, I traveled to Fort Myers, Florida for the annual City of Palms tournament. This is my favorite event to cover each and every year. The fine folks of the tournament know how to run a big time event. Donnie Wilkie is one of the true gentleman in high school basketball tournaments.

Fayette County made the 1,000 mile round trip to the event and suffered a tough loss. Junior Noel Johnson put on a show, though. He shot seven of 10 to start the game and put up 21 points in the first half. Johnson was dominant on the offensive end of the floor. His legs ran out of gas in the second half and he finished with 31 points (11-23 FG, 2-8 from 3, 7-7 FT).

His offense isn't just about hitting threes anymore. Johnson did more off the bounce, scored more by creating for himself and went to the rim for buckets. He's one of the top pure scorers in his class and showed why in Fort Myers.

St. Benedicts out of New Jersey won the event and proved why they are the number one team in the nation.

Two days home with the family and a visit from Saint Nick was mixed into the calendar. That was the best two days of the month.

Another jump on a trusty Delta plane and a stop in Raleigh, N.C. yielded a great day of hoops at the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational at Broughton High School, the same gym where Pistol Pete Maravich did his thing as a prep star.

A three hour drive south to the Charlotte area placed us at the Bojangles Shootout, where South Atlanta and Miller Grove did some work.

Junior Derrick Favors put on a show on the first day of action, posting 42 points, 20 rebounds and 12 blocks. Too bad we missed it. He was an easy choice for the all-tournament team despite foul trouble in his other two games.

South Atlanta had a tremendous comeback against Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln. Down by 18 points to start the fourth quarter, the Hornets won the fourth quarter and held on for one of the best comebacks I've ever seen.

Senior Robert Jones stepped up big in Favors' absence. He put up 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win.

Junior Mfon Udofia also made the all-tournament team. He was a 20-point scorer all week for Miller Grove as they went 2-1 in the event.

I saw too many games to count and after seeing what a good part of the nation has to offer for talent, I'll stand by my thought that Georgia is the best place in the nation for high school hoops.

What's next? Good question. Getting back in the gyms around the state is the first order of business. I'll be making stops in central Georgia to start this month and then stop by the two major events at Norcross (Jan. 19) and Centennial (Jan. 21).

The power poll will be updated in the near future as well as a couple of other items of business. With football season now in the books. all eyes are on the hardwood. Are you watching? I will be.