Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lights, camera and hopefully plenty of action

Tonight is the night. Al-Farouq Aminu and his nationally-ranked Norcross team play host to Greg Monroe and his Helen Cox team from Louisiana.

Aminu, the top rated senior in the state, and Monroe, the top ranked senior in the nation, will lock horns in one of the top match-ups of the year. The two are projected McDonald's All-Americans.

ESPN2 will televise the game nationally. Norcross had to install new lighting, according a report in the AJC today, to accommodate ESPN.

Tickets are no longer $5 each. To see the game, all fans must shell out $10 for the game. While the line won't be wrapping around Norcross like last year's first round state playoff game against Wheeler, the fans will certainly fill to capacity.

Sources told Georgia Hoops that a couple of NBA scouts could be in the house (incognito, of course) and several pro eyes will be watching from the comforts of a leather sofa in an office somewhere.

This is kind of a big deal.

Aminu and his Norcross mates are used to the national spotlight. They have played on ESPN before. The Blue Devils are familiar with national match-ups and performing in front of big crowds. Norcross is nationally ranked (No. 13 overall) in the latest USA Today top 25 poll.

Helen Cox is on a country-wide barn-storming tour. The Harvey, La., based school has played in Houston, Florida, Oregon and now in Georgia so far this season.

Monroe, a 6-foot-10 forward headed to Georgetown, has struggled on the national stage so far this season. He's usually good for 20 points and 10 rebounds a game but struggles to find his spot in each game.

Helen Cox also boasts 6-11 center Travon Flores, who recently committed to Marist and 6-4 guard Calvin Thompson, who signed with Howard in the fall.

For Norcross, this game marks the first major challenge since last year's state tournament within the state borders. The Blue Devils are beating teams by an average of 33 points a game. The closest game Norcross has had in-state this year was a 33-point win against Collins Hill in the season opener. Norcross is holding teams to an average of 41.1 points a game this year.

Monroe and Aminu are familiar with each other. The two have played against each other before on the AAU circuit as well as the Nike camps and USA Basketball camps. Both players are skilled big men. Aminu's more athletic and skilled with the ball while Monroe is a great shot-blocker and the best passing big man in the nation.

What happens tonight? Norcross's defensive pressure will be too much for Helen Cox's backcourt, a group of players that demand the ball in their hands instead of feeding the post, the team's obvious strength. Aminu and Monroe should both post 20 and 10 like numbers.

Get ready for tip-off. The nation will certainly be watching.