Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday hoops tournament guide

December means it is tournament time around the country. Georgia teams are traveling all over the country for national events. Some teams are staying close to home for great tournaments within the state. Here is a look at the events that I know about during the holiday season.

If there is a tournament that is missing and you have a link and/or a schedule, please email me at

City of Palms Classic
Dec. 18-23 at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Meyers, Florida
Georgia teams in the field: Fayette County, Wheeler

King of the Bluegrass
Dec 18-23 Fairdale, Kentucky
Georgia team in the field: Cherokee

Savannah Holiday Classic
Dec. 19-22 Savannah, Georgia
Georgia teams in the field: Groves, Sandy Creek, Beach, East Paulding, Camden, Savannah, Lovejoy

Chick-Fil-A Classic
Dec. 19-23 at Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, S.C.
Georgia team in the field: Miller Grove

Villa Rica Highway 78 Classic
Dec 19-22 at Villa Rica High School
Georgia teams in the field: Kennesaw Mountain, Villa Rica, Woodward Academy, South Paulding, Paulding County, Shiloh

Dacula Christmas Tournament
Dec. 19-23 at Dacula High School
Georgia teams in the field: Cedar Shoals, Rockdale County, Mill Creek, Dacula

Prep All-Stars Holiday Classic
Dec. 20-23 at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C.
Georgia teams in the field: Centennial, Walton

SEBA Atlanta High School Hoop Festival
Dec. 20 at Cobb County Civic Center
Georgia teams in the field: Osborne, Etowah, Jonesboro, Sprayberry, Lassiter, Blessed Trinity, Harrison, Hillgrove, Southwest Atlanta Christian, Marietta

Upward Classic
Dec. 20-23 at Dorman High School in Roebuck, S.C.
Georgia team in the field: Franklin County

Memphis vs. Atlanta Roundball Classic
Dec. 26-29 at Mays High School
Georgia teams in the field: Mays, Douglass, Lithonia, Redan, Stephenson, Westlake

Kingdom of the Sun
Dec. 26-30 at Vangaurd High School in Ocala, Florida
Georgia teams in the field: Columbia, Milton

Piggly Wiggly Roundball Classic
Dec. 26-30 at West Ashley High School in Charleston, S.C.
Georgia teams in the field: Southwest Atlanta Christian, Whitefield Academy

Great Florida Shootout
Dec. 26-30 at Poinciana High School in Kissimmee, Florida
Georgia team in the field: Savannah

Beach Ball Classic
Dec. 26-31 at Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Georgia teams in the field: Fayette County, Wheeler

GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational
Dec. 26-30 at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C.
Georgia team in the field: Centennial

Big Orange Classic
Dec. 26-29 at Hoover High School in Birmingham, Alabama
Georgia team in the field: Dunwoody

Arby's Classic
Dec. 26-30 at Viking Hall in Bristol, Tenn.
Georgia team in the field: Miller Grove

Chargers Christmas Hooptacular
Dec. 26-29 at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy
Georgia teams in the field: ELCA, Eastside, Whitewater, Forest Park, Mundy’s Mill, Riverwood, Union Grove, Greenforest Christian

Deep South Classic
Dec. 27-29 at Brookwood High School
Georgia teams in the field: Brookwood, Grayson, Greater Atlanta Christian, Loganville
North Cobb, Peachtree Ridge, South Cobb, South Forsyth

North Gwinnett Powerade Tournament
Dec. 27-30 at North Gwinnett High School
Georgia teams in the field: Lakeside Dekalb, Parkview, Richmond Academy, Alpharetta, Newton, Houston County, North Gwinnett

MedAssets Hooch Basketball Classic
Dec 27-30 at Chattahoochee High School
Wayne County, Meadowcreek, Seqouyah, Northview, Berkmar, Lassiter, North Paulding, Chattahoochee

The Kruel Classic Boys 8
Dec. 27-30 at Coral Springs High School in Coral Springs, Florida
Georgia teams in the field: Collins Hill, Dublin

Schnucks Holiday Classic
Dec. 27-30 at Collinsville High School in Collinsville, Illinois
Georgia team in the field: Walton

Daytona Beach Sunshine Classic
Dec 27-30 Daytona Beach, Florida
Georgia teams in the field: Harrison

Sweet South Classic
Dec. 29-31 at Morgan County High School
Georgia teams in the field: East Paulding, Alcovy, SW Dekalb, Riverdale, Rockdale County, Burke County, Hancock Central, Thomson, Athens Christian, Luella, Decatur, North Oconee, Putnam County, Morgran County

Bojangles HS Basketball Shootout
Dec. 29-31 at Marvin Ridge High School in Waxhaw, N.C.
Georgia team in the field: Norcross

T-Mobile Invitational
Dec. 29-30 at Ball State
Georgia team in the field: South Atlanta

Hoops in Overdrive Shoot-Out
Jan. 2, 3 at Kennesaw State
Georgia teams in the field: Cross Keys, Hillgrove, Dunwoody, South Cobb, Fayette County, Morgan County, South Gwinnett, South Atlanta, McEachern

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Notes from my notepad: Dec. 14

Five things I'm buying this week:

1. Centennial. Wow, what a win at Wheeler on Friday night. Great crowd. Great energy. Great poise. And what a great player Lorenzo Brown is. The question mark surrounding the future N.C. State has always been his ability to take over in the home stretch. Against South Atlanta, a game Centennial lost at Georgia State last month, Brown did all he could do. Against Wheeler, Brown took over in the fourth quarter, scoring an amazing end to end drive with an in and out dribble that he took to his left and scored. The bucket gave Centennial the go ahead score. A play later, he made a beautiful assist that helped seal the deal. He's my clear cut AAAAA Player of the Year right now.

2. Wheeler having some issues. There are only two players on the team in my opinion that are making correct basketball plays – Richard Howell and Karl Cochran. The rest of the team gets too immersed in one-on-one thinking. The Wildcats have the most talent of any AAAAA team in the state. There is no denying that. Two keys to this team: Better decision making from Phil Taylor and more production from Ari Stewart. That alone is 15 more points for the Wildcats and four to six made field goals given up on defense.

3. Georgia State recruiting the state. It has been a long time since I've seen the kind of attention given to the state of Georgia by the Panthers. Assistant coach Scepter Brownlee has been working the local kids. Don't be surprised for a big in-state recruiting haul in 2010 by GSU.

4. Peachtree Ridge sophomore Cory Blackwell. Don't get in his way or else you'll be looking for a trainer. The 6-5 sophomore is the real deal. Blackwell put 25 points and 15 rebounds against Norcross on Thursday night. I can't tell you the last time an in-state sophomore did that against the Blue Devils. He just owned the paint in his team's tough loss the Norcross. He reminds me a lot of Penn State forward Jamelle Cornley.

5. Time away from the computer, phone and Blackberry. I'll be back on Jan. 5. Upon my return, the Top 20 Power Poll will return. (Don't everyone jump out of chairs at once.) Thanks for all of the support during my transition to another post within the hoops media world. The phone calls, emails, texts, etc. have all been great and very supportive. Too bad a bean counter in Sunnyvale, California doesn't agree.

Here are some observations from last week:

- Norcross lowered the banner for last year's state championship team on Thursday night when the Blue Devils played their first home game of the season. Eddie Martin, who surprisingly left the school in the summer for Greater Atlanta Christian, was on hand for the celebration. He helped guide the team to an 86-9 record in that span. Wow. That's big time.

- Congrats to Jesse McMillan on his first win at home as the new Norcross head coach. There are few better people involved in the game of basketball than McMillan.

- Want to know the best team from the Augusta area? Richmond Academy. The team is 6-0 and taking care of business and big man Ricardo Glenn is one of the best players on the east side of the state. Big game on Friday when the 6-0 team travels to defending AAA state champs Glenn Hills (4-2).

- South Atlanta is beating teams by an average margin of victory of 45 points. Centennial, arguably the best team in AAAA, was the closest game and the Knights lost to the Hornets by 15 at the start of the season. Can you say total domination?

- Is there a team that is currently ranked in the coaches' poll that doesn't have a transfer? Geez, this is getting out of hand. If you are good enough, then prove yourself as a winner with the group of kids you grew up with. Exposure is such a misunderstood term these days.

Food for thought: Of the 12 Georgia players ranked in the Rivals150, eight are with the same school that they enrolled in as freshmen. In comparison, there are 11 players that are considered three-star players (good mid-major to high-major prospects) that are at the school that they enrolled as freshmen. There are seven three-stars that transferred.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Notes from my notepad: Dec. 8

I was in Washington D.C. last weekend for a fine event much like the Elite 8 Thanksgiving Classic at Georgia State.

The event was four games a day for two days. What about this idea…how about the state or a third party puts together a Super Saturday series throughout the season that takes on the same idea.

The events are not tournament style. Teams won't have to commit anything other than playing at a neutral venue. Why not have the top games within in region play on the same day at the same location.

The Super Saturday series can rotate through Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus, Augusta, Albany, Macon and NW Georgia. That is 56 teams playing on an eight week tour, highlighting the best the state has to offer.

Sure, it sounds simple. Sure, it sounds like a great idea. Sure, it sounds do-able. That just means it won't happen. But we can dream, can't we?

Here are some observations from last week:

- Dunwoody will have some major growing pains this year. The Wildcats don't have a go-to guy at this point. Javon McKay, an athletic junior, needs to be the closer. Scott Bracco's club is young and they will have their challenges this season.

- Don't sleep on Chamblee. I know I say that every year but this year's team should win their sub-region. Marcus Cowan is a nice pick-up for Tennessee State and juniors Langston Hall and David Mason form a nice 1-2 punch on the wings.

- Single A might be the thinnest it has been for talent since the early 2000s. Hancock Central looks like the clear cut favorite at this point and no one really looks like much of a challenge…yet.

- While playing out of state teams like Coolidge (D.C.) and Dominguez (Calif.) are great challenges for a team like Wheeler, playing teams like Miller Grove or Westlake would be a greater challenge. Not sure why Wheeler would have out of state teams come to Marietta for a single game.

- High school basketball is not the same without my man Derrick Mahone of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution not on the sidelines this year. He is one of the best in the business and hopefully the AJC can see fit to have him back where he is at his best.

- One more quick note, I don't work for! anymore. Yahoo! made 1,500 layoffs yesterday. I was one of those numbers.

Five things I'm buying this week

1. McEachern as a Final Four team. They aren't there yet but the pieces of the puzzle are there for success. With all of the chatter going to other teams in the state, the Indians are quietly doing big work in AAAAA.

2. Hard working paying off. Former Whitefield Academy guard Kelvin McConnell is the second leading scorer for Kennesaw State (5-2) at 12.7 points per game. He is one of the top shooters in the Atlantic Sun (no surprise there). McConnell worked hard to get his body into shape and plays the most minutes of any Owl. That is a big compliment if you know how Tony Ingle runs his team.

3. Groves as a surprise team in the tournament to anyone outside of Savannah. I had a chance to see them on Tuesday night and they have a number of players that can step up and make plays. The team has size, depth, some shooters and good momentum right now. Circle Jan. 9 as the game to watch when Rebels play host to Savannah High. Should be the battle of the top team in my favorite Georgia city.

4. Dublin. The new No. 1 team in AA is quietly enjoying great success. The Irish have been clubbing teams to submission and senior guard Sherrard Brantley is the best shooter in the state no one is talking about. Remember, this team made it to the Final Four last year and won state three years ago. AA is wide open this season, too. The Irish are one of the top seven teams in the state right now.

5. A vacation. I'll be taking one next week until Jan. 3. Lord knows I need some time away right now. Anyone looking for an accomplished sports writer?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Notes from my notepad: Dec. 3

Notes from my notepad: Dec. 3

Have you ever been so swamped with work that you look at your calendar and wonder where the heck the last month went?

Yeah, that's me. That is my life at the moment.

The season has officially started and we are two weeks into games. I've been out and about for over a dozen games so far and have seen some good players but not too many great games. I'm still very much waiting for a wow moment this season.

Here are a couple of observations on what I've seen so far:

- Miller Grove is the best team I've seen so far. They are too big, too deep and too good in the press. Mfon Udofia is the best leader in the state and this team will be scary in tournament play.

Speaking of Miller Grove, the GHSA's suspension of Sharman White is idiotic. He is shelved because of something that happened five years ago. There are plenty of other items of business that others have been able to "get by" with. This state has plenty of ridiculous transfers that go unnoticed. Shame on whoever is to blame for this one.

- Liberty County is the best team in the state that no one, and I mean no one, is talking about. They are a legitimate contender in AAA.

- Well…until they run into South Atlanta, of course. The Hornets look great with Andre Malone, a North Clayton transfer, now in the lineup. I saw Malone have one of his worst games against South Atlanta last year. This year, I saw him have one of his very best games of his career against Centennial.

Derrick Favors is pretty good, in case you didn't know that already. Do yourself a favor and go and watch him in high school this season.

Favors and Malone aren't doing it alone. Nick Jacobs could very well be the best big man in 2011 in Georgia. He has gotten so much better in a year's time and working against Favors everyday in practice doesn't hurt.

- I excepted to see more out of Westlake. They have tons of talent, just not a group that seems to be on the same page. Less turnovers, more production in the post and better perimeter scoring are the three areas for improvement.

- Keep an eye out for Hillgrove, a good-looking team in region 7-AAAA. They could be a No. 1 seed in the state tournament. The guards are good and Heath Houston is a fine sleeper in Cobb County.

- One of the big wins for Hillgrove was an overtime thriller against North Cobb, another state tournament favorite. With Sprayberry transfer Colin Slotter now playing for coach Terry Gorsuch, this team will be a contender. Slotter was outstanding against Central Gwinnett at the South Forsyth tournament.

- Tickets are going fast for the Trent Wiedeman bandwagon. The GAC junior will have a huge season for his new coach, Eddie Martin. Martin is the resident big man guru in Georgia. Wiedeman has been good so far in the young season.

- Rockdale County sophomore Kevin Ware is the second coming of Senario Hillman.

Five things I'm buying this week

1. Westlake's Javaris Bryant to Bethune-Cookman. Can you say steal?

2. The Elite 8 Thanksgiving Hardwood Classic. Great one-day event downtown at Georgia State. If a big time player wasn't playing, he was in the building watching it. That's great news for Rod Barnes and his great staff at GSU.

3. Parkview and South Forsyth both have great pre-Thanksgiving events. They are staples on my calendar and I'll go back every year as long as they host the events.

4. $1.52 per gallon gas I bought at the new Kroger on Hwy. 140 in Cherokee County. That comes in big this time of year.

5. Wes Durham as a play-by-play announcer. I listened to him call the Jacksonville-Georgia Tech game last Thursday on my way home from the Rockdale County win over Stephenson. Durham is one of the best in the business at what he does.

Teams I've seen so far this season: (27) Centennial, Central Gwinnett, Chamblee, Creekside, Cross Creek, Dunwoody, East Coweta, Elbert County, GAC, Hillgrove, Lithia Springs, Loganville, Marist, Meadowcreek, Miller Grove (twice), North Cobb, Northview, Riverwood, Rockdale County, Sandy Creek, South Atlanta, Southwest Atlanta Christian, Stephenson, Tucker, Wesleyan, Westlake, Westminster

Week 1 Superlatives

Top player of the week: Colin Slotter, SF, North Cobb (MURRAY STATE)
Top senior of the week: Colin Slotter, SF, North Cobb (MURRAY STATE)
Top unsigned senior of the week: Jarvis Brown, SF/SG, Meadowcreek
Top junior of the week: Rod Rucker, SF, Elbert County
Top junior sleeper of the week: Santoine Butler, PF, Cross Creek
Top sophomore of the week: None
Top freshman of the week: Kyle Meyer, C, Northview

(Players are chosen from the games that I personally watched that week.)

Week 2 Superlatives

Top player of the week: Derrick Favors, PF, South Atlanta
Top senior of the week: Derrick Favors, PF, South Atlanta
Top unsigned senior of the week: Justin Taylor, PF, East Coweta
Top junior of the week: Trent Wiedeman, PF, GAC
Top junior sleeper of the week: Michael Murray, SG, Southwest Atlanta Christian
Top sophomore of the week: Nick Jacobs, PF, South Atlanta
Top freshman of the week: Tony Parker, C, Miller Grove

(Players are chosen from the games that I personally watched that week.)