Saturday, January 31, 2009

Notes from the Notepad: Jan. 31

After a week off, my notepad is over-flowing with notes that need to find a home on the Internet.

Five things I am buying this week:

1. An interesting two months ahead in Athens. With Dennis Felton now out as the head coach of the University of Georgia men's basketball program, the Bulldogs are on the hunt for a new CEO of the program as athletic director Damon Evans says.

"I'll say this. Our commitment and my commitment to build Georgia basketball is strong. And when I say strong, I'll add very strong onto that," Evans said. "We're going to go out and find the best possible person for this job. That may mean we commit more resources than we have in the past but we're not letting [money] hold us back from doing what we need to do to have a successful men's basketball program."

So what is the cap for a per year salary? $2 million? That's a little much. $1.5 million. Getting closer. $1.2 million. That's probably the number we are looking at.

Chew on this for a second: What if Anthony Grant is hired at Georgia and what if Felton takes over at Virginia Commonwealth? Grant is as coveted in Athens as a five-star defensive lineman. Felton grew up in the Washington D.C. area and has ties all over the Mid-Atlantic region.

Jeff Capel of Oklahoma and Sean Miller of Xavier are also high on the wish list. Capel could very well entertain the position but Oklahoma is an easier sell to recruits right now because of Blake Griffin and Willie Warren. Being a top five team in the country doesn't hurt either.

Miller probably won't leave Cincinnati either. If he does leave the goldmine that Xavier is, it will likely be for Maryland, which will probably open this spring, too.

My endorsement [not that it matters either] is Grant. He has been the number one choice for every job that opens from coast to coast. Rightfully so. He's really good at what he does. Perfect fit if you ask me.

In a twist of irony, I sat next to former Columbus High and Mercer star Sam Mitchell on Friday night at Fayette County High School. Mitchell played in the NBA for 13 years and was most recently the head coach of the Toronto Raptors.

Mitchell's name has also been mentioned in several published reports. He doesn't know why either.

"I'm reading that in the papers and I'm wondering where they got that from," Mitchell told me.

Don't read that into him not being interested. I got the impression that he was intrigued by the job as well as the Alabama job or any job in the Southeast that opens up. Mitchell made it clear that he has not talked to anyone at Georgia and hasn't even felt a ripple about the job in Athens. There are no background connections to him and the school either. But the situation is certainly worth watching.

2. The most talented teams in the state may not win the state title. The best group of players that play as a team will win the state title. Point in case...Norcross. Point in case...Lassiter. Point in case...Newnan. Point in case...Marist. Point in case...Chamblee. Point in case...

You get the point.

The current Norcross team is 19-1. Here is the scary part. The current Norcross team isn't nearly as talented as former teams that wore the Blue Devils jersey. The current team, however, may be the best team over the last five years. Led by Taariq Mohommad's senior stability and poise, Norcross is rolling through teams.

The worry with Norcross is the strength of opponent that they have played up to this point. The win over Monsignor Pace (Fla.) last Saturday was impressive. Pace is a team equal to Norcross's success in the Sunshine State.

More than any other year in recent memory, there is no clear cut favorite in any classification to win that state championship. That means great basketball awaits us. That means we will find out the mental toughness of players. That means will we see what players play with maturity and focus. That means the the first two weeks of March should be intense basketball.

3. Life outside of the ATL hoops. There are few things I love more with Georgia high school bsketball than getting in the Georgia Hoops van and driving all over the state to see games. I spent last Wednesday night in Columbus for the Shaw-Northside tussle.

It took an overtime period to win but Shaw won on the road 61-60. The Raiders are now 21-1. You probably know something about them. Two years ago, Jordan or (Jer-den as the locals call it) won the AAA state title. No one outside of Columbus saw that coming, myself included.

See Shaw coming. I'll tell you that.

There isn't a true show-stopper on the team. There are five players that care more about the five than they do the one, though. Head coach Terry White explains it pretty well.

"All of these guys are just good ball-handlers that play hard, hit their free throws and make good decisions. We are small and we pretty much run five guards at a time. But they are all good sized guards and they are all athletic and they jump on the boards," White said.

There you have it. That is the team's strength. And he is right.

The slight of not being "an Atlanta team" is enough motivation for teams to play with a chip on their shoulder when the state tournament rolls around. That mindset works for a team like Shaw.

"I think that is good motivation for these kids. I know there is very good basketball other places but we are pretty good down here, too. I'm not taking anything away from those other regions but I think these kids all play with the thought that they don't get a lot of respect," White said. "I'll say this, I know these kids will bust their butts against anyone in the state."

Furthermore, coach White and his staff earn bonus points for the matching brown suede sportcoats. Northside head coach Kenny Lawrence gave them a run though with his turqouise dress shirt. It was this close to fashion week in Columbus on Wednesday.

Somewhere Tucker's James Hartry is smiling.

4. Huge win for Georgia Tech on Saturday. What a better time to pick up their first conference win of the season against a team that just beat the nation's top team earlier in the week.

Lewis Clinch looked like his old self and shot the ball like a player with confidence. Gani Lawal made free throws (11-14) and the team played with some toughness, something the Jackets have lacked all season long.

Watching Alade and Al-Farouq Aminu play against each other was special. Both are good kids that shined in the match-up. The two combined for 27 points and 24 rebounds.

5. Pittsburgh winning the Super Bowl. I love how the Cardinals are playing at the moment but Pittsburgh is tougher on defense. Plus, the Steelers have been mentally challenged all season in a much tougher division and in much tougher conditions. My pick: Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 21.

Scribble notes

- There isn't a more improved senior in the state that McEachern's Colin Reddick. The 6-9 center has vastly improved his offensive game and is one of the main reasons why the Indians are one of the most successful teams in AAAAA right now. His presence will be felt right away at Furman next year. The Paladins need some help inside in a big way.

- Still nothing new regarding Shawn Kemp's recruitment. He signed with Alabama and will wait to see what happens with the coaching situation. Same goes for Georgia signees Daniel Miller and DeMario Mayfield. The one to watch is former Swainsboro star Tony Mitchell. The 6-7 wing forward is in Alabama at Central Park Christian. He signed with Alabama in 2008 but needed another year to get his grades right. Something tells me he won't be taking classes in Tuscaloosa.

- The 2009 Georgia Hoops Unsigned Senior Showcase is already filling up. There are only 64 spots available for this camp. It is first come, first paid, first served. For more information, click HERE.

- Here's a note for everyone that works at the scorer's table (scoreboard operator and the official book keeper): Do not text message during the game. I've seen it way too much this year. Luckily, there hasn't been a game that was screwed up by the rapid-fire fingers of a table texter. Save that for driving on the highway or something.

- I'll try this self-promotion thing one more time...check out my new national site, the National Hoops Report. I have some things up my sleeve on a national scale. This will be the home for those ideas.

- Is there a freshman in the state that can give Miller Grove's Tony Parker a run for the Georgia Hoops Freshman of the Year award? If so, I'd like to know how he is and why.

- Why don't refs call traveling when they see it? Is because every possesion will have a whistle?

- Remember this name: Nick Marshall. The sophomore for Wilcox County is putting up big time scoring numbers. He is traveling down the same path cleared by Lewis Clinch several years ago in south central Georgia.

- Make sure you get over to see Pebblebrook freshman Damien Wilson. He dropped 34 points on Friday against Lovejoy.

- Jay Bilas defines toughness. I hope you print it out, read it and apply it.

- In case you were wondering, the Nike Memorial Day tournament will be in Atlanta this year in late May at the Suwanee Sports Academy.

- If you are a recruit with zero Division I offers at the moment, please go to a non Division I basketball game sometime in the next two weeks. I will bet that you will see a good game.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Mailbag: Jan. 30

Another week, another great set of questions inside The Mailbag. Where does Mfon Udofia rank in the senior class’s loaded talent pool? Who is the best college player from the Peach State that no one talks about? Is Wheeler rolling at the right time? Those questions and more are answered in this week’s edition of The Mailbag.

What do you think of Mfon Udofia and would you say he starts next year at Georgia Tech over Moe Miller? Put him at PG and move Shumpert to the SG and you got two great competitors and makes a great backcourt....Also is he you're #2 player in the state of Ga this year?

I don't know if Udofia starts right away at the point for Georgia Tech but I think he should. I agree with your comment about him at the point and Shumpert at the two. The Tech coaches tell me that won't happen right away. One of the biggest issues with the Yellow Jackets is a collective lack of toughness on the team. The team needs a leader in the clubhouse and they need someone to push them to new heights. Udofia clearly does bring that element to the table.

As far as Udofia as the number two player in the state...he is right now. After his performance against Centennial and Lorenzo Brown, it is hard to argue against that. All of that being said, I think Brown has a higher upside, albeit not by much. If Brown can continue to fine tune his point guard skills, he is a better professional prospect. Udofiia's work ethic and competitiveness will be hard to argue against. He reminds me of former Virginia star Sean Singletary in that regard.

Who is the best player from Georgia in college basketball that people don’t know about?

Great question! The first name that comes to mind is Utah’s Luke Nevill (pictured). Sure, he isn’t a native of Georgia but the Australian spent a season at Kell High School as a student exchange student. He was a late-bloomer for the Longhorns and steadily improved his senior year in Cobb County.

After a red-shirt year at Utah, Nevill has been one of the top big men in the West for four years. He has already scored 1,386 points in his career and grabbed 805 rebounds to date.

His latest game was a 32-point, 10-rebound performance in a huge win over BYU. Nevill may not be a native but he is by far the best player from Georgia that no one talks about.

Dunwoody is having a down year but seem to be getting better as the season progresses in spite of their pedestrian win-loss record. Do you think that Coach Bracco can coach up this young bunch into a state playoff berth?

If I know anything about coach Bracco, he knows how to coach up his team in pressure cooker situations like a region tournament. This year's Dunwoody team is streaky and you never really know what you are going to get with this group of Wildcats.

If Dunwoody was in any other region, I would like their chances a little better. Columbia, Druid Hills, Cedar Grove and Riverwood will all give Dunwoody a tough game. As of right now, I'm not too sure if this year's Dunwoody team gets into the state playoffs. But it wouldn't surprise me if the Wildcats made it happen in the region tournament.

Is Wheeler on the rise with their back-to-back double-digit wins over Milton and Walton?

That seems to be the question of the week. Here's the deal, I have always believed that they are the most talented team in the state. I don't think that is debatable really.

I wrote the following in December:

"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."

Taylor is getting the ball to Howell more than usual and Stewart is scoring better. But with two games against Lassiter, Campbell and Pope, the road won't be a cake walk. Lassiter gives up a ton athletically but the team's mental toughness and overall team defense will be a great counter punch to the Wildcats. I think Wheeler wins all five of it's games to close out the season. The wins won't come easy but I can promise you there isn't a team in AAAAA that would want to play Wheeler right now.

Do you think Shawn Kemp sticks with Bama or does he start to look at UGA or GT?

When I spoke to Cherokee head coach Roger Kvam about the situation, he said Kemp will likely play the wait and see game with the Alabama situation.

Kemp won't fit in at Georgia Tech simply because of a numbers game. There just isn't any room on the depth chart there for him.

IF Kemp does decide to ask for a release from his National Letter of Intent and is granted it, Georgia actually makes sense for whomever becomes the new head coach of the program.

Truth be told, I thought Nevada was actually the best place for him. Mark Fox is one of the best coaches at developing raw talent like Kemp. Heck, he has coached four players that are in the NBA right now. Plus, the WAC is a good conference for him to compete in and improve in.

hey Justin, ive been to a couple of Whitefield Academy games and they are really gelling together in time for the playoffs.. Do you believe they can dethrone Hancock Central for the State Championship? Cameron Baskerville and Brandon Reed are really playing well.

Whitefield already dethroned Hancock this season by 10 points so I think it is possible that the Wolfpack can get rolling at the right time.

However, I've only watched them once this season and they were spanked by a very good United Faith team from North Carolina. Whitefield didn't look very good in that game.

With Reed and Baskerville, I'd expect them to play well. It's the rest of the team that needs to take it up a notch. Reed is a no-brainer all-state player. Baskerville could still crank it up some more and be more of a presence in the post.

Do you see Shaw being a legitimate state title contender?

Tough call. I saw the Raiders on Wednesday and they beat a big Northside team in overtime. Guard play is the foundation for Shaw and guard play wins games in high school basketball.

That being said, 11 of the team's 20 wins have come by less than a margin of six points. Shaw is tough and balanced but teams like South Atlanta and Columbia would be too much to handle.

To submit a question for next week's mailbag, click HERE.

Archived mailbags:
Jan. 15
Jan. 22

Monday, January 26, 2009

Region tournament information

Attention coaches, parents, players or informed fans: Please send me the dates and location of your region tournament to I am compiling information for the site. The information is a huge help and a big draw for college coaches.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Mailbag: Jan. 22

The mailbag was loaded with great questions this week. Just how good is Region 6-AAAAA? What region is the top dog in AAAA? Should Mfon Udofia be a McDonald's All-American? Am I covering girls basketball now? I answer those questions and more in this week's edition of The Mailbag.

The State Playoffs are going to be outstanding -- agreed, but what about the Region 6 AAAAA tournament? At least one state-ranked team won't even make it out of the region! The region tournament may be as tough as the AAAAA final 8 (with a bunch of the same teams).

I wholeheartedly agree. Every year Georgia has a region that is stocked deep with talent. I always call it the CostCo region. There is just so much bulk you don't even know where to start. 6-AAAAA is this year's CostCo region.

Here are the contenders in the region:

Why they will make state: They are the toughest - mentally and physically - team in the region.
Why they won't: Numbers crunch. Perhaps this team peaked too early.

Why they will make state: Been there before, speed in the backcourt, Lorenzo Brown
Why they won't: An early pairing against Wheeler and loss in the region tournament will keep the Knights out.

Why they will make state: They defend, they shoot, they are smart and they play as a team.
Why they won't: Not enough athleticism or size to pair with some of the other teams in the region.

Why they will make state: The sophomores are playing at a high level right now.
Why they won't: Too young.

Why they will make state: Glen Rice, Jr. and Ryan Harrow. The duo can go for a combined 60 a game any given night.
Why they won't: Defense has been the Achilles heel all season, lack of depth, five of next six games are very tough

Why they will make state: Too talented not too, they have a schedule that should have them ready for the rigors of tournament play.
Why they won't: They lose focus of their strengths.

The state of GA needs to be pumping Mfon for the Mickey D's Game.

After his dazzling performance on Monday against Centennial, it is hard to argue against that. His 34 points (12-21 FG, 5-6 from 3, 5-8 FT), nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals against Centennial, the No. 1 team in AAAAA at the moment, was spectacular.

It's too bad that there weren't any voters for the McDonald's All-American game in the gym to see the game. However, the game was too late in the season anyways. The final 50 ballot was finalized prior to the game. From what I was told, Udofia was not on that list. That, to me, was very surprising.

While the McDonald's All-American recognition is great, winning a state championship is probably higher on Udofia's things-to-do list. Right now, he and his Miller Grove teammates look mighty fine in their quest for the school's first state championship.

What is the best region in AAAA? Who do you see making the playoffs out of 5-AAAA specifically?

I think 6-AAAA is the best region. Miller Grove, the best team in the state right now, has a lot to do with that. Everyone is gunning for the Wolverines. That raises the level of play across the board in the region. Tucker is Tucker. You know what you are going to get with the Tigers. They play incredibly hard and they will play you physical.

Marist and Chamblee can beat nine of the 10 teams in the region any given night.

Finally, SW Dekalb, Stone Mountain, North Springs and Lakeside are all better than their respective records.

6-AAAA is always one of the best regions in the state year in and year out.

I think you also have to consider 7-AAAA just because it is so incredibly huge. Fifteen teams is too much. What is this, the Big East?! Also, 3-AAAA is tough. The Augusta is always over looked. Richmond Academy, Evans and Glenn Hills are state tournament teams. There are about four other teams fighting for the final spot, too.

Here are the 5-AAAA teams that I think make the state playoffs: Fayette County, Lithia Springs, McIntosh and my sleeper Tri-Cities.

Several teams changed classifications this season and they have had mixed results. Has the jump to AAAAA thrown teams like Westlake and Creekside off balance? Are some classifications clearly better than others? And what is the best team across all classifications? (my money is on South Atlanta.)

I don't think classification really throws teams off. Chemistry and a lack of toughness is Westlake's issue. Creekside is just down this season in talent.

The best team across the board right now in my eyes is Miller Grove. I've come around to that notion. I've always liked their team but I hope I'm smart enough to say they are the best team and most talented from top to bottom of any team in the state.

I was in Albany, Ga on Martin Luther King Day and witness one of the best unknown teams in the State, The Terrell County Greenwaves are a very good team with a bunch of good players that nobody has ever heard of, what do you think there chances are in the state tournament?

I'm glad you had a chance to see some great ball in Albany, one of the best basketball cities in the state. There is nothing like it down there. One of the best basketball experiences I've had was at Albany State. Unbelievable energy in that gym! I digress...

I haven't seen Terrell County and probably won't until the state tournament. Looking over the team's schedule, you are right, they are beating some good teams and two of the three losses have been close ones. I'll keep my eye on the Greenwaves.

Sounds like you also had a chance to see one of the best sophomores in the state in your game on Monday, too. Greenville's Kentavious Caldwell can flat out score the ball.

Justin, now that you aren't attached to anymore, why not branch out and cover some girls hoops as well? Georgia has some phenomenal girls teams, some of which (Westlake, Mays, Fayette County) are among the best in the nation.

I've thought about it for a small second but that isn't my calling at this point in life. Probably never will. I'm sure I'll be watching girls ball in the future when my daughters are older but my calling in hoops has always been on the men's side. I will say this...Maya Moore is the best player to ever come out of Georgia, man, woman, boy, girl or even Dwight Howard, who is neither a man or a boy. He's superhuman. Moore dominates the game in every possible way. She is amazing.

To submit a question for next week's mailbag, click HERE.

Archived mailbags:
Jan. 15

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 Recapping the Tribute to a King event

I spent the day at Centennial for the loaded Tribute to a King event on Monday. Click HERE for the premium story on

Here is the first team all Tribute to a King, presented by Georgia Hoops:

Most Outstanding Player: Mfon Udofia, Miller Grove (pictured)
Dai-Jon Parker, Milton
Sasha Boronvjak, Veritas Christian
Zach Lamb, Norcross
Trent Wiedeman, GAC
Blake Smith, United Faith

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Notes from the notepad: Jan. 18

Five things I’m buying this week:

1. Georgia Tech’s recruiting class. With the addition of Derrick Favors, the state’s top player and one of the elite prospects nationally, the Yellow Jackets have a class that is counted amongst the top three in the nation. Only North Carolina and Texas rival the group coming to downtown in the fall. Favors joins fellow Georgians Mfon Udofia, Kammeon Holsey and Glen Rice along with Delaware native Brian Oliver.

Favors decision to attend Georgia Tech marks the fourth straight year Paul Hewitt and staff reeled in a McDonald’s All-American player. (Favors is not officially in the game but is expected to be on the team in March.)

Will Favors stick around for more than a year? Probably not. The bigger question in the present is whether or not Gani Lawal will be staying for his junior season. Together Lawal and Favors would make for the best starting frontline in the ACC and maybe even in the nation.

2. NCAA’s new rule regarding the spring recruiting. The NCAA voted to eliminate the weekend recruiting periods in April last week in a close vote. Gone are the weekends of college coaches flying all over the country to see players at events such as the Real Deal on the Hill, the Kingwood Classic and the King James Shooting Stars Classic.

AAU teams will still likely travel to such events with the hopes of “getting exposure” on a national level. However, the spring period, which was once considered the period for coaches to identify the top senior targets in the country is now a thing of the past.

How disappointing is that? I’ve talked to a number of coaches and none of them are in favor of the new ruling. The positives, in the eyes of the NCAA, are as follows: 1. More time in classroom for student athletes (and I’m 100 percent on point with that). 2. More involvement with recruiting from the high school coach’s perspective. 3. Less money spent by teams traveling to locations such as Arkansas, Houston and Ohio.

The rule has logical benefits however the April period. However, kids will still not attend school on Fridays because they will still be playing in tournaments. That was the main crutch to the new rule.

I’m all for high school coaches regaining some say in the recruiting process with players. There are too many clueless AAU coaches that are involved in the process with grandeur visions of Joe Player making it to the highest level. Joe Player, who should have gone to a low or mid-major is now sitting on the bench for a mid or high-major. He will likely later transfer a year later. Very few AAU “coaches” get it these days. In turn, few players and families are understanding how to make decisions in the recruiting process.

I can’t imagine too many teams making the trek to out of state tournaments in the spring. What’s the point? Why spend a small fortune to travel out of state to play in front of a bunch of .com “analysts.” There are very few .com “analysts” that know what they are doing these days. And with the spring now on the shelf, what is the advantage of going to a tournament that would require a big travel budget? Stay local, stay in the gym, get better and take advantage of the summer. Or, better yet, play well right now in the high school season. The coaches can come and watch you now.

3. Great game at Centennial on Friday night. If you were one of the lucky ones that packed into Centennial on Friday, you certainly got your money’s worth.

It was a fun offensive battle between teams with good guard play. Lorenzo Brown led the way for Centennial with 29 points (10-17 FG) 12 rebounds, seven assists, six steals and two blocks and made the pass to Ryan Fleming for the winning score with less than 10 seconds to play.

Glen Rice, Jr. was outstanding in defeat for Walton. The Georgia Tech bound guard finished with 33 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and four blocks.

The two future ACC players were at their best, especially Rice.

“I mean, the guy wasn’t going to miss,” Brown said of Rice.

Says Centennial head coach Allen Whitehart: “Phenomenal. The kid was hitting shots with bodies in his face. You couldn’t do anything more. He was just phenomenal.”

Sure was. So was Walton’s Ryan Harrow who scored 29 points (13-21 FG). The junior also chipped in with six rebounds. Centennial’s Kam Belin and Davonta White were both great, too. Belin is one of the most improved post players in Georgia’s 2010 class while White is finding his groove with his new team.

4. Six more great games at Centennial on Monday.

Here is the schedule once again for the day’s activities:

10:00 Dunwoody vs Veritas Christian
12:00 Milton vs Columbia
2:00 GAC vs Tucker
4:00 Centennial vs Miller Grove
6:00 Norcross vs East Hall
8:00 Whitfield Academy vs United Faith Christian Academy

You can watch the games online on

Here are my predictions for the day:

Vertias Christian over Dunwoody: Veritas’s size is too much to handle; big opportunity for Javon McKay to step up on the big stage for Dunwoody.

Columbia over Milton: Too much size, too much depth and too much experience in the big games. Columbia wins one of the best games of the day. If you don’t know who JerShon Cobb is, you probably will after this game.

Tucker over GAC: This game is probably being overlooked. It shouldn’t be. Last year, Tucker ran into 44 points from Howard Thompkins. This year, trying to stop GAC big man Trent Wiedeman will be a tough task. In the end, too much Manny Atkins, Chris Kingsberry and Muach Luol could prove to be the difference maker in what should be a very close game.

Miller Grove over Centennial: This is the game everyone is waiting to see. Hopefully it lives up to the billing. Expect this one to be close in the second half and much like Friday night’s game, it could come down to whoever has the ball last wins. Miller Grove’s size and defensive pressure should prove to be the difference maker. And how about Mfon Udofia vs. Lorenzo Brown. Does it get any better than that?

Norcross over East Hall: Quietly, the Blue Devils are rolling. It has been almost two years since Norcross lost to a state opponent (Peachtree Ridge on Feb. 17, 2007). Norcross shouldn’t lose against a young East Hall team.

Whitefield Academy over United Faith: This game should be entertaining. Whitefield will have their hands full with a good United Faith team. The tough loss to Centennial helped get WA’s defensive mentality ready for this game against a bigger and deeper team.

5. The state playoffs are going to be outstanding. Who is a favorite to win state in any division? Who? Hard to answer that isn’t it? The road to Macon and the Gwinnett Center is not determined in the public court like it has been in the past.

Scribble notes

- It is a rough year for college hoops in the state. Of the seven Division I teams in Georgia, there are only 53 wins compared to 66 losses on the season. Mercer has the best record of any team in the Peach State at 10-8. Rough year for college hoops. Think we’ll see some new faces in the coaching ranks in a couple of months? I do.

- When will Westlake right the ship? The Lions dropped another game on Saturday to Riverdale, putting the team at 11-6 on the season. Three of the losses have come at the hand of an out of state foe. The other three are to quality opponents. Westlake should be fine but six losses for this team before February is surprising. The team needs some leadership right now.

- Riverdale will be a team to watch as the regular season finishes up. The Raiders regained the services of Tennessee Tech bound forward Terrell Barnes. The 6-8 big man has been out since the first game of the year with a broken toe. His first game back, Riverdale beats Westlake. Get the picture?

- One more time for effect: WOW, Jodie Meeks! Wow!

- I love a good sleeper story. How about this one…Former Tucker star Marshon Brooks parlayed a state championship into a scholarship from Providence. The Friars took a gamble with an extra scholarship and brought in the long-armed 6-3 guard with the thought of using a red-shirt year right away. Brooks only had an offer from Kennesaw State while Jackson State. Grambling and Campbell were very involved. He decided to take the offer with that in mind. Now he’s 6-5 and the second leading scorer for the Friars at 13.4 points a game in 22.4 minutes a game.

Dequan Jones loves the air in Chapel Hill

Former Wheeler Wildcat Dequan Jones has a number of highlight plays in Chapel Hill for his Miami team.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Mailbag: Jan. 15

Welcome to the Georgia Hoops mailbag. The first look inside the inbox was outstanding. The questions were thoughtful, good and interesting. Here is a look at this week’s edition of The Mailbag. I’ll answer questions every Thursday.

To submit your question, feel free to email me at or post your question on the comment section of the blog.

The Fayette County Tigers traveled to the City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers and the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach over the holidays before playing a road game at McEachern--all prior to entering the meat of their 5-AAAA region schedule. The Tigers also went to Illinois for a national level tourney over the Thanksgiving holiday.
But, everywhere they went, Coach Andre Flynn's Tigers were humbled.

Will playing (and losing to) such stiff competition help or hinder last year's AAAA runners-up in the long run? What effect does this incredibly tough schedule have on Fayette's trio of promising sophomore starters? (Adam Smith, Malcolm Brogdon and Maurice Williams). And finally, will this scheduling help USC-signee Noel Johnson earn McDonald's All-American status?

Good, loaded question here! Thanks for sending it in.

I think playing in national events are important for teams that are state championship contenders. Going on the road and playing teams that you really can’t truly prepare for gets you ready for the task of the state tournament. You have to learn to react quickly. You have to lean on your strengths. You have to lean on your team. It is an “us-against-the-world” mentality.

I remember when Norcross went to Houston for the Academy National in the 2006-2007 season. I was there with them. They only knew each other there. They were the outsiders. Going into that event, they lost to Oak Hill at Georgia Tech and beat Rice (N.Y.) in overtime, lost to St. Benedict’s (N.J.) and then beat a very good Kingwood team. The Blue Devils played four more out of state teams after that. They won all four. Later in the state playoffs, they had to play Wheeler in the first round of the state tournament. Norcross won by a point in what was the greatest game I’ve ever seen at any level. Norcross eventually beat Centennial by a point to win the title.

I mention their experience because that loss in Houston brought that team together and it helped them understand what it takes to win big games on the road and against big time competition. I’m all for teams finding that out about themselves. Losing to an out of state team isn’t very fun but it also won’t ruin a season.

Sometimes getting humbled is just what a team needs. Fayette County did get to the state title game last year with 10 losses.

By the way, no one had the Arizona Cardinals this far in the NFL playoffs. Know what I mean?

As far as Noel Johnson’s case for the McDonald’s game…I don’t think it is going to happen. The politics of getting into that game are crazy beyond belief. Most of the unofficial decisions are made in the summer. And I’m not sure if he did enough to get into the game.

Who are the Sleeper teams out there? In each Class. Teams that are doing pretty well that folks aren't talking about...

AAAAA sleepers:
Lassiter – Nothing flashy, just good team defense, good shooters, a good post player in Alex Gilmore. They’ll surprise.

Redan – They have size with Kenny Hall and Raymond Gregory. Guard play will be the difference maker for the Raiders.

Groves – Best team in Savannah and no one outside of my favorite city in the state is talking about them. They have good size, good scorers, good depth. They will surprise the ATL crowd in a month’s time.

Newnan – Russell Powell is having a big time season. And I’m not talking about football. He’s lost only one sporting event his entire senior season in two sports.

South Gwinnett – Quietly, the Comets are having their best year since the Williams and Mercer show. They are big, athletic and have depth. Scary team right now.

AAAA sleepers:

Hillgrove – Clearly, this team isn’t a surprise. What’s surprising is how no one is talking about this club as one of the elite teams in the state. They are this close to that class of teams right now. Darius Baugh is one of the best unsigned seniors in the state.

Chamblee – There is something about this team that I really like. They are athletic. They have good size. They scrap. Don’t be surprise to see this team make some noise in the post-season.

Lithia Springs – This isn’t the best team Jason Slate has coached at Lithia Springs but they still play with an attention to detail on defense. This group will play anyone, anywhere. Junior guard Trey Bussey is one of the top sleepers in the Atlanta area.

McIntosh – After losing big man Rob Chubb to a private school in Florida, the Peachtree City squad is having a great year so far thanks in large part to the play of Jeremy Lampkin.

AAA sleepers:

Westover – Very tough team, according to several area coaches that I’ve talked to. Looks like this is Albany’s team to beat this year.

Crisp County – Athletic, strong, experienced program.

Shaw – Hard to call them a sleeper but no one outside of Columbus is taking notice. It’s time to do so.

AA sleepers:

Thomasville – Some of the better freshmen in the state play there and this group does a good job of crashing the boards.

Northeast Macon – Sure, they are in the top 10 state poll but from talking to several coaches that have watched them, this group might be the most talented of any team in AA.

Long County – Struggling at the start of the season but this team is state playoff tested, talented and led by all-state player Jimmy Bacon.

A sleeper:

North Cobb Christian – Finally now in GHSA, NCC is proving it’s worth. Good team. Good understanding of how to play the game.

Do you think Columbus has a deep talent pool this year and can Shaw make a run for state title?

This isn’t as deep of a year in hoops in Columbus as it has been in the past couple of years. I think Shaw is clearly a team that can make a run in the tournament because they are experienced, have depth and have good guard play. If Brookstone (class A) can take care of business in region play, I think that’s another team from Columbus that can advance in the state tournament.

Are Torin Walker and James Vincent worth the twin towers nickname they do not dominate and can’t win games?

I think the nickname is sufficient but neither player has ever really been a dominant type of player to begin with. Both Walker and Vincent are Division I talents but I don’t anticipate either one to be go-to guys in college. Remember, big men take a little longer to develop. It’s hard to be a dominant force where you don’t have quality help in the backcourt and I think that is what they are lacking. Now to why Northside isn’t winning games. Three of the five losses are close ones. Both losses to Shaw came by a bucket. A loss to Coffee, a pretty good team, was a three-point loss. I wouldn’t rule them out.

Do you think 2009 class is deeper than 2008 class?

Great question. At the end of the day, it might be a draw from a numbers standpoint however I like 2009’s long-standing depth a little better but 2008 has some great star power in it.

At the end of the day, I think the 2009 class will have roughly 60 Division I signees. Last year, there were 61 Division I signees. That’s very impressive!

Who you think makes it to the McDonald’s All-American game?

Derrick Favors, for sure. No brainer there.

I’m all for Lorenzo Brown making it to the game. I think he’s playing as well as anyone in the state and nationally.

Mfon Udofia is on the bubble. There are a lot of point guards in 2009 that will be in the game. He’d be right there for me.

2009 McDonald's All-American nominees announced

Thirty nine players from Georgia are nominated for the 2009 McDonald’s All-American game. Here is the list of candidates:

Manny Atkins, Tucker
Jimmy Bacon, Long County
Terrell Barnes, Riverdale
Cameron Baskerville, Whitefield Academy
Kadeem Batts, McEachern
Cedric Boatner, Harlem
Kinley Branch, Stone Mountain
Reginald Brice, South Gwinnett
Lorenzo Brown, Centennial
Brian Cole, Dacula
Adrien Coleman, Stephenson
Alex Coxworth, Centennial
Javon Dawson, Crisp County
Derrick Favors, South Atlanta
Dee Goens, Marist
Kenny Hall, Tennessee
Jerome Hamilton, Worth County
Kammeon Holsey, Hancock Central
Richard Howell, Wheeler
Noel Johnson, Fayette County
Shawn Kemp, Jr., Cherokee
Andre Malone, South Atlanta
J.J. Mann, Marist
DeMario Mayfield, Franklin County
Daniel Miller, Loganville Christian
Taariq Muhammad, Norcross
Jeremy Olsen, Collins Hill
Russell Powell, Newnan
Colin Reddick, McEachern
Brandon Reed, Whitefield Academy
Glen Rice, Walton
Jahmad Saleem, Cross Creek
Terrance Shannon, Mary Persons
Colin Slotter, North Cobb
Ari Stewart, Wheeler
Tahj Tate, Wheeler
Reshun Thurmond, Winder-Barrow
Mfon Udofia, Miller Grove
Mario Vasser, South Gwinnett

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

News & Notes from Tuesday

I spent the evening at Paideia to see one of the better match-ups of the year in class A. The Pythons played host to Greenforest Christian in a battle of two top 10 teams.

While the game wasn't the prettiest of games, Paideia won 50-42. Senior Paul Lane (pictured) scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to hold off the No. 3 team in class A. Joe Chase scored a team high 20 points in the defeat. Jamail Jones, one of the top juniors in the state, struggled with his shot. He scored only seven points on 3-20 shooting from the field.

Evans was the big winner in the battle for Augusta supremacy. Evans beat Richmond Academy 71-63 in a game between two top 10 teams in AAAA. Senior forward Anthony Williams scored a game high 18 points in the win.

Titletown USA is making some noise in South Georgia. Valdosta won 74-73 on Jeremy Fountain’s three-pointer with 4.1 seconds left in the game. Fountain finished with a game high 31 points. Sounds like a great game. Now at 16-0, you have to wonder when the team will get some respect in the coaches poll. They'd be a top five team in my AAAAA poll.

Watch out for Lassiter. The Trojans are rolling. The East Cobb kids knocked out Milton 64-59. Lassiter knows how to play, they are unselfish and they really defend. It wouldn't shock me if this team shows up in the next top 10 coaches poll.

Redan knocked out Newton County, a top 10 team, 75-63.

Groves, the best team in Savannah, lost to Johnson and lost by 11 points 58-47. That's a bit surprising. Groves is a contender and the team will be a tough match-up in the state tournament.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Derrick Favors to decide tomorrow

Derrick Favors, the top player in the state and one of the most elite players in the nation, will end his recruitment on Wednesday evening. The 6-foot-9 center from South Atlanta High School will announce his decision live on national television.

Favors will decide between Georgia Tech, Georgia and N.C. State at 6:30 Wednesday at the ESPN Zone in Buckhead. According to his high school coach Michael Reddick, Favors already knows where he is going but won't publicly announce his decision until tomorrow.

ESPN will carry the Georgia Tech-Duke game at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Favors and his South Atlanta teammates will play on ESPN on Thursday night at 9 p.m. EST. The Hornets will be in Birmingham, Alabama to play LeFlore (Ala.) High School. On Saturday, South Atlanta will play Oak Hill Academy in Sprignfield, Mass.

Georgia Hoops prediction on where Favors goes to school? Georgia Tech.

Updated schedule Tribute to a King Holiday Hardwood Classic

Players of note include:

Javon McKay, Jr., Dunwoody
T. J. Guthrie, Fr., Dunwoody
Julian Goode, Jr., Dunwoody
Edge Warren, Soph., Veritas Christian N.C.
Dai-Jon Parker, Soph., Milton
Julian Royal, Soph., Milton
Shannon Scott, Soph., Milton
Erik Schuelke, Sr., Milton
Jershon Cobb, Jr., Columbia
Jordan Price, Fr., Columbia
Chris Grier, Jr., Columbia
Pierre Tyson, Jr., Columbia
Darneilous Sessions, Jr., Columbia
Jarmal Reid, Fr., Columbia
Trent Wiedeman, Jr., GAC
Taylor Metzger, Sr., GAC
Paul Dawson, Soph., GAC
Manny Atkins, Sr., Tucker (VIRGINIA TECH)
Moch Lual, Sr., Tucker
Chris Kingsberry, Jr., Tucker
Lorenzo Brown, Sr., Centennial (NC STATE)
Davonta White, Jr., Centennial
Kam Belin, Jr., Centennial
Adrian Rodgers, Jr., Centennial
Ryan Fleming, Sr., Centennial
Mfon Udofia, Sr., Miller Grove (GEORGIA TECH)
Tony Parker, Fr., Miller Grove
Malcolm Frank, Sr., Miller Grove
Stephen Hill, Sr., Miller Grove (GEORGIA TECH - football)
Donte Williams, Jr., Miller Grove
Henry Brooks, Jr., Miller Grove
Taariq Muhammad, Sr., Norcross
Denzail Jones, Sr., Norcross
Adrian Hubbard, Jr., Norcross
Malcolm McDonald, Jr., Norcross
Jeremy Lamb, Jr., Norcross
Zach Lamb, Sr., Norcross
Kymmon Woods, Soph., East Hall
Brandon Reed, Sr., Whitfield Academy (ARKANSAS STATE)
Cameron Baskerville, Sr., Whitefield Academy
Chris Lovelace, Sr., Whitefield Academy
Ian Miller, Jr., United Faith Christian Academy N.C. (FLORIDA STATE)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Notes from the Notepad: Jan. 12

Five things I'm buying this week.

1. The youth in Georgia is strong. I had a chance to watch a number of young players within the state this week and I'm impressed by the future of talent within the state. Southwest Dekalb has a trio of young players that have great potential. Sophomore forward Dwight Mikele, a 6-7 combo forward, is a big time prospect. He's long and aggressive as a rebounder and showed a nice shooting touch from the perimeter. It wouldn't surprise me if he emerges as a highly coveted prospect by the high-major programs once teams get a good look at him.

Pebblebrook guard Damien Wilson had a dose of reality when Newnan came to their house on Friday night. Newnan won easily. Wilson, however, showed some good things to come. The 6-4 shooting guard scored a team high 17 points.

Osborne big man Devonte Thornton has put up big numbers so far this season. Foul trouble handcuffed him against Lassiter and his team eventually lost by two points on the road. Thornton, a 6-6 combo forward, is a tweener inside and shows some skill to make the full-time transition to the wing.

Milton's sophomore trio lives up to the hype. No need to add more fuel to the fire. Julian Royal is better because he has Shannon Scott and Dai-Jon Parker now in the lineup.

Another big week on tap for Georgia Hoops and it's quest to find the top underclassmen in the Peach State.

2. The state doesn't have any shooters. Where have they gone? I haven't seen a great shooter in the state yet this year. Lassiter is a good shooting team and that's how the Trojans kept Osborne out of the win column on Saturday and upset, if you want to call it that, Campbell. Hutson Mason, Blaise White, Daniel Garza and Alex Gilmore all played well in the win against Osborne. Gilmore, a 6-5 forward, is a good-looking non-signed senior. White is a big time competitor. When this team shoots, they are tough to defend. Heck, any team that can shoot well is trouble for defenses in the state. Very few are good at it.

3. Newnan. Led by the great play of two-sport star Russell Powell, the Cougars are undefeated and don't appear to be slowing down. Powell scored 29 points when I watched his squad on Friday night at Pebblebrook. He's a jet from end to end, one of the best ball-handlers in the state and a fierce competitor. Remember, Powell was the quarterback for Newnan's semi-final football team. In hoops, he'll have his team at least in the Elite Eight in hoops. Remember, this is the same guy that held Jalen Kendrick of Westlake scoreless. Powell committed to Jacksonville on Sunday and he'll take over for former Dublin point guard Ben Smith, who is having a tremendous career for former Georgia Tech assistant coach Cliff Warren.

4. Class of 2010 is struggling. Where are you guys? Where is the intensity and passion? Few players are playing at a big time level. Trae Golden of McEachern is doing what he does well very well. Jamail Jones of Greenforest is having a great year. Who else? It's time for the juniors to step up.

5. Lorenzo Brown for McDonald's. I'll start the PR for this one. Is there a better player in AAAAA right now than him? He has been unstoppable this season and playing at a level that very few players in the country are playing at.

Scribble notes

- Huge game on Tuesday night in Augusta. Evans (12-1) plays host to Richmond Academy (14-1). It is the biggest game in Region 3-AAAA to date and the best game in Augusta so far this season.

- Here is the slate for the great event at Centennial on Mon., Jan. 19.

10 a.m. Veritas Christian vs. Dunwoody
12 p.m. Columbia vs. Milton
2 p.m. East Hall vs. Norcross
4 p.m. GAC vs. Tucker
6 p.m. Centennial vs. Miller Grove
8 p.m. Walton vs. Whitefield Academy

- Is there a clear cut top team in the state right now? Hard to really say. Here are my top six (in order) in the Peach State regardless of class.

1. South Atlanta
2. McEachern
3. Centennial
4. Miller Grove
5. Columbia
6. Norcross

- Attention players, coaches and parents: If you haven't already joined the Georgia Hoops Facebook page, please feel free to do so. I'll post any updates regarding camps and other notices there. It is an easier way to get the information to you there. Click HERE to access the page.

- Also, there is still plenty of time to submit a question to the mailbag. For more information, click HERE.

- Congrats to coach Don Meyer of Northern State. Coach Meyer earned his 903rd coaching victory on Saturday night, passing Bob Knight for most all-time in NCAA history.