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.