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.