At many of the basketball camps we attend across the country, many of the student-athletes are always commenting on the extreme athleticism displayed by many of the basketball players from the South. At the Pangos All-American camp in Southern California during the summer of 2006, one of the native Angelinos commented on what he observed from his fellow campers from down South.
"Damn, what do those guys got in Atlanta?" shouted 2007 Centennial of Compton standout guard Jessie Woodard to no one in particular. "They are dunking all over the place!"
The state of Georgia, in particular, has become a hot-bed for hoop talent in recent years. Not only has the Peach State recently produce 2007 EA SPORTS National Girls Player of the Year Maya Moore (from Collins Hill in Suwanee), the player many feel was the best high school girls player in a generation, it has also become a must-stop for men's college basketball recruiters because of the abundance of talent.
The Norcross High Blue Devils are the two-time defending Georgia Class AAAAA state champions and on Tuesday they definitely showed that athleticism translates well in the game of basketball. The South NSTC truck rolled through Norcross and the top five SPARQ Tested athletes on the team had a cumulative average of 80.01, the highest boys team average on the tour so far this year.
The highest individual mark on the Blue Devils' squad belonged to Al-Farouq Aminu, a returning all-state player who teamed with Georgia Tech freshman Gani Lawal to lead Norcross to a 29-3 record last season. The 6-foot-8 Aminu recorded a 5.47-second average during the Agility Cone Drill, ran the 20-yard dash in three seconds flat, had a 31.0 inch vertical jump, tossed a three-kilogram Power Ball 66 feet and scored 70 on the 30-second Endurance Jump for an overall SPARQ Rating* of 89.50. His score not only helped Norcross achieve the highest Team SPARQ Rating, but the Wake Forest commit now owns the highest individual mark on the 2007 (NSTC NIKE SPARQ Team Challenge) tour thus far.
Not to be outdone, the Norcross girls team did quite well themselves. In fact, they now own the highest Team SPARQ Rating with a cumulative average of 67.67 to best the 66.28 of North Clayton of College Park, Georgia set on October 12. Individually, 5-foot-5 Taylor Barnett recorded a 70.59 SPARQ Rating for the Lady Blue Devils. Like the boys squad, they also had some quite athletic underclass players, including sophomores Crystal Bostic (64.12) and Odesha Walwyn (63.13). Amazingly, the team's second best SPARQ Rating was turned in by 5-foot-7 freshman Kayla Nolan. The Class of 2011 standout's 69.96 SPARQ Rating included a 6.32-second average during the Agility Cone Drill, a 3.21 20-yard dash, a 27.1 inch vertical jump, a 36-foot Power Ball toss and a score of 65 on the 30-second Endurance Jump.
Over the past three years the Norcross boys team has compiled a 89-8 record with talents such such as Aminu, Lawal and Kentucky's Jodie Meeks and last year they finished No. 8 in the Rivals.com FAB 50 national rankings. This rapidly approaching season, they are expected to be ranked among the top 25 teams in the preseason Rivals.com FAB 50 and could be nationally-ranked for year's to come with talents such as 15-year old Rasheed Fischer. The 6-foot-5 sophomore recorded a 79.04 SPARQ Rating, which included a 31-inch vertical jump similar to his running mate Aminu. Another sophomore, 6-foot-4 Malcolm McDonald, scored the team's third-best individual rating with a 77.88 that included a 5.69-second average on the Agility Cone Drill, a 3.17-second 20-yard dash, a 31.6 inch vertical jump, a 49-foot Power Ball toss and scored a 66 on the 30-second Endurance Jump.
Highly regarded junior point guard Taariq Muhammad (76.85 SPARQ Rating) also shined with the team's highest vertical jump at 34 inches. The best Agility Cone Drill among the Norcross boys was turned in by 6-foot Verne Brooks with Muhammad's average a 5.32. Muhammad also had the second best 20-yard time of 2.98, trailing only the 2.94 recorded by junior Quintin Square. Aminu's had the longest Power Ball toss and his 70 was the team's second best Endurance Jump behind the 75 recorded by 5-foot-9 sophomore Kevin Kinney.
The Blue Devils are just one of the many SPARQ Tested teams that appeared in the final 2006-2007 Rivals.com FAB 50 National Rankings produced by StudentSportsBasketball.com. In January, Norcross will take on Helen Cox (Harvey, LA) in a nationally-televised contest where top five national talent Greg Monroe will showcase his tremendous skills in front of the Norcross faithful. Before Helen Cox travels to Georgia to take on Norcross, however, they will be SPARQ Tested by the South NSTC truck early next week.
Helen Cox wasn't nationally ranked in the FAB 50 at the end of last season, but they'll likely be in the preseason Rivals.com FAB 50 that will be released in early November. Another team that wasn't in the final FAB 50 last year but will likely be this preseason is Mt. Vernon, New York. The Knights lost in the Class AA State Federation semifinals to Rice of New York, 73-64.
Mt. Vernon has an abundance of talent coming back this season and recorded a 71.48 Team SPARQ Rating on Tuesday. 6-foot-7 forward Kevin Jones had a 67.24 SPARQ Rating while up-and-coming recruit Sherod Wright led the Knights with an excellent 79.67 SPARQ Rating. The 6-foot-4 Wright's score included a team best 3.09-second 20-yard dash and a 32.4 inch vertical jump.
Rice, the team that ended Mt. Vernon's season last year, will be SPARQ Tested in the near future as well. Read below to see which teams that appeared in the final Rivals.com FAB 50 national rankings last season the NSTC trucks have already tested and what their team rating was. Also listed are the nationally-ranked schools that the trucks will hit in the coming weeks.
Final 2006-2007 Rivals.com FAB 50 National Rankings
(Produced by StudentSportsBasketball.com; Teams are listed with final won-loss record and with Team SPARQ Rating where applicable; Other listed teams will be tested in the coming weeks.)
1. Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, VA) 40-1
2. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, NJ) 30-2 (74.53)
4. Duncanville (Duncanville, TX) 39-0
5. Simeon (Chicago, IL) 33-2 (73.65)
6. Montverde Academy (Montverde, FL) 30-0 (78.30)
7. St. Benedict's (Newark, NJ) 24-1 (72.32)
8. Norcross (Norcross, GA) 29-3 (80.01)
13. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) 33-4 (78.12)
18. Campbell Hall (North Hollywood, CA) 33-1
19. LeFlore (Mobile, AL) 32-3
23. Fairfax (Los Angeles, CA) 27-5
26. Kingwood (Kingwood, TX) 39-3
27. Montrose Christian (Rockville, MD) 21-3 (74.40)
30. Rice (New York, NY) 27-4
34. DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD) 27-6 (71.11)
45. Peabody (Alexandria, LA) 36-4
**The goal of the SPARQ Basketball Rating is to give coaches, trainers and athletes the tools to assess the overall athleticism of a basketball player with tests that are designed to reflect the specific physical demands of the game. The SPARQ Rating is not designed or intended as a measure of basketball skills or an athlete's potential success on the court. SPARQ realizes that the intangibles of desire, hard work, teamwork and knowledge of the game all contribute to ultimate success in a complex skill sport like basketball. To learn more about the SPARQ Basketball Rating and compare SPARQ Ratings with teammates, training partners and competitors, go to www.sparqtraining.com.
To learn more about the NIKE SPARQ Team Challenge CLICK HERE.
To view the updated NSTC tour schedule CLICK HERE.
To read more blogs from the NSTC tour, CLICK HERE.