South Atlanta High basketball flourishing without superhero Derrick Favors

Life is good for South Atlanta High basketball in the post-Derrick Favors era.

No, the Hornets aren’t scheduled to play any games on national TV, as they did last year when Favors was on the roster. No, the stands aren’t overcrowded with spectators, including college and NBA scouts, all clamoring to get a glimpse at Parade Magazine’s and USA TODAY’s National Player of the Year, who is now playing at Georgia Tech.

Nearly everything is different with South Atlanta this year except for one thing — the program’s winning ways. The Hornets are off to a 14-1 start, including 8-0 in the region, and ranked No. 1 in Class AAA.

They are threatening to do what many thought was impossible — win back-to-back state championships without the superhero wearing the soon-to-be-retired No. 34 jersey in the middle of the lane.

“We’re not as spectacular as we were with Derrick,” South Atlanta coach Michael Reddick said. “We don’t have that unquestioned leader with unmatched ability, the kid we can throw the ball to at any point on the court, and know that he will make something happen. Derrick Favors was a talent above most.

“However, Derrick is gone from our team. But we still have expectations for our program. Our kids want to win badly. That hasn’t changed.”

While Favors remains an icon among his former high school teammates, they still want to prove they can compete at the highest levels without him. It’s not about disrespect toward Favors, but earning respect for this year’s team.

South Atlanta can’t go anywhere, especially on the road, without someone in the crowd reminding the team that Favors is no longer on the roster. Opposing fans have been known to chant “Where is … Fav-ors? Where is … Fav-ors?”

“We’ve had a lot of doubters this year, even at our own school,” said South Atlanta forward Rashaud Bell. “You hear people say things in the stands during the games. They don’t think we can really do anything with (Favors), but we just keeping working hard as a team. I think we’re doing pretty well so far.”

Not only did the Hornets lose their headline act with Favors, but also three other starters off the state championship squad, along with several key members off the bench.

“Other teams have been saying that this was going to be the year to get payback against us,” South Atlanta center Nick Jacobs said. “But we ain’t letting that happen.”

Why isn’t it happening? Because South Atlanta, despite returning only three players with varsity experience, has one of the state’s most imposing frontlines with the 6-foot-9 Jacobs, 6-6 Bell, and 6-7 Dominique McCoy.

“When you have size and athleticism like that, you can get away with a lot of (youthful) mistakes,” Woodland coach David Bice said after Tuesday’s 73-56 loss to South Atlanta.

“I’m not surprised they’re playing so well without Favors. They have a great coach, and he always makes those kids play with intensity.”

Reddick is the stabling influence at South Atlanta, even though his season got off to a disastrous start. While demonstrating some defensive stances in gym class in last October, he blew out his left kneecap. He underwent surgery a few days later, and was forced to rest while the leg healed up. Reddick was only able to attend three practices before the season, and just returned working at the school part-time last week.

The time away from school and basketball had positive effects on Reddick.

“It re-energized me — made me realize how much I enjoyed coaching basketball,” Reddick said on Tuesday, while walking with a slight limp.

“I have a new starting point again, with what we want to accomplish with this program.”

Reddick has thrown a few tweaks in the offensive scheme to get all the players involved. The days of clearing out of the way to watch Favors put on a one-man show are history.

The heir apparent is Jacobs, who averages 22 points and already has more than a dozen early scholarship offers, including Florida State, Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. He sharpened his skills by competing against Favors in practice every day last year.

McKoy, who is also generating interest from major colleges, is scoring 17 per game. However, the difference-maker may be 5-7 sophomore guard James Arnold, who made five 3-pointers against Woodland.

When Arnold is hot from the outside, it stretches defenses to the perimeter, opening up the inside game for the big men.

Can South Atlanta defend its state championship without Favors?

Reddick sidesteps the question, saying that his teams aim for title runs every year. His focus is securing the Hornets a spot in the playoffs, because anything can happen in the postseason.

Two years ago, South Atlanta was a favorite to win the championship. However, the Favors-led Hornets were eliminated in the first round, suffering a shocking upset to East Hall.

“Hopefully, if things continue to come together, we can make another run,” Reddick said. “It depends on how we improve over the next few weeks. We need to (peaking) around the time of the region tournament.”

Maybe Favors can rub a little magic on his old team. He will be returning to South Atlanta to have his jersey retired on Jan. 26.

26 comments Add your comment

Zone3G

January 20th, 2010
6:26 pm

Good job by coach Reddick. South Atlanta is becoming a powerhouse in Georgia B-Ball. It’s good to see inner city schools competing year in and year out. My alma mater is making me proud.

Go Hornets!!!!!!

TayTay

January 21st, 2010
9:53 am

They haven’t played ANYONE. Their guard play is terrible.

bigjeff

January 21st, 2010
10:13 am

but they have 3 of the best players in the state and you cant forget about their terrific point gaurd timothy wright

kobe24

January 21st, 2010
10:15 am

man that kid timothy is Sorry!!
with a capital S

mutt

January 21st, 2010
10:16 am

timothy is the truth and that kid nickalus jacobs is a Monster.
With a capital M!!!

Eagle 1

January 21st, 2010
11:06 am

Ajc this really done it… you guys have really fell off!!! Are you kidding me, have you really studied the teams they have played thus far. You guys really have no clue on what you are talkin about!!!
Micheal Carvell i challenge you to post 5 quality wins thats worthy of this blog!! Im not bashing S.Atlanta i just feel there are alot of other worthy teams to be discussed this.You guys used up all of the blogs with them with Favors last year.They are not the only team playin well!!!

SportsFan31313

January 21st, 2010
4:51 pm

Somebody please tell me how does Region 4-AAA South Atlanta jump to number one in the Coaches polls over Region 3-AAA Liberty County. Liberty County has been dominating the Polls few the past few weeks and has not lost a game whereas South Atlanta has lost a game. Is this Atlanta Metro Politics again? First it was Region 3-AAAAA Bradwell Institute Ladies basketball, and now you have Liberty County Mens Basketball Team that are getting the Shaft….. It’s leading me to believe that these polls are a farce, and should not taken seriously.

SportsFan31313

January 21st, 2010
5:18 pm

Well after careful review, of South Atlanta’s Basketball Team Schedule, I can somewhat understand the reason as to why the coaches voting South Atlanta to number one. However; Liberty County quite deserving as well with an undefeated record. Inaddition to them doing well last season too.

SportsFan31313

January 21st, 2010
5:23 pm

Hopefully Liberty County and South Atlanta will play each other in the State AAA Finals.

SOUTH ATL"98"

January 21st, 2010
5:31 pm

@ eagle -1 if ajc wanted to talk about other teams dey would’ve done it so stop crying about how much time S.A.H.S is getting! It’s about time city schools get some talk anyway..

And SOUTH ATLANTA BEEN DOING DIS WINNING THANG IN BASKETBALL IT JUST DID’NT START!! GEORGE HIGH & FULTON HIGH SCHOOL BEEN DOING DIS..

So keep hating on SOUTH ATL and all dey gone do is keep winning

Eagle 1

January 21st, 2010
11:44 pm

South ATL “98″ AWWW….Thats Cute!! Boy stop… u talkin to someone that was Born an Bred in Atlanta. Octavious Thomas,Robert Howard C/O 88 George High is my homie and Coach Sheppard @(Fulton) raised me. So dont give me that excuss. Aint hatin its da truth!!! You talkin to Atl basketball!!

Eagle 1

January 22nd, 2010
12:25 am

Locust Grove,Jackson, Woodward,Rutland,Mary Person,Mays,Washington Woodland twice and those Bumms in that weak missouri tourney!!Come on people this is for the bloggers to see for themselves!! No argument!!
And please dont give me that… use to crap!! I know Octavious Thomas and Robert “Black Dog” Howard from George High and Vincent Banks. Plus Coach Sheppard and Coach Turner(Fulton high)raised me. I know ATl highschool ball homie!!!!
Liberty????? Do somemore homework quit talking about what they used to be!!!!! Columbia Eagles 2010 State champs!!!!!
Jershon Cobb AAA MVP!!!

Decatur 4 Life

January 22nd, 2010
8:51 am

Sportsfan31313

How’s it going my friend? I told you once basketball season starts it’s going to be all about The Columbia Eagles. I like what S. Atlanta has been doing recently but it doesn’t compare to our run, even if it was in AAAA. If Liberty County makes it all the way, they’ll be playing these boys from Decatur not S. Atlanta. Even with Favors it wasn’t a cake walk against us last year in the final four. The biggest difference was playing in a weaker region in the regular season didn’t really prepare for the post-season run, this year they’ve faced national powerhouses and will be ready when they travel to Macon. So mark it down the road to the AAA championship goes through Decatur.

eagle 22

January 22nd, 2010
10:52 am

Corey is terrible!!
He should still be on the junior varsity.

SportsFan31313

January 22nd, 2010
11:00 am

Greetings Decatur 4 Life,

How are you? I decided to get on this blog every now and then to blog about basketball as well as footbal this year. I have nt had the chance to review Columbia of Decatur as of yet but I will today. But I will say that in zipcode 31313 (Hinesville Georgia) The Sports Dominance are beginning to switch from Region 3-AAAAA Bradwell Institute to Region 3-AAA Liberty County. The Mens Football has performed very well this year since this new School has been built. Now the Mens Basketball team is runnor the table against everyone they have came up against this year. Did’nt what class they were in or region. Last year the mens basketball team from Liberty County has done a good job as well at that time. Liberty county Ladies is also in the mix being ranked number nine in the Polls. Lets not forget aboput Region 3-AAAAA Bradwell Institute Ladies basketball tea whom last year made it to the elite eight losing to State Champios Redan. This year, Bradwell Institute Ladies Basketball under the direction of Coach Faye Baker, who is a Future Hall Of Famer is running the gamut in their Region and is finally ranked in the State. In my opinion, they should have been ranked earlier in the season. nevertheless, they are finally in the picture. This team is even better than last year. So, In Class AAAAA in South Georgia in Ladies basketball is with absolutely no doubt is Bradwell Institute ladies. I don’t believe that in any Region in Class AAAAA in South Georgia could beat this Bradwell Ladies team this year. So North Georgia look out……

joe

January 22nd, 2010
11:02 am

lol stop hating on south atlanta…. just know that at the end of the day they still got dat statechampionship ring they hand

Decatur 4 Life

January 22nd, 2010
1:21 pm

Sports Fan

I hear you, I wish Bradwell’s girls the best of luck but that Redan team is loaded again along with a couple others from the metro area. I was reading about the guards at Liberty County and at least on paper that should be a great matchup with us. We’re built on size around the perimeter as well and so far their traps and 3/4 press have been giving teams fits. Just sounds like it has the potential for a great matchup, I’ll be looking forward to it.

SOUTH ATL"98"

January 22nd, 2010
3:47 pm

@ eagle -1 u did’nt go to any of dem schools but guess what i did so all dem names u talking i know dem and more!! so if u talking about a school from decatur,ga u cant be from Atlanta,Ga so u get it right!!! and it really dont matter who South Atlanta beating the main thang is dey beating dem…So bring on dem wanna be from Atlanta boys and see what South ATL do to dem dis year playa!!

SOUTH ATL"98"

January 22nd, 2010
4:41 pm

@ eagle -0 aint to much u can tell me about any ATLANTA schools maybe dem wanna be from tha city schools but not ATLANTA!! So class of “88″ is all u can talk about u dont know enuff.. what about C.C. Jones one of tha best coachs to do it in tha city..what about teams from Carver High back in tha days,,what about tha Southside teams..u wouldnt know bout it cuz u aint really from ATLANTA,GA U from Decatur,GA,,WHAT ABOUT MAYS,WASHINGTON,CRIM man i can go on and on cuz im from Atlanta

Jonesbo rd all day

cith slicker

January 23rd, 2010
8:48 pm

i got love for south atl and columbia leah danials was my god mama who taught at fulton and south atlanta for years and plus thats the school all my perents atended so i grew up goin to thier ghames at lakewood and grady. with that being said i grew up in the deck so ive been too many columbia games also i wsh em both the best i hope they meet in the finals it a be zone3 vs zone6. shouts out to liberty county also u guys r truly talented

Arsh10

January 25th, 2010
8:47 am

GOOD LUCK SOUTH ATLANTA HORNETS…..U GUYS R GREAT….. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK…TIMOTHY WRIGHT,,BIG NICK….LIL NICK….QUA,,,,AND THE REST OF U GUYS,,,

Decatur 4 Life

January 25th, 2010
11:22 am

SOUTH ATL”98″

What planet are you from? What does where you from have to do with basketball? What team someone represents has nothing to do with where they’re from. Neither George noe Fulton High had anything worth mentioning when you compare them to old teams from Douglass and Carver. Even Southside had decent teams with James Forrest but they couldn’t win the big ones. I applaud the championship S. Atlanta won last season but let’s not forget they’ve had a lot of hype in season passed and couldn’t manage to make it. For your sake you better hope S. Atlanta doesn’t run into us again because their behinds will be handed to them and it aint got nothing to do with being from outside the city limits

Eagle 1

January 25th, 2010
6:24 pm

Columbia Eagles #1!!!!!!!

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C.A.D

May 26th, 2010
9:31 am

It doesnt matter who south atlanta has on their team bacause thay have a GREAT coach. Coach Reddick is the best coach ever. He makes the boys want to join the game of basket ball. South atlanta H.S has onr of the beat teams in Atland will daty that way

Nickieghie

March 20th, 2012
10:31 pm

I read that same article in the AJC last week too. Lubie Geter I mmreeber his name all too well. I myself was ten years old at the height of the Atlanta Child Murders, but I don’t mmreeber them saying anything about tapes or anything. (Knowing me, I was so freaked out and scared during that time, I might have seen something on the news about it and probably repressed it.) However, I do mmreeber my militant black power stepfather screaming about how the Klan ( those blue-eyed white devils he would yell much to my horror) were responsible. This was the sentiment of most of the adults in my life. But now, Tayari, you know if they would have stayed with the tape lead back then and it would have led to a true resolution of the case, where it was found that supremacists groups were involved, all hell would have broken lose. We would probably still be recovering from the riots and burning of Atlanta right now, some twenty-five years later.I, too, mmreeber all the feelings I had growing up at that time. No one walked to school alone. We all walked the short eight minute walk to school in thick packs. I mmreeber always checking to make sure I had the special white whistles the school gave us to use just in case we needed help. I mmreeber crying and being frantic early one Monday morning because I couldn’t find my whistle before walking to school (I was a latchkey kid and home alone).But worst of all, I mmreeber sneaking out of the house one summer day and going to hang with some girls that had formed a neighborhood club (I always wanted to be down with the popular girls). My mother came home early from work that day, and thought I was missing. When I finally came home a few hours later (thinking I was being slick and getting home right before she would arrive home from work) there were police cars parked at my house, and my mother was frantically crying to them. I got the worse whipping of my life that day. And now, some twenty-five years later, my mother is still pissed about it I can still hear the anger in her voice when she talks about the day she thought I was snatched.Yes, and even now, living in Atlanta now, I still sit wide-eyed in front of the television whenever Monica Kaufman talks about what’s currently going on with the current investigation Tayari, I hope with all this modern technology, forensic and otherwise, that’s available now that some leeway is made in this case. Or hopefully, if someone who knows something grows a conscience and comes forward and sheds some light on the Atlanta child Murders case because you know someone, somewhere knows something.