Here are 10 observations and news items concerning high school football and basketball and the GHSA that you might find interesting.
1. Some of the metro Atlanta’s top defensive coordinators have been on the move this off-season. The latest is North Gwinnett’s Mo Dixon, who announced Wednesday that he was taking a similar position at Byrnes, the South Carolina power about a dozen state championships. Dixon had been defensive coordinator for the past seven years on Bob Sphire’s staff. Meanwhile, Grayson’s defensive coordinator, Robert Andrews, is East Jackson’s new head coach. Lovejoy’s Kevin Jones is the head coach at Dutchtown. Burke County’s Michael Youngblood is the new head coach at South Cobb. Brookwood assistant Michael Owens is the new head coach at Chattahoochee. Brookwood doesn’t assign the title of defensive coordinator, but Owens was integral in helping the Broncos’ defenses over the years. Coaching tip: Defensive coordinators at top programs are in demand.
2. The Georgia Sportswriters’ all-state basketball team was announced this week. The GSWA’s picks for all-classification players of the year match those of the AJC – Brannen Greene of Tift County (boys) and Diamond DeShields of Norcross (boys). Lots of other differences, though. Yes, Sharman White of Miller Grove was named Class AAAAA boys coach of the year. That should appease those who skewered the AJC for snubbing the four-time state championship coach. The coaches’ all-state team will be out much later.
3. George Kennedy, who led Wilcox County’s boys basketball team to the Class A private final this season, is heading to Crisp Academy of the Georgia Independent School Association. Kennedy’s first Wilcox County team was 1-21 in 2003. The team went 20-8 in 2007, the first winning season in 16 years. Wilcox was in the semifinals or better in 2009, 2010 and 2013. Kennedy withdrew his 2012 team from the state tournament in a disciplinary move. Kennedy, whose star players have included Johnathan Howard and Nick Marshall, first coached at Cook County Middle School in 1972.
4. The football head coaching jobs at McNair and Towers are open. McNair’s coach was Tywanois Lockett, who was 6-24 in three seasons. McNair has not recovered from the firing of Roderick Moore before the 2009 season. McNair had an eight-year run of 64-27 under Moore and Johnny Gilbert. Both were controversially let go. Towers’ head coach had been Marvin Jones, who was 3-27 in three seasons. For an update on the hirings, firings and retirings of the off-season, click HERE.
5. The DeKalb County Basketball All-Star Games are today (Thursday) at Tucker. The rosters include boys players Tahj Shamsid-Deen of Columbia (Class AAAA player of the year, Auburn signee) and Davonte Fitzgerald of Tucker (Region 6-AAAAA player of the year, Texas A&M signee) and girls players Miah Spencer of Columbia (AAAA player of the year, N.C. State signee) and Kaliyah Mitchell of Stephenson (former AAAA player of the year, Penn signee). For complete rosters, see our story from last week.
6. The Gwinnett County Senior All-Star Games were held Wednesday at Grayson. In the boys game, Jordan Harper of Lanier made six of his team’s 21 3-point shots in a 115-103 victory. The girls’ leading scorer was Cii Cii Buford of Greater Atlanta Christian, with 22. The Gwinnett Daily Post covered the game.
7. Expect the Georgia High School Association to revisit the issue of allowing its members to compete against schools from the Georgia Independent School Association, especially now that the GHSA will be picking up GISA members Mount de Sales, Tattnall Academy and Stratford Academy beginning in 2014. The GHSA-GISA topic will come up at the GHSA’s executive committee meeting April 14-15 in Macon. GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin understands how allowing inter-association competition could help GHSA members schedule contests that are closer to home. But he doesn’t want that to come at the expense of other GHSA schools that will have trouble filling out their schedules if other GHSA members are looking elsewhere. “I have mixed emotions,’’ Swearngin said. “There’s a practical level and philosophical level. It’s just going to be important to make sure they [the executive committee members] understand both sides of that.’’
8. Another GHSA agenda items of note: Lovett has a proposal to use a multiplier to classify schools. Instead of the old 1.5 multiplier that was applied to private schools, Lovett proposes to use a multiplier for students outside of schools’ districts or service areas. That potentially would move city schools such as Buford, Calhoun and Gainesville into higher classes because of their policies that allow non-district students to attend. It also would affect private schools by including adding a multiplier to students outside of their counties. We’ll have a story on this topic in the next few days.
9. Another GHSA agenda items of note: Habersham Central has a proposal for 2014 to have only three classifications for the regular season and then six for the playoffs. South Carolina uses a system similar to this. It would allow for larger classifications of more than 125 schools in each class, allowing for less regular-season travel as each school. That would allow a school such as Habersham Central – which is isolated from its Region 8-AAAAAA competition – to play AAAAA schools such as Gainesville in the regular season while still having an avenue to the state playoffs. We’ll have more on that proposal next week.
10. It’s unfortunate that a horrific injury helped give Kevin Ware some deserved recognition in his home state for his outstanding development as a basketball player at Louisville. The sophomore guard from Rockdale County has been a key player off the bench for Louisville. Note that there are two other Georgia players in the men’s Final Four. They are Tekele Cotton of Whitefield Academy and Carl Hall of Bleckley County, both for the Wichita State Shockers. Click on the links to each for stories on those players’ unlikely road to the Final Four from the Marietta Daily Journal and the Los Angeles Times.