By Doug Gorman
The middle school basketball season is still months away, but in Clayton County, Babb and Morrow have already established themselves as the teams to beat once the 2003-2004 season begins.
The two squads flexed their muscles earlier this week at Clayton College and State University during the college's second annual Middle School camp.
Babb came away as the camp champion, beating rival Morrow 41-32 in the tournament.
Fayette County beat Adamson in the third-place game.
Fourteen teams received instruction from the Clayton College and State University men's basketball staff.
"It's great working with the middle school players," said Clayton State assistant coach Corey Baldwin. "The players and the coaches are really excited about being here."
In addition to the teams which made it to the Final Four in the camp tournament, Jonesboro, Henry County, Mundy's Mill and Lovejoy, also represented the Southern Crescent.
Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons, who has taken the Lakers from the doormat of the Peach Belt Conference to a contender by winning 36 games in his first two seasons, stresses the importance of giving back to the community.
Gibbons often speaks at schools, conducts clinics in the area and sends players to mentor to youngsters in the area.
"I think that is the role of a university to have a visible presence in the community," Gibbons said.
The Middle School camp is just portion of a busy camp schedule at Clayton State.
The CCSU basketball staff is also developing a solid relationship with the high school coaches.
Earlier this month, the June Shootout was held at Clayton State with 14 varsity teams and 10 junior varsity squads spending time with the Lakers' coaching staff.
In the varsity tournament, Norcross, which went to the Class AAAAA Final Four in the 2002-2003 season, beat South Atlanta.
South Atlanta was played in the Class AAAA finals, losing to Griffin.
Starting Sunday, 40 high school teams return to the CCSU campus for another camp, which will include several local teams.