Plenty of hoops stars in Georgia

By Doug Gorman

As a long-time sports fan and a resident of Georgia for the last 24 years, I will concede football is king in the Peach State.

Since 1980, the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech have both won national titles on the gridiron, and despite the Falcons' mostly woeful seasons, the Dirty Birds still have their legions of loyal fans.

Of course it helps that Michael Vick now lines up under center for the state's NFL franchise.

High school football is a way of life in some communities in Georgia. We have all heard stories of how everything stops on Friday nights in some small Georgia towns when the local team takes the field.

I too love football, especially the college game. Nothing is more exciting than being in a packed football stadium on a cool, crisp fall afternoon.

At times, however, basketball gets short-changed in Georgia.

For years, Georgia has produced some of the best athletes to ever perform a cross over dribble or dunk a basketball.

Some great basketball players from the state of Georgia include, former UGA and Hawks' great Dominique Wilkins, Kenny Walker, who went on to star at Kentucky and in the NBA, and Walt Fraizer and Norm Nixon, perhaps two of the best guards to ever play in the NBA.

On the women's side, former Georgia star Teresa Edwards has participated in five Olympic games, and her college coach Andy Landers is one of the best in the business.

The Southern Crescent has produced its share of great high school basketball players. The last few years have been unbelievable as Josh Powell, Anthony Rice and Karl Hollingsworth all signed Division I scholarships the same year.

Toney and Harry Douglas might just be the best brother basketball tandem to come out of the state. Two years ago, the brothers led Jonesboro to the state championship game where they lost to Wheeler. When it came time to select a sport, Harry opted for football and a scholarship to the University of Louisville. Toney has just finished his high school career and will play college basketball at Auburn. Toney wrapped up his high school career by setting the Clayton County career scoring record.

Of course, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are headed to the Final Four for just the second time in school history.

This might be one of the best feel good stories of the year.

At the start of the season, most so-called experts had Tech near the bottom the ACC standings.

Tech shocked the world by winning the pre-season NIT and even beating Duke on the road during the regular-season.

Head coach Paul Hewitt has become the most talked about college coach in the country. Hewitt conducts himself with class and expects his players to do the same. Thanks to the young and dynamic coach, Tech basketball is again the hottest sports ticket in town.

Tech is loaded with talent, including home-grown products B.J. Elder and Isma'il Muhammad. I don't know if Tech will win the title, but it's certainly been a fun ride.

Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Daily. His column appears on Thursdays. He can be e-mailed to dgorman@news-daily.com