MAHONE: Springtime is basketball recruiting time

The high pollen count and warm tempertures lets you know that it is springtime.

A quick check of the baseball and soccer fields and track indicates that the spring sports are in full swing. But for many athletes in the Southern Crescent, basketball season is still alive.

This is an important time for rising underclassmen as the spring evaluation period for college coaches have them hoping from gym to gym in the area.

Some of the area's top recruits for the 2012 class are holding workouts in hopes of landing a free college education.

At Eagle's Landing, coaches wearing emblems on their shirts from Georgia Tech, Georgia, East Carolina, Mercer and South Carolina are keeping a close watch on Golden Eagles' standout Desmond Ringer.

This scene is being played out at Lovejoy, Union Grove and several other schools in the state and Southern Crescent.

North Clayton junior Marcus Hunt has seen his share of college recruiters the last couple days.

When you are 6-foot-5 and very skilled, coaches will wake before the crack of dawn to watch you dribble and shoot a basketball.

And that's exactly what is happening this week as coaches watch the all-state player. He is holding watch-and-see sessions at 6 a.m. before heading to class.

And from the offers that have been pouring in lately, not many have mind setting their alarm clock a few hours early.

Hunt has garnered offers from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and UMass to name a few. Many more are expected to come in as he makes his way around the AAU circuit this summer.

"It very exciting," says his father Willie Hunt, a former basketball player at Albany State. "This is the fun part of the process."

Pretty soon, the hard part comes.

The Hunts must get down to business of trimming a growing list of schools that want his services. They must take officials visits to see if the campus and facilities are what they are looking for.

And the hard part comes when they must make that call to inform a coach, that has put a lot time in, that his school is no longer in the running.

That comes with the territory.

For now, Hunt is enjoying the recruiting process.

"I'm very appreciative of all the offers," Marcus Hunt said. "I have a lot of offers on the table."

And more are expected to come.

Derrick Mahone covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.