Photo by Brian Paglia
Lovejoy junior center Justin Tuoyo has garnered several Div. I basketball offers this spring. He is expected to be one of the top recruits this coming season.
College coaches have come as far west as Nebraska and as north as Massachusetts these last few days to evaluate the basketball talent in the Southern Crescent. Wednesday marked the end of the annual NCAA "open contact" period, where coaches watch and talk to prospective recruits. Several area players have been impressive enough to garner scholarship offers. Staff writers Derrick Mahone and Brian Paglia take a look at five of the top underclassmen from this past season.
The process: He holds 6 a.m. workouts, which has been well attended by several coaches. The 6-foot-5 junior has emerged as one of the top recruits in the state this spring. He has garnered offers from ACC, SEC, Big East and Big Ten schools.
What's to like: Everything. He has the combination of height, size and quickness that makes him tough to defend. A solid perimeter shooter, Hunt can also take the ball in the paint and score.
The numbers: Averaged 26.2 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and four assists. Was named MVP of two tournaments this season, and had a career-high 47 points, including eight 3-pointers. Has already scored 1,350 points in his career.
Accolades: Named the Clayton News Daily Clayton County Player of the Year. Was named to virtually every all-state team including the Georgia Athletics Coaches Association and Georgia Sportswriters Association. Was first team all-region and made the Atlanta Tipoff Club first team all-metro team.
Hunt likes: Has not yet trimmed a growing list of college offers. He has offers from Georgia Tech, Georgia, Nebraska, Miami, Alabama, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and VCU, in addition to others.
Decision time: Hunt and his father, Willie Hunt, will try to trim the list this summer. He could possibly sign in November. Willie Hunt said they have not eliminated any schools yet, including several mid majors like Richmond and Georgia State.
Marcus Hunt says: "I feel real privileged to have a lot of schools offering me. It has been a great process so far. I'm taking it all in, and trying to work hard to get better."
The process: It was pretty casual for Mann. Most coaches who came by -- Georgia, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Tulane, Rice, East Carolina -- were interested mostly in talking to the junior point guard, but interest is growing fast.
What's to like: So versatile. The 6-foot-3 junior has played out of position for much of his time at Union Grove, but his skills suggest he could be a complete player at the point guard position. Can shoot and penetrate, and has quickly developed into a dangerous facilitator on offense.
The numbers: Averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds. Led the Wolverines to a 14-11 record, runner-up finish in Region 3-AAAA and first home basketball state tournament game in school history.
Accolades: Named first-team All-Southern Crescent by Clayton News Daily/Henry Daily Herald. Played in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North-South Juniors Showcase.
Mann likes: Connecticut, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Florida, Florida State, Nebraska and Northwestern.
Decision time: Mann said it all depends on how he feels. He could wait until the 2012 spring signing period to sign.
The process: Ringer, along with teammates Isaiah Dennis, Marquis Griffin and Eric Wortham, went through morning workouts Monday and Wednesday in front of a handful of coaches.
What's to like: Pushing 6-foot-9, 230, Ringer is a classic power forward. He's a tenacious rebounder on both ends with offensive skills that are becoming more refined.
The numbers: Averaged 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Missed 13 games with a knee injury, then returned for the Class AAA tournament to help the Golden Eagles reach the semifinals for the first time in school history.
Accolades: Named honorable mention All-Southern Crescent by Clayton News Daily/Henry Daily Herald. Ranked No. 11 among power forwards in the Class of 2013 by ESPN.
Ringer likes: Seems excited about the interest from several schools, especially Georgia Tech, but proclaimed it too early in the process to name favorites.
Decision time: As a rising junior, and without any official offers, Ringer is in no hurry.
Ringer says: "Yea, it would kind of be a relief [to get official offers]. It would kind of make me feel a little better about myself. I would feel like all my hard work is paying off."
The process: There was not much activity with the sophomore this spring. However, Mundy's Mill coach is expecting the recruiting process to pick up this season. Sizemore is being counted on to have a breakout season.
What's to like: His athleticism. A big, athletic guard/forward. He can score from the outside with an accurate perimeter shot. He is strong enough to take it to the basket to draw a foul. He is the quarterback on the football team.
The numbers: Averaged 14.2 points and three assists per game.
Accolades: Named first team All-Southern Crescent and named to the all-Region 4-AAAA team.
Sizemore likes: Does not have any offers yet, but likes Auburn, who has shown interest.
Decision time: With no offers and only a sophomore, he has plenty of time to make a decision.
Tu Willingham says: "We have had some good players come through here, but Darrius is the best as a sophomore than the others were at this point in their career. He is going to be one of the top players in the state by the time he is a senior."
The process: Tuoyo has been slowed some by tendonitis in his leg, but has had limited workouts. Several schools came in the last couple days to speak with him.
What's to like: His size. The junior is a long 6-foot-9 with an incredible wing span. He is more noted for his defensive presence with rebounding, blocking and altering shots. The team was ranked the majority of the season and reached the Class AAAA quarterfinals.
The numbers: Averaged 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Accolades: Named to the All-Southern Crescent first team, North-South Georgia Athletic Coaches Associations Junior All-Star team. Was on the Atlanta Tip-off Club all-metro team.
Tuoyo likes: Central Florida, Virginia Commonwealth, Memphis, Virginia Tech, South Florida.
Decision time: Tuoyo might commit to a school in June, but has not ruled out waiting until the Spring 2012 signing period.
Tuoyo says: "There is not much pressure now because you are just trying to listen to what they are saying. You want to play your best to try and impress the coaches."