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Mann moves to instant contender

Jeff Hurndon Photography
Former Union Grove standout Charles Mann has taken his talents to Milton High, where he should compete for a state title.

Jeff Hurndon Photography Former Union Grove standout Charles Mann has taken his talents to Milton High, where he should compete for a state title.

What had been swirling around in basketball circles for months was finally made official late Monday night.

With a few clicks of a computer keyboard, Charles Mann made official that he is now a student at Milton High in Alpharetta. The former Union Grove standout changed his Facebook profile to reflect his family's move to the northern suburb.

With that move, Mann realizes that he will be open to much criticism by Internet bloggers about finishing his senior season at Milton, a state contender and a school that always gets an influx of transfers.

At Milton, he will be united with several of his AAU buddies from the Southern Select, including highly recruited forward Evan Nolte and Shaquille Johnson.

The potential upcoming criticism doesn't seem to bother Mann, who is considered one of the top point guards in the country. Starting today, he will play in the NBA Top 100 Camp, which only the elite players in the country received an invitation.

"I'm just ignoring all that negative stuff and concentrating on playing basketball," Mann said via cellphone Tuesday afternoon.

That's good.

As the saying goes, haters will hate.

Mann says the move was job related. In my opinion, he owes no one any explanation.

It seems a good move that one of the top rising players will now get to play for a potentially nationally-ranked caliber program that will play a national schedule.

The scholarship offers are there and will continue to be whether he transferred or not. Now, he gets to play with a contender his senior season.

"Yeah, good players want to play with other good players," said North Clayton rising senior Marcus Hunt, who is one of the top players in the country.

Hunt says his name has been rumored with some of the top programs in the state. He said that he is not going anywhere.

"I'm not leaving," he said. "I'm just going to try and make the other players around me better."

For Mann, he will be among the top players on his new team, which lost in the Class AAAAA finals last season to Norcross. He will be in a region that has other top players.

It is highly unlikely that he will have to face many of the gimmick defenses that he would have surely had to face his senior season at Union Grove, which lost in the first round of the state playoffs this past winter.

Milton only lost three times this past season to Class AAAA champion Miller Grove, St. Patrick of New Jersey and Norcross. Last season's schedule included national teams Winter Park (Fla.) and Oak Hill Academy. Eagles coach David Boyd, a one-time coach at Riverdale High in the Southern Crescent, will likely put together another national schedule and some in-state powers.

The Eagles graduated some top players, but also return some talent.

Mann will likely be a starter on one of the more high-profile teams in the state and nation. He now has a shot at playing for a state and the mythical national championship.

"I feel I'm one of the pieces to our puzzle," he said. "I'm looking forward to the season."

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