Georgia ballers ripe for (NBA Draft) picking

There is no disputing that football is king here in the South.

However, last week further showed that basketball has a big footprint here in the state. It was exciting hearing the names of five Georgians called in the two-round NBA draft last week.

Two -- Chris Singleton and MarShon Brooks -- went in the first round. And four of the draftees came from DeKalb County. The contingent of state players drafted in addition to Singleton and Brooks included Trey Thompkins, Andrew Goudelock and Travis Leslie.

From a personal standout point, I had the pleasure of covering all five of these young men when they were high school all-stars.

Football is definitely the sport of choice by most in the state and South, but basketball is definitely carving a niche. Like in football recruiting, Georgia is considered a recruiting hotbed.

Colleges from across the country annually come into the state to sign some top talent. Thompkins and Leslie were the only players that played their collegiate ball in that state -- both attended the University of Georgia.

Seeing a high number of Georgians drafted last week wasn't surprising to Georgia State associate head coach Darryl LaBarrie, who played at Tucker High and finished his college career at Georgia Tech.

"There is no doubt about it that so many colleges are coming in here from various leagues year in and year out to sign players," said LaBarrie, who won a state championship at Tucker. "This is one of the most fertile states as far as producing talent from point guards to centers. You can pick and choose players with good basketball IQs."

High school teams in Georgia annually pop up in the national polls.

Last season, Milton was a frontrunner to win the mythical national championship. The Eagles are stacked again and could make another run at that national title with the addition of former Union Grove point guard Charles Mann, who has made the move to Alpharetta.

North Clayton rising senior Marcus Hunt is the top-rated player in the Southern Crescent and considered one of the hottest recruited players in the nation. He is a consensus Top 100 national player by all the recruiting services.

The pipeline to colleges probably will not stop anytime soon. Eagle's Landing rising junior Desmond Ringer highlights the Class of 2013. He is considered one of the top juniors in the country.

Although football will likely remain king, basketball has been garnering nationwide recognition.

"Georgia is putting out guys that are going on to college and excelling," LaBarrie said. "We will continue to see players getting drafted."

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