NORCROSS - If anyone doubted the amount of athletic talent that resides in Gwinnett County, all they would have had to do was show up at Norcross High School on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Three Norcross basketball players, or 60 percent of the starting five, signed Division I scholarships at a ceremony in the school's commons area.
The event highlighted the first day of the early signing period, in which at least 32 seniors from across the county have, or will, officially commit to continue their athletic careers at the next level.
For the defending state champion Blue Devils, Gani Lawal signed with Georgia Tech, Tony Neysmith inked with Oklahoma and Jordan DeMercy signed with Florida State.
"Less than 3 percent of all the young men in the country that play high school basketball get a chance to play at the next level," Norcross head coach Eddie Martin told the hundreds of friends, family and teachers at the signing event.
"So for three young men from the same school to be able to sign Division I
scholarships at one time, it's just unbelievable."
Amazingly, the Norcross trio wasn't alone.
At a ceremony at South Gwinnett High School on Wednesday night, three Comets - Emily Clarke (Western Carolina), Alex Winchell (Memphis) and Antionette Howard (University of Florida) signed with Division I schools as well, and another - senior Mandi Dudish - signed with Georgia College and State
"It's great for this county," Neysmith said. "The last couple of years you always had a Gwinnett team on the boys side in the state championship and in the Final Four ... this just proves that Gwinnett County schools work hard and produce good basketball players.
"And you see that with all the kids that have signed today."
Basketball wasn't the only sport represented across the county on Wednesday as six softball players, six baseball players, two golfers, one swimmer and one cross country runner also signed.
But it was the roundball that had by far the most representatives. Along with the three Division I players from both the Norcross boys team and the South Gwinnett girls squad, Peachtree Ridge's Bassey Inameti (Tennessee Tech), Buford's Terrance Birdette (Elon) and Sarah Scott (Winthrop), Collins Hill's Maya Moore (UConn) and Jordan Jones (Texas Tech), Mill Creek's Shelbie Pool (Princeton), North Gwinnett's Adam Demuyakor (Harvard), Shiloh's Jessica Baker (Georgia College) and Wesleyan's Sarah Delk (Brown) all signed, or will sign, basketball scholarships.
"It's good for Gwinnett County," DeMercy said. "We're putting out basketball players, football players. We're putting out all-around athletes in every sport."