Wednesday was the NCAA's National Signing Day for its early signing period, best known as the day when most of the nation's highest-profile senior basketball players ink scholarships with colleges.
The day was no different in Gwinnett as basketball standouts like Meadowcreek's Teondre Williams (Oregon), Norcross' Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest) and Wesleyan's Tanner Smith (Clemson) and Howard Thompkins (Georgia) sealed their college futures.
Much like college football - which has its National Signing Day on the first Wednesday in February - the early period gets attention for its focus on basketball. Not the type of attention generally afforded to football, but still there's no shortage of hoops hype with fans scouring Web sites for news.
Each year Gwinnett's elite athletes, mainly football and basketball players, see their recruiting paths documented in great detail on the Internet. Yet outside of that core group, hundreds of other county athletes go through their college recruitment on a much quieter basis. Web reporters aren't asking their every move, what their visit was like or what college has been text-messaging them the most.
In a way, that's nicer for the lower-profile athletes. Avoiding those numerous phone calls and headaches are nice, but it's also enjoyable to be wanted by the nation's best programs. And in sports like football and basketball, scholarships actually cover the cost of college much of the time.
It's easy to say yes to college athletics when your options are ideal like that - if Kentucky, UNC and Duke are offering a basketball scholarship, or Georgia, Florida or Ohio State want you for football. But it isn't always that easy.
The typical dilemma facing Gwinnett products in minor sports, as well as local kids in high-profile sports with options at smaller places, is this - how much do I want to play college sports? That decision gets tougher because minor sports usually can give only partial athletic scholarships and depending on the level of college competition, there's no athletic scholarship compensation at all.
It's a situation that leaves families wondering if they can afford to send a child to a college without the help of scholarship aid. It also forces the student to choose from options that frequently include playing sports at a smaller school or just being a regular student at a bigger in-state school, like Georgia or Georgia Tech.
With the HOPE Scholarship available, many Gwinnett athletes choose to retire from competitive athletics after high school. But others find the right college options and keep playing on.
Many of those kids were rewarded on Wednesday, even if they weren't in the spotlight along the way.
Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays.
NATIONAL SIGNING DAY
Wednesday was the NCAA's early National Signing Day and the following is a list of Gwinnett's early signings and commitments.
-Jordan Erisman, North Georgia (baseball)
-Dana Guentert, Michigan State (tennis)
-Chase Hawkins, Georgia (baseball)
-Ryan Lewis, Columbus State (baseball)
-Courtney McLane, Alabama (tennis)
-Lindsay Ellenburg, West Georgia (softball)
-Kimberly Mason, Mississippi College (softball)
-Nick Squeglia, Georgia State (baseball)
-Cat Tarvin, Kennesaw State (softball)
-Abbie Daniel, Shorter (basketball)
-Jessica Coan, Georgia Tech (softball)
-Mollie Mitchell, David Lipscomb (softball)
-Reagan Page, Georgetown (softball)
-Jake Bova, Andrew College (baseball)
-Mandi Burns, Kennesaw State (softball)
-Shaun Harrison, Chattahoochee Valley CC (baseball)
-Amanda Hutcheson, Ole Miss (softball)
-Bobby Cole, Presbyterian (baseball)
-Tyler McDaniels, Tennessee Tech (basketball)
-Teondre Williams, Oregon (basketball)
-Chase Anderson, Air Force (basketball)
-Jordan Evans, Georgia Tech (swimming)
-Brooke Hoppmeyer, Berry (soccer)
-Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest (basketball)
-Tyler Maloof, Georgia (baseball)
-Jacob Matthews, Mercer (baseball)
-Emily Althafer, Georgia State (softball)
-Emily Whitaker, Georgia State (softball)
-Zach Cone, Georgia (baseball)
-Carson FIelds, Tennessee-Chattanooga (wrestling)
-Yaw Gyawu, Colgate (basketball)
-Sczeny Hartry, Valdosta State (basketball)
-Reid Popple, Berry (soccer)
-Tom Richardson, Chattahoochee Valley (baseball)
-Aileen Cole, Louisville (swimming)
-David Randall, Mercer (baseball)
-Hanna Ennis, Georgia Southern (softball)
-Ashley McKenzie, Georgia Southern (basketball)
-Collette Rollins, Valdosta State (softball)
-James Ramsey, Florida State (baseball)
-Betsy Smith, Florida (volleyball)
-Tanner Smith, Clemson (basketball)
-Howard Thompkins, Georgia (basketball)