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USA Today puts Norcross at No. 8
ESPN2 picks up Jan. 10 game

The Norcross boys are still getting plenty of national respect despite the graduation of state player of the year Gani Lawal and two other NCAA Division I basketball signees.

The Blue Devils, who play their first game Dec. 1 at home against Collins Hill, are ranked No. 8 in USA Today's national high school rankings.

Wheeler, expected to be one of the toughest challenges to Norcross winning a third consecutive Class AAAAA title, is ranked No. 23 by USA Today.

Louisiana power Helen Cox, which will play at Norcross on Jan. 10, is ranked No. 22.

The Norcross-Helen Cox game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and will feature a battle between Blue Devil standout Al-Farouq Aminu and Helen Cox's 6-foot-10 Greg Monroe, considered the top senior in the nation. The game was set to air on either ESPNU or ESPN2, but the latter channel was chosen recently for the broadcast.

Monroe signed with Georgetown. The 6-foot-8 Aminu, rated a top-25 player, will go to Wake Forest.

Oak Hill Academy (Va.) is picked by USA Today to defend its No. 1 ranking. The Warriors were 40-1 last season.

Howard Thompkins transferred back to Wesleyan from Oak Hill, but coach Steve Smith added a number of top transfers to go with returning point guard Brandon Jennings.

Norcross returns guards Taariq Muhammad and Denzail Jones from last season's 29-3 team and added forward A.J. Hawkins, a transfer from Northview.

Wheeler picked up Central Gwinnett transfer Richard Howell, a 6-foot-7 junior. But the Wildcats suffered a blow when guard Corey Tower suffered a severe knee injury during football season.

Wheeler, which lost 64-63 to Norcross in the first round of the state tournament last season, is ranked No. 2 behind the Blue Devils in the preseason state AAAAA rankings. Centennial, the runner-up to Norcross last season, is ranked No. 3.