It is never easy to replace a coaching legend. But Eddie Martin hardly left the cupboard bare at Norcross for former assistant Jesse McMillan.
The Norcross boys open their first season under McMillan tonight at North Gwinnett and expectations are still high for the Blue Devils.
Norcross, which has won three consecutive Class AAAAA state titles, was ranked No. 2 in the GaSports.com/GACA preseason poll behind loaded Wheeler.
McMillan said this is the deepest team that Norcross has had and the Blue Devils will need that depth to compensate for the loss of Al-Farouq Aminu, now starting as a freshman at Wake Forest.
But guards Taariq Muhammad and Denzai Jones return and Norcross picked up inside help with the transfer of Adrian Hubbard from Peachtree Ridge.
The first big test for Norcross under McMillan likely will come Saturday, when the Blue Devils play at Collins Hill. The Eagles, who are led by 6-foot-10 Utah signee Jeremy Olsen, finished second in Jefferson's Tip-Off Classic after a 75-44 loss to Winder-Barrow, but still could give Norcross a challenge in Region 7-AAAAA this season.
South Gwinnett boys stumble
South Gwinnett was ranked No. 8 going into the season and was the preseason boys favorite to win Region 8-AAAAA. But the Comets didn't get off to an impressive start.
South was 0-2 at the 100 Black Men Classic in Augusta, losing 62-57 to Richmond Academy and 60-56 to Josey.
The Comets open 8-AAAAA play tonight, hosting Dacula and 6-foot-9 UNC-Greensboro signee Brian Cole.
Big turnaround at Grayson
The Grayson boys have already matched their win total from last season by getting off to a 3-1 start. The Rams reached the championship game of the East Jackson Tournament before losing 76-62 to West Hall.
Grayson, which opens Region 8-AAAAA action tonight at Brookwood, defeated Monroe Area 81-76 in overtime in the semifinals as Andrew Osemhen, a 6-foot-6 junior, scored 29 points.
Battle of Southeast set
The Buford girls, who open the season tonight at Flowery Branch, will play Class AAAA power Marist at 1:40 p.m. Saturday in the Peach State Battle of the Southeast at Wesleyan.
The event features three teams ranked No. 1 in the GaSports.com/GACA preseason poll - Mill Creek in AAAAA, Buford in AA and Wesleyan in A.
Mill Creek and Wesleyan will play out-of-state teams. Mill Creek faces J.L. Mann of South Carolina at 3:20 p.m. and Wesleyan is scheduled for a 5 p.m. start against Butler of North Carolina.
Parkview bounces back
The Parkview boys, rebuilding after a run of banner seasons, finally got a win after losing their first two games in the Parkview Tip-Off Classic by one point each. The Panthers put five players in double figures while beating East Coweta 73-53 for seventh place.
Senior guard Brandon Macon made the all-tournament team for Parkview, the defending 8-AAAAA champion. The Panthers open region play Friday at home against Central Gwinnett.
Land sets school mark in Central win
Playing without injured point guard Dria David, Central Gwinnett's girls picked up a tough road win at Jefferson on Saturday behind Shawna Land.
Land scored a record 23, with the help of seven 3-pointers, to lead the Black Knights' first win of the season, a 54-51 triumph. Teammates Lauren Brown (12 points) and Amiri Williams (eight points) also chipped in for the victors.