To replace a highly successful coach like Eddie Martin, Norcross turned to someone who has been around the program even longer than the 400-game winner.
The Blue Devils hired longtime varsity assistant and head junior varsity coach Jesse McMillan as the three-time defending state champions' new head boys basketball coach after a speedy round of interviews on Friday. McMillan and two other assistants, Keenan Temple and Greg Phillips, were both interviewed along with other finalists for a job that received applicants from across the nation.
It was a quick turnaround after Martin resigned on Monday to take the head boys job at Greater Atlanta Christian. Barton called McMillan on Friday night to deliver the good news.
"His familiarity with the program was a big part of it," Norcross athletic director Kirk Barton said. "He's known what Coach Martin has done, the ingredients, the formula to be successful. He's not only seen it, he's been a big part of it. And in the interview he really stood out.
"I know this is quicker than everybody expected and quicker than we expected, but we know he'll do a great job. He's done a great job with our JV program. I've seen him coach and I know what kind of coach he is."
McMillan, 30, is a native of South Carolina who played college basketball at Mercer. He has coached at Norcross for seven years, one season longer than the 52-year-old Martin had been at the school.
The young coach inherits a program that has super high expectations after winning their third straight Class AAAAA title in 2008, the first school to accomplish that feat in Georgia's highest classification since Lanier from 1938-40. Martin had a 170-18 record during his Norcross tenure and his team was ranked in the top 10 nationally by both ESPN and USA Today.
Now that program belongs to McMillan, who will build around three returning starters at guard - Taariq Muhammad, Denzail Jones and Zach Lamb. Two transfers, Adrian Hubbard (Peachtree Ridge) and Ariel Jones (Berkmar) will help a frontcourt that lost college signees Al-Farouq Aminu, a McDonald's All-American, and A.J. Hawkins to graduation.
McMillan's first season as head coach features a tough schedule that includes a demanding, 18-game Region 7-AAAAA schedule with only seven non-region games. Martin said earlier Norcross plans to play in Dell Curry's national tournament in Charlotte over the December holidays, a two-game event with Dunwoody against two Florida schools, a head-to-head matchup with Dunwoody and a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday game at Centennial.
But Barton has confidence in McMillan, who he said will benefit from the relationships he has with the Norcross players. That includes last year's JV team, which he coached to a 17-1 record.
"(McMillan's) very intelligent," Barton said. "He was a Division I athlete at Mercer University, so that playing experience helps and he's been coach at what has been the best program in the state of Georgia (at Norcross). We're real excited to have him as our head coach."