0

Gwinnett Grads: Norcross trio set for breakout seasons

One was injury-plagued. One went through the adjustment to college. One wasn't in college yet.

But now Kentucky's Jodie Meeks, Georgia Tech's Gani Lawal and Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu - the major stars of Norcross' three straight state basketball championships from 2006 to 2008 - are all healthy and ready to break out at the next level.

Meeks, a senior star on the Blue Devils' 2006 title team, thought his breakthrough season would come earlier. But the 6-foot-4 junior guard has been hindered by injuries throughout his Kentucky career.

He missed 20 games of his sophomore season because of injury and sat out the final eight games, not what he had in mind after a earning freshman All-American honors in 2006-07.

Those ailments appear to be behind him as Meeks takes a leadership role for the Wildcats.

He currently leads the team in scoring (24.3 points), minutes per game (35.0), 3-pointers (12) and free-throw percentage (84.0). He already had a 39-point game this season against Virginia Military.

His former teammates are showing signs of big seasons, too.

Lawal was solid last season as a Georgia Tech freshman, averaging 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds. He led the team in blocked shots, but certainly had his ups and downs.

This season he's stepped his game up a notch.

The 6-9 forward leads unbeaten Georgia Tech in scoring (20.7), rebounding (11.3) and field-goal percentage (64.1).

Two times this season he will share the court in an ACC game with Aminu, his former frontcourt mate at Norcross. The 6-9 freshman phenom, who many consider a NBA lottery pick if he enters the draft after this season, has already shown great promise just a few games into his college career.

The preseason pick for ACC rookie of the year by the league's media, Aminu had double-doubles in his first two college games. He had 21 points and 10 rebounds against North Carolina Central, then 11 points and 12 rebounds against UNC-Wilmington.

He averages 12.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He also has made 16 of 26 field goals (61.5 percent).

BASKETBALL

Gyawu shines in second game

It didn't take freshman Yaw Gyawu long to make an impact at Colgate. The Parkview grad scored 13 points this week in his second game, a 65-60 Colgate win over Dartmouth.

Alexander gets SAC honor

Norcross grad Monica Alexander, a senior at Newberry College (S.C.), was named the South Atlantic Conference player of the week on Monday.

Alexander earned the award for her play against USC-Aiken (23 points, eight assists, four rebounds) and Winthrop (18 points). She made 12 of 21 shots during the week.

Clarke nets career-high

South Gwinnett grad Emily Clarke scored a career-high 18 points last weekend as Western Carolina defeated Liberty 73-53 in the Preseason WNIT Consolation Winner's Bracket Finals. She made 6 of 8 field goals in the win.

Clarke averages a team-best 11.3 points on a balanced team and plays 24.8 minutes a game, second on the team. She also averages 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

The hot-shooting night against Liberty isn't too uncommon - she has made 16 of 26 field goals (61.5 percent) and 7 of 13 3-pointers (53.8 percent) in four games this season.

Guards power LaGrange

LaGrange teammates Dillon McLaughlin and Clay Wages, both Gwinnett grads, play key roles in their team's backcourt.

McLaughlin, a Wesleyan grad, averages 10.3 points for a 2-2 team and has a team-best 15 assists. Wages, a Dacula grad, averages 7.3 points.

Arnold stands out in Austria

Wayne Arnold's tour of professional basketball has now taken him to Austria.

The Berkmar grad leads the Kapfenberg Bulls with an 18.3 scoring average. He has made 14 of 29 shots from 3-point range (48.3 percent).

FOOTBALL

Covington tops locals on SoCon team

Georgia Southern's Chris Covington and Dion Dubose, Samford's Bryce Smith and Furman's David Hendrix - all Gwinnett grads - were named to All-Southern Conference teams this week in voting by the league's coaches.

Covington, a senior linebacker, got the highest honored as a first-team defense selection by the coaches and a defensive player of the year award by the SoCon media. The Brookwood grad was fourth in the SoCon in tackles (95), third in sacks (6.5) and second in tackles for losses (14).

He had 171 tackles the past two seasons, the highest total of any active player in the conference. His best games came against heralded opponents with 19 tackles against Wofford and three sacks and four tackles for losses against Appalachian State.

Smith, a sophomore linebacker, made the second-team defense for both the coaches and the media. The Central Gwinnett grad had 92 tackles (63 solos) and intercepted five passes.

Dubose, a Norcross grad, and Hendrix, a Buford grad, made the All-Freshman Team. Dubose worked his way into Georgia Southern's starting middle linebacker and made 32 tackles (28 in conference play), while Hendrix set Furman freshman records for catches (46) and yards (565).

Big South honors two locals

Buford grad Brandon Clark and Grayson grad James Boatright were named to the All-Big South Conference second team by the league's coaches and media.

Clark, a senior wide receiver at Presbyterian, made 62 catches this season for 731 yards and five TDs.

Boatright, a sophomore, has started 22 consecutive games as VMI's center and has led all Keydet offensive linemen with 172 knockdown blocks the past two seasons. He helped an offense that set a Big South record with 3,932 rushing yards, which ranked first among FCS schools with 357.5 rushing yards per game.

Hawks' Hull named top newcomer

Jon Hull, a Mill Creek grad, made a big impact as a freshman at Hiram College (Ohio).

The linebacker made 82 tackles this season, earning North Coast Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year honors. Hiram stopped a 26-game winless streak this season and won three games, its highest total since 2001.

Sides gets West Georgia award

Grayson grad Randy Sides was named West Georgia's most improved offensive player following this season. The freshman tight end had nine catches this season, including four and a touchdown against rival Valdosta State.

Coffey anchors Campbellsville line

Collins Hill grad David Coffey started at center for a young Campbellsville University (Ky.) offensive line that had the nation's top NAIA rusher.

Coffey helped the Tigers go from winless last season to 3-8 against a tough Mid-South Conference schedule that featured four NAIA playoff teams and six teams ranked in the national top 25.

DIVING

Worthington gets SEC honor

Georgia's Webb Worthington, a Wesleyan grad, was named the SEC Diver of the Week on Tuesday. The senior won the 3-meter springboard against Emory with a career-best score of 377.92, currently the third-highest mark in the SEC.

He also scored 328.42 in the 1-meter, an exhibition event in the Emory meet.

CROSS COUNTRY

Kreutzer finishes career

Allison Kreutzer, Clayton State's most decorated runner, finished her career last weekend with a 41st-place finish at the NCAA Division II National Championships. The two-time All-American ran the 6K course in 22 minutes, 49 seconds.

Her sister Kara Kreutzer, also a Providence Christian grad, was 134th in 24:55. She helped Augusta State to a 24th-place finish in its first trip to NCAAs.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.