Norcross High School has had plenty of success hosting the Marriott Invitational boys basketball showcase in recent years, attracting so much interest from teams around the nation that a second showcase event has been added.
The new event, today's Atlanta National Invitational Showcase, tips off two straight weekends of elite high school boys basketball events at Norcross.
It features nine games over two days involving 12 teams, including the host Blue Devils and fellow Gwinnett representative Meadowcreek.
The Marriott Invitational will follow next Saturday, Jan. 30, with four games featuring some of the top teams in the Southeast, including Gwinnett teams Norcross, Greater Atlanta Christian, Berkmar and Peachtree Ridge.
"With the Marriott
(Invitational), we want to continue with it and build it even bigger," said Norcross boys coach Jesse McMillan, whose Blue Devils (13-2) take on Thomas Jefferson of Brooklyn, N.Y., at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. "But we had such interest that we were overflowed with teams that wanted to play. It turned out we had an open weekend (in the schedule), so we decided to have another (event).
"The Marriott will be more of a Georgia versus the Southeast, while this one is more national."
This weekend's Atlanta National Invitational Showcase will feature two different sets of games.
One group includes teams not affiliated with their respective states' high school associations, such as Covenant Christian from Marietta, God's Academy from Texas, West Oak Academy from Florida and Central Park Christian from Alabama.
"They're all independent schools," McMillan said. "The Georgia High School Association won't let its schools play those type of schools. But there are no rules that forbid us from hosting them."
The other set of games involve teams whose schools are affiliated with state associations, and includes powerhouses from Georgia (Norcross, Meadowcreek, Miller Grove and Centennial), Florida (South Florida Preparatory Academy), Virginia (T.C. Williams), Washington, D.C. (Anacostia) and New York (Thomas Jefferson).
Also included throughout the weekend's games are some top individual talent like Norcross' Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut signee) and E. Victor Nickerson, Meadowcreek's Terrance Glass and Lavon Hooks, Centennial's Devonta White (Georgia State) and Jeremy Burgess (Mercer), Miller Grove's Tony Parker and Henry Brooks, West Oaks' Anthony Lee (Temple), Central Park's Cheir Ajou (New Mexico) and Thomas Jefferson's Devonta Grace (St. John's), plus several other top uncommitted players.
"That's one of the things we're excited about," McMillan said. "These are the type of schools that everybody knows about, so the college coaches are very interested."
It's just the type of event Meadowcreek coach Billy Davis was looking for when he wanted to upgrade his team's schedule.
Davis jumped at the chance when a spot opened up for his Mustangs (12-3) to take on Anacostia of Washington, D.C., to close out the event Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
"This is where (upgrading the schedule) comes into play," Davis said earlier this week. "Now we'll see if it benefits us down the road."