January 17, 2012
The girls basketball talent that has cycled through Gwinnett County in the past decade is astonishing, including the ultimate measuring stick in Maya Moore.
Moore, a Collins Hill grad, may turn out to be the most accomplished player Georgia has ever produced, and while there may never be another Maya, there may never be another Gwinnett class laden with as much talent as the Class of 2013.
The two players who get the most publicity out of the county's group of juniors, with good reason, are Norcross' Diamond DeShields and Buford's Kaela Davis. DeShields already has a Miss Georgia Basketball award and two Class AAAAA state championships, while Davis also has a pair of state titles. Both are daughters of former professional athletes (MLB's Delino DeShields and NBA's Antonio Davis) who have made a splash internationally with USA Basketball.
That said, there's a third member of the Class of 2013 who plays at the same level as those two and also has a famous dad — North Gwinnett's Lexie Brown (daughter of former NBAer Dee Brown). She doesn't have a high school state championship (yet), but she's still one of the nation's top players and in another era would be the queen of Gwinnett County basketball. Instead, she shares the spotlight with her talented Class of 2013 classmates.
Nearly impossible to guard one-on-one at the high school level, Brown also is an excellent 3-point shooter. The super-quick point guard, a longtime Maryland commitment, stacks up well against her classmates in a lot of areas. She isn't as tall or dynamic around the basket as DeShields or Davis, but she's a better outside shooter. She also has more of an impact on the defensive end, with the quickest set of hands I've seen in Gwinnett basketball since Sherill Baker, the Greater Atlanta Christian star who played at Georgia and later in the WNBA.
If you haven't done it yet, go catch a North game and see Brown's basketball talents. You'll come away impressed. I'd recommend heading out to Norcross for tonight's game, where you can watch Brown and DeShields, two of the nation's rising basketball stars on the same court.
Speaking of North vs. Norcross, here are my predictions on how tonight's showdowns will play out:
Boys final: Norcross 56, North Gwinnett 50
It should be an intense night with North's Chris Bolden (who helped Norcross to last season's Class AAAAA state title before transferring) returning to the House of Blue. Bolden will want to win badly, but so will the Blue Devils. Norcross is hitting its stride, especially on the defensive end, and I think North will struggle to stop talented Norcross junior Harold Givens.
Girls final: Norcross 64, North Gwinnett 62
North won the two regular-season meetings last season before Norcross won in the region tournament finals. Expect another close game tonight and a scoring showdown between Brown and DeShields. Those two will get their points, so it could come down to which No. 2 scoring option plays better - North's Peyton Whitted or Norcross' Shayla Cooper (also both talented D-I recruits from the Class of 2013). With such a close matchup, I've got to go with the Blue Devils because of their raucous home fans.