No. 17 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.)Head coach:
Douglas Lipscomb2012-13 record:
21-9Players to watch: Jaylen Brown
(6-6, Jr., G), Daniel Giddens
(6-9, Jr., F/C), Jerron Love
(5-11, Jr., G), Avery Patterson
(6-2, Sr., G), Elijah Staley
(6-7, Sr., F, Mississippi State verbal commitment), Trevin Steede
(6-3, Sr., G)Breaking down the Wildcats
Lipscomb made it clear last month via phone that he didn't want to engage in wild speculation about how good his team could be or give glowing depictions of his players' individual potential.
After two years of waiting patiently for young stars Brown and Giddens to mature and develop, it's time for the Wildcats to deliver.
"Our game has to do the talking," said Lipscomb, who has won five state championships at Wheeler and is no stranger to the national rankings. "Don't get me wrong, we have a lot of talented and hard-working young men, but you can go to the final four here at Wheeler and some people would say that is a bad season."
The Wildcats did just that last year by reaching the AAAAAA semifinals with a starting lineup that included two sophomores and two juniors.
Staley, who may be Mississippi State's quarterback of the future, earned All-State honorable mention last season. Fellow seniors Patterson and Steede will join him in bringing a dose of experience and leadership to the squad.
Wheeler has some incredible basketball bloodlines on the roster. Senior twins Bilal
and Malik Abdur-Rahim
are the younger brothers of 12-year NBA pro Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Senior Maleek Catchings
is the nephew of current WNBA player and Tennessee Lady Vol legend Tamika Catchings.
Staley is also the half-brother of Greek pro basketball player Patrick Ewing Jr.Stepping up
Junior stars Brown and Giddens are both regarded as Top 15 prospects nationally in the Class of 2015.
Brown is a big wing ranked No. 8 overall in the 2015 Top 247
. Kansas, Louisville and Ohio State are among the schools at the forefront of his recruitment.
Giddens is a 6-foot-9 intimidator who spent part of his summer with USA Basketball's U16 team. He has offers from Kansas, Louisville, Maryland, Texas and UCLA among others.
The duo will have to turn potential into production for Wheeler to live up to lofty expectations this season.Key dates
Dec. 7 – vs. Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.)
at Nike Explosion
Dec. 18-23 – City of Palms Classic
Dec. 26-28 – HighSchoolOT.com Invitational
Jan. 25 – vs. Wenonah (Birmingham, Ala.)
at Hilton Invitational