Posted On: 12/13/17 11:49 AM

Kyle Sturdivant

In an early season region 7 matchup in Georgia’s highest classification (7A), the state’s second ranked Norcross Blue Devils hosted the sixth ranked Meadowcreek Mustangs. It was a game that included committed as well as future collegiate prospects and big time athleticism from players of both teams. Norcross would go on to edge Meadowcreek 65-52 moving them to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in region play while Meadowcreek dropped to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in region play. These are the 5 takeaways that I saw from the top ten match-up Tuesday night:

 

  1. Norcross will go as far as Kyle Sturdivant takes them.
    1. With the departure of Rayshaun Hammonds, Jordan Goldwire, and Lance Thomas from last year’s roster, it was going to be up to the returning letterman to fill the void this season. There is still plenty of talent for head coach Jesse McMillan to choose from this year but his primary option looks to be in the form of junior Kyle Sturdivant. The 6’1” combo guard made a living in the mid-range area; knocking down turnaround jumpers from 15 feet out with consistency. He looked great in transition and always has a knack for making plays on the defensive end. When games get tight and the season gets late I believe it will be the plays that Sturdivant makes or doesn’t make that will ultimately decide the fate of the Norcross Blue Devils this season.
  2. Corey Hightower is no drop-off as an offensive option
    1. Coming into the year, many of those familiar with t.he Meadowcreek Mustangs knew of the 1-2 combo down low in seniors Amari Kelly and Corey Hightower. And while both 6’7”big men are talented, and headed to Duquesne and Detroit Mercy respectively, it was always
      Corey Hightower

      thought that Kelly was the more polished of the two. In our Georgia Prep Hoops player rankings for the class of 2018 Kelly was ranked 15th while Hightower was ranked 41st and while those rankings remain fair, it was Hightower that was more effective against the Blue Devils Tuesday night. He was patient in the post, scored on loose ball layups, and even showed some nifty ball handling ability in traffic. Both big men are consistent from the line but it was Hightower who got their more consistently against the Norcross zone defense. Everyone’s role on this team will need to be fulfilled for a deep playoff run but for those opposing teams looking to only double team Amari Kelly, they might want to think twice about that decision.

  3. Dalvin White is the engine to this Norcross machine.
    1. The 5’9” senior has been through the fire of both his GHSA and AAU seasons for years now, and it is the experience and maturity of Norcross point guard Dalvin White that will save any head coach a few grey hairs over the course of four years. He is the player you turn to when players must figure it out on their own and someone that will hold the team accountable for its mistakes. White plays the game with so much energy, its hard for anyone else to take plays off while on the floor. The senior swiped steals and turned them into layups, hit pull up jumpers, and made great decisions in transition all night in the game against Meadowcreek. Its always tough to bring him off the floor because everything is usually going smoothly on both ends when he’s in the game, so I would imagine his minutes will remain heavy in each 32 minute contest throughout the year. When he knocks down 3s consistently he’s even more dangerous but off or on offensively, you can count on White to run the show for this Norcross team.
  4. Meadowcreek has good guards to accompany their inside presence.
    1. For Meadowcreek, outside of Kelly and Hightower, good guard play will be the key to a successful run to Macon for the state finals in March. Coming into the game, I’d known about junior guard Jamir Chaplin, but leaving the contest I came away impressed with senior point guard Dequarius Nicholas. Like White for Norcross, Nicholas runs the show for the Mustangs and was aggressive when necessary as well. He has a good handle with the basketball, knocking down 2 from three point range. Nicholas found gaps in the zone and converted on a few mid-range jumpers in the lane, all while finding his big men inside when the opportunities presented themselves. The core for Meadowcreek consists of Kelly, Hightower, and Chaplin but the play of Nicholas will be significant for the Mustangs the rest of the way.
  5. Norcross will be dangerous in years to come.
    1. The first five that the Blue Devils starts each contest with can matchup with anyone in the state, but it’s the bench play that will go a long way for this team when foul trouble and fatigue come into play. Norcross are relying on a host of young players to contribute off the bench and last night the play of junior Malachi Martin and sophomore Kevon Eskridge made a big difference in the 65-52 outcome. Both
      Kevon Eskridge

      role players are knock down from beyond the arc, making 3 of them together and Martin’s minutes when White went down with a brief injury kept the game from getting any closer as the Mustangs made runs to cut it down to single digits often. Throw in the significant playing time of sophomore Brandon Boston Jr, and juniors Alonzo Johnson as well as Sturdivant with Martin and Eskridge and the Blue Devils should have more retuning letterman next season than they did at the start of this season, which is always a positive.