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|The 2003-2004 basketball
season is shaping up to as one of the most talent laden in the history of
Georgia, which has more than its fair share of great basketball talent every
year. And that is WITHOUT Atlanta native, and a projected NBA lottery pick,
Josh Smith, who's playing his senior season at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth
of Wilson, Virginia. Still, the projected #1 pick in this spring's NBA draft,
Dwight Howard, is in Atlanta, along with several other big men, but there
are plenty of little guys in the metro area as well.
Arguably the two best guards in the state play for the same high school, South Gwinnett juniors Mike Mercer and Louis Williams, and the two teammates help make the Comets one of the better public school teams in the entire country.
"We're a run and gun team," according to Williams, a 6' scorer. " We like to get up and down."
And despite his diminutive stature, Williams is regularly on the receiving end of an alley-oop pass from Mercer at least once, if not multiple times a game.
"We just like to have fun," said Williams. "(Mercer)'s a great passer, I'm a great dunker, so that's just one of our ways to have fun and just enjoy the game."
Williams is also not shy out there. On just about every Top 10 list for his class nationally and arguably the best G prospect for the entire nation in the class of 2005, he works referees like an NBA veteran and has NBA range on his jump shot.
When asked how South Gwinnett would match up with many of the private school basketball factories around the nation , Williams shows that bravado.
"Honestly, no team in the country is going to play harder," he said. "We probably couldn't match up with (Oak Hill) in size, or skill, or talent or things of that nature, but we'll outwork anybody."
Mercer, while lacking many of the accolades and press clippings of his backcourt partner, is not lacking when it comes to the game. He is every bit the prospect that Williams is, and thanks to an extra 6 inches of height, may have even more NBA potential. Right now, he's still growing into his lanky body (he's in a growth spurt, which has him already reaching 6'5), and is beginning to come into his own on the floor. That is a rather disturbing statement for opponents because the young and raw Mercer is already a very good ball handler and passer, to go along with his excellent defense.
"(Williams) is a scorer, I like to dish it," according to Mercer. "I like to give it to people in a position to score, and he helps me do that. It takes a lot of pressure off of me so I can do my thing."
"I just sit back and do whatever to keep the team in the game," Mercer said when describing his game. "(Williams) is dominant with the ball, but I like to make things happen. I'm not really a scorer; I just look to get a W out there."
And while both players appear to have NBA-caliber ability; first things first, and that's college ball.
"We are going to college together; we haven't made the decision, but we are going to college together," according to Williams. "We are not leaving the Southeast. We're not going far."
North Carolina, Tennessee, Wake Forest, and many others are said to be looking at the backcourt partners. The home state Georgia Bulldogs have been said to lead for their services though.
"We would want to come in and contribute," Williams said, noting early playing time as an important factor in their recruitment. He added about the current rebuilding project coach Dennis Felton has in Athens, "We know a lot of those guys personally, Levi Stukes, Damien (Wilkins), and Rashad (Wright), we'd just want to help them out anyway we can, IF we go to Georgia."
Dawg fans shouldn't get their hopes up too much, as he emphasized the "if", and there is a long way to go and a lot of suitors to make their sales pitches before the pair make their final decision.
Looking into the stands and spotting Felton, Roy Williams, Buzz Peterson, or another high profile major conference head coach is becoming an increasingly common sight at South Gwinnett games.
"It's special to an extent, but after a while, it was like 'this is my life, deal with it'," Williams said about all the attention. "At first, my freshman and sophomore year, it was special, but now, it's like its crunch time. It just comes natural."
Williams has spent the first half of this season breaking scoring records and putting up huge nights against some stout competition. Mercer just does his stuff outside of scoring as South Gwinnett keeps rolling along among the best in AAAAA. The team will almost assuredly make it deep into the state playoffs and can be expected to make a serious run for a state title. With Mercer and Williams, along with sophomore forward Avery Jukes, coming back in 2005, look for similar high-flying production next year as well. With all this talent, the South Gwinnett Comets will be one of, if not the most, entertaining teams in the state of Georgia this year and next. So if you can make it to one of their games, don't hesitate. It will be well worth it.
South Gwinnett's Dynamic Duo
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