10 from Cobb County to watch in college basketball this year

Georgia forward Derek Ogbeide dunks on Georgia Tech in this 2016 photo. The Nigerian and Pebblebrook product is slated to be a starter for the Bulldogs again this season.

Georgia forward Derek Ogbeide dunks on Georgia Tech in this 2016 photo. The Nigerian and Pebblebrook product is slated to be a starter for the Bulldogs again this season.

Early projections for the 2018 NBA Draft have Collin Sexton being picked in the lottery.

But before he chases his pro dreams, the Pebblebrook High School graduate has a season ahead of him in college, playing for Avery Johnson’s Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

Sexton is one of many players from Cobb County who will be starring in college basketball this year. Others include Wheeler’s Darius Perry and Romello White, and North Cobb Christian’s Stephon Jelks.

The 2017-18 college basketball season tips off on Nov. 10. Between then and the Final Four in April, here’s 10 players from Cobb County to watch:

Robert Baker — Sophomore, Harvard (The Walker School)

The Harvard Crimson are the preseason favorites in the Ivy League and as a sophomore, Baker could help them get back to the NCAA tournament. The 6-foot-10 Woodstock native played in 22 games for Tommy Amaker last season, averaging 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds over 8.4 minutes per game. He had a solid outing against Penn on March 4 last season, tallying eight points, two rebounds and a block. At Harvard, he is teammates with Milton's Chris Lewis.

Daniel Giddens — R-Sophomore, Alabama (Wheeler)

After taking a redshirt season due to his transfer from Ohio State, Giddens is eligible again and should give Alabama a strong player in the post. Giddens was a solid player at Wheeler, averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per game, but then he took a prep year at Oak Hill Academy and became one the nation's top 50 recruits. The 6-foot-11 forward picked Ohio State and played in 33 games as a freshman, helping the Buckeyes appear in the NIT.

Jared Harper — Sophomore, Auburn (Pebblebrook)

Harper started 30 games for Auburn as a freshman and was twice named SEC Freshman of the Week. The 5-foot-10 Mableton native posted per game averages of 11.4 points, 3.1 assists, 1.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals. His best game last season came against UConn, when he tallied 22 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Harper will be a key player for Auburn as the Tigers try to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003.

Stephon Jelks — Senior, Mercer (North Cobb Christian)

The 6-foot-6 Marietta native has been a fixture in Macon since he stepped on campus, appearing in 97 games through his first three seasons. As a senior, Jelks will look to build off a season where he was a starter and led the team in rebounds with 213, good for a per game clip of 7.3. He also shot 80 percent from the free throw line last season.

Derek Ogbeide — Junior, Georgia (Pebblebrook)

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Ogbeide — pronounced Aahg-BAY-DAY — made a name for himself at Pebblebrook, becoming a touted prospect and signing with the Bulldogs over Houston, Tulane, Memphis and Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound big man was a starter for the Dawgs last season, averaging 7.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and a block per game. His best outing came in an overtime loss to No. 8 Kentucky, where he posted 18 points, 13 rebounds and a pair of blocks.

Collin Sexton (1) tries to block an opponent's shot in Macon in this 2016 photo. Sexton is mentioned in several NBA mock drafts and will play for Alabama this year.

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Darius Perry — Freshman, Louisville (Wheeler)

ESPN named Perry the 54th best player in the country for the class of 2017, and the guard signed with Louisville over Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Wake Forest and several other high-majors. At 6-foot-2, Perry averaged 20.2 points, 5.1 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 steals over his senior season at Wheeler High School.

Collin Sexton — Freshman, Alabama (Pebblebrook)

The 6-foot-3 guard was tabbed as the seventh best player in the class of 2017 by ESPN. He won a gold medal with the U-17 team at the FIBA World Championships in Spain, leading the team in scoring and assists. As a senior at Pebblebrook, Sexton averaged 32.6 points per game. He picked Alabama over Georgia Tech, Kansas and N.C. State, and now he'll try to lead the Crimson Tide to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012.

Jordan Tucker — Freshman, Duke (Wheeler)

Tucker moved from New York to Atlanta over the summer of 2016, and Georgia Tech began recruiting him right away. But when it came to signing day, the 4-star prospect picked Coach K and the Blue Devils over the Yellow Jackets, Syracuse, Villanova, Maryland, Arizona and others. At 6-foot-7, Tucker was the 40th best prospect in 2017 according to ESPN, and helped Wheeler go 22-6 while he was there. According to his Duke bio, he is the nephew of the late Heavy D, an influential hip-hop artist.

Jordan Usher — Freshman, Southern Cal (Wheeler)

Another Wheeler product, Usher opted to go the west coast instead of staying close to home for college ball. The 6-foot-7 Canton native chose the Trojans over Arizona State, Yale, Kennesaw State, Mississippi State and others. At Wheeler, he was a four-star prospect and ranked as the 98th best player in the country by ESPN.

Romello White — R-Freshman, Arizona State (Wheeler)

Coming out of Wheeler, the 6-foot-9 White initially committed to Georgia Tech and told the AJC he "wanted to stay home" and play for a team he grew up watching. But White then asked for his release from his letter of intent to the Yellow Jackets, and wound up going west, signing with Arizona State. He was ruled ineligible to play last season after not meeting the NCAA's academic requirements, but he should be good to go this season. At 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, the Suwanee native was pegged as a top 100 recruit by ESPN and Scout.comSports Illustrated has predicted he will be one of the best young scorers in the country this year.

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