March Madness 2018: 6 from Cobb County to watch in the NCAA tournament


March Madness 2018: 6 from Cobb County to watch in the NCAA tournament

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Jeff Roberson/AP
Auburn’s Jared Haper guards Alabama’s Collin Sexton in an SEC tournament game. They are two of six players from Cobb County that will compete in the NCAA tournament.

It’s March, which means it’s time for madness.

The annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins this week and there are 49 Georgians scattered across rosters in the 68-team field.

The tourney won’t feature any Bulldogs or Yellow Jackets, but many players from the state of Georgia will be dancing, including six from Cobb County.

Here they are:

Daniel Giddens, Alabama, Redshirt-Sophomore – Wheeler
A native of Marietta, the 6-foot-11 forward is well-traveled. He left Wheeler early for a prep year at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, and then began his college basketball career at Ohio State, where he started seven games in the 2015-16 season. He sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, but has played in nearly every game this season for the Crimson Tide, averaging 4.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per-game. Basketball is in his blood as his father played at Clark Atlanta University and his grandfather was the first African-American player in the Northern Division of the Pacific Coast Conference (now the Pac-12), playing for Oregon in 1935.

Elias Harden, Xavier, Freshman – Pebblebrook
three-star prospect in high school, Harden chose Xavier over offers from Auburn, Maryland, Ole Miss and Texas Tech. The 6-foot-5 guard has played in 13 games for the Musketeers this season, tallying 11 points, three rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

Jared Harper, Auburn, Sophomore – Pebblebrook

The 5-foot-10 guard has started every game this season for Auburn and averaged 13.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists per-game. He was named All-SEC Second Team this season and was second in the conference in assists with 182 dimes. Earlier this season, after head coach Bruce Pearl accidentally hit Harper in the face as he was entering the game, fellow Mableton native and rapper Lil Yachty gave him a shoutout of sorts on Twitter. In the offseason, he worked out with Damian Lillard.

Collin Sexton, Alabama, Freshman – Pebblebrook
Before he heads off to the NBA, the Cobb County native will try to take Alabama to a place it’s never been – the Final Four. Sexton was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Year and named to the All-SEC Second Team. He averaged 19 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per-game as the lead dog for Avery Johnson’s Alabama squad. He lit up the SEC tournament too, scoring 27 against Texas A&M, 31 against rival Auburn and 21 points against Kentucky. Arguably his most impressive game this season came against Minnesota where, after several Crimson Tide players were tossed from the game, Alabama had to play three-on-five and Sexton scored 40 points.

Devocio Butler, Texas Southern, Senior – South Cobb
The 6-foot-5 senior has seen action in just one game this season. He began his college basketball career at Hill College, a JUCO in Texas, then played a season at Colorado State before ending up at Texas Southern. The Tigers won the SWAC and will face MEAC champion NC Central at the First Four in Dayton. The winner will face Xavier.

Romello White, Arizona State, Redshirt-Freshman – Wheeler

White, a native of Suwanee who played his high school ball in Cobb, was a starter this season for the tourney-bound Sun Devils. A 6-foot-8 forward, he averaged 10.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per-game. White has tallied six double-double’s this season. The Sun Devils, coached by former Duke player Bobby Hurley, face Syracuse at the First Four in Dayton on Wednesday. Before going to Arizona State, White initially signed with Georgia Tech.

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Here are five things you should know about the Georgia State Panthers, the state's lone representative in the NCAA men's tournament. The Panthers earned an automatic berth to the tournament by winning the Sun Belt tournament championship. D'Marcus Simonds led the Panthers with 27 points in the 74-61 win over Texas-Arlington in the title game. Two of Simonds' points came on a vicious dunk in the face of Texas-Arlington center Johnny Hamilton. The Panthers are seeded 15th in the South Region and will face N
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