The sound of squeaky sneakers and bouncing balls is just around the corner.
College basketball’s 2017-18 season — and the hunt for a ticket into March Madness — begins on Nov. 10.
And folks in north Fulton County have plenty of options when it comes to picking a team to root for. Sure, there’s Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Kennesaw State and Georgia nearby, but there’s also the 10 teams carrying natives from North Fulton on rosters this year.
Here’s a guide on former north Fulton high school stars playing Division I ball this year:
Devontae Cacok — Junior, UNC-Wilmington
A graduate of Alpharetta High School, the 6-foot-7 forward was one of the best players among mid-majors last year. He set an NCAA record for field goal percentage, making 80 percent of his shots, and also won the CAA Defensive Player of the Year award. Cacok led the Seahawks in rebounding with 9.8 boards per-game, and helped lead his team to an NCAA tournament berth, where UNC-Wilmington fell to fifth-seeded Virginia.
Josh Coleman — Junior, Coastal Carolina
Coleman, a graduate of St. Francis, played in 29 games last year for Coastal and started in 12 of them. The 6-foot-9 forward scored 2.8 points and grabbed 2.8 rebounds per game last season. His best game came in a win over NC Central, where he scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Kaiser Gates — Junior, Xavier
The St. Francis’ graduate’s role with the Musketeers increased last season, as he played 21 minutes per game and averaged 5.8 points and 4.1 rebounds. Gates was key in Xavier’s run to the Elite Eight, posting a combined 28 points, nine rebounds and four assists in wins over Maryland, Florida State and Arizona. At 6-foot-8 with a versatile set of skills, Gates should be another important player for Xavier this season.
Jordan Jones — R-Senior, Kennesaw State
Another St. Francis grad, Jones has started in every game for the Owls over the past two seasons. At 6-foot-8, he averaged 5.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game last season. Jones’ strongest outing came against North Florida, where he scored 16 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists.
Chris Lewis — Sophomore, Harvard
The 6-foot-9 Milton High graduate made an impact right away in the Ivy League, starting 23 games as a freshman and scoring 7.8 points and securing 4.9 rebounds per game. The son of former NFL linebacker Mo Lewis had his best game last season against Boston College, scoring 22 points in a win for the Crimson.
Mo Lewis — Junior, Navy
The brother of Chris, the older Lewis carries his father’s namesake and plays basketball in Annapolis. The 6-foot-6 Milton High graduate played in five games for the Midshipmen as a sophomore, and looks to have a bigger role this season.
Alex O’Connell — Freshman, Duke
Another Milton High graduate, O’Connell picked the Blue Devils over Butler, Arizona State, UConn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, Syracuse and several others. That might be because his father David played at Duke from 1973 to 1976. At 6-foot-6, O’Connell was ranked as the 85th best prospect in the nation by ESPN, and the 55th best by Rivals. He scored 22.1 points per game as a senior at Milton.
Shawn O’Connell — R-Junior, Georgia Southern
Alex’s older brother is a solid basketball player too. He played in 29 games and started in 10 of those last season for an Eagles team that won 18 games and made the CBI tournament. O’Connell’s best game last year came against Radford, where he scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a win. At 6-foot-8, he led the team in rebounding in three contests.
Connor O’Neill — Junior, Georgia
A 6-foot-6 Roswell native, O’Neill has been a reserve player for most of his time in Athens, but could have a bigger role this season as one of the team’s veterans. He played in five games last season and secured rebounds in three of those.
Marcus Sheffield — Junior, Stanford
A graduate of Chattahoochee High, Sheffield saw action in all 31 games last season for the Cardinal, averaging 18.9 minutes per game. The 6-foot-5 forward posted averages of 6.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game as Stanford tallied a 14-17 record. Sheffield broke out in a game against Arizona State last season, scoring a career-high 35 points.
All stats via ESPN.com.
Did we miss a player? Let us know in the comment section.
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