Players of year: Brogdon, DeShields took similar paths

Malcolm Brogdon of Greater Atlanta Christian and Diamond DeShields of Norcross led their teams to second consecutive state championships this season, and they’re The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s high school basketball players of the year.

Their similarities go back two years, when both were in south metro Atlanta. They wound up in Norcross, with Brogdon coming to GAC from Fayette County and DeShields coming to Norcross High from Woodward Academy.

Both made their moves in part because they wanted the mentorship of high school coaches who had won three state titles at previous schools.

Brogdon’s coach is Eddie Martin, who won his three at Norcross (2006-08), where he helped develop future NBA players Jodie Meeks, Gani Lawal and Al-Farouq Aminu.

DeShields’ coach is Angie Hembree, who won her three at Collins Hill (2001, 2002, 2005), where she helped develop future national college player of the year Maya Moore.

Both won state titles in their first seasons at their new schools. It was GAC’s first boys title since 1977. It was Norcross’ first girls title ever.

This season, Brogdon and DeShields were the leading scorers in Gwinnett County, which was home to five of the 10 state champions.

Brogdon averaged 25.7 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.3 steals. In the state final, Brogdon had more points than opposing Buford in the first quarter and finished with 21 and 11 rebounds.

“There was nothing you’d say he does exceptionally well, but there was nothing that he couldn’t do,’’ said Martin, trying to distinguish him from other stars he has coached. “He had three ways of scoring -- with a perimeter jump shot, getting to the hole and getting fouled."

Rebounds -- averaging almost 13 per game for a 6-foot-4 guard -- might have been the most remarkable accomplishment. He broke a record with 21 in a game in Missouri during a 30-year-old national tournament that invites only reigning state champions.

DeShields’ versatility also was outstanding. A 6-1 wing and all-court player, she averaged 21.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 2.7 assists. She scored 27 -- 20 in the first half -- of the state championship victory over McEachern.

Both are highly regarded college prospects. Brogdon’s stock as a recruit rose dramatically last summer, after his performance in a showcase called the Nike Peach Jam helped make him a national recruit, suddenly with 30 offers. He chose Virginia in August.

DeShields generally is rated as the top sophomore college prospect in the country. Scholarship offers have come from Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, Maryland, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas and UCLA.

But neither is a late-bloomer. Brogdon was one of only eight sophomores who made all-state teams in 2009 as a sophomore. DeShields won a national title in summer ball as an eighth-grader.

But neither expected their moves to work out quite like this.

“Coming into high school, you always have dreams, and one was to win a state championship, but the accomplishments that my team and I have gotten have been far beyond my expectations,’’ DeShields said. “I never thought my team would be nationally ranked or that I would play with nationally ranked players and have college coaches sitting in the stands. I never once thought that.’’

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