By Craig Sager II
Georgia’s 2012-13 high school basketball season ended with several memorable championship performances and the departure of the 2013 Naismith Girl’s High School Player of the Year, Diamond DeShields. The Norcross standout will soon matriculate to the University of North Carolina. DeShields is undeniably on her way to an outstanding collegiate basketball career and will have the prestigious award headlining her resume. The Naismith is presented to the top male and female players in the country each year and having the winner come from your own backyard is something to be mindful of. To put this award in scale, DeShields joined Diana Taurasi, Candice Parker, Lisa Leslie, Maya Moore, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James and many other basketball icons to win the award since its inception in 1987. Maya Moore won the award twice during her career at Collins Hill.
Having the nation’s best player is not something that happens often, but already it looks as though Georgia will boast another strong senior class in 2015. Sophomore point guard Asia Durr leads the bunch and has become ESPN’s top-ranked class of 2015 prospect in the country. Durr led St. Pius X to the AAA state title this year with a 77-55 win over Dawson County. In the championship game, Durr scored a game-high 26 points and had eight rebounds from the point guard position. In the game, she went 7-for-14 from the field and 11-for-13 from the foul line, right at her average. On the season, she shot a remarkable 130-for-152 or 86 percent from the stripe. The automatic foul shooting is just one of the reasons Durr has received over 30 scholarships to the top women’s programs in the country. The difficulty of slowing down the lefty is her ability to finish at either side of the basket. Durr writes and does just about everything else with her right hand, but on the court, she leads and shoots with her left.
With this star suiting up for the Golden Lions next year, the defending champs will be Class AAA’s favorites as Durr, who averaged 21.2 points per game, will merge once again with rising senior teammate Jasmine Carter. Carter averaged 16 points per game last year with a skillset similar to her younger teammate.
Caliya Robinson out of Kell is currently No. 24 on the class of 2015 national board and certainly will continue gathering national attention. Robinson is a 6-foot-3 forward that can fill up a stat sheet. At one point last season, Robinson missed an entire week of practice with the flu, but she and head coach Craig Hines decided she would try to start that night. Robinson contributed a quadruple-double that game with double-digit rebounds, blocks, points and assists.
Te’a Cooper of McEachern has already committed to UNC and is ranked the No. 3 for the class of 2015. Cooper stands 5-foot-8 and is arguably the quickest point guard in the country. In the first week of the season, Cooper scored 40 points against Douglas County and reached the free throw line at least 10 times the final three games of the season. Defensively, Cooper can really change games as she averaged 4.2 steals per game. Her 123 steals led the state of Georgia last season. When Cooper faced Robinson and the Kell Longhorns last season, she scored 13 points and got the triple-double with 11 assists and 10 steals. Cooper averaged nearly 18 points per game as well as five rebounds and five assists.
The future of these three girls looks particularly promising. Housing two of the country’s three top-ranked players will generate noise in Georgia’s hoop scene in the upcoming seasons and the Peach State could add another Naismith Winner to the list.