Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Derrick Favors, the No. 1 center in the Class of 2009 out of South Atlanta High, is down to five schools and could make a decision this fall.
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Favors will choose from among Georgia, Georgia Tech, Memphis, N.C. State and Florida State. Favors will visit N.C. State this weekend and could trip to Memphis the weekend of Oct. 24. He is on record saying he may wait to commit until during the season, but his coach wants him to choose a school by the early signing period next month.
“It just depends on how comfortable he feels after he takes these visits,” South Atlanta coach Michael Reddick said Wednesday by phone. “I would prefer he would get it done by the signing date in November. That’s what’s preferable.
“It would take a way a little more of the distraction and speculation. He would have that over with.”
Each of the five schools left on Favors’ list has some connection to Georgia or to Favors, and all are legitimate options, Reddick said.
Coming up this weekend is a trip to N.C. State, which Favors said he’s looking forward to. John Wall, a 6-4, 175-pound guard out of Raleigh (N.C.) Word of God Academy (left) and the top recruit in the nation according to Rivals, said he wants to visit N.C. State this weekend to spend time with Favors and potentially scrimmage with the team. Wall is considering Kansas, Memphis, NC State, Baylor, and Oregon, but has taken only one official visit, to Kansas.
“I’m excited about it,” Favors told TheWolfpacker.com. “I want to see the style that they play in. I want to see how the atmosphere is. I’m trying to not let things get to me, and stay level-headed.”
N.C. State head coach Sidney Lowe and assistant Larry Harris have worked hard to recruit Favors, and the player will get a chance to watch an open practice Saturday afternoon at Reynolds Coliseum.
The Wolfpack have done well recruiting Georgia in that 2009 recruits Richard Howell and Lorenzo Brown are both from Atlanta, as is former N.C. State star J.J. Hickson, now in the NBA.
“N.C. State, they have a Georgia connection,” Reddick said. “They’ve had a few kids coming from Georgia and going to N.C. State. The coach is an ex-NBA coach. They’ve been around and made Derrick feel comfortable.”
Of course, Georgia and Georgia Tech are the true local schools and many observers figure it will come down to those two.
“I don’t know if any one of them are the favorite,” Reddick said. “Georgia Tech is a local school right in the city. They produce good players all the time. That’s a hot one.”
Because of Tech’s proximity to home, Favors would easily be able to spend time with family and friends, and they, in turn, could watch his games. Atlanta native Javaris Crittenton, now with the Lakers, also attended Georgia Tech.
Georgia was the first school Favors visited, even before high school.
“Georgia is one of the first places he went with me, when he was in 8th grade,” Reddick said. “They’ve been around consistent. They have brand new facilities.”
As for Memphis, a tentative visit is set for Oct. 24, but it is not finalized. Assistant coach Josh Pastner is recruiting Favors and trying to get him on campus.
“Memphis played for a national championship last year and coach (John) Calipari is one of the better known coaches and they have a style of ball that a lot of kids like,” Reddick said. “It’s not but five hours away.”
As for Florida State, Favors could take a fifth official visit there.
“Florida State is not that far away and he knows some kids there from AAU ball,” Reddick said.
Reddick, who also coaches cross-country at South Atlanta, said Favors trains with the cross-country team and served as the “waterboy” during Wednesday’s meet.
But his real future, of course, is on the hardwood.
“His upside is tremendous,” Reddick said. “He just turned 17 three months ago. This summer he was 16 playing against 18- or 19-year-old kids. His footwork is phenomenal. He has a lot of inside moves. He needs to continue to gain his strength in the weight room.
“He needs to get consistency on his outside shot. He needs to get better with that. His quickness is unbelievable. Most people underestimate how quick he is for his size. He also has an ability to learn moves. He has tremendous timing to block shots. He’s competitive.
“If he continues to improve, his schooling might be a short stay. If he continues on the track he can be tremendous.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.