Norcross’ Rayshaun Hammonds, Lance Thomas have Tech’s interest

September 18, 2012 -Atlanta: This is a view of the basketball court inside Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion on Tuesday, September 18, 2012. The arena has a seating capacity of 8,600 and cost $50million dollars. JOHNNY CRAWFORD /JCRAWFORD@AJC.COM

AJC file photo by Johnny Crawford

Georgia Tech’s last player from powerhouse Norcross High was Gani Lawal, the two-time All-ACC power forward who played for the Yellow Jackets 2007-10.

Tech coach Josh Pastner and his staff have their eye on re-connecting with the Gwinnett County school.

Earlier this week, Pastner recently offered Blue Devils forward Rayshaun Hammonds, a four-star rising senior ranked as the No. 60 prospect nationally by ESPN. Hammonds (6-foot-8) already owns a number of power-conference offers, including Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Ole Miss and Auburn. Pastner and assistant coach Darryl LaBarrie also told Norcross coach Jesse McMillan that they’ll be evaluating Hammonds’ teammate, forward Lance Thomas.

“Coach Pastner and Coach LaBarrie and those guys had already seen Rayshaun several times,” McMillan said. “It was just a matter of watching him and getting a feel for where he was, and they obviously offered him a couple nights ago. In regards to Lance, it’ll probably be more of an evaluation in July. I just don’t think they’ve seen him enough.”

Hammonds is a versatile player, as evidenced by his numbers in the Elite Youth Basketball League, a collection of 40 of the best AAU teams in the country. In games against some of the best players in his class, Hammonds is tied for 11th in scoring at 18.9 points per game and tied for 13th in rebounds with 8.8.

“Rayshaun is a young man that I feel can step on the floor pretty early in his college career and be an impact guy,” McMillan said.

Thomas has been offered by Miami, Florida, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, and Minnesota, among others. Thomas came on as a junior at Norcross and in AAU events this spring. He has grown four or five inches in the past year to get to 6-foot-10, McMillan said.

“Lance does a lot of things that translate to the college game, the way the game’s being played,” McMillan said. “He shoots the basketball, he handles the basketball and that was a part of the conversation with Coach LaBarrie. They look at a kid like Lance and they see the potential. They see the way they can play him at different positions.”

Thomas and Hammonds are close friends and have considered playing in college together. So long as Thomas is offered, Tech would be an option for them to come together, McMillan said, as both see the appeal in staying close to home.

“They’re both really excited (about Tech), and it’s an exciting time around the city in regards to the new direction that Tech took,” McMillan said. “Coach Pastner came in with the reputation of being a great recruiter and a great people person and I think his first month on the job has solidified that.”

The relationship with Pastner has started well.

“First impressions have been really good,” McMillan said. “I think everyone’s in agreement – we like the staff. It’s a good mixture of guys that are experienced and guys that know the city and know the national landscape, as well.”

McMillan sees what makes Pastner an effective recruiter.

“There’s certain guys that just kind of come across a certain way and, a good recruiter at the high-major level has to be able to talk to the high-school coach and the AAU coach and have that relationship with them but also at the same time have that relationship with the kid,” he said. “Certain people have it, certain people don’t, and I don’t necessarily think that it’s just a bombardment. I don’t think a good recruiter means that they’re just on and on and on. But I think it’s more of just personality and more of just energy and passion. These kids are smart and they’re exposed to a lot and they see a lot of people and I think they recognize when somebody means what they say. I think that’s what works best.”

 


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