McEachern will host some of the best teams and some of the top talent in boys basketball in Georgia and across the southeast when it plays host to Georgia’s Elite 8 Tip-Off Classic at Lovinggood Gymnasium on Saturday.
Among the teams competing are McEachern, Norcross, Wheeler, Shiloh, Miller Grove, Meadowcreek, Tift County, Kipp Atlanta, Heritage, Lincoln, Rocky River, North Carolina and Hamilton, Tennessee.
Omar Cooper, the father of McEachern sophomore Sharife Cooper, organized the event, hoping to bring more attention to basketball in Georgia as well as to the Powder Springs community.
“I felt like there were a lot of tournaments in Atlanta and stuff going on out-of-state, but there really wasn’t anything geared towards the Powder Springs community or in Cobb County,” the elder Cooper said. “I figured let’s get the best talent in the state to the Powder Springs community, give the students a hard look at who’s out there, and give the community the first look at the brightest stars playing this season.
“I really want to give back to the students. This event is for them to come out and enjoy themselves. It’s about bringing prosperity and energy and hope to the community. I want to give them something to look forward to this season. We’ll have some free giveaways, too.”
McEachern players Isaac Okoro and Sharife Cooper are being courted by several college programs, including Georgia Tech, Auburn, Virginia, Florida State, Georgia, N.C. State and Alabama. Wheeler’s E.J. Montgomery is being recruited by Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Auburn and Tennessee, while Norcross point guard Kyle Sturdivant is receiving interest from Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Tennessee and Texas Tech among others. Rocky River’s Jaden Springer has offers from Maryland, N.C. State, Auburn, South Carolina, Louisville and Wake Forest among others.
“That’s just a few of the exciting players that will be at McEachern on Saturday,” Cooper said. “I think folks will come away impressed by what they see. We’re also expecting over 120 college coaches in attendance.”
The event tips off at 12:30 p.m. with Shiloh taking on Kipp Atlanta. Heritage will face Lincoln next at 2 p.m., followed by Rocky River against Hamilton at 3:30 p.m. Meadowcreek versus Tift County starts at 5 p.m. and Miller Grove/Norcross is expected to begin at 6:30 p.m. The final game of the evening pits McEachern against Wheeler at 8 p.m.
“I’m very excited about the matchups,” Cooper said. “Tift County is the defending state champion in Class AAAAAAA, but Meadowcreek is a really under the radar team that’s probably one of the top four teams in the state. Shiloh, Lincoln, Kipp and Heritage all have some great players. Miller Grove’s and Norcross’ pedigrees run deep in Georgia.
“The nightcap with Wheeler and McEachern will have future all-Americans on the court. I mean, the talent in the gym will be unreal.”
Cobb County students with student identification will be allowed in free before 5 p.m., according to Cooper. Tickets will be $10 for all students and for Cobb County students after 5 p.m.