High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: Florida Gators

The Five Days of List-Mas: NC's A-List

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
11:35
AM ET
5

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!



Today: A-Listers.

In the NFL, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are A-Listers. In the NBA, it’s LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. But who are the A-Listers in North Carolina? That’s where today’s list comes in. Regardless of sport, here’s our list of the top five A-List athletes in the state. Can you think of an A-Lister we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.

5. Thomas Graham (SR), Cary Academy, Cross Country
Credentials: Four-time NCISSAA 3A state champ, ninth at Foot Locker Nationals, No. 20 in DyeStat rankings

4. Braxton Ogbueze (SR), United Faith Christian, Basketball
Credentials: Florida recruit, nation's No. 35 player in ESPNU 100

3. Todd Gurley (SR), Tarboro, Football
Credentials: State's No. 2 running back, led Vikings to three straight Class 2A titles, Semper Fidelis All-American

2. Rodney Purvis (SR), Upper Room Christian, Basketball
Credentials: Nation's No. 16 player in ESPNU 100, N.C. State recruit, 2011 Elite 24 participant, friends with Washington Wizards star John Wall

1. Keith Marshall (SR), Millbrook, Football
Credentials: Georgia recruit, Nation's No. 6 player in ESPNU 150, 2011 Gatorade State Player of the Year, Under Armour All-American, school's all-time leading rusher

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter@brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Keith Marshall chooses Georgia

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
3:45
PM ET
The state's top running back and No. 6 overall recruit is headed to the SEC to play for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Millbrook senior Keith Marshall announced his decision Tuesday during a school press conference, pulling on a red Georgia hat while those gathered in the auditorium loudly cheered. Marshall, who plans to enroll in January, also considered Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame and South Carolina. The senior recently won North Carolina Gatorade Football Player of the Year after rushing for 1,891 yards and 25 scores this past season.

Click here for more on Marshall's commitment.

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

North Carolina football championships preview

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
1:48
PM ET
Preseason predictions, records, past history — throw them all out the window. This weekend, it will all come down to one game in deciding who's No. 1.

4AA: Greensboro Page vs. Garner (3 p.m. Saturday) All season long, both of these teams have quietly made a case for being the state's top team. In the last two rounds, Page knocked off Butler and Mallard Creek, teams that most figured had the best shot at winning the title. Meanwhile, Garner has blown up the scoreboard and blown out opponents, putting up 40-plus points in 10 of their last 11 games while letting the backfield of Juwan Moye and Demetrius Fairley run loose. Offensive firepower isn't a problem for either team, which makes defense the X-factor. Page has used late turnovers to rally in the last two weeks, while Garner stuffed a potent Jack Britt run game in the final quarter to pull out its semifinal win.
My pick: Garner 38, Greensboro Page 35

4A: Scotland vs. Porter Ridge (7 p.m. Saturday)
Jack Britt coach Richard Bailey told me about a month before the season that Scotland was going to be really good this season. I know I said throw out the predictions, but clearly the long-time coach was dead on. Scotland has used its talented QB Kwashaun Quick, wealth of rushers and impressive skill players on defense to run the table so far this year. Porter Ridge has a formidable QB in Lee McNeil and has the ability to pull out gritty wins. The Fighting Scots have had little trouble with their playoff opponents thus far, but Porter Ridge is likely to change that.
My pick: Scotland 31, Porter Ridge 27

3AA: Crest vs. Northern Guilford (7:30 p.m.Friday)
These two tangled in last year's title game with Northern Guilford prevailing 21-20 for the crown. The Nighthawks enter as the slight favorite again, riding a 13-game win streak and a formidable RB in T.J. Logan (2,264 rushing yards, 34 touchdowns). Crest star DL Jonathan Bullard and the rest of the Chargers D will need to be at their best to slow Logan. So will the Chargers offense, which has hit its stride after changing schemes midseason and found production behind Rhaheim Ledbetter, a Florida commit who has 1,027 rushing yards and 19 scores but is actually better at DB.
My pick: Crest 21, Northern Guilford 20

3A: Havelock vs. West Rowan (11 a.m. Saturday)
West Rowan is going for its fourth straight title, but unlike in years past, Havelock enters as the juggernaut. Havelock is averaging 51.5 points per game and has put up at least 62 in three of its four playoff wins. Quarterback Garrett Rowe has played a big part, throwing for 3,208 yards and 36 touchdowns. But for as serious as those stats are, West Rowan's experience and talent on both sides of the ball grants its the tools to slow down the Rams.
My pick: Havelock 42, West Rowan 35

2AA: Kinston vs. West Stokes (3 p.m. Saturday)
The road to this point hasn't been easy for either team. Kinston has needed several cardiac comebacks to down Bunn and Reidsville by a combined five points while West Stokes used a furious fourth-quarter comeback to erase a 12-point lead and beat Shelby in the semis. West Stokes has a fiesty defense led by sack machine Tyler Bullard. but Kinston counters with several playmakers in QB C.J. Bradshaw and running back Shaheed Swinson.
My pick: West Stokes 24, Kinston 17

2A: Tarboro vs. Lincolnton (11 a.m. Saturday)
Tarboro is back in the title game for the fourth straight year in hopes of winning its third straight crown. All of you are familiar with standout tailback Todd Gurley from his ESPNHS diary and it's safe to say Lincolnton's plan will be to stop the senior. Gurley has fought through injury to top the 2,00-yard mark and power the Vikings to wins, including a late score in last week's semifinal round against South Columbus. The run game will be a concern for the Tarboro D, too, which has to find a way to thwart Lincolnton's tricky triple-option offense.
My pick: Tarboro 21, Lincolnton 18

1AA: Ayden-Grifton vs. Swain County (11 a.m. Saturday)
Ayden-Grifton pulled off the major upset last week, downing two-time defending state champ Wallace-Rose Hill, led by QB Brandon Larry (242 total yards, two score). Will this be enough to knock off a surging Swain County squad?
My pick: Ayden-Grifton 24, Swain County 21

1A: Jones County vs. Murphy (7:30 p.m. Friday)
Murphy began the year 0-3, but with a dual-threat QB that can pile up the stats in Seth Curtis (more than 3,200 total yards), the Bulldogs are back in the title game for the second straight year. Jones County, which is making its first championship-game appearance, will be looking for the upset.
My pick: Murphy 34, Jones County 25

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

United Faith Christian's Braxton Ogbueze refuses to settle for less

November, 15, 2011
11/15/11
10:03
AM ET
BOgbuezeAndrew Craft/ESPNHSUnited Faith Christian Academy senior Braxton Ogbueze settles for nothing less than excellence; that's why he's the top-ranked point guard in North Carolina.
This story originally appeared in the Holiday issue of ESPNHS magazine’s North Carolina edition.

With the moon still hovering over the Charlotte skyline early on a September morning, Braxton Ogbueze hops out of his parents’ teal Saturn and walks across the vacant University City YMCA parking lot.

It’s 4:55 a.m., and the United Faith Christian senior point guard has beaten most of the employees here. “Nothing new,” according to one member.

Braxton has an urgency in his stride as he approaches the double doors. He’s a good 10 steps in front of his father, Godwin, and his mother, Sharon, almost as if he’s late for his own sold-out, nationally televised game.

The irony is that he’s rushing to launch hundreds of jump shots and run through dozens of drills that no one will ever see.

All because of one principle.

“Focus,” says Braxton, a Florida recruit who is rated No. 35 in the ESPNU 100. “My success, my drive, everything; it all has to do with focus.”

And it’s not your average level of focus. Braxton’s would be abnormal for a 10-year NBA veteran, let alone a 17-year-old.

“He’s definitely a different type of guy,” says Rodney Purvis, a senior combo guard at Upper Room Christian Academy who teamed up with Braxton during the AAU season with the CP3 All-Stars. “Not in a bad way. He’s got that type of focus that you just know will make him successful.”

Read More »

SPONSORED HEADLINES