However, the team is about to take a step up in competition as the Purple Hurricanes travel to Greater Atlanta Christian for the GAC Showcase, which begins Saturday at 12:30 p.m. with a slate of six games featuring 12 of the best teams in the state.
Cartersville will play at 2 p.m. against Hillgrove, the defending Class AAAAAA state runners-up. As a result, the game will be a chance for the Purple Hurricanes to see where they stack up amongst the best teams in the state and possibly get some recognition from college recruiters.
From the 12 teams in the showcase, there are 10 college commitments and several other Division-I-quality players. The quality teams and talent level at the event should make for an entertaining Saturday for basketball fans.
Hillgrove is currently 5-2, losing at Marietta and Harrison, two perennial powers, by a total of seven points. The Hawks boast three senior Division I prospects, including Columbia University-bound Kyle Castlin. Castlin is a 6-foot-4 guard who averaged 19.5 points per game last season.
Hillgrove’s B.J. Brown is a 6-foot sharpshooter for the Hawks and was their second leading scorer a year ago. Meanwhile, 6-foot-5 forward Keith Ray has the eye of several Division I programs, including Georgia and Georgia Southern.
Each team in the showcase is talented. The first two games feature Columbia, the Class AAAA state runner-up last year, versus Kell, who has already beaten Harrison twice this season.
The 3:30 p.m. game features defending Class AAAAAA state champion Norcross facing the Class A defending champion Greenforest Christian. Norcross’ Andre Chatfield is currently committed to Harvard.
The 5 p.m. game will have North Gwinnett pitted against North Cobb Christian in a matchup of two of the top backcourts in the state. North Gwinnett’s T.J. Howard has received interest from Georgia Tech. North Cobb Christian’s backcourt includes Mercer commit Stephon Jelks and two other highly recruited guards in Hunter Ware and Kendall Crute.
Luella versus Greater Atlanta Christian is the 6:30 p.m. game. Luella’s two-headed monster of 6-foot-4 wing Temarcus Blanton and 6-foot-11 post Doral Moore has been sought after by several major colleges. Blanton is headed to South Carolina next fall while Doral Moore has received offers from Louisville and Vanderbilt.
Luella’s opponent and the host of the showcase, Greater Atlanta Christian, is the defending Class AA champions. The Spartans return four of their five starters off their 29-3 state championship team, including forward Isaiah Wilkins — who is signed to play for Virginia next year.
Miller Grove will face St. Francis in the 8 p.m. nightcap. Miller Grove’s Alterique Gilbert has already received an offer from Florida State.
For St. Francis, Kobi Simmons is the highest-recruited player in the showcase and currently holds offers from Georgia, Florida State, Auburn and Cincinnati. Kentucky also has shown interest and may be a possible landing spot for the 6-foot-5 point guard.
All in all, the showcase will feature some excellent games and Bartow County basketball fans may want to consider making the trip to Atlanta to see Cartersville and several other quality teams perform.