It turns out that Georgia is a basketball state. Women’s basketball, that is.
There are twice as many former Georgia high school players in the NCAA women’s tournament this year than in the men’s tournament, a search of rosters reveals. The count is 48 to 23.
The natural suspect – the fact that Georgia Tech and Georgia didn’t make the men’s tournament, but made the women’s – doesn’t explain it. Tech and Georgia have seven in-state players between them, but Mercer, the only state men’s team to qualify, has four. Subtracting those, Georgia women’s players who get a taste of March Madness out-number the men 41 to 19.
There is a Georgia player on each of the No. 1 women’s seeds, coincidentally from the same two Georgia schools – Andraya Carter (Tennessee) and Kristina Nelson (Notre Dame) of Buford and Brianna Banks (Connecticut) and Elem Ibiam (South Carolina) of Fayette County. Carter and Ibiam are starters.
The men’s tournament is not without its Georgia standouts. Former Greater Atlanta Christian star and AJC state player of the year Malcolm Brogdon is the leading scorer for No. 1-seeded Virginia. Tekele Cotton from Whitefield Academy starts for No. 1 seed Wichita State.
But there are perhaps more on the women’s side.
Former Georgia players of the year Diamond DeShields of Norcross and Allisha Gray of Washington County start as freshmen for 12th-ranked North Carolina. Lexie Brown of North Gwinnett starts as a freshman at ninth-ranked Maryland. Tori Waldner of Milton starts at 14th-ranked Penn State.
“It shows what kind of talent we have in the state,’’ said Buford girls coach Gene Durden. “You can see that by the different avenues that kids are taking, going all across the nation and playing at top-level programs. I’d definitely think Georgia is ranked at the top in producing female talent.’’
Below is a list of the Georgia players on the rosters of NCAA qualifiers. Let us know if we missed any. (It's easy to do.)
To see the list of men's players from Georgia on rosters of NCAA qualifiers, go HERE.
Mariah Chandler, Southwest Atlanta Christian
Khadijiah Cave, Laney
Ansley Chilton, Dade County
Meghan Downes, Arlington Christian
Kayla Freeman, Madison County
Tatianna Jackson, Lovett
Ka'Vonne Towns, Berkmar
Brianna Banks, Fayette County
*Randi Friess, Savannah Christian
*Kayla Lewis, Southwest DeKalb
Christin Mercer, Douglas County
Florida Gulf Coast
DyTiesha Dunson, Westover
*Ivey Slaughter, Tattnall Square
Lauren Coleman, Parkview
Gabrielle Bevillard, Oconee County
Briana Jordan, Greater Atlanta Christian
*Erika Ford, Chattahoochee
*Khaalidah Miller, Douglass
Almire Hannahkohl, Riverwood
Pachis Roberts, McEachern
*Kaela Davis, Buford
*Sydney Wallace, Northview
Kymberly Ellison, Hardaway
Lauren Johnson, Cairo
Delaney Hollenbeck, Alpharetta
*Lexie Brown, North Gwinnett
Miah Spencer, Columbia
Dominique Wilson, McEachern
*Diamond DeShields, Norcross
*Allisha Gray, Washington County
Kristina Nelson, Buford
*Tori Waldner, Milton
Kaliyah Mitchell, Stephenson
Peyton Whitted, North Gwinnett
Prairie View A&M
*Alexus Parker, Calvary Day
Shamiya Brooks, Troup
*Elem Ibiam, Fayette County
Destinie Gibbs, McEachern
Jasmine Camp, Chamblee
*Andraya Carter, Buford
*Celina Rodrigo, Hillgrove
*Morgan Batey, Pace Aademy
*Kylee Smith, Alpharetta
Jasmine Jenkins, East Hall
Bre McDonald, Chamblee
Chaney Means, Greater Atlanta Christian
*Schaquilla Nunn, Fayette County
Note: This list includes some inactive players who are red-shirting.