HE HAS starred atthe prestigious Nike All-America camp, heard the blandishments of recruitersand will soon begin his senior season with a college scholarship secured. Inhis time at basketball power Norcross (Ga.) High, Jordan DeMercy has made areal name for himself--without even playing in a varsity game.
DeMercy didn'tplan it this way. Last November, after transferring from the Greater AtlantaChristian School (where his father, Jeff, says he struggled academically), thesharpshooting 6'6" junior learned, two weeks before the Norcross seasonopener, that he was ineligible. A state rule forbids private-to-public-schooltransfers who have not changed their address from playing on the varsity forone season. Says DeMercy, "I cried for days."
But DeMercy, whoaveraged 15 points, six rebounds and five assists as a sophomore, adjusted tolife on the jayvee. While practicing with the varsity (which would go on to winthe 5-A state championship), he used jayvee games to develop hisperimeter-shooting skills and averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds. He evenpassed up a chance to accompany the varsity to an elite tournament in Anaheimin February, preferring to play in the jayvee regional tournament.
DeMercy hadanother setback last April, when he broke his wrist in an AAU game and failedto get an invitation to the well-scouted Nike All-America camp in July. Afraidthat not participating might cost him a Division I scholarship, he drove eighthours from Atlanta to Indianapolis to lobby for a spot. Eventually he wasaccepted as a replacement for a no-show--and blew away the scouts from Day One."I averaged about three dunks and 12 points a game," he says. One play,in which he caught a ball off the rim and slammed it, "brought the crowd toits feet," he says, proudly. DeMercy made the camp all-star team and begangetting calls from Mississippi, Arkansas and Florida State, to which hecommitted last month. This Tuesday, Norcross, which is favored to defend itsstate title, opens its season against Shiloh (Snellville, Ga.), and DeMercy isexpected to finally assume his place in the varsity lineup. "The way thingsturned out," he says with a laugh, "I wouldn't change one step alongthe way."
Four big games from this weekend's footballplayoffs
• LUTHERAN (Orange, Calif.) vs. POLY (Long Beach,Calif.) Dec. 1
Poly's defense, which has allowed just one TD in 10 of 12 games, tries to stopLutheran's big-armed, swift-footed senior quarterback Aaron Corp in theSouthern Section Division 1 semifinal.
• LAKELAND (Fla.) vs. MAINLAND (Daytona Beach) Dec.1
Lakeland's speedy running back Chris Rainey (1,438 yards) will look to sprintpast Mainland, which had its first undefeated regular season in 57 years, inthe Class 5A state semifinal.
• DON BOSCO PREP (Ramsey, N.J.) vs. ST. PETER'S PREP(Jersey City) Dec. 1
A rematch of last year's Non-Public Group IV title game--won by St. Peter's22--15--features two game-breaking runners: St. Peter's senior QB Will Hill andBosco's freshman tailback Tony Jones.
• CARROLL (Southlake, Texas) vs. PERMIAN (Odessa,Texas) Dec. 2
In the Class 5A regional semifinal Permian, the school chronicled in FridayNight Lights, attempts to end Carroll's run for a seventh state title.