"We took the elite Jackson (-area) player that everyone knows about from him being recruited," said Jacky Rowsey of Biggersville, who will be coaching the North All-Stars along with Daren Coffey of Calhoun City.
Yes, the selection committee chose Ridgeland big man Jamal Hester, who has at least seven NCAA Division I schools showing interest, according to Scout.com.
But there are only two other players from the greater Jackson area that will suit up for the North All-Stars: Roger Woods of Provine and J.B. Burrell of Lanier. The rest of the team hails from the Daily Journal's coverage area.
Last year, six players from the state's largest metropolitan area represented the North in the 56th boys all-star game. In 2009, five players from that metropolis - which is the hometown of three current NBA players - were chosen to play for the North.
In comparison, only five players from Northeast Mississippi played in the last two all-star games combined.
"We called junior college coaches and asked them who they looked at as far as recruits," Rowsey said of the approach used to select the 2011 All-Stars. "The ones I knew about, the Northeast Mississippi players, I fought for them to get on it.
"The others I didn't know about, I took the word of junior college coaches. Some of the other coaches from other areas on the selection committee helped us."
But as Rowsey and Coffey pointed out, the rising seniors chosen to play in the 57th all-star contest from Northeast Mississippi are "top-notch players."
After all, Keldrick Lesley (Booneville), Deione Weeks (Corinth), Reggie Patterson (Baldwyn), DaJon Reno (Tupelo), Dartavion Primer and Tabarrius Coffey (both of Calhoun City) and Jacolby Mobley and Gavin Ware (both of Starkville) each played critical roles in their respective teams advancing deep into the 2011 postseason.
Lesley and Weeks played against one another in the MHSAA Class 3A state championship game, which was won by Lesley's Blue Devils. Lesley was also a 2011 Daily Journal Top 10 All-Area selection, as was Patterson.
Ware, a 6-foot-8 big man, recently committed to Mississippi State, and Dexter Stafford of Biggersville plays on the Mississippi Hoop Dreams AAU team with Coffey, Lesley, Patterson, Primer and Weeks.
"I think basketball is pretty good in Northeast Mississippi right now," Coffey said. "A lot of schools are producing a lot of good players right now.
"It speaks volumes about the schools and their programs in Northeast Mississippi."
Even though the North's selection committee did a thorough job of selecting the '11 all-star team, Rowsey acknowledged the possibility of an exceptional - and worthy - player being left out of the game.
"Somebody's kid is going to get left out who we didn't know about," said the longtime coach. "Our area is well-represented this time, though."
First time, last time
While coaches are considered to play small roles in all-star games, the spotlight in Saturday afternoon's boys all-star game could shine brightly on Rowsey.
The coach of 30 seasons will coach the final game of his career - his first as a MAC All-Star coach. The 54 year old is retiring from coaching.
"I'm going to tell him that it's his last game, so I'm going to sit back and kind of help him and watch him," said Coffey, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Tuesday. "If he wants to take the lead, I'll give him the opportunity and I'll just follow him."
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572
- What: All-star basketball games for rising high school seniors in Mississippi.
- When: Today, girls game at 1 p.m., boys game to follow.
- Where: A.E. Wood Coliseum, Mississippi College, Clinton.
- Ticket info: General admission is $5 per person.
- Live stream: ihigh.com/mac