HE HAS starred at
the prestigious Nike All-America camp, heard the blandishments of recruiters
and will soon begin his senior season with a college scholarship secured. In
his time at basketball power Norcross (Ga.) High, Jordan DeMercy has made a
real name for himself--without even playing in a varsity game.
plan it this way. Last November, after transferring from the Greater Atlanta
Christian School (where his father, Jeff, says he struggled academically), the
sharpshooting 6'6" junior learned, two weeks before the Norcross season
opener, that he was ineligible. A state rule forbids private-to-public-school
transfers who have not changed their address from playing on the varsity for
one season. Says DeMercy, "I cried for days."
But DeMercy, who
averaged 15 points, six rebounds and five assists as a sophomore, adjusted to
life on the jayvee. While practicing with the varsity (which would go on to win
the 5-A state championship), he used jayvee games to develop his
perimeter-shooting skills and averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds. He even
passed up a chance to accompany the varsity to an elite tournament in Anaheim
in February, preferring to play in the jayvee regional tournament.
another setback last April, when he broke his wrist in an AAU game and failed
to get an invitation to the well-scouted Nike All-America camp in July. Afraid
that not participating might cost him a Division I scholarship, he drove eight
hours from Atlanta to Indianapolis to lobby for a spot. Eventually he was
accepted 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 to
its feet," he says, proudly. DeMercy made the camp all-star team and began
getting calls from Mississippi, Arkansas and Florida State, to which he
committed last month. This Tuesday, Norcross, which is favored to defend its
state title, opens its season against Shiloh ( Snellville, Ga.), and DeMercy is
expected to finally assume his place in the varsity lineup. "The way things
turned out," he says with a laugh, "I wouldn't change one step along