Sharman White can’t remember fielding one call, reading one email or even getting a text last year on the day that the POWERADE FAB 50 was unveiled.
He doesn’t recall being overwhelmed by well-wishers on any of his social media outlets or being stopped in the hallways at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) by grinning students and faculty who were excited about his Wolverines’ preseason standing.
“I don’t remember it because it didn’t happen,” said White, Miller Grove's head coach. “No one really even knew that the rankings came out. I guess that’s because we weren’t in them. Things are different this year.”
The Wolverines used not being ranked in the preseason FAB 50 last year as motivation all season and ended up going 31-2 in route to claiming their third consecutive state title. Miller Grove finished at No. 6 in the final FAB 50.
This year they won’t be so incognito. Not checking in at No. 2.
“This year people will definitely see us coming,” said Tony Parker, a senior forward and last year’s ESPNHS National Junior of the Year. “The response has been a lot different this year when the rankings came out.”
Especially for White, who said he’d received more than 100 messages on Wednesday when the Fab 50 dropped.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” White said. “I picked up more than 50 followers on Twitter before noon on Wednesday. I want our kids to enjoy it, but at the same time I want them to take it for what it is – a preseason ranking.”
That won’t be hard for Parker, who offered that the only thing a high preseason ranking means to him is that “we haven’t done anything to earn it.”
“Every year is different,” said Parker, who is ranked No. 31 in the ESPNU 100. “We haven’t played one game yet and we haven’t been through any adversity yet. It’s just a number to us, and it isn’t even the number we want. We want the one before that. How can we be excited about that?”
The Wolverines will get their chance to climb on Jan. 7 when they face No. 1 Simeon (Chicago) in the Cancer Research Classic. But before it can think about the Windy City version Wolverines, Miller Grove has to contend with a grueling schedule that includes games against No. 3 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), No. 27 Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.), No. 39 Southwest Dekalb (Decatur, Ga.) and the prestigious City of Palms tournament.
“We’ve got a brutal month from December 15 to January 16,” White said. “But we welcome the challenge. We’re excited about it.”
Added Parker: “We know that people will be hunting us even more now. But we’ll go hard at all times like we always do. It’s never fun when the rabbit’s got the gun.”
Hunting season is drawing near.