For Richard Howell, playing in the NCAA Tournament has become a familiar routine.
The former Wheeler High School basketball star, who helped the Wildcats to their last Georgia state championship in 2009, is the only player with East Cobb ties who will be playing this week in college basketball's main event.
Howell, a key part of N.C. State's trip to the "Sweet 16" a year ago, has guided the Wolfpack back to "The Big Dance."
N.C. State will play Temple on Friday afternoon in Dayton, Ohio. Howell, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, is second in scoring averaging 12.7 points a game and leads the Wolfpack and the ACC with 10.7 rebounds. He also was named to the All-ACC first team.
Howell's hard-nosed style of play has won him plenty of plaudits. A North Carolina columnist recently dubbed him "perhaps the ACC's most prodigious generator of sweat."
But Howell has been battling injuries recently, including the recent ACC Tournament, as the Wolfpack (24-10) have been sputtering over the last month.
Should N.C. State win its first game, its next opponent will likely be Indiana, a No. 1 seed and a contender for the NCAA title. The Final Four will take place in early April at the Georgia Dome.
Another former Wheeler player will be part of a Western Kentucky team that reached the NCAA Tournament, but he won't be playing. Sophomore forward Nigel Snipes is sitting out the season with a knee injury. The Hilltoppers face No. 1 seed Kansas late Friday night in Kansas City.
Snipes, who was a reserve player as a freshman at Western Kentucky, also was a member of Wheeler's 2009 title team.
Two former East Cobb basketball standouts will be competing in the National Invitation Tournament.
Freshman forward Chuck Mitchell, also formerly of Wheeler, is a reserve player at Maryland, which plays Niagara in its first game on Tuesday.
Ex-Walton High School guard Ryan Harrow is part of a Kentucky team that plays at Robert Morris on Tuesday. Harrow sat out last year after transferring from N.C. State as the Wildcats won the NCAA championship.