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While the Georgia Men’s Basketball team navigates final exams in Athens, the rest of us are left to sit around and bide our time through an incredibly slow sports week. In fact, UGA basketball fans will have to wait another week on top of this one before getting to see their team return to action.
However, here are a few things came across/thought about this afternoon:
1. Georgia’s 64-57 win over Colorado last Sunday did not just earn them praise locally. Jay Bilas, who has sort of become the “Kirk Herbstreit” of college basketball, threw the Dawgs this little nugget following the game:
2. Speaking of Twitter, here is the latest update on Kenny Gaines’s injured shoulder, per Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph:
3. Thankfully for UGA and the rest of the teams in the SEC not named Kentucky, the AP and Coaches Poll rankings do not carry nearly the same amount of weight in college basketball as they do in football. This week, Kentucky was unanimously voted #1 in the AP, and they received all but two of the #1 votes in the Coaches Poll, with Duke and Arizona getting one apiece. However, the Cats are the lone representative from the Southeastern Conference in both of these polls. The Florida Gators began the season at #7, but after a rocky start that has them at 4-4, Billy Donovan’s team is currently on the outside looking in. The national media’s perception of SEC basketball remains weak my friends.
The good news, though, is that the league has 5 teams in the RPI Top 50, a poll that is much more indicative of a team’s NCAA Tournament chances. Currently, Kentucky, LSU, Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss all have RPI’s under 50. Georgia plays all of the aforementioned teams (Kentucky and Ole Miss twice), along with #26 Seton Hall, giving Mark Fox’s team plenty of chances to improve upon their 2-7 record against the RPI Top 50 from a year ago. The Dawgs RPI currently sits at 64, which kind of pleasantly surprised me considering the 5-3 record.
After playing sparingly his rookie year for the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2011-2012 season, former UGA standout Trey Thompkins was waived from the Clips during his sophomore campaign as he was hampered by a debilitating bone bruise in his left knee which kept him off the court.
For more than a year Thompkins muddled in basketball obscurity, removed from a once promising basketball career. Until yesterday, I would have ventured to guess that his stateside basketball playing days were over, and that the next time Thompkins might suit up professionally would be in Europe or South America.
Low and behold, however, who did I see during Sportscenter’s evening segment on yesterday’s NBA Summer League action? Howard Thompkins III, in the flesh.
Trey is currently playing on the Los Angeles Lakers summer league team, and he doesn’t look half bad. In the Lakers overtime win over the Golden State Warriors yesterday, Thompkins finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds, including one bucket from beyond the arc.
Heading into the game against the Warriors, Trey had connected on 10 of his 14 field goal attempts. In 31 minutes of summer league action, Thompkins had already tallied a highly-productive 25 points, making all three of his three-point tries.
While it’s by far a forgone conclusion that Trey will make the Lakers’ roster – especially since they recently drafted and signed Julius Randle – if he continues to shoot the ball well from the outside there is a chance that LA keeps him on to deepen their bench at the power forward position.
In case you missed it, Brandon Morris was arrested over the weekend on a felony marijuana charge. Coach Mark Fox declined to comment on the situation, and Morris will face disciplinary actions from UGA’s Athletic Association Comprehensive Action committee, most likely sooner rather than later.
The best case scenario for Morris and the UGA basketball program is that this is the young man’s first marijuana offense, potentially resulting in a suspension of 10% of next season’s competition, or roughly 3 games. The first game listed on the schedule – which is still a work in progress – for next year is Georgia Tech on November 14th in Atlanta. The Dawgs played without Morris last season against the Jackets in Athens in a game that Georgia dropped 80-71, marking the team’s third straight loss to Tech.
The fact that Morris missed the first three games of last season, which equals exactly 10% of the 30 games that the team played, makes me somewhat suspicious that his transgression last year was marijuana-related as well. If that turns out to be the case, then Morris will be suspended for 30% of next season’s schedule, or about 9 games. I call this possible outcome the “second-best but still not so great” scenario.
Missing 9 games would force Georgia to begin the season without one of its starters from a year ago, meaning that the Dawgs would take on the Jackets, the preseason NIT and potentially both Colorado and Seton Hall, all without Morris’s services.
Georgia basketball enjoyed a major turnaround last year, winning 20 games and finishing 12-6 in the Southeastern Conference, and Brandon Morris was a big part of the team’s success. His height and length make him a tough defender, and he has a knack for slashing and getting the ball to the rim. Morris was the third-leading scorer for Coach Fox last season at 8.6 points per game, doubling his offensive production from his freshman campaign.
Losing Morris for nearly a third of the season would be a major blow to this team’s NCAA tournament aspirations, which were dampened this past season by a weak RPI (76) that was weighed down by some early season losses to Tech, Davidson and Temple. If Mark Fox’s team hopes to dance in 2015, they must avoid the out of conference letdowns that plagued them a year ago.
Of course another possible outcome for the Morris is that he is kicked off the team, leaving UGA with his shoes to fill for the entire season.
Right now, everything regarding Brandon’s situation is pure speculation, and until a judgment comes out from the aforementioned committee Morris’s fate will remain up in the air. One thing is certain though, and that is that he will miss some games next year, meaning that Fox will have a shallower bench at his disposal.
Without Morris, Georgia could look to Cameron Forte, who showed flashes of scoring ability in his first year in Athens. However, Forte’s defense was a major liability that kept him off the court for significant chunks of time last season, and if he cannot guard better this year Fox will have to get creative with his lineup by playing a smaller group that includes J.J. Frazier, Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann.
The Dawgs will definitely be dealing with some sort of setback from this incident when they kick off next year, but hopefully it won’t be enough to change the outcome of the season.
According to the AJC’s Michael Carvell, Mark Fox nabbed his first official commitment for the 2015 class Monday afternoon in the form of local product William “Turtle” Jackson, a 6’4″ point guard from Athens Christian.
Don’t worry – the “turtle” nickname apparently doesn’t reference any of his athletic attributes.
Jackson’s high school coach at Athens Christian – Ron Link – described Will as the best player he had ever coached in his 45 years in the business.
Jackson had originally committed to UCONN, but he recently reopened his recruiting and changed his mind about the school when Connecticut received a verbal commitment from Jalen Adams of Ashbrunham, Massachussetts, a four-star point guard who is rated as the nation’s 6th best point guard prospect.
ESPN and Rivals both list Will Jackson as a three-star recruit.
The good news for Georgia fans is that it appears that Mark Fox has found a replacement for Charles Mann, who will be entering his golden years in Athens when the 2015-2016 campaign rolls around.
Charles Mitchell – a standout from Wheeler High School – is leaving Maryland after two seasons to move closer to home to be near his grandmother who has recently fallen ill.
The 6’8″ 260lb Mitchell provided solid contributions for the Terps last year, averaging 6.5 points and 6.3 boards in less than 19 minutes per game. In fact, he gave Maryland such a spark off the bench that he eventually was inserted into the starting lineup for the final third of the season.
For those of you who do not remember Mitchell, he was one of Georgia’s targets in early 2012 when Coach Mark Fox was heavily involved in the Tony Parker sweepstakes.
Rivals.com is reporting that Mitchell is also receiving looks from Auburn, Clemson and College of Charleston, but one would have to assume that Georgia Tech and UGA are the frontrunners for Charles’s services considering the whole proximity thing regarding his grandmother and family. Mitchell is scheduled to be on Tech’s campus today, and he will be up in Athens on Thursday.
With the departure of Donte Williams to graduation, Mitchell would obviously fit nicely into a Georgia starting lineup loaded with upperclassmen.
The AJC’s Michael Carvell reported late last night that Coach Mark Fox picked up a pair of commitments – a 3-star and an unranked prospect – that will make up Georgia’s 2014 freshmen class.
The 3-star recruit – Yante Maten – stands at 6’8″ and weighs 230 pounds. Maten, a Bloomfield, Michigan native, apparently received offers from both Michigan State and Indiana, but he was upset that both of those schools offered him late (and by “late”, I mean less than a week ago for each school).
The unranked prospect – Fred Iduwe – is a 6’11” recruit who currently hails from just outside of Milwaukee (via Nigeria). Iduwe reportedly chose Georgia over the likes of North Dakota and Wisconsin-Green Bay, which should provide some comfort to UGA fans that the Dawgs’ basketball program carries more prestige than those two aforementioned powerhouses.
Frankly speaking, it seems like Fox secured a potential contributor in Maten and a project in Iduwe. Any high school senior who has not been signed at this point in the year is most likely not going to provide an instant impact on the court next season.
The Dawgs return almost the entire team for the 2014-2015 season (minus Donte Williams), and they should be a contender for an at-large NCAA tournament bid.
However, Fox only has two more seasons with his star backcourt duo of Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines.
Recruiting has been Fox’s achilles heel during his tenure in Athens, and these two signings are not going to settle the fan base.
If Fox cannot land several major talents in next year’s recruiting class, UGA’s upward trend of success – assuming next year is a success – will level off with the eventual departures of Mann and Gaines following the 2015-2016 season.
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs looked primed and ready for the early tipoff in Athens this morning, while Georgia appeared hungover.
Tech’s pressure overwhelmed the Dawgs from the opening tip, forcing UGA into 4 turnovers before the game was 3 minutes old. In addition to the stingy defense, LA Tech was on fire from the outside, connecting on 7 of its first 8 three-pointers, allowing the other Bulldogs to open up a 39-13 advantage with 7:27 left before the intermission.
Georgia was completely overmatched to start the game, unable to slow down Louisiana Tech’s onslaught.
The Dawgs did manage to cut the lead to 19 points heading into the break, but the initial pummeling that Georgia took at the beginning of the game ended up being too much to overcome.
UGA was less careless with the basketball in the game’s final 20 minutes and LA Tech cooled off a bit, but the hole that Georgia dug for itself was just too deep.
The Dawgs gave the home crowd a glimmer of hope when they trimmed the LA Tech advantage to 62-54 with 6:06 remaining in the game after a three-pointer from Kenny Gaines. However, the other Bulldogs quickly quieted Stegeman Coliseum by going on a 7-2 run which was capped off by a Kenny Smith three, making it 69-56 with just 2:40 left.
LA Tech would go on to win 79-71, and the UGA season came to an abrupt end at about 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
Georgia’s 19 turnovers led to 17 points for Tech, and 16 of those came in the first half.
Charles Mann, who finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds, unfortunately committed another 7 turnovers, matching his total from the first-round game against Vermont.
Freshman J.J. Frazier paced the Dawgs offensively, scoring a career-high 15 points, including a 4 for 7 performance from beyond the arc.
Today’s loss puts UGA’s record for the season at 20-14, which is certainly better than most anticipated coming into the 2013-2014 season.
While Georgia certainly overachieved this year, for whatever reason, this team did not appear to be that interested in being a part of the NIT. The Dawgs needed a late second-half comeback to beat a less talented Vermont team at home in the opening round. This morning, UGA turned in maybe its worst first half of the season.
Some teams use the postseason NIT as an opportunity to tack on some additional wins in the hopes that it builds momentum going into the next season.
That did not happen for Georgia.
Dawgs fans should feel optimistic about next year’s basketball season, but the sleepy performances that UGA provided in its two NIT games felt a little too similar to the games Georgia played back in November to start the season.
If the Dawgs hope to be closer to the NCAA bubble next March, they must find a way to avoid these lackadaisical games going forward.