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Big East Bias, Travis Leslie and Recruiting

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Big East Bias

After getting a record-setting eleven teams into this year’s NCAA tournament, only two remain from the Big East after the first weekend – Connecticut and Marquette.  Jay Bilas of ESPN, who has been a Big East cheerleader the entire season, now says that there wasn’t a “truly great team in the league“.

You know what other conference has two teams in the Sweet 16?  The SEC – and they only got five squads into the dance.  With Pittsburgh falling to Butler on Saturday night, the Florida Gators now have a very legitimate opportunity to reach the Final Four (assuming a win over The Jimmer and then the Butler/Wisconsin winner).

Hopefully next season the selection committee will remember that basketball is played competitively outside of the northeast region of the United States.

Travis Leslie

At this point, I don’t want to hold out hope that Trey Thompkins will return for his senior season.  He seemed so close to leaving after last year, that I can’t imagine that he returns for another one.  NBADraft.net currently has Thompkins listed as the 21st pick overall in their Mock 2011 Draft.  As much as I would love to see #33 back in Stegeman again next season, it seems like his game has developed about as far as it can at this level and he is ready to work in the NBA.

Travis Leslie, on the other hand, is a different story.  Leslie’s numbers this year were nearly identical to last season – 14.4 ppg/7.2 rpg in 2011 compared to 14.8 ppg/6.8 rpg in 2010.  However, there was a notable improvement in his jump shot, and he was not just a “dunker” this year.  Leslie made 13 three-point field goals this season, compared to only 6 the year before, and he shot a stellar 80.1% from the free throw line.

If Leslie could continue to work on his ball-handling in the off-season, I think he could have a serious offensive breakout season next year (and possibly bolster his stock into “lottery” status).

Leslie is not listed in the 2011 Mock Draft (first or second round), and on the website’s 2012 Mock Draft they have him going 31st.

He’ll obviously get tons more information regarding his stock over the next few weeks, but it could definitely be in his best interest to return to UGA for his senior season (and it would be a great lift for Coach Fox heading into the off-season).

Recruiting

Coach Mark Fox just picked up a verbal commitment from Nemanja Djurisic, a 6’8″/220lb power forward from South Kent High School in South Kent, Connecticut (by way of Podgorica, Montenegro).

ESPN’s “Bottom Line” on Djurisic:

Djurisic is solid in all aspects of his game and his biggest strength is his ability to do so many little things to help his team win games without having to score in high volume to make an impact. He projects as a solid role player at the high-major level or an impact player at the mid-major level.

Nothing to drool over, but as everyone knows, next year’s team definitely needs more big men – welcome to the Dawgs Mr. Djurisic!

Fox is targeting a couple other forwards to round out the 2011 class – Chris Bryant and Braeden Anderson.  Anderson, from Calgary, Alberta in Canada, is an intriguing prospect that stands 6’8″ and weighs 222 lbs.  He is apparently very gifted phsycially, but needs to work on his aggressiveness – he is considering Kansas, Arizona and Oklahoma (along with Georgia) so he must be fairly talented to garner such attention.

And who knows…maybe after the firing of Bruce Pearl the Dawgs might pick up a player from the Vols?

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Written by hoopdawg

March 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm

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