Big East Bias, Travis Leslie and Recruiting

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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12 thoughts on “Big East Bias, Travis Leslie and Recruiting

  1. I have enjoyed this blog all winter. Thanks for your hard work.

    I like your ideas about Travis. It would be great if he we could keep him.

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  2. I, too, have enjoyed the blog very, very much. Thanks Hoop! It is interesting that Charles Barkley has been saying all week that the Big Least is the most overrated conference in the history of college basketball–and his CBS colleagues have treated him as some sort of cretin. Turns out sir Charles is right. He keeps spouting off convenient truths that make his studio mates uneasy. Keep giving them hell Charles. I also wondered, by the way, whether we might pick up one of the two top 150 recruits from Georgia that Pearl received commitments from. Of course, Tennessee will probably not release them to go to another SEC school if they have signed letters of intent (even though we released all Harrick’s talented recruits, one of which ended up at Tenn and one at Florida). We’ll see, I guess.

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  3. maybe you can help me out with this hoop. I just don’t see the math adding up. We now have 4 guys signed for next year, which means that Trey has to leave for us to have enough spots for all of them. So it seems to me that we are done with 2011 recruiting, unless Travis goes pro. Am I wrong about this?

    Also, I love all the 2012 prospects that are giving UGA a look, but where is the point guard help?? With Dustin AND GR2 being seniors next year we need help at guard for 2012, and all the top prospects seem to be bigs.

    Just thoughts…

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    1. Every Div I NCAA Men’s BBall team gets 13 scholarships.

      Here are the nine guys Georgia has on scholarship:

      Leslie, Thompkins, Ware, Robinson, Thornton, Nolte, V. Williams, D. Williams and Brantley.

      So right now you are right, Georgia doesn’t have any more scholarships to offer. I think it’s possible that some of the bigs Georgia is looking at may be waiting to see what Trey decides before committing?

      I also think there is a really good chance that Vincent Williams transfers. His playing time was minimal (at best) this year with the addition of Robinson and Brantley, and he faces the possibility of not seeing the floor much until he is a senior.

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      1. I believe junior Matt Bucklin is (was?) also on scholarship.

        From his bio at georgiadogs.com:

        “Originally a walk-on member of the Georgia program…Was awarded an athletic scholarship, however, for the 2010-11 season…”

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  4. I’m trying not to get my hopes up about Leslie staying (I, too, have already given up hope about Trey), but can you imagine if he does stay? Chances are good Fox is going to play an uptempo style next year, particularly with the lack of bigs, and having Travis on that team could make things very very exciting.

    Any thoughts on the development of Thornton? I thought he would be much further along in his first year, and with him looking to play quite a pivotal role in next year’s club, I’m a little nervous.

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    1. I thought that Thornton looked like a really good defender, and he could be one of our shut down guys next year. He also seemed to get increasingly aggressive on the offensive glass as the year progressed.

      On the flip side, I don’t recall seeing him finish too many contested lay-ups (maybe none). He has to learn to play bigger and to finish stronger with contact near the basket.

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  5. It would be nice to pick up this Ware kid from UT because of the Ware/GR2 senior issue mentioned above. I’d hate to have to wait until next year to bring in a true freshman (or we could go JUCO) to run our offense. One year under Ware/GR2 would be good.

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    1. It would be hard not to imagine Fox not taking Ware if the option is there. Guy is serious player I saw him in the Columbia Chick-fil-a Tourney, he looks better than the PG from Oak Hill when I saw both of them live…Oak Hill has a 2012 SG/SF from Lawrenceville that transfered up there and he is as smooth as silk, Adams is his name he would be an outstanding get. Think he has UGA high on his list!

      Thorton is a solid defender, actually think he was best on ball defender. If we could get 10 ppg from him next season that would be a huge lift. He just never looked for his offense, he was a little dissapointing for the hype he got, wish we could have got more from him!

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