John Cannon Making Announcement on Saturday

John Cannon, the 6’11” native of Burnsville, North Carolina, is set to make his announcement this Saturday about which college he will be attending next fall.

Cannon has offers from Northwestern, Georgia, Old Dominion and a “walk-on” opportunity on the table from North Carolina.

He averaged 21.9 points, 12.3 rebounds and 6.5 blocks a game this past season for the Mountain Heritage Cougars (21-7) and was named the Western Highlands Conference Player of the Year. Cannon also received all-state honors from The Associated Press and N.C. Basketball Coaches Association.

Of the four three incoming bigs that Mark Fox has signed this off-season, it appears that John Cannon is the most-polished and could possibly play his way into a starting role immediately.

ESPN on Thompkins’ and Leslie’s NBA Decisions

ESPN college basketball blogger, Eamonn Brennan, released an article in which he graded the decisions by this year’s underclassmen that chose to forgo their remaining college eligibility and move on to bigger and better things (the NBA).  He separates the players into five different groups, ranging from those who made no-brainer decisions to those that made decisions that left us wondering if they have brains.

Anywho, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie fell under his “Brave Juniors (Who Probably Attended Georgia)” Group.

Brennan’s knock on Thompkins is that he could really benefit from playing a full year without injuries so that he can show NBA scouts what he can do when he is at his best.

His comments about Leslie are less flattering, and you definitely get the vibe that Brennan feels as though Travis made a mistake by entering the draft at this point in time.

Either way, what’s done is done and here’s to hoping that both guys get selected in the first round of the draft so that they can get the ever-so-coveted automatic two-year contract.

For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Chad Ford doesn’t have either former Bulldog going in the lottery section of the first round in his most recent “Mock Draft“.  However, has both players going in the first round, with Thompkins being taken 15th and Leslie going 30th.

Update on UGA recruit John Cannon

John Cannon, a 6’11” center from Burnsville, NC, was in Athens last weekend on a visit and has narrowed his college choices down to Northwestern and Georgia.

One interesting thing to note is that Northwestern assist coach Mitch Henderson is leaving the program to take the coaching job at Princeton.  Apparently, Henderson was the lead recruiter for the Wildcats on John Cannon, and it remains to be seen if his departure will affect Cannon’s decision one way or the other.

Cannon is set to make his decision by April 30th.

I couldn’t find any video on this kid, but from what I have read on the Northwestern and North Carolina boards and blogs it sounds like he is athletic for his size and has a lot of upside.

If there is one thing the Bulldogs need immediately going into next season its size and depth in the paint, so adding another big to the 2011 class would of course be a positive for the program.

2011-2012 Out-of-Conference Opponents

The Georgia Bulldogs schedule for the 2011-2012 season does not appear to be very forgiving, considering this team is losing nearly 45% of its offense to the NBA.

The Dawgs will open up the season with the CBE Classic, a preseason tournament in which Georgia will actually host regional round games between November 13 to 17.  The other three hosts in this tournament are Missouri, Notre Dame and California.  All four hosts automatically advance to the Championship Rounds (regardless of the outcomes at the regionals), so there is a very good chance that the Dawgs will get a game against a team from this year’s NCAA Tournament (either Missouri or the Irish).

On December 17th, Georgia is tentatively set to travel to Southern Cal to take on the Trojans (another 2011 tourney team).

The Dawgs should also have road games at both Colorado and Xavier (another 2011 tourney team).

Georgia now has two scholarships available with the departures of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie.  Hopefully Coach Mark Fox can find a JUCO talent to add to next year’s roster before the summer.

At the very least, he could work on getting some rematches set up with Arkansas State, High Point, Charleston Southern and Eastern Kentucky…

Looking Ahead to Next Year

When the 2011-2012 college basketball season rolls around next year, Mark Fox and the Georgia Bulldogs are going to experience life without Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie.  In other words, the Dawgs are going to need to replace nearly 31 points and 15 rebounds per game.

The Georgia basketball program will probably take a step back next season, but how far back remains to be seen.  The Bulldogs’ frontcourt is taking a massive hit with the departures of Thompkins, Leslie, Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes.  For the past two seasons, one consistent strength of this team has been their tremendous size (mainly width) inside.

The backcourt, however, has the potential to be one of the best in the Southeastern Conference.  Gerald Robinson, Jr. averaged 12.2 ppg and 4.0 apg in his first season of big-time college basketball.  Robinson established himself as a shut-down defender on opposing point guards, and his offense was brilliant at times – unfortunately, there were lapses (games) where his offensive play was non-existent.  Next year, Coach Fox will look to GR2 to shoulder more of the scoring load (15+ ppg?), and he will have to be more reliable with his decision-making when he has the ball.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (KCP) has the skill set to possibly step right in and lead this team in scoring.  KCP has a silky-smooth outside shot and he can create for himself off the dribble as well.  At 6’6″, Pope gives Georgia some much-needed height on the defensive end.

And of course, the glue guy – Dustin Ware – will return for his senior year to provide both leadership and outside scoring.

Of the three bigs that Fox has signed for next year – Tim Dixon, John Florveus and Nemanja Djurisic – Dixon is the one that has me the most excited.  After watching one of his YouTube videos, it’s clear to see that he likes to run up and down the floor to chase rebounds, and at 6’10” he looks like a pretty skillful shot-blocker.  If I were to guess today, I’d say he finds himself in the starting five to begin the year along with GR2, Ware, KCP and a player to be named later…

…and that player is – Marcus Thornton.

Thornton was fairly underwhelming in his first year as a Bulldog, averaging just 1.5 ppg and 1.9 rpg in 9.4 minutes of play ( to go along some dismal shooting – 35.3% from the floor and 41.7% from the line).  Despite his offensive woes, Marcus did turn into a pretty solid defender, and in the second half of the season he was typically interchanged with Travis Leslie on the other team’s best wing.

Thornton’s inability to finish around the rim this year does leave some room for concern, but let’s not forget about another Georgia freshman – Travis Leslie – who also looked lost on offense in his rookie season.  As a frosh, Leslie netted 6.3 ppg and 3.9 rpg in 14.3 minutes – however, that was on a much worse Georgia team.  In his first season, Travis Leslie looked generally out of control whenever he was in the game.

But then something happened: Mark Fox.  Under Fox’s tutelage, Leslie transitioned into an All-SEC player and is now turning pro.

If Thornton buys into Fox’s system and is ready to work, he could possibly undergo a Leslie-esque transformation.

The final key that I wanted to touch on for next season is Coach Mark Fox himself.  I think that for next year’s team to be successful, Fox is going to have to adapt his system a bit.  The Dawgs may have to alter or even ditch the triangle offense in 2012, and look to a more up-tempo style of play that will center around their strong backcourt.

Season predictions anyone?