SEC football and basketball coaches have been in Destin, Florida this week trying to assemble schedules for the new 14-team league. I gathered from an ESPN article that the basketball coaches are having an easier time with it than the football skippers.
ESPN revealed the following in regards to next season’s basketball scheduling:
“They proposed an 18-game league schedule that would keep all 14 teams together instead of moving back to divisions. Teams would play everyone at least once (13 games) and have one annual home-and-home series with a designated rival. Those rivalries are Kentucky-Florida, Tennessee-Vanderbilt, Georgia-South Carolina, Alabama-Auburn, Mississippi-Mississippi State, Arkansas-Missouri and LSU-Texas A&M.
The remaining four games each season would be filled by the other 12 teams on a rotating basis.
The format, along with changes to the postseason tournament, likely will be approved Friday.”
At the moment, it appears that Georgia hit the “designated rival” jackpot in drawing neighboring South Carolina instead of Florida. Geographically, it makes more sense to pair Kentucky with South Carolina and Georgia with Florida; however, I’m guessing that both Florida and Kentucky feel satisfied with this decision as it will routinely bolster each team’s respective RPI.
In the long run, I believe that the SEC’s decision to move to one division will ultimately benefit UGA basketball. The Dawgs will inevitably have some years when they play the likes of a Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee or Vanderbilt twice, yet this new schedule is far more attractive considering up until this year they played all of those teams two times per season.
Rising junior Donte Williams, who earlier this week was arrested for possession of marijuana, should be available for the start of next year’s SEC slate.
Kentavious-Caldwell Pope turned in a fine freshman campaign for Coach Mark Fox and the Georgia Bulldogs, averaging 13.2 points to go along with a team-leading 5.2 rebounds per game. KCP also led the Dawgs in steals with 58 on the season, finishing second in the SEC in that statistical category during conference play (at 2 steals per contest).
Pope’s efforts caught the eyes of both the media as well as opposing SEC coaches, earning him a spot on the conference’s All Freshman team.
Apparently, folks in the professional ranks have taken note of KCP’s talents as well. NBADraft.net has Pope listed as the No. 9 pick in their latest 2013 Mock Draft.
If KCP were to take the leap to the NBA after next season, he would be the first Bulldog to exit the UGA basketball program for the pros after just two seasons of play since Jumaine Jones did it back in 1999.
The “Thrilla from Camilla” made the jump to the NBA after a stellar sophomore season in which Jones netted 18.8 points and 9.5 boards per game en route to being named First-Team All-SEC. Jones was selected in the first round with the 27th pick by the Atlanta Hawks before being immediately traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
As much as I would love to see KCP in the Red and Black for at least two more seasons, if he is still projected to be an NBA lottery pick this time next year he may make a decision similar to Jumaine Jones’.
Coach Mark Fox currently has one member in his incoming 2013 recruiting class – 5’8″ point guard J.J. Frazier out of Faith Baptist Christian Academy in Ludowici, Georgia.
According to ESPN, UGA has offered 9 prospects for the upcoming 2013 season. Surprisingly, only one player other than Frazier hails from Georgia, with the remaining seven kids residing in neighboring southeastern states as well as the midwest.
The 2012 crop of new Bulldogs – Kenny Gaines, Charles Mann, Brandon Morris and Houston Kessler – all come from the greater metro Atlanta area.
However, in 2011 Fox only secured one in-state commitment – Kentavious-Caldwell Pope – to go along with a slew of out-of-staters in Nemi Djurisic, Tim Dixon, John Florveus and John Cannon.
This past recruiting season, Coach Fox went after and missed on several big in-state names – Tony Parker, Shaq Goodwin and Robert Carter, just to name a few.
Will the 2013 class of Bulldog signees be composed mostly of home-grown talent, or will Fox have to get creative and look for players outside of Georgia?