Donte Williams’ importance and a quick look at future Bulldog Kenny Gaines

The significance of Donte Williams

Sophomore Donte Williams has grown tremendously as a player for Coach Mark Fox since setting foot on the UGA campus last season.  This year, Williams has established himself as Georgia’s most consistent offensive and defensive weapon in the paint, and he is currently 8th in the SEC in blocked shots at 1.8 per contest.  In Saturday’s huge upset of the then-ranked #12 Florida Gators, Williams set a personal best with 6 blocked shots.

Donte clearly has the mentality of a shot-blocker, making his best effort to swat anything near the rim.  However, Williams has found himself in quite a lot of foul trouble this season, which is common for aggressive post defenders.  When Williams has gotten himself into the foul trouble this year, his Georgia team has suffered mightily.

The Dawgs are just 2-10 in games this season in which Williams commits 4 or more fouls.  Conversely, UGA’s record is 11-5 when he only manages to pick up 3 or less fouls.

A similar trend can be found in conference games as well, with Georgia going just 1-7 in games when Donte commits 4 or more fouls, compared to their 3-3 record in games that see him get 3 or less personals.

The Bulldogs definitely need Donte Williams to block shots, but they need him on the court more than anything with their lack of inside depth.

Kenny Gaines preview

Two weekends ago I had the opportunity to catch the first quarter of the Region 9A tournament finals between Whitfield Academy and Landmark Christian.  The star player on Whitfield is one Kenny Gaines, who signed a letter of intent back in November to play basketball for Coach Mark Fox in Athens.

I actually saw Gaines play once last season in a rivalry game at Paideia High School – he went for 20 points in his team’s victory.

Watching Gaines warm-up before the Region Championship game last Saturday, I immediately noticed his smooth perimeter jumper; he must have made well over 50% of his warm-up three pointers.  Gaines, who is listed at 6’3″, already has a strong upper body, which enables him to shoot the ball rather effortlessly from long-range.

Once the game started, the “Kenny Gaines Show” really began.  Gaines had three dunks in the first quarter, with one of them being particularly monstrous – he drove baseline and then proceeded to take off on two feet from just inside the lane, flushing the ball down on the Landmark defender.

Defensively, Gaines is equally tenacious, using his athleticism to hound the opposing Landmark guards.  He did a great job of maintaining a low defensive stance, and I don’t recall anyone that he guarded scoring in the first 8 minutes of the game.

If you could somehow take Travis Leslie’s frame along with most of his athleticism, and then throw in Dustin Ware’s outside shot, the end result would be something similar to Kenny Gaines.

Needless to say, I am very excited about what this kid will bring to the table for the Dawgs next season.


Roster Changes and Recruiting

Demario Mayfield and Drazen Zlovaric have asked to be released from their scholarships and will be transferring out of Athens before next season.

I am sad to see Mayfield leave, as I thought he showed a lot of promise (especially in the win against Florida) as a 6’4″ slasher with nice hops and strength. I am only speculating, but I am guessing that he felt that he should have gotten more playing time this year like his fellow freshman teammate Abuka Anyaorah – Demario only averaged 6.5 minutes a game. The addition of Gerald Robinson, Jr. to next year’s roster did not bode well for Mayfield’s PT either.

As far as Drazen (7.2 minutes/game) is concerned, best of luck to him. I didn’t really see where he fit into Coach Fox’s system – he’s not a very good outside shooter (26.3% from the field) and turned the ball over a bit much – but hopefully for his sake he will move on to greener (more Mid-Majory) pastures.

The one positive to take away from Mayfield leaving is that I think that it could be an indicator that Travis Leslie will be coming back for his junior year. Neither Leslie nor Trey Thompkins has officially stated whether they will enter their names into the NBA Draft pool, but with Mayfield’s departure I am more confident that Leslie will be back since they play the same wing position.

I am not as confident in Thompkins returning for his junior season – right now I’d say it’s about 50/50 (and man do I hope that I am wrong!). I scoured a lot of NBA blogs the past couple of days, and there is a growing consensus that if Trey entered the 2010 NBA Draft he could work his way into a lottery pick.

ESPN now has him listed as “late first round to early second”.

The latest 2010 mock draft has Patrick Patterson of Kentucky going 8th. In my opinion, Trey has a lot more upside than Patterson, and should he decide to enter this draft I could see him moving ahead of Patterson on draft day.

At the very least I fully expect Thompkins to enter his name into the 2010 Draft pool, with the option to withdraw by May 8th as long as he hasn’t hired an agent.

Picture this starting lineup for the 2010-2011 season – PG Dustin Ware; SG – Gerald Robinson, Jr.; F – Travis Leslie; F – Chris Barnes; F – Jeremy Price.

Not an awful starting five by any means, but I don’t see a Thompkins-less Dawgs squad winning more than 5 SEC games next year.

On the recruiting front, Coach Fox has locked up an official visit from Donte Williams. Williams is a 6’9″ center from Miller Grove High School in Lithonia, GA. has Williams listed as a two-star recruit, with offers from Georgia, Auburn, Georgia State and Virginia Commonwealth.

His Miller Grove team won back-to-back state AAAA championships his junior and senior years.

I actually saw this kid play in the AAAA Region-6 championship game against Chamblee High School. He is REALLY THIN – Williams is 6’9″, yet only weighs 200 lbs (and that could be generous). I think he is probably being looked at as a “project” by most schools, and should he decide to become a Bulldog then his first order of business should be to live at the dining hall for the first semester.