Dennis Felton’s demise at Georgia, which was briefly stalled by a miraculous tornado-driven SEC Tournament Championship in 2008, ultimately came to roost because of the coach’s inability to keep the top high school basketball talent in state.
Mark Fox was hired because he had recruited well and made a winner out of Nevada, and I suppose the thinking inside the UGA Athletic Department was that with Atlanta just a little over an hour away, Fox could start convincing some of these talented Peach state recruits to stay home and play in the Red and Black.
As a former high school basketball player in DeKalb County, one of Atlanta’s biggest school districts, I’ve always felt that this city was loaded with high-end basketball talent, as I played against a number of major Division-I commits. For years, college basketball analysts have labeled Atlanta a “hotbed” for recruiting, but I wanted to take a more objective look for myself. Here is what I was able to dig up:
- According to Hero Sports, Georgia has produced the 7th highest number of Division-I basketball players this season with 225.
- Georgia ranked 9th among states with representation in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
- In 2015, Georgia and Wisconsin tied for 7th place among states (with 13 players apiece) in regards to the number of players on rosters of teams ranked in the AP Preseason Top 25.
- Georgia produced the 5th most (44) Division-I college basketball players relative to its college-age male populations, according to a 2014 Deadspin article.
- Georgia currently has 12 players from the state ranked on the 2017 ESPN100 list of the nation’s best recruits, the most of any other state. The next closest state to Georgia is California, which has a total of 8 players on the same list. Considering the population differential between those two states, I’d say that the fact that Georgia boasts 4 more blue chips than Cali is quite significant. Below are the number of ESPN100 recruits from the state of Georgia during the Mark Fox era:
- 2017 = 12
- 2016 = 9
- 2015 = 6
- 2014 = 4
- 2013 = 2
- 2012 = 9
- 2011 = 6
- 2010 = 5
Maybe the most telling statistic from all of this is that over the past 8 years the state of Georgia has put 53 players on the ESPN 100 lists, and UGA has landed 3 of them: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tyree Crump and Rayshawn Hammonds. Not including next year’s class with Hammonds, Fox will have signed one of these ESPN100 guys at a rate of just under 1 every 3 years during his time in Athens.
If a UGA basketball coach could ever manage to land one of these ESPN100 recruits every season, the Dawgs would probably be dancing nearly every March.