Georgia basketball Mark Fox gave away a Father’s Day gift worth thousands of dollars on Sunday.
Fox told walk-on Connor Nolte on Sunday to call his dad with the surprising news that he would be put on a basketball scholarship at Georgia. Connor’s father was at UGA basketball camp on Sunday with another son, Milton High’s Evan Nolte, who is one of the state’s top prospects for 2012.
Here’s the story: Fox huddled with Evan, and he sent a text message to Connor, asking what he did for his dad on Father’s Day. Connor, who is out of town for the summer, replied that he had called his dad earlier in the day to wish “Happy Father’s Day.” Then Fox told Connor he could call again with some great news — that he was being rewarded with an UGA basketball scholarship.
“So I’m standing about 10 feet away from Coach Fox and Evan, they walk up with smiles on their faces, and my cell starts ringing,” said the father, Kurt Nolte. “It’s Connor calling. He said ‘I’ve got a Father’s Day gift for you. I don’t have to pay my own way any longer. Coach Fox just put me on scholarship.’”
“I … got very emotional after hearing the news. I’m so proud of my son. I thanked Coach Fox, and [Fox] kept saying, ‘Connor earned it. Mr. Nolte, he earned it.’”
The 6-foot-6 Nolte signed with Furman out of Milton High, playing two years before deciding to transfer to Georgia. He sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules, and will have two years to play for the Bulldogs at swingman. Nolte is a campus celebrity after creating YouTube videos of “trick basketball shots,” involving Fox, UGA football coach Mark Richt and former NBA All-Star Charles Barkley, among others.
“It was a tough decision to leave Furman when you’re on a scholarship, but Connor wasn’t happy there,” Kurt said. “He had a dream of playing major-college basketball at the highest level, even if it meant walking on. That’s what he did at Georgia. And now it has come full circle, with Connor back on a basketball scholarship.”
Connor’s younger brother, Evan, attended Georgia’s camp on Sunday with his father. Evan is a 6-8 junior and was a major contributor this past season at Milton High, which won the state championship in Georgia’s largest classification. The younger Nolte has more than a dozen early scholarship offers, including UGA and Georgia Tech, and is being scouted this summer by Duke, North Carolina, Florida and Stanford.
There is speculation that Georgia put the older Nolte on scholarship to lure the younger one. “Let’s be honest, this won’t hurt Georgia’s chances for Evan,” Milton coach David Boyd said. “It almost wouldn’t be logical if they didn’t try to draw Evan, with his brother already playing for Georgia. I think it helps, but that Evan will ultimately sign with the place that is the best fit for him.”
Connor was not at Georgia on Sunday to get the news in person. He is a summer intern at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
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