NASHVILLE — According to NBAdraft.net, Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins are projected as the Nos. 8 and 11 picks in the 2011 draft. That would be just fine with Georgia coach Mark Fox because it would mean both will be back for another season.
Leslie and Thompkins are sophomores. Leslie has said he will return next season (although players have been known to change their mind). Thompkins’ situation is a little more intriguing. He has turned into a strong player and leader for the Bulldogs, and Tuesday was announced as a unanimous All-SEC first-team member — the first Georgia player to earn that honor since Jarvis Hayes in 2003.
Thompkins acknowledged Wednesday that he has been getting more individual attention lately. But he reiterated that he has not made a decision.
When asked if he considered that the SEC tournament might be the final week of his college career, he said: “Not at all. It’s not even on my mind, to be honest with you. We’ve got practice right now and Arkansas tomorrow. That’s what I’m thinking about.
“I haven’t made my decision yet. I’ve actually given it very little thought. Somebody said recently that I was seriously thinking about leaving, but that’s just not true. I’m not paying much attention to the talk.”
Neither Thompkins nor Leslie are listed on 2010 mock drafts. That’s not surprising because usually only underclassmen projected as potential lottery picks are listed. Neither is considered in that group right now.
Fox said he and Thompkins have spoken “a couple of times” about the process. But he added: “He has been remarkably focused on the season and we’ll deal with that part of it after we’re done. We had a couple of kids who left early at Nevada, and that attention and that process can get to even the greatest of kids. But Trey has handled it very well.”
When asked if he believed Thompkins would come back, Fox smiled and said: “Do I think he’ll be back? I’m not sure I have an opinion on that yet. And if I do, I’m not sure that I’d tell you.”
Suffice to say, Thompkins returning next season would make a significant difference in the Bulldogs’ team. His scoring averaged jumped from 12.6 as a freshman to 17.7 this season (11.5 to 18.9 in SEC games), and rebounding has increased from 7.4 to 8.2.
“I’ve been trying to become a better vocal leader, and doing what my teammates need me to do,” he said.
For what it’s worth, college players thinking of turning pro have until April 25 to declare, but they have until June 14 to withdraw from the draft. However, Fox said there now is an NCAA deadline that somewhat supersedes the NBA deadline, stating players must inform their college by early May that they plan to return. Otherwise, they will lose their eligibility.
Just a hunch here: Thompkins will be back.