Damon Evans’ powers of judgment let him down at least once, which is why he’s out of work. But, in the matter of finding a basketball coach, the deposed athletics director seems to have been sublimely sagacious.
I didn’t like the Mark Fox hire because I didn’t think Fox, who had never worked east of Manhattan, Kan., would be able to recruit the Deep South. Fox’s landing of Marcus Thornton earlier this year was nice, but that had an asterisk attached: Georgia’s Mr. Basketball had signed with Clemson and was released from his letter-of-intent when Oliver Purnell left for DePaul, and had Thornton gone to another ACC school — Georgia Tech, say — he might have had to sit out a year.
But now comes a commitment that bears no asterisk. Kentavious Caldwell, a shooting guard from Greenville, Ga., committed to the Bulldogs on Sunday. (The story was reported by esteemed colleague Michael Carvell.) Caldwell is rated the 11th-best player in the class of 2011 by ESPNU and the 15th-best by Rivals.com.
Should Caldwell indeed sign with Georgia — he can’t put pen to paper until November — he would mark the Bulldogs’ biggest recruiting coup since Louis Williams in 2004-2005, and we must remember that Williams never actually enrolled. He chose the NBA instead.
Historical context: Should Caldwell be named a McDonald’s All-American — and if you’re ranked in the top 15 in preseason, you stand a good chance — he would be the first such honoree to sign with Georgia since Williams, and the last McDonald’s man to sign with and then enroll at Georgia was Carlos Strong in 1992. (Damien Wilkins was a McDonald’s All-American, but he arrived by way of transfer from North Carolina State.)
If Mark Fox is capable of landing guys of Caldwell’s caliber, Mark Fox will win big. He showed last season he could coach Dennis Felton’s leftovers, and now he’s proving he can find players on his own. And I’m prepared to concede that, on the issue of finding a basketball coach, Damon Evans got it right. And I, not for the first time, got it wrong.