Archive for May, 2011

Early NBA departures benefit recruiting, says UGA basketball coach Mark Fox

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UGA coach Mark Fox will be able to tell homegrown recruits that the Bulldogs can put players in the NBA (AJC photo)

There aren’t many positives for UGA’s basketball team regarding the early departures of Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie to the NBA Draft.

But recruiting is certainly one of them.

It may means millions for Thompkins and Leslie, but it does millions for UGA’s recruiting efforts — especially when it comes to validating the notion that Georgia’s homegrown talent can play for the Bulldogs and make it to the NBA.

“Here’s how I see it — I think it really shows our player development,” UGA basketball coach Mark Fox said recently.

“I think you could point to Travis Leslie’s development; how’s he improved as a player while he has been with us, as well as others in our program. It has been a real plus.

“I think it shows that kids can realistically pursue their basketball dreams through Georgia.”

The negative impact on recruiting? “You have scholarships open that you’ve …

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Georgia’s best package deal? Jenkins County football stars like UGA, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Auburn

Georgia's best package deal? DE-OLB James DeLoach and DT Jonathan Taylor (AJC photo by Michael Carvell)

Georgia's best package deal? DE-OLB James DeLoach and DT Jonathan Taylor (AJC photo by Michael Carvell)

Which two players might be Georgia’s best “package deal” out of the state’s 2012 college football prospects?

It may be the Jenkins County High School duo of mammoth defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor (top candidate to be the state’s No. 1 overall prospect) and defensive end James DeLoach.

They both have around 15 early scholarship offers from mostly the same schools. They’ve never made it a secret that they wish to play on the same college team.

“We’re best friends,” Taylor told the AJC. “We’re going through the same recruiting process with the same schools. Just about everybody wants us as a package and says we can help out in a hurry on defense. We want to be teammates in college. We enjoy play football and hanging out with each other. And if we’re away at college and get homesick, we can help each other out.”

That leads us to our next question: Which college would they like …

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Lane Kiffin gets a second chance with ex-Norcross WR Brice Butler

Vegas odds were against Lane Kiffin that two former Georgia HS star receivers would BOTH return to USC's football team for the upcoming season (AP photo)

Vegas odds were against Lane Kiffin that two former Georgia HS star receivers would BOTH return to USC's football team for the upcoming season (AP photo)

Brice Butler is giving USC under Lane Kiffin a second chance, months after his NFL-playing father said he didn’t get a “fair chance.”

Butler has decided not to transfer from the Trojans and will remain a member of the team, the school announced on Monday.

The former Norcross High School football star stated he planned to leave USC after the end of last season. Butler didn’t have much to say about it at the time, but his father did. Bobby Butler, who played defensive back for 12 years with the Atlanta Falcons, told the AJC last January:

“Just like Pete Carroll left last year, we’re leaving this year.”

Butler was redshirted his first year in college but began to emerge the following season, earning Pac-10 All-Freshman first team honors. He was projected to start last season but things changed with the arrival of Kiffin …

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Georgia basketball star Kevin Ware says he’s visiting UGA this weekend, then Louisville


Kevin Ware committed to Tennessee as a sophomore, and maintained a low profile until the Vols fired Bruce Pearl on March 21 (Photo by adidas)

Kevin Ware committed to Tennessee as a sophomore, and maintained a low profile until the Vols fired Bruce Pearl on March 21 (Photo by adidas)

Kevin Ware will visit UGA this weekend and Louisville later this month, his family told the AJC on Sunday night.

The 6-foot-4 guard from Rockdale County High School is ranked as the nation’s No. 56 college basketball prospect by Rivals. He signed with Tennessee in last November’s early period, but was granted a release by the Volunteers following the firing of coach Bruce Pearl. Ware pledged to Central Florida last month, only to de-commit 10 days later after allegations surfaced that Central Florida was assisted by a street agent in recruiting him.

Last week on Twitter, Ware announced his list of schools as — in no order — Kansas State, Kansas, UGA, UCLA and Louisville. He said he’d also consider Central Florida again, explaining in a tweet “depending on what’s going on at ucf once everything cleared up will determine if there on …

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Notre Dame offers football scholarship to Tucker DE-LB Josh Dawson

Tucker DE-LB Josh Dawson (Special)

Tucker DE-LB Josh Dawson (Special)

Tucker High School’s Josh Dawson was offered an early scholarship by Notre Dame on Sunday night.

The 6-foot-4, 226-pounder has nearly 20 offers, including UGA, Virginia Tech and South Carolina. He is projected to play defensive end or linebacker in college.

“I’m excited because it’s Notre Dame, and they have a pretty big name in football across the country,” Dawson told the AJC. Dawson added that he is not favoring any schools at this moment.

“I thought I had a good chance at getting offered by Notre Dame because one of the assistants came by the school a couple of weeks ago, saw me working out, took some of my film and told my coaches they would get back to me. I didn’t know it would be this soon.”

Dawson said if there’s an offer he expected but hasn’t gotten, it would be Georgia Tech. “I talked to one of the Georgia Tech assistants maybe three weeks ago. They haven’t been out to any of our spring practices [at Tucker]. I don’t know what’s …

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Georgia Tech’s entire 2011 football recruiting class ‘on track’ to meet NCAA academic requirements

Georgia Tech officials said on Friday that its entire 2011 football recruiting class is on pace to meet NCAA academic requirements.

The Yellow Jackets signed 23 players, with one (offensive lineman Trey Braun of Tallahassee, Fla.) enrolling early last January.

“Everybody we signed is on track to be admitted to Georgia Tech,” Andy McCollum, Tech’s recruiting coordinator, told the AJC, “and we look forward to getting them all into summer school. It’s a good group of young men, and we’re excited about coaching them.”

“We’re hoping to have everybody enrolled by the first [summer session in mid-June] but it may not be possible with all of them because of their high school graduation dates.”

Meanwhile, Georgia has lost at least one member of its “Dream Team” recruiting class. Spalding High School defensive tackle Chris Mayes will be heading to junior college, according to this story by the AJC’s Chip Towers.

Note: We’ll know more about the academic standing of the recruiting classes …

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Indiana basketball star denies report he committed to father

RJ Hunter

RJ Hunter denies a report that he's committed to Georgia State, where his father is the basketball team's new coach (Photo courtesy of Indy Star)

The son of Georgia State’s new basketball coach denied a report that he has committed to his father’s school.

“I haven’t committed yet … to anywhere,” RJ Hunter told the AJC on Friday night.

Hunter is a 6-foot-6, 170-pound shooting guard from Indiana’s Pike High School with about a dozen early basketball scholarship offers.

RJ confirmed on Friday that his four finalists are Wake Forest, Iowa, Virginia Tech and Georgia State — where his father, Ron Hunter, was recently hired as the team’s coach. (And, as we reported last week, the father refuses to recruit the son, assigning an assistant to do it).

The speculation about the son’s commitment apparently began when his father tweeted: “As a dad, very proud of my son RJ. He will look great in Georgia State blue!”

When told about tweet, RJ replied via text message “Oh yeah, I haven’t …

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The recruiting of Isaiah Crowell by UGA assistant Bryan McClendon

This was an interesting recruiting read about UGA football assistant Bryan McClendon, who signed 5-star tailback Isaiah Crowell of Carver-Columbus High School for Georgia’s 2011 recruiting class. The article was written by one of my colleagues, Dean Legge, the publisher of DawgPost — the website that covers UGA for Scout and FOXSports.com.

Here’s an except (go here to read the full article):

McClendon, officials at Georgia have told me, was offered other jobs – almost certainly in January – when recruiting was in full swing. Losing him to another school at that moment would have been a brutal blow to Georgia’s chances of signing Isaiah Crowell.

Of the staff at Georgia, McClendon was uniquely qualified to recruit Crowell. McClendon is a young black man coaching at the place he played at. In America race is always a touchy subject, but one can hardly forget that McClendon has a unique perspective about Georgia. He can tell recruits exactly what its going to be like to be a …

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UGA 5-star recruit Ray Drew wins state championship, but says it’s a ‘fail’ (UPDATED)

Ray Drew holds the medal for winning a state championship in the discus. He will compete in both football and track at the University of Georgia (Photo by Michael Carvell/AJC)

Ray Drew holds his medal for winning a state championship in the discus. He plans to compete in both football and track at the University of Georgia next year (AJC photo by Michael Carvell)

That Ray Drew sure sets some high expectations upon himself.

The 5-star defensive end who has signed a football scholarship with UGA won a state championship in the discus at Thursday’s GHSA track and field meet. But he called it a “fail.”

Huh?

We’ll  let the 6-foot-5, 260-pounder from Thomas County Central explain:

“By my standards, it would be a fail. It’s bittersweet. Even though I did get first place, which I’m satisfied with, I didn’t reach my goal, which was to break the state of Georgia record or at least come close to it.”

There was quite a buzz at the state meet on Thursday when it was time for the Class AAAA discuss competition. It’s an event that usually draws little fanfare.

Drew and his pursuit of the state record was clearly the center of attention on Thursday. Track athletes …

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Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt says ‘there’s nothing Georgia Tech could’ve done better’

Stephon Tuitt signed with Notre Dame (Photo provided by the U.S. Army All-American Bowl).

Stephon Tuitt signed with Notre Dame (Photo provided by the U.S. Army All-American Bowl).

Stephon Tuitt was one of the state’s top recruiting dramas in 2011. The 5-star defensive end from Monroe Area High School initially pledged to Notre Dame but switched to Georgia Tech in mid-January. It lasted for about 30 hours as Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly quickly hopped on a plane to fly down to Georgia to convince Tuitt to commit again to Notre Dame, which Tuitt did, signing last February.

More than three months later, Tuitt was asked about his second choice. “If I didn’t go to Notre Dame, it would’ve been Georgia Tech. It came down to the point where it was … what my feelings were, talking to my family about them, looking for a brighter future, and that I felt more comfortable at Notre Dame. There’s nothing Georgia Tech could’ve done better. They recruited me very well.”

We asked the 6-foot-5, 260 pounder several other questions as part of our “Recruiting Rewind” series.

What was …

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