I have a story in Wednesday’s paper (and right here) about the remarkable improvement in UGA basketball player Travis Leslie from last season, when he struggled on and off the court, to this season, when he has become something of a YouTube and ESPN sensation for his high-flying, gravity-defying dunks.
This isn’t mentioned in the story, but Leslie is one of six candidates for “best dunker in the SEC” in a fan poll currently on the conference’s Website. You can vote here. Last I looked, Leslie was running second in the vote, behind only Kentucky guard John Wall.
A couple of comments included in the Leslie story spoke volumes to me:
From Dave Neal, veteran SEC broadcaster: “In the 15 years I’ve been doing this, I can’t think of a player as exciting around the basket as Travis Leslie has been this year.”
From UGA coach Mark Fox on his first meeting with Leslie last spring: “When we got a chance to meet him . . . and realized that he would do what we asked him to do, we felt he could ultimately become an all-league level player. And I think he is making progress toward doing that.”
And I particularly liked this Fox quip on how Leslie is handling celebrity status: “One of the advantages of coaching at Georgia is that when someone thinks he’s a great dunker, we pop in a tape of Dominique.”
By the way, here’s a video flashback to Leslie winning the AJC’s high-school dunk contest in 2008. (You’ll recognize another contestant: Brandon Boykin.)
A few other notes:
– Georgia opens the second half of its 16-game SEC schedule Wednesday night at Auburn. It will be the Bulldogs’ last game ever in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. Auburn moves into a new arena next season.
– Once again, the Dogs will be seeking their first win of the season in an opponent’s arena. They are 0-7 in true road games, compared with 9-3 at home and 1-1 on neutral courts.
– Some interesting numbers on just closely contested the Georgia-Auburn hoops series has been since it began in 1907: Georgia leads the series 87-86, meaning an Auburn victory Wednesday would deadlock the series after all these years. And through 173 meetings, the programs are separated by just over one point per game: Georgia 10,214 points (59.04 per game), Auburn 10,018 points (57.91 per game).
– Trey Thompkins is second in the SEC in scoring (17.5 points per game) and fourth in rebounds (7.8 per game).
– More praise for the Georgia coach on this week’s SEC teleconference: “I don’t think anyone is doing a better job than Mark Fox,” South Carolina coach Darrin Horn said.
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