Travis Leslie vs. John Wall for SEC’s top dunker (and other notes)

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.

Please follow me on Twitter for the latest UGA news and notes.

31 comments Add your comment

longtimedawgfan

February 10th, 2010
1:29 am

Basketball has taken on a wonderful new dimension under Coach Fox….is it not great to see Georgia playing defense, making free throws, and last but not least, playing unselfish, team basketball….an incredible team personality change…our program is making huge strides

BigDawg

February 10th, 2010
1:30 am

First, as will be UGA in all sports soon!

BigDawg

February 10th, 2010
1:32 am

k, second, but UGA will be first in all, actually have more than a defenseless coordinator, basketball w/ a gr8 future, gr8 baseball, tennis, gymnastics et al!

Lane

February 10th, 2010
7:06 am

These guys move the ball around as well as anyone in the naion. Imagine, with a couple of higher quality starters and bench depth. Sky is the limit!!

Excited for the 1st time since Tubby left!!

True, the direction SEEMS...

February 10th, 2010
8:33 am

…to be going forward – however, the record is no better or worse than that of the predecessor coach. So, is UGA REALLY better than the past 3 years, or are they just being fooled since they have one player who can jump out of the gym and makes things seem somewhat exciting (they still blew a 20 point halftime lead AT HOME and lost)?

Yellow Fuzz

February 10th, 2010
8:44 am

This just in. The G-Day game originally scheduled for April 10th has been changed to April 1st for obvious reasons.

Paul H

February 10th, 2010
9:01 am

Hey Yellow Fuzz, 30-24. 1-8. Have some!

chipperdawg

February 10th, 2010
9:09 am

Hey “True…”, when’s the last time you remember UGA beating 3 legit top 20 teams only half way thru the season? Its been a while, huh? Yeah, I’d say we’re moving forward.
And “Yellow Fuzz”, how in the world can you Tech nerds even THINK you can talk trash… our worst team in a decade just beat your best team in a decade. Even your bowl comments don’t hold water, you just played your FIRST BCS bowl since, like, 1964, and you got beat like a rag doll!! Before this year, you’ve been Emerald Bowl or Boise bound for as long as I can remember! SSSoooooooo, go crawl back into the basement and get back to Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons or whatever it is you nerds play all day. GO DAWGS and THWGT !!!!!!

Drew

February 10th, 2010
9:10 am

As I was watching the Vanderbilt/Tennessee basketball game last night, they were showing the SEC standings towards the end of the game. And as they made a comment about about each team as they reviewed the standings, the announcers on ESPN got to Georgia at the very bottom with their 2-6 record and said “And last but not least, we have Georgia, who I doubt ANYONE in the conference wants to play right now.” I think that is saying a lot.

toph

February 10th, 2010
9:24 am

Gotta love the Dawgs moving in the right direction.

Doyouknowshon

February 10th, 2010
9:25 am

Travis Leslie is trailing John Wall for best dunker in the SEC? What a joke. I would be willing to bet that no college basketball player in the country has made ESPN’s top 10 more this year than Leslie has. He is easily the best dunker in the conference and probably one of the top dunkers in the college game today.

dawgingatorville

February 10th, 2010
9:32 am

Can’t wait to see what the team will be like when Fox is pulling in the recruits. Although our record is similar, Fox is getting more out of these players than humanly possible. A lot of our problems come from fatigue due to a lack of depth at the bench. When a stronger bench we wouldn’t blow all these leads in the second half. That’s why Fox’s recruiting abilities will be the true test, and I know the dawg nation is drinking the kool-aid, so hopefully some talented high school players will drink the kool-aid too. Go Dawgs!

Doyouknowshon

February 10th, 2010
9:39 am

And “True”, if you are going to be critical, at least get your facts straight. The largest lead UGA has had at halftime in a game which they ultimately lost was 15 vs. Arkansas. And while Leslie can jump out of the gym and does bring excitement, you seem to be forgetting about Thompkins who is second in the SEC in scoring and fourth in rebounding.

Yellow Fuzz, I am sorry your jackets completely choked in primetime in Miami not to mention the fact that they lost to the worst UGA team during Mark Richt’s tenure. All of your juniors were smart to leave before the fall, it is going to be a rough year on the flats.

TommyP

February 10th, 2010
9:44 am

Hilarious the idiots that feel we’re no better than before. If you’ve bothered to watch a game this year as opposed to the last 5 or 6, you’ll see that this team moves the ball around on offense probably better than any team since Harrick.

Look at the individual player development that has gone on with Fox at the helm and you’ll see great improvement. Thompkins looks unstoppable and Leslie is fantastic and improving each game.

Please, if you do not realize the job that Mark Fox is doing for Georgia basketball, refrain from talking about them. It really makes you look dumb as hell.

TheItalianDawg

February 10th, 2010
9:51 am

I agree with you Doyouknowshon, Leslie is not only the best dunker in the SEC by a huge margin but in the nation. just ask ESPN

TheItalianDawg

February 10th, 2010
9:57 am

Mark Fox is doing a great job, no question about that. However, We should have beat Arkansas,

True, the direction SEEMS...

February 10th, 2010
9:59 am

As I said previously, the team does seem to be going in the right direction, but I think there was a 4 day period in 2008 where the team beat 4 teams to win the SEC championship, and then look where they went…I did not say that this team and coach are the same as before, only that the records seem to be similar and that there may be a lot of misguided exhileration – let’s just see what happens before getting to lightheaded…..

And, Doyouknowshon, while the halftime lead may not have been 20 against AR, the AJC did report that the lead was built to 20 in the same game BEFORE the meltdown and loss (makes it even worse, IMHO).

And, sorry, TommyP, Thompkins is just not that good – the fact that he is second in the SEC in scoring is more indicative of the lack of conference superstars than in his ability as a player. Yes, he has potential, but that and $1 will buy you a cup of coffee at MickeyD’s…

DirtyDawg

February 10th, 2010
10:01 am

I think Mr. Leslie needs to work on his body control around the basket. Sure he wants to slam down the big one, but when they’re playing you as tough as Vandy did the other night, you need to cross ‘em up every now and then – reverse it…lead with your body, draw the foul and kiss if off the glass – I mean a lot of these guys, if they know all you’re gonna’ do is try to dunk it can get up enough to stop it…maybe even knock you a$$ over tea-kettle. But there’s no denying, the kid has a chance – particularly if he can improve his ball-handling – to be a real star. One we’ll be calling one of the top two ever to have played for Georgia…I hope, I hope, I hope…

SouthGa Dawg

February 10th, 2010
10:12 am

Fox is getting the most out of these guys. When watchiing them play it is obvious that they are headed in right direction and are dangerous every night. Need a few more players and we’ll be on our way. Go Dawgs!!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

February 10th, 2010
10:32 am

If this team had a hair more depth we would be talking about NCAA Tournament bid. They simply tire and are learning how to finish an opponent off. Depth is all thats lacking.

bank walker

February 10th, 2010
10:51 am

I am very stoaked about Fox and the direction he has the team. Guys, we have no depth so we are dead tired toward the end of the game. Wait until we get depth and big men, we are gonna do some damage!! By the way, there is no way John Wall is a better dunker than Leslie, no way! Count the # of Sportscenter top tens between the two. Go Dawgs!!

Brian in Athens

February 10th, 2010
11:01 am

The difference between this team and the one that went 4-0 in the SEC tournament a couple of years ago is that everyone was shocked when it happened. If it happened this year everyone will say they saw it coming with the way we have played in SEC games but didn’t win as many as we could have. We have beaten 2 ranked SEC teams plus Tech and Illinois and should’ve/could’ve #2 Kentucky. If we play that well as the season goes on we could very well win it again, surprising a few but not a great shock.

Gary

February 10th, 2010
11:07 am

TommyP is right. All you have to do is watch them play one game, and you know there is a difference this year from the past several. Don’t just look at their record, watch. They are in every ball game and playing smart basketball. Depth is the obvious problem, but our starting 5 matches up well with almost everyone. Georgia basketball is on the way back. It Feels like Tubby’s first year, but I think Fox will be here for the long haul. Great job.

Enthomologist

February 10th, 2010
11:58 am

You’ll have to admit that “Yellow Fuzz” does pretty good typing what with that big slimy rock on him.

SEC East Headlines – 2/10/10 « MrSEC.com

February 10th, 2010
12:00 pm

[...] another human highlight film”6.  Ah, but who’s the better dunker… Leslie or Kentucky’s John Wall?7.  The Dawgs will be looking for their first road win of the season tonight at Auburn.8.  [...]

Entomologist

February 10th, 2010
12:02 pm

What’s an extra “H” among friends?

SEC hoops = terrible

February 10th, 2010
12:36 pm

Wow, I’ve never seen people so excited about a losing record in the worst basketball conference in America.

Hoops Dawg

February 10th, 2010
12:49 pm

True,… I cant fathom what you mean in saying that Trey is not that good. If you mean that he can’t start on the front line for an NBA team yet, then I’d agree. Otherwise he is a multi-tool player–good shooter and rebounder, excellent ball handler for a big man, more than decent passer, and a leader on the court. Sometimes during our offensive funks, Trey does try to do too much. But watch carefully what happens in tight games when he comes off the court. We often begin to give up leads (if we have any), and the team becomes more error prone. Trey is not the do-all, end-all. But he is the finest big man we have had in a decade or more, and I, for one, am darn glad we have him.

WonderDawg

February 10th, 2010
1:15 pm

UGA fans should go vote cause you know UK fans will be doing the same. The exposure is good for Travis and UGA.

SEC hoop = terrible = ACC fan

February 10th, 2010
1:19 pm

UGA 73 – Ga Tech – 66. Ha.

NewnanDawg

February 10th, 2010
3:03 pm

Coach Fox has definitely pointed UGA hoops in the right direction. I sit right behind the bench at home games and the difference in both the in game coaching and reception of the coaching from the players is astonishing. Yes, we need some depth and the mental fortitude to finish games without it for now, but I’m very excited about the future of UGA hoops.

Go Dawgs!