ATHENS — I met with Mark Fox on Monday afternoon, mostly talking about his first year living and working in Georgia for a story that will run on Friday, the one-year anniversary of his hire as UGA’s basketball coach. Of course, we also talked about the decisions facing Georgia sophomores Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie on whether to enter the NBA draft.
Fox said Thompkins and Leslie are in the process of gathering information about their NBA stock and have not made their decisions, which Fox indicated will come later rather than sooner.
“I wouldn’t think, in the next week or 10 days, it’s imminent,” Fox said. “I think they’ll get more information from the NBA and by the latter part of April have an idea of whether they’re going to enter [the draft] and work out [for teams], or just enter full and hire an agent, or just come back.”
Here’s the timeline Fox outlined:
Thompkins has said nothing publicly to tip his hand, consistently maintaining that he hasn’t made a decision. Leslie has said several times that he plans to remain in school, although he hedged a bit after the SEC tournament by saying it was something to talk over with his parents.
Here’s what Fox had to say yesterday:
On Leslie: “Travis and I have met and had great conversations. He knows what he would have to hear to leave here, and he’s been very mature in his approach. . . . And one of the things Travis will tell you is, he knows there are a lot of things he can continue to work on. And he enjoys college.”
On Thompkins: “I don’t know [what he will do]. We’re getting information for him. He knows I’ll support whatever he does. It’s his life, and it’s his career. He enjoys college and knows he can get better, but he’s got a very bright future. If I was going to give him any advice, it would be to listen to the 30 general managers that make the decision on draft day. Those are the 30 guys who say you’re playing in the NBA or you’re not. And we need to find out what those people think.”
I asked Fox if he expects Thompkins to at least enter the draft, even if he later withdraws.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Fox said. “I think he’ll do what’s best for him, because you can only enter and withdraw one [year]. He’s a very good player, but I don’t know if he will enter the draft. I don’t know if he’ll test the waters. I don’t know if he’ll just come back. I do kind of know where his head is, but he, like Travis, has a very mature approach to this. Because they’re talking about their dreams, talking about their lives, talking about their careers. It’s just not an automatic you-got-to-go-do-this, you-got-to-go-do-that. It’s something that should require much thought.
“There’s so much misinformation out there,” Fox added, “which is why I’ve encouraged them let’s listen to the 30 people who make the decision.”
Meanwhile, the players are “still in school, still going to study hall, still lifting, still going to team meetings, still going to team workouts, oh yeah,” Fox said.
Fox said at one point, when I asked about the difficulty of recruiting without knowing whether two key players would return, that he has “a gut feeling – instinctive feelings – about what both may do.”
And what are those feelings?
“I won’t share those. But that’s the unknown. You have to recruit with some unknowns. It’s part of being at this level.”