Talking with Mark Fox about Trey Thompkins’ and Travis Leslie’s NBA decisions

Also: Fox comments on two players transferring out of UGA program.

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:

  • Around April 16-19, the players will receive reports from the NBA’s Underclassmen Advisory Committee with projections of where they are likely to be picked if they enter the draft. The committee projects whether a player is likely to go among the lottery picks, or elsewhere in the first round, or in the second round, or go undrafted. It’s crucial information, because a player who doesn’t go in the first round gets no guaranteed money.
  • April 25 is the NBA’s deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft.
  • May 8 is the NCAA’s new deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft and preserve their college eligibility. That leaves very little time for players to work out for teams before finalizing their stay-or-go decision. The new deadline is designed to let coaches know earlier which players they are losing, but it “really prohibits kids from testing the waters as thoroughly as they used to be able to,” Fox said.

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.”

55 comments Add your comment

bulldawg33

March 30th, 2010
10:22 am

devildawg

March 30th, 2010
10:23 am

devildawg

March 30th, 2010
10:24 am

devildawg

March 30th, 2010
10:24 am

Bill W.

March 30th, 2010
10:27 am

Both are gone.

SimpleDawg

March 30th, 2010
10:29 am

Both should stay in school….they will be better prospects with another year under a coach who can help them improve.

Too many really good college players “go pro” only to never be heard of again. The money may be tempting, but without guaranteed money, the NBA is a real crap shoot.

toph

March 30th, 2010
10:34 am

Bill W., what makes you think that?

Waka Flocka Flame

March 30th, 2010
10:34 am

Did he say anything about Dustin Ware entering the draft?

BULLDOG MAN

March 30th, 2010
10:36 am

Both should stay one more yr and make a run at the NCAA tourney. With some new recruits we have just a good of chance as the next team to get in and advance in the tourney.

Matt the Brave

March 30th, 2010
10:36 am

I think both would end up being 2nd round picks, which means no guaranteed money. That means they would probably stay one more year and push towards getting that paycheck!

JB

March 30th, 2010
10:41 am

Both back means beating Tech again guaranteed for sure and that would make the year for me. I also think we improve greatly over this years improvement.

InsiderDawg

March 30th, 2010
10:45 am

Forget Travis and Trey. Don’t get me wrong, they both need to return for one more year. The player I’m excited to see is Gerald Robinson (the transfer that tore it up at Tennessee Tech). With those three guys, an improved Dustin Ware (we can dream can’t we?) and Price finally getting the minutes he deserves down low, this is a sweet 16 team.

German Shepherd Dawg

March 30th, 2010
10:45 am

Bill W.

Are you the reincarnation of Edgar Cayce or something? How would you know?

German Shepherd Dawg

March 30th, 2010
10:47 am

WFF,

Dustin Ware in the draft was pretty funny. I almost laughed out loud, which could get me in trouble.

BuLLdawg

March 30th, 2010
10:47 am

Bill W. probably boldly predicted Tech crushing UGA by 80 in football last year. Whatever these guys decide to do, good luck and go dawgs

trey c

March 30th, 2010
11:14 am

I know you guys are very happy that we are stuck with CPH!!!!

Bob Sacamano

March 30th, 2010
11:17 am

Coach Fox is a class guy and a great hire!

poof!!!

March 30th, 2010
11:27 am

I think it’s a given that Leslie will return but I don’t know about Thompkins.

Are you kidding??

March 30th, 2010
11:32 am

Lets see, you have two guys on the same losing team trying to decide if the NBA will be graced with their presence . . . early ??
I guess they accomplished so much in college, that going pro (early) was the only natural conclusion to their storied careers.

Hoops Dawg

March 30th, 2010
11:46 am

If Trey stays and shows incremental improvement, he becomes a lottery pick ans has a long and distinguished career in the NBA. If he goes now, who knows, but could well end up a marginal NBA performer…can you say Jumaine Jones.

Guru

March 30th, 2010
11:47 am

Can’t guide their team to anything in a sorry SEC and they both are thinking about the NBA? LOL, good look there guys. Thompkins is good and will be fine with time but is gonna struggle in the NBA guarding a PF. Leslie is still a raw athlete, two years ago the kid couldn’t hit a shot outside of a dunk, now he thinks he’s NBA ready. Unreal.

WonderDawg

March 30th, 2010
11:55 am

Thompkins doesn’t seem to be strong enough physically to be a power forward in the pros, yet and Leslie is just kinda raw at this point. Extremely athletic, but with his current skills, would be a bench warmer for a couple of years. Having said that, NBA bench warmers make really good money for themselves whereas college stars make money for their schools.

Bo Williams

March 30th, 2010
11:59 am

I hate to burst anyone bubble, but if the kids can get drafted as high as 2d round, they should go. There are some great underclassmen out there who led their teams to success this year – these kids did not. And assuming they will come back next year, then Thomkins and Leslie will have to compete with them the next year. And I’m not even including players like Davis and Henson at UNC (they did not lead their teams to success this year), who will certainly be selected the next year over Thomkins and Leslie.

HugoStiglitz

March 30th, 2010
11:59 am

Thompkins probably wouldnt be a first round pick, and there is a very stout group of big men coming out after this season. He would be much better off staying, getting better and improving his draft position next year. As for Leslie, well he would just be an idiot to leave.

WonderDawg

March 30th, 2010
12:02 pm

Man, what kid would not want to play for Fox? You know what those two staying would mean to his teams success next year, but there’s not a bit of selfishness in his advise about either one of them. Contrast that to Pete Carroll’s remarks about Mark Sanchez’s decision last year to leave early.

RamblinRed

March 30th, 2010
12:02 pm

One of the problems is that runners for agents are telling any kid that will listen that there is going to be an NBA lockout after next season so they need to go this season when they know they will get a contract, rather than wait for next year when there may be no contracts due to the lockout.

[...] UGA’s defensive ends are learning new techniques in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.7.  Mark Fox doesn’t expect quick decisions from Trey Thompkins or Travis Leslie regarding their NBA futures.8.  Fox won over much of the [...]

AceDawg

March 30th, 2010
12:23 pm

Leslie and Thompkins have more to contribute to UGA next year than the NBA I think, and they will increase their spotlight if UGA has a successful year and reaches the NCAA Tourney. Surely both of those guys want to experience March Madness at least once, knowing they likely can if they stay, right?? I get the fact a paycheck could be looming, but unless those guys are lottery picks, it really seems like Fox knows how to coach and improve players. Being full time starters in college might be more beneficial than role players in the NBA.

Bo Williams

March 30th, 2010
12:39 pm

I’m afraid most people hear are “reasoning” with their hearts, not their heads. If the pros tell you that you’re ready, then go. Don’t wait on the fans who only want you to stay, thinking in so doing you will make their teams better next year (and thus having their egos stroked). Be real folks, don’t jeopardize the futures of these “kids”. I really love to hear “fans” argue why a kid should stay, despite what the pros say.

Jumaine Jones

March 30th, 2010
12:49 pm

The pros are going to tell them to stay- Thompkins is a not a lottery pick this year and may not even go until the late 1st round. Leslie is a 2nd round pick at best.
Just a few weeks ago, Seth Davis said it would be a huge mistake for Thompkins to leave early. The NBA evaluators will come to the same conclusion.

Monticello Dawg

March 30th, 2010
1:00 pm

Guru, where do you get the idea that Leslie thinks he is NBA ready. He appears to realize that his game has a number of things to work on, and thus is leaning toward coming back.

A recent draft projection for next year had both Leslie and Thompkins in the top 12. Don’t know if that has changed lately. Right now, I would say their chances of going in the first round are iffy at best, and they know that.

With Robinson eligible, and Travis and Trey returning, this team will definitely be dancing next year, barring crucial injuries.

Fried chicken skin is greasy and delicious

March 30th, 2010
1:14 pm

Please stay!

[...] Fox discusses Thompkins and Leslie By hoopdawg The AJC’s Tim Tucker wrote a nice blog entry today following a conversation he had with Coach Mark Fox [...]

cdog

March 30th, 2010
1:29 pm

WHAT A JOKE LESLIE AND THOMPKINS ARE. NBA?HA HA H HA

avg dawg fan

March 30th, 2010
1:36 pm

They need to come back and pay UGA what they owe, if they leave then scew em.

Carz

March 30th, 2010
1:47 pm

Trey could play in the NBA now. His outside shooting will need to continue to improve, but he is fundamentally very sound and a good natural scorer. Not sure how his defense rates out.
Travis is not ready. He’s not big enough to play forward in ther NBA and his ball handling and outside shooting need work to play guard. I think Travis needs two years to develop in to a lottery pick. No knock on Travis. A 6′4 guy that jumps through the ceiling gets stuck at forward in high school and often does not get to refine his guard skills. I love what he brings to the dogs though.

Ace75

March 30th, 2010
2:05 pm

Both should stay in school — not for UGA’s benefit, but for their own benefit. I’m not convinced that Travis would even get drafted at this point. Trey would get drafted, but he’s still a “project”. He could be drafted much higher and find success much faster with another year of seasoning.

dixie

March 30th, 2010
3:16 pm

i didn’t even know uga had a basketball team?????

[...] — In my interview Monday with Mark Fox –- see some of it here and more of it  in a story later this week -– he answered questions for the first time, albeit [...]

Dick Vitale

March 30th, 2010
3:28 pm

I have Trey Thompkins being a lottery pick… but then I have about 40 kids being lottery picks. How many lottery picks are there again?

EW

March 30th, 2010
4:13 pm

Leslie needs to stay. Many scouts are predicting him as a lottery pick if he continues to improve as he did this year. I don’t think he drafts higher than late 2nd as it stands right now. One good year does not show consistency that the GMs want to see. Another year of steady improvement should help that out.

Trey could project to the late 1st right now…but most likely 2nd round. He is a good big man with good 15 to 20 ft range. He does need to firm up a bit but has the build to easily do that. Has shown consitency for two years which helps his stock. Personally I would say he needs to stay and make a run a the lottery where the real money is.

Junior Samples

March 30th, 2010
4:32 pm

they might need to eat a few more beans and taters before playting with the big boys

AceDawg

March 30th, 2010
4:48 pm

Both players, especially Leslie, look like they would gain more growing a year in college. The NBA seems to develop players less and ask for quick contributions or else you get cut or viewed as a bench/role player for much of your career. If UGA didn’t look like it was improving, or if there was a coaching change again, sure they should consider. But Fox made those guys a lot better and seems to be the kind of guy that will have them better prepared to be a pro the longer he gets to coach and develop them.

athenian

March 30th, 2010
4:59 pm

I think both will come back since neither will be a first round draft choice. Thompkins has a nice shooting touch for a big man but is not fast enough or athletic enough to compete with NBA forwards. Leslie can dunk on college players but doesn’t do anything else at a high level. They will be back and georgia will win 14-15 games again.

Pulpwood Smith

March 30th, 2010
6:54 pm

Neither of these guys are ready for the NBA yet. They would both gain a lot by staying at UGA for at least one more year. A no-brainer.

Yanni C.

March 30th, 2010
7:37 pm

Based on talent and potential, their both good enough to be drafted in the first round. Last year it was stated that J. Flynn, T. Evans, D. Harden, T. Gibson, D. DeRozan, J. Holiday, T. Lawson amoungst others were not ready or not good enough for the NBA. Well they were, and Thompkins and Leslie are as well. The NBA isn’t exactly boasting 30 super talented teams. So as a Georgia fan, I would love to see them both stay all four years… but the B.S. of “not ready”, or they “NEED another year ” dosen’t fly.

MontyP

March 30th, 2010
9:26 pm

Stay, Stay, Stay. Mark Fox needs them around to get to the NCAA tournament next year. That’s when the recruits will really start to take notice. This team as is plus Robinson could be very good next year. I hate to see either of them take off to the NBA too soon and end up playing off the bench like a lot of other recent Dawgs. They are both good but the NBA is a whole different level. Trey needs at least one more year and Travis needs a couple. Any word on whether or not Travis will be in the slam dunk contest this weekend?

Harris

March 30th, 2010
9:34 pm

Why would anyone want to stay in that crappy program??

Chuck Uga

March 30th, 2010
11:05 pm

Neither will be very successful unless they come back next year. We’ve seen this time and time again. So many of these kids are barely scraping out a living playing in Europe or some other place. Now is NOT the time to leave…and I am not being selfish. I relish the thought of seeing these guys playing regularly in NBA games…I want to see them succeed. Neither of them are ready for the NBA. Most underclassmen are not…including Derrick Favors. What if you don’t make it?

Chuck Uga

March 30th, 2010
11:06 pm

Harris,
What SEC team do you represent? If it’s not Kentucky, you will LOSE to Georgia in 2011.