Just talked to Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox on the SEC’s summer teleconference call with coaches.
I was able to get in only two questions — writers from all over the league participate — but the first thing I asked him about was, of course, the eligibility issues suddenly surrounding the Bulldogs’ prized recruit, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Specifically, I asked Fox when he was made aware that there may be some issues and if he anticipated the five-star shooting guard from Greenville would be subject to NCAA suspension.
“Really I was just made aware of that yesterday,” Fox said Monday. “Obviously we’ll cooperate with the process. I really can’t speculate on what penalty there will be if there is one.”
I also asked Fox where he thought the team’s scoring will come from this season with the loss of last year’s top two point producers — Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins — to the NBA draft.
“That’s the question,” he said. “We did lose a lot of scoring and I think any coach would tell you you’re always looking for who’s going to score field goals for you. We’re all trying to build a defensive team that’s good enough to win, but you also have to score and that’s what we’re looking for right now.
“Obviously [you look at] the two senior guards back in Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware. I think both those guys had games of over 20 last year. They understand where to get their shots. But I also think as seniors those guys understand how to control a team and get the other guys the ball. Hopefully they’ll be able to make the transition easier for the other guys and help them find baskets. But it is an area of concern for us. When we start working out in the fall we’ll have to get an understanding of where we can get our shots and how we can best score.”
On new-look team next season:
“We’re certainly going to look a little different this next year with the early departures of Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins. We lost another starter to graduation in Jeremy Price. So we’ll look a little different. But I do think our young guys are excited about the opportunities that are in front of them. From the end of last season forward this group has gone back to a workmanlike approach and hopefully we’ll reap the benefits of that this next season.”
On Thompkins and Leslie’s prospects as pros:
“The first thing I did was look at the number of guaranteed contracts the Clippers had and I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 or 11. That means there are roster spots available. Any time a guy goes in the second round that’s the first thing you look at. So I think there’s opportunities for both of those guys to make the team and to contribute.
“I think that Trey has a legitimate power forward body; he has a bigh basketball IQ; he’s got good offensive skills. He was a little bit criticized over his conditioning going into the draft, but I think that’s something that’s easily correctable with work, and I know that he will.
“Travis is an explosive wing player who in the NBA will have to find his niche, whether that is as an offensive rebounder or a scorer or a driver. I think it all depends on how he plays. Certainly in [Blake] Griffin the Clippers have an all star they can build around. Hopefully these two kids can find a place on the team.”
On Vanderbilt’s position as prohibitive SEC favorite:
“When you start listing them I think Vanderbilt is a team that could legitimately contend for a Final Four. They have a great backcourt, terrific wing play and great shooting. They have an NBA center, a couple of good posts and a good bench. So I think, looking at the ingredients of a team, , there’s not much missing from their team. Kevin [Stallings] and his staff have done a great job and I anticipate that they’ll be in for a big year.”
Feelings on proposed elimination of July recruiting period [after this year]:
“There is a lot of conversation of changing the recruiting model and I think it is inevitable that we change it. [But] I think there are a lot of positives to being able to evaluate players during the summer. Just from an economical standpoint, I think it helps schools to be able to see several hundred kids in one location. I think it will change but I don’t think it will be completely eliminated.”
Would you prefer a recruiting period other than July?
“For us, it all comes back to having access to your current players. If we don’t go out recruiting in July, are we going to be able to have access to work with our players for an hour or two a week? And are we going to be able to pick up some recruiting days during the school year? If so, I think this model will significantly change, but there has to be a balance there. I’m not sure of the proposed plans I see that I compeltely agree with any of them. But that’s why it’s a work in progress. I think we should keep some summer recruiting. I think it just makes too much sense economically and from an efficiency standpoint. But it’s probably not safe for a kid to be playing in five different cities over 10 days and we’ve got to get some sanity back to it all.”