March 20, 2011

Lots of questions ahead

As Mark Fox looks ahead to next season, he does so with the same questions he had after last year's initial campaign - will Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie say no to the NBA and return for what would be their senior year?

Either way, their decisions will great affect next the product Fox puts on the floor.

"Those decisions will have great impact on our team, you know. If they come back, we could have a great team. If they both leave, we will have a young team," Fox said. "One might stay, one might go, I don't know."

For their parts, Thompkins and Leslie aren't saying much.

Following Friday's 68-65 loss to Washington in the East Regional, neither player had much to say, stating they would discuss the future with their respective families.

The preseason-SEC Player of the Year, Thompkins went on to earn first-team All-SEC Honors for the second straight season and according to scouts queried by UGASports, is still considered a first round pick.

Question is, how high will he go and would another year be beneficial in raising the level of his game, and perhaps a higher spot in the 2012 NBA Draft?

Ditto for Leslie, who scouts say is no guarantee to go in the first round.

"What I will advise them to do is listen to the right people and that will be the 30 general managers that make a decision on draft day," Fox said. "They both have handled that entire situation with great maturity and it has had zero impact on our season and that's to those kids' credit. But we'll advise them to make educated decisions and get the right education in that process."

The Bulldogs already knows Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes won't be part of the program after the seniors played their last collegiate game Friday.

"J.P. and Chris have been great seniors. When they come back 15 years from now with their children, that (making the NCAA Tournament) will still be noted in (Stegeman Coliseum)," Fox said. "That's something to be proud of. They should never be happy in defeat, but as the season ends, I think they (Price and Barnes) took some real steps forward for our team."

That leaves guards Dustin Ware (9.2 points per game) and Gerald Robinson Jr. (12.2 ppg) as the only returning starters for Fox, assuming Thompkins and Leslie both turn pro.

If Thompkins and Leslie don't return, Marcus Thornton, Donte Williams and Connor Nolte will obviously enjoy significant playing upgrades, although the biggest boost is expected to come from incoming freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

A McDonald's All-American, the 6-foot-6 guard averaged 29 points as a junior and 28 points as a senior. Rivals.com rates Caldwell-Pope the third-best shooting guard in the country and 11th-best prospect overall.

Joining Caldwell-Pope will be 6-10, 215-pound forward Tim Dixon of Columbus and 7-0, 215-pound center John Florveus of Fort Myers, who played at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.

Sherrard Brantley, Vincent Williams and Matt Bucklin also return for the Bulldogs, whose 15 turnovers against the Huskies obviously helped ruin whatever chance Georgia had of winning Friday night's game.

"Once you understand the consequences of little things, you realize there are no little things. There's a lot of little plays when we go back and forth and watch the tape that were extremely costly and the consequences were great," Fox said. "As our team continues to grow and learn, we have to understand that."

Nevertheless, Fox said his team certainly has much to be proud of.

"I felt like all year that they would be good enough to compete in the Tournament. We gave ourselves a chance. But losing in the Tournament - there should be no shame in that," Fox said. "We lost to a good basketball team, a well-coached team and there should be no shame in that."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!