Saturday, October 12, 2013

How to fix recruiting, attendance and pick up 5 wins

Recruiting for UGA basketball coach Mark Fox has not been going well.  It does not figure to get better in the near future.

Let's face it, hoops fans.  We have missed out on every recruit we tried for this year.  Gant ain't and Lee is lee-ning elsewhere (interpreted, Jakeenan Gant is committed to Missouri, and William Lee will likely end up at Alabama).  Fisher-Davis picked Vandy, Tadric Jackson chose Tech, Ahmed Hill has apparently turned us down, Turman committed to Tennessee.  Guards, forwards, centers.  Didn't matter.  The answer to the Fox recruiting pitch was "No thanks."

Truly is stunning to me.  I have never seen a Georgia coach in any sport go "0-for" in a recruiting season, but that's exactly what Mark Fox has done so far for 2014 players.

Unfortunately, Fox didn't do much better for 2013, either, missing out on every high level recruit, and ending up with what some fans would consider four "diamond in the rough"-types (two 3-star players and two un-ranked guys).  Could be good players, but they are not the heralded recruits that our SEC competitors like Florida, Alabama and Kentucky are bringing in.

2012 was better, and Fox managed to attract three 3-star players, Kenny Gaines, Brandon Morris and Charles Mann.  Still, Fox missed out on elite big men from the state of Georgia, Tony Parker, Robert Carter, Charles Mitchell, and Shaq Goodwin.

I have posted similar information before, but it bears repeating:

Fox Recruiting Classes

Vincent Williams, 2009
Marcus Thornton, Donte Williams, Sherrard Brantley, 2010
John Florveus, Nemanja Djurisic, Caldwell-Pope, Tim Dixon and John Cannon, 2011
Brandon Morris, Kenny Gaines, Charles Mann, 2012
Kenny Paul Geno, J.J. Frazier, Juwan Parker and Cameron Forte, 2013
Nada, 2014

Said another way, Fox has during his tenure brought in 16 signees, who were given a total of 41 stars according to That's 2.5 stars per recruit.

In those 5 classes and 16 recruits, only one signee was above 3-stars.  Performance on the court generally follows performance in recruiting classes.  Of the 16 recruits who have played so far, only one has managed over 8 points per game (KCP).  None of the big men Fox has recruited have averaged over 4.5 boards a game.  Not surprisingly, Fox has managed 3 losing seasons out of a total of 4.  His one winning season was with his predecessor's recruits.

Attendance at UGA hoops games has sagged.  Fans want to see an exciting brand of basketball, and the Fox teams have not delivered.  According to one source, Georgia has the worst home attendance in the SEC.

How can Fox recover?  How can he get a decent recruit for 2014?  How can he win games and boost attendance?  The answer to these questions, in the author's opinion, may lie at Northwest Florida Junior College.

Why Northwest Florida?  Because Tevin Glass and Shaq Johnson are there.

Fox can make a big step forward by bringing in Glass and Johnson.  I don't see anybody else on the recruiting horizon.  I say, if we can get both players, do it.  The two recruits would have to take a chance on Fox, that he'll be around next year.  At the same time, we'd be taking a chance on them.  They are juco players and Johnson has a mark on his basketball resume, since he was dismissed from Auburn, allegedly after getting arrested for marijuana possession.

Fox would have a different appeal to make to Glass and Johnson, one that may ultimately be successful. Come to UGA and get back on track.  Johnson would readily understand that he'd be on a short lease and would have to toe the line.  The big recruiting carrot is that both players would get to suit up with Charles Mann, the point guard that helped Glass, Johnson and Milton High School win the Georgia 5A state championship in 2012.

Glass is a player who can score and rebound.  He's not a traditional big power forward, but he's 6' 7" and can put the ball on the floor.  In the absence of a true big man recruit, Glass would be perfect.  Shaq Johnson is a Travis Leslie clone.  6' 5" and jumps out of the gym.  Shoots 70 percent from the line.

Fox got Leslie into the NBA.  Tell Johnson that he'll do the same for him.

If we can field a versatile line-up with Kenny Gaines, Juwan Parker and Shaq Johnson as two-guards, Chuck Mann and J.J. Frazier at the point, Brandon Morris and KPG at small forward, and Forte and Glass as power forwards, we'd be exciting to watch.  Throw a few lobs to Kenny Gaines and Shaq Johnson and the attendance issue would go away.

Finally, use the resulting line-up to go to a pressure defense for 90 feet.  We'll get easier buckets and pick up at least 5 more wins on the season.  That performance might be enough for Fox to be retained and for an elite big man recruit to sign on early for next year.

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