Saturday, August 23, 2008

Herschel Walker in Sneaks

And I mean that as the ultimate compliment.

Humble player with a ton of talent. Hard worker. Makes everyone around him better. Well-coached. What a coup it would be for him to come to UGA!

Match him up with HT III, and Georgia would be a force in the SEC.

Hats off to GBOA for the video.

Elite 24 Game Played at Rucker Park

The Third Annual Elite 24 Game was played on Friday and aired live on ESPNU. The game will be re-broadcast on Monday on ESPN2.

The Elite 24 game features 24 of the best high school basketball players in the nation, regardless of class. The game began in 2006, and is held at Rucker Park in New York City, one of the most famous outdoor courts in the nation.

Lance Stephenson was the high scorer for the game. Coaches were Chauncey Billups and Kenny Anderson.

Scout Top 100

New list is out.

Derrick Favors is still at the top.

Noel Johnson is there, and Scout has Georgia as one of the schools in the mix for him. I thought that Georgia was out of the equation. However, I also thought that Tech would get his commitment, and I've heard since that Johnson would not sign with them. We'll see.

Terrance Shannon is also ranked somewhere in the 50's.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Every now and then I post on something that has nothing to do with Georgia basketball.

The following articles were new and different enough that I decided to link them. I'll even spare the commentary and let each story speak for itself.

I. Cutting Edge Basketball

II. Basketballers on the Cutting Edge

New Arena for UK?

Looks like it.

Not that UK needs one, but it's likely to happen. If I'm Billy Gillespie, I couch the new arena in terms of need, not just want. "We can't get outdone by Auburn or even UGA, with their new practice facility. I need a new arena just so I won't lose out on the recruiting circuit."

And so goes his argument in the attached article.

Since the feasability study is just being discussed, it's not likely that the arena would be finished any time soon. But it's apparent that UK is prepared to invest in its basketball program in a big way.

"That's what we do..."

Darrin Horn closing in on another recruit

Although the South Carolina Gamecocks did not have any incoming freshmen this year (after Atlanta-area native Darius Morrow de-committed), new coach Darrin Horn has been working hard to bring in talent for the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 seasons.

First, Horn went hard after Lakeem Jackson, the #139-ranked small forward in the class of 2009, and got his commitment over the summer. Now, it looks likely that Eric Smith, a 6' point guard, will soon visit Columbia and commit to Horn for the 2010 class. Smith is a junior this year at South Carolina's Mullins High School.

Georgia was reportedly interested in Smith, and he had previously visited Clemson.

Sounds like a good get for South Carolina.

Jeremy Jacob to UAB?

December 2006:

Channing Toney, concerned about his status on UGA's squad as a starter, and perhaps discouraged over an earlier suspension for academic reasons, decides to transfer. He ended up at UAB.

Fast Forward to 2008:

Jeremy Jacob, reportedly wanting to be the focal point of a team, opts to transfer from Georgia to Chipola Junior College. One of Chipola's key players, Casey Mitchell, is a UAB signee for the 2009/2010 season.

Will Jacob end up, like Toney, at UAB? It could happen.

When Jacob initially announced that he would leave UGA, it looked as if LSU would be his ultimate destination. LSU has the advantage of offering Jacob the opportunity to play in the SEC for a team based in his home town.

However, has reported that Jacob could be close to signing to play in Birmingham, not Baton Rouge. Although I can't access the Rivals article, I don't doubt their information. If Jacob has talked things over with Mitchell, they might want to try to play together after junior college.

The question is: Will Jacob be better off at UAB than at Georgia?

Channing Toney's experience suggests that the answer might be, "no."

Not too long after arriving in Birmingham, Toney was apparently part of an argument between several UAB basketball players. He was arrested in September 2007, and faced a fairly serious charge of physically harassing a police officer. Toney was disciplined by Coach Davis. As I recall, due to the combination of the transfer rules and the suspension, Toney missed the first 16 games of the year.

From a purely basketball perspective, UAB has arguably not proven to be a substantial improvement over Georgia for Toney. Toney averaged just over 9 points a game while at Georgia. He has averaged less than one basket more, right at 10.5 points per game, at UAB. In fact, his shooting percentage went down from his last year at Georgia.

While Toney is guaranteed starter minutes at UAB, it is likely that had he stuck with UGA, he would have been the starter anyway, given Mike Mercer's injury and later dismissal, and Billy Humphrey's knee problems and later dismissal.

Meanwhile, Toney is playing in Conference USA, which while a good conference, does not have the stature of the SEC. Although Conference USA boasts Memphis, a perennially powerful program, the conference's other teams, like Tulane, Central Florida and Houston, are not nearly as successful. Again, they are decent basketball programs, but not on the level of University of Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and other SEC schools.

And as far as head to head comparisons are concerned, UAB has the advantage in games won last year. However, they played in the NIT. Georgia made it to the NCAA tournament and was the "feel good" story of the initial field of 64.

As for Jacob, he will arrive at UAB in 2009, if that's where he indeed ends up, and he will have to make his own way. Using Channing Toney's past year as a comparison to what Jacob might experience is somewhat unfair. Jacob's time there might go very well.

The fact remains, however, that if Jacob left Georgia so that he could be a starter or the focal point of the offense, he may or may not find what he wants at UAB. If Demarcous Cousins, UAB's top 2009 recruit, arrives, then chances are that Cousins will get a ton of shots. Casey Mitchell will shoot a lot. Jacob would probably get his share, but would that amount be more than what he would have gotten at UGA? It's impossible to predict.

Besides that, Jacob will be on his fourth year removed from high school. He played a year of post-high school ball at Hargrave, then went to Georgia and red-shirted. Next will be junior college. What happens if he's not happy at UAB?

It all might work out, and I wish Jacob well, especially since it looks like he won't be playing against UGA in the short term.

Official Story on Summer Travel of Albert Jackson and Zac Swansey

Now posted on

Nice picture of Albert Jackson.

Great experience for Jackson and Swansey. I wanted to have a little bit more on the trip, but maybe the team will post some more information later.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mississippi State ranked at #96

by CollegeHoops.Net.

Varnado is an incredible defender, and he is pretty crafty around the basket. The thought is, though, that with the loss of Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes, Mississippi State will be lacking in scoring punch. Not much is expected, then, from "the other bulldogs." College Hoops expects State to come in at #9 in the SEC.

For reference, College Hoops ranked UGA as #125, projecting the Dawgs to be next to last in the SEC. It's hard to disagree with the analysis, since on paper UGA will have to replace the scoring and defense of Jacob, Bliss, Gaines and Humphrey.

However, my sense is that although the starting five for UGA might not be that imposing, the next five off the bench will have huge contributions. Leslie, Thompkins and Ware will hopefully get enough minutes early to get them adjusted to SEC play. If Anyaorah can shoot and defend, Georgia may surprise.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ESPN Update on the Big South Conference

Former UGA basketball assistant coach, Eddie Biedenbach, is the head coach at UNC-Asheville.

Gardner Webb is the school that UGA shooting guard Ricky McPhee attended, prior to transferring to Georgia.

Gaines and Elder Together Again

This time it's not as competitors on the court. Sundiata Gaines and B.J. Elder are teammates now.

Both guys play for Pallacanestro Cantu in Italy. Gaines, who played for Georgia, and Elder, formerly a shooting guard for Georgia Tech, have likely patched up whatever differences they had before. When you're in a foreign country, and you don't know the language, anyone who speaks English and can show you around is probably viewed as a friend, notwithstanding old rivalries.

Gaines and Elder should present a formidable tandem there in the Italian League. Good luck to them both.

Donovan excited about Gators

If a leopard cannot change his spots, can a Gator change his tune?

Apparently so, if the Gator involved is Billy Donovan and he is singing about the upcoming fortunes of his basketball team.

Now, Donovan is known, fairly or not, for changing his mind. He bolted for the pro's a couple of years ago and then decided that college coaching was not so bad after all.

His change of opinion in 2008 is due not so much to "buyer's remorse" as "player development." Turns out that Donovan sees some upside in his returning players that he didn't see at the end of last season. Add to their development the arrival of several talented freshmen, and Donovan is waxing optimistic on the team's chances this year.

Like UT Needs More Talent

Fox Sports has information on how Emmanuel Negedu is performing. Negedu de-committed from Arizona, signed with Bruce Pearl's group, and is a freshman at UT this year.

All I'll say is that UGA's squad better be working hard this off-season.

New Roster up at Official Website

Doesn't have the freshmen bio's yet, though.

So as a service to UGA hoops fans, here is my filler information until the freshmen get their due recognition.

Travis Leslie:

Nickname: "T-Bird."

High School Career: Led Columbia High School to AAAA championship. Averaged 21 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks per game. Named AAAA State Player of the Year. Number 11 ranked player in the state, according to Chose Georgia over Georgia Tech, Clemson and others.

Outlook: High flier. Will be counted on for major minutes at either the scoring guard or small forward position.

Ebuka Anyaorah

Nickname: Unknown, but I vote for "EA Sports." Okay. Bad choice. Somebody, rescue me, here.

High School Career: Scored 1,459 points during his career at North Gwinnett High School. Second in Gwinnett County in scoring (behind Howard Thompkins) with a 26.3 points per game average in AAAAA, the state's toughest classification. Also garnered 8 rebounds per contest. Anyaorah twice shot 7 three-pointers in one game. Named to first team all-state for AAAAA.

Outlook: Shooter and defender with great potential. Big-time athleticism as well. With the loss of Billy Humphrey, Anyaorah will be counted on to log minutes at the shooting guard position.

Drazen Zlovaric:

Nickname: Unknown

High School Career: Varied. Due to the fact that Zlovaric is from a foreign country, he was required to attend more than one school to remain in the U.S. Last school was Patterson of North Carolina. Also played at Sagemont of Florida and in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Outlook: Shooter and a leaper at 6' 9". May figure into the mix at either small forward or scoring guard.

Dustin Ware:

Nickname: Unknown

High School Career: Played at North Cobb Christian. Led his team to back-to-back championships in the GISA. Also led NCC to national championship of the NACA tournament, where he was named the MVP.

Outlook: Will play a lot at point guard. Reliable shooter from deep. One of just two point guards on the roster, Ware will have to play well during his freshman year for UGA to compete against the SEC's guard-heavy line-ups and pressure packages.

Howard Thompkins

Nickname: "Trey"

High School Career: Averaged 30 points a game his senior year. Thompkins played his junior year for Oak Hill Academy, the number one ranked high school basketball in the country that year. Thompkins led Wesleyan High to the AA State Championship. Chose Georgia over offers from Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Florida and UNC. Ranked as the #30 overall recruit in the country by

Outlook: Scoring power forward. Possible minutes at the small forward position. Will be counted on to play a lot.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Russell Athletics Teamed up with Tech

Does Tech have to pay them money if they lose to Georgia in Basketball and Football?

I guess that on a more serious note, the Russell contract brings to the fore the issue of whether student-athletes should get paid.

Although at least one coach is quoted as saying it couldn't work because there's no fair way to divide up the money between athletes, the logical response is that "how" to divide the money between athletes is a secondary issue to "whether" to do so. If the NCAA is willing to share revenue, some mechanism could be found to allocate the funds. One obvious use of some percentage would be to put more resources into insurance benefits for athletes.

Anyway, the pot of money seems to grow every year. Television contracts, shoe companies, camps, endorsement deals, and the like. I know that it's "the nature of the beast" and it's good to have companies underwrite the cost of having high-level athletic programs and well-paid coaches. However, I keep worrying that with more and more money being poured onto campuses and into athletic departments, and bonuses for winning, etc., one day something is going to happen which will harm the games of college football and basketball.

Something worse even that seeing more Georgia Tech sportswear.

NIT Tip-Off Field Set

The NIT announced the field for this year's Tip-Off Tournament.

1. North Regional

At Purdue. Georgia plays Loyola of Illinois. Purdue vs. Eastern Mich.

2. East Regional

At Boston College. Boston College against Loyola of Maryland. Cornell plays St. John's.

3. South Regional

At Oklahoma. Oklahoma plays Mississippi Valley State. Davidson goes up against James Madison.

4. West Regional

At Arizona. Arizona plays Florida Atlantic. Santa Clara plays UAB.

The games begin at each region on November 17th. The region championships take place on November 18th. The semi-finals will be on November 26th at Madison Square Garden, and the championship will be on November 28th.

Unfinished Business

Much as I hate to see it, UT has the talent to win it all this year. Pearl feels they have some unfinished business left to do, since they haven't made it past the Sweet 16.

Cameron Tatum is better than advertised. Scotty Hopson can score. They have enough bigs to rebound and block shots, and Tyler Smith is the glue that holds everything together.

Sundiata Gaines played out of his mind last year to put Georgia in a position to almost beat UT, but his last second three was off. Somebody will have to have a huge game for Georgia to hang in there against them in the 2008/2009 season.

Transgressions, Talent and Turnover

Have discussed this issue before with regard to Coach Felton, but the attached article does the topic a little bit better than I have.

What do you do when a player messes up? What are the standards? Does the player's talent level factor into the decision?

Since Jeff Lebo has had 15 players leave for one reason or another in the five years that he has coached, how will he handle the next discipline issue?

Dated information, but for the sake of the record,

I wanted to include a post regarding Rashaad Singleton and his decision to transfer.

He wants to make it to the NBA. Although I disagreed with his decision to quit after being removed from the starting line-up, I hope he can somehow garner the attitude and physical skills such that he can maximize his potential.

Monday, August 18, 2008

True Champs

Dennis Felton joined the Walton County United Way and brought out parallels between Georgia's march to the SEC Tournament championship and the United Way reaching its goal.

The Walton United Way wants to raise $310,000 to help those less fortunate, to provide fun activities for the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and even sustain life itself through the critical aid rendered by the Red Cross.

Felton had it right. They are the Champions, my friend.

Looks like January 3, 2009, will be Difficult

Rivals did a nice job in sizing up Missouri.

UGA will have all it can handle in playing the Rivals #60 ranked squad. Missouri has shooters, slashers and athletic big men. In addition to that, they press. Sounds a little bit like UT to me.

On a side note, I wish we had been able to snag a player like J.T. Tiller. Had a 3.9 gpa coming out of high school. I think we recruited him, but he committed to UAB, and afterward, transferred to Missouri. If our program then had been in the shape it is in today, I think we could have gotten Tiller's commitment. He doesn't average a ton of points, around 7 per game, but we sure could use him right around now.

Anyway, to prepare for upcoming games such as the one against Missouri, I would have Zac Swansey and Dustin Ware running all day and all night. When the time comes and the coaching staff can officialy begin practice, I would spend some time each week working on bringing the ball up the floor against different press packages.

I like the tougher schedule, but woooo...

Albert Jackson and Score International Complete Trip

The team went 1 and 3 against pro-level competition.

Jackson held his own. Basketball in the Dominican is very physical in the post. Going up against guys like Larry Turner, formerly of the Lakers, and Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks, Jackson peformed well. He had 10 boards in one game. Five points and seven rebounds in another.

Hopefully, Jackson has been able to adjust to being back in the States and get going on the rigorous schedule of classes, weight-lifting and pre-conditioning. Without Dave Bliss in the middle, we will need Jackson to "man up" in the post this year.

Great experience all the way around for Jackson.

ABAC wants BBall Back

At least some of the students do, and they are supported by a number of individuals in the community and even the editorial staff at WALB.

Now, I doubt that UGA will be dipping into the JUCO ranks for players any time soon, and if Georgia did, it probably wouldn't be for more than one athlete every 5 or 6 years. However, this issue is bigger than UGA basketball, and it's even bigger than basketball in small towns and basketball in the state of Georgia. It's about the kids, and for that reason, I'm blogging about it.

The student-athletes at ABAC are just that. They are student-athletes. And in that sense, they aren't "just that." They're "all that." Guys and girls who love the game of basketball, enough to travel on buses to compete against other small schools in small arenas. However, watch the video. The kids are big on effort. They give it their all night in and night out.

While there is a chance that ABAC players will get noticed and earn a scholarship to a four-year institution, the vast majority of the kids know that this is their moment. And they are seizing it. Many of the players not only produce on the court, but also in the classroom, earning GPA's of over 3.0.

Cutbacks are tough, and there will be more painful impacts from reduced state revenues. And sure, it's small school basketball and it may seem that the game might not merit the continued investment of scarce state resources. However, ABAC basketball is no doubt a valued part of the overall student experience, and the game provides a great outlet for the players and quality entertainment in southwest Georgia and beyond.

Maybe the alumni can pull together and make a statement. Perhaps a wealthy member of the community can step in-- I'm not sure to do what, but step in, nonetheless.

There are no easy answers. But I'm not looking for an easy answer-- just the right one. And the elimination of basketball altogether, in my very humble opinion, is not it.

Let's get bball back at ABAC.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kenny Sky Walker on the 2008 UK Team

Interesting to hear Walker's take on how UK is looking prior to the start of the season. At the risk of unfairly characterizing his thoughts, here is my summary of his comments, followed by my own brief remarks:

"Meeks is healthy." Sounds good, but can he stay healthy?

"Patterson is tough." Given.

"Darius Miller can play."

"UK will have difficulty making shots. And they really need a point guard."

My sense is that UK has an upgraded roster from last year, but that they will sorely miss Bradley and Crawford. Sounds like the strategy would be for UGA to sag into the middle and take away the lobs into Patterson. If UK struggles to shoot, maybe they will lose their confidence and UGA will be take at least one game from UK this year.

Gamecocks steal Euros

or smashed Euros, or did something to Klosterneuburg for them to not put up much of a fight. South Carolina ended up winning the game by a score of 112 to 59. The Gamecocks finished their European tour with a record of 4 and 0.

If their recent trans-Atlantic trip is any indication, Coach Darrin Horn will start the season with a three-guard line-up. Downey will still get most of the points, but Zam Frederick can put up points in a hurry if he's on.

Should be a tough game when UGA goes into competition against the Gamecocks. They are strongest in their guards, and we are weakest at that position. Hopefully, we will get better and better as the year progresses, and by the time the SEC portion of the schedule arrives, our guards will be ready to hold their own.

A Little More on Favors

including N.C. State's interest in him and his work on fundamentals.

I don't like N.C. State having repeated success recruiting in Georgia. Doesn't bode well for the future.

At any rate, Lowe's team is among the schools that Favors will visit. I guess they might feel that the state of Georgia owes them one for 'Nique. Since they got Richard Howell and Lorenzo Brown, that's all the repayment they should get for the next 6 or 7 classes.

It was good to read the remarks of Coach Michael Reddick. Sounds like a very solid guy. I understand that he played internationally at one point, and that as a former pro at the center position, he works very well on teaching big guys.

Coach Reddick made the comparison that I did during the last day or two. Favors reminds him of Tim Duncan. Reddick also mentioned Kevin Garnett. Hadn't thought about Garnett, but Garnett might be an even better comparison than Duncan.

I'd love to get Favors. He's the kind of recruit that we need. Head on straight. Great player. If he comes in and teams up with Howard Thompkins, UGA would have very, very exciting games.