Saturday, April 4, 2009

Would Raymond Higgs Consider a Basketball Scholarship?

Higgs is a 6' 3" shooting guard who was named "First Team All-State" for his school's classification (Single A). The kid can jump 7' 7". He played at Sagemont Academy, the same school that Drazen Zlovaric attended for a while. Since Sagemont did not have a track team, Higgs looked for another school, and he is now a senior at Athens Christian.

Sounds like a perfect first signee for new coach, Mark Fox.

Because Higgs is from the Bahamas and has moved around a lot since coming to the U.S., he has flown under the radar screen somewhat. Contributing to his relatively unknown status is the fact that it's hard for Higgs to decide which sport to play.

Known primarily for track, Higgs managed to pick up on the American sport of football. Back in the track and field environment after basketball season ended, Higgs has continued to show his amazing athleticism. In a recent track meet, Higgs won the high jump, long jump and triple jump in the individual events, and was a member of the winning 400 meter and 1600 meter relay teams.

As impressive as Higgs is in the other sports, he was just as good in basketball. Higgs averaged 26 points per game, to go with 6 steals per outing. In fact, the Athens Christian coach stated that Higgs could score 60 if he as the coach kept Higgs in the game and made him the focus of the team.

If Georgia can ink Higgs, it sounds like we would get a fast, explosive leaper and lockdown defender. Put him with Dustin Ware and Travis Leslie on the break, and things could be a lot of fun.

One problem: Higgs is reportedly leaning toward Arkansas, because of their track program.

Mr. Higgs: Come to UGA. Get hooked up with the track program, which is up and coming, as I remember. In any case, play whichever sport you like, as long as you include enough time to help out the UGA basketball squad. Athens is home for you, and your friends and family can continue to watch you play.


Steve Newman to play in Bellingham

Steve Newman is playing for the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League.

Unfortunately, Newman has been in a prolonged playing slump, and if I remember correctly, had a shooting percentage below 30 percent, after being released by the Utah Flash and getting picked up by the Energy. Since Iowa is heading to the D-League playoffs, I'm not expecting them to significantly change their roster, but I wonder if they will invite Newman back for next season.

At any rate, Newman still wants to play. After the D-League season is over, he will be heading out west to Bellingham, Washington. He will play for an international basketball league team there.


Fred Gibson released by Albuquerque

Happened right at a month ago. I have not seen if Gibson has been picked up by any other team. I'll look around and find out what I can.

More on Fox

Fox has made his pitch to Trey Thompkins.

And Fox is right. If Georgia is to be successful next year, Thompkins will have to be in great shape and score a lot of points. Leading scorer, Terrance Woodbury, will have graduated, and it's Thompkins' place to step up.

So the biggest recruiting job for Fox is to keep the roster intact. He hasn't mentioned much about recruiting for next year, and I think that's wise-- manage expectations at the outset, and if you can find a sleeper, sign him up.

What does the future hold for Georgia? Some are genuinely excited about the hire, and point to the fact that Fox was very effective in his conference.

To be honest, having successive 20-win seasons in the WAC doesn't do much for me. If you beat Sonoma State, Arkansas Pine Bluff and Montana State, and then win twice each against conference competition the likes of Boise State, Idaho, Fresno State, and Hawaii, then you're more than half-way there.

However, if Fox and his team had played Mississippi State and LSU and Auburn and UF and Kentucky and Tennessee and South Carolina, what would Nevada's record have been? Was his Nevada squad better than any of the top teams in the SEC East? Anybody realistically think so? Keep in mind that Nevada lost in the first round of the CBI (not the NIT and not the NCAA).

I want to give Fox a chance, and I certainly hope he wins a lot of games. The thought did cross my mind that if Fox is unsuccessful, the task of snagging a marquee coach three years from now will be much, much harder than it was this year. However, I battled that idea off. I was optimistic with Harrick, the same way with Felton, and I'm sure I will eventually view the cup as "half-full" with Fox.

Fox Steps into the Job

Scout has a good article.

Although Trey Thompkins sounds noncommital, I think he'll stick around. Here's hoping that Fox surprises me, and that he can lead UGA hoops to the promised land.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Man, I sure hope this works.

Coach Mark Fox will have his work cut out for him. He has to move across the country, find a house, and assemble his staff. He has to make sense of the roster at Georgia.

The good thing is that Felton left some talent, with some decent players in each class. So, in that sense, Fox will have much more to work with than Felton had when he arrived.

Albert Jackson is the lone senior, although I suspect that Ricky McPhee might get placed on scholarship. The junior class has Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes. Sophomores will be Travis Leslie, Dustin Ware, Drazen Zlovaric and Howard Thompkins. Ebuka Anyaorah, Daniel Miller and Demario Mayfield will be freshmen.

Everyone is academically eligible, for now. Hopefully, Travis Leslie will stay that way. There is no NCAA cloud.

The remaining questions: Will there be more defections from the roster? Can Fox hire a great recruiter for Atlanta? If we can't bring in a big-name head coach, what makes us think we can attract a top-flight recruiter? Are there any other recruits still on the board?

So, there are some answers, some questions. I sure hope this works.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Not Impressed

Well, Georgia has a new coach. It's Mark Fox, the former head coach at Nevada.

I hate to say it, but I already did, so since the damage is done, I'll say it one more time. I am underwhelmed by the choice.

Coach Fox has had some success in the WAC. Has had a few victories in out of conference games. But who realistically thinks he can stand toe to toe with Pearl, Donovan and Calipari?

He will have three scholarships open for next year. What makes us think that he can recruit Georgia well? Which AAU coaches does he know? Which high schooler has even heard of him?

He could surprise, but my expectation is that unless Ebuka is able to shoot lights out, Georgia will be bottom of the conference again next year.

I will get behind the team and support him as coach, but I would be lying if I told you I was excited.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Can't say I like the Fashion Statement...

but Ezra Williams is still playing with the Toros. He's even getting after it a little on his perimeter defense.

Williams is averaging 11 points and 4 rebounds per game this year. Always a long-range threat, Ezra is shooting 43% from behind the arc, which might attract the attention of a couple of NBA squads. Of course, most NBA 2-guards have to do a lot more than shoot 3's, so the right situation for Williams would be a team with a dominant post presence, perhaps the Orlando Magic.

Williams has had a pretty long career. We'll see if he'll ever get his shot at the next level.

SEC East Basketball

Not for the faint of heart.

Donovan at UF. Calipari at UK. Bruce Pearl at Tennessee. Yikes. Battle Royal at the top of the SEC East.

But don't forget the other guys. Darrin Horn surprised me this past year with South Carolina. And Stallings is always good at Vanderbilt. Just their gym gives them 2 or 3 wins a year, and once Vandy gets everybody healthy, they'll be a tough team to play.

That leaves us with UGA. What do you think the future holds?

Anybody know what's going on in the Coaching Search?

We have money and the desire to hire a good head coach. But since we were rejected by the only guy that we openly pursued, I have no idea who we're after, and if we'll be successful in getting our top choices.

I was intrigued by Anthony Grant. I'll admit it. I don't know whether we pushed for him.

There are some former professional coaches out there. I am not particularly impressed with Tim Floyd because of the recruiting "smoke" that indicates a fire somewhere. Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but somebody was in charge when all of O.J. Mayo's handlers were getting paid.

Mike Woodson? I'll believe that when I see it. The Hawks are up and coming, and his team is in the 4th slot in the Eastern Conference. People aren't calling for his job these days, so I think he'll stay in the NBA. The one thing you can say about Woodson: he would be an excellent "x's and o's" guy. The Hawks run a lot of different sets-- not perfect schemes, but well beyond what Georgia has had traditionally.

Reggie Theus? Sam Mitchell? UGA could do worse. Don't know how either would fit in Athens, but maybe it could work.

A number of other coaches might be available: Scott Drew at Baylor. Brad Stevens.

I still get the sense that UGA wants a big name, and someone who knows how to win at the college level. And it should be a guy who does not have any significant baggage.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Tubby back.