Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Georgia is Close

The high water mark for Fox basketball was when he had the athletes.  Doesn't get much better than this.

Fox could put on the floor a point guard who would protect the ball and shoot clutch free throws (Dustin Ware), a shooting guard who defended well and was reliable from deep (Ricky McPhee), a bulky guy with a big butt in the low post (Jeremy Price), a tall athlete at the high post (Trey Thompkins), and a sky-walking small forward (Travis Leslie).

UGA gobbled up rebounds with Thompkins, Price, and Leslie, and we could employ the match-up zone effectively with a long athletic guy at the top of the zone.

The problem is that all the athletes were Felton recruits.  When they left, the cupboard wasn't exactly bare, but it definitely was not well stocked.

Dawg fans have been waiting for the glory days to come back.  Meanwhile, we won the best we could.  Lost games we should have won.  Endured ugly basketball.

Well, guys.  I think Georgia is close.  Given the 2015 signing class and the 2016 commitments, we may be able to mix and match pieces and deploy some guys who will bring the excitement back.

Next year Fox can put on the floor two point guards who will give us some of the contributions that Dustin Ware made.

Charles Mann will be a senior.  With better athletes around him and reduced minutes, he won't have to force the action.  This will cut down on his turnovers and boost his assists.  Mann is a career 69 percent free throw shooter.  If he can improve those numbers to hit 75 to 80 percent, Georgia will close out some games with victories that we previously would have lost.

J.J. Frazier won't have to start, though he might.  He'll man the point whenever Chuck doesn't.  He is a clutch free throw shooter already, averaging 83 percent from the line.  He shoots it well (40 percent) from behind the arc.  He even gets more rebounds, four per game, than you would think.  Don't know how much his wrist injury impacted his shooting late in the season, but if he heals in the off-season and gives us any part of what he delivered against Mississippi State, look out.

At shooting guard will be Kenny Gaines.  Between being sick and the shoulder injury and the ankle injury (did I miss one?), it was amazing that we got as much this year out of Gaines as we did.  A healthy senior class Kenny Gaines will continue to defend well and will find that the shots and drives to the basket come easier for him.

Behind Gaines will likely be combo guard Turtle Jackson.  Jackson is perhaps not the shooter that McPhee was, but when he's on, Turtle can hit it from deep.  Even better, McPhee was primarily a catch and shoot guy, while Jackson can shoot it, take the ball to the rim and finish, or dish it to teammates.

Derek Ogbeide is a more athletic Jeremy Price.  Not as skilled offensively around the bucket, but he has all the tools.  Yante Maten is more skilled, but not as physical as Ogbeide.  Either way, Georgia has some pretty good options at low post.

As for the tall high post?  Yante Maten and E'Torrion Wilridge are our best bets there for now.  Wilridge is not as tall as Trey Thompkins and he doesn't have the range to step out and hit the three, but he will give Georgia good moments.  If Fox seals the deal with Mike Edwards, he would be the perfect candidate to fill the Thompkins role.

What UGA has been lacking is the Travis Leslie-type athlete.  They don't come around every day.  That's why we're close, rather than already there.  Can Yasir Rosemond bring in Jaylen Brown?  If so, then we're there.  If not, then 2015 will have to wait until 2016.  Jordan Harris is a skywalker and defender like Leslie, and a better shooter at the same point.

Georgia is close.

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