Monday, May 4, 2015

Jaylen Brown to Cal

Congrats to Brown.

Lots of angles on this development.

1.  Georgia didn't get him

Disappointing, but only mildly so.  Would have fit well in the triangle offense.  Don't like it when the state's top hoops recruit goes elsewhere.  But...

2.  Kentucky didn't get him either

Now that's absolutely huge for UGA.  Kinda like when the cute girl next door, the one you helped with her Algebra homework, turns you down to prom.

If she up and joins the military after graduation, that's so much better than if she goes to vo-tech and ends up dating the captain of your high school's football team.

3.  Vindicates the Student-Athlete approach

Sure, UGA would love to get a bunch of five-star hoops players.  And sure there is a bit of envy when one or two schools get the top athletes year after year.

But there's more to it.  College sports fans enjoy cheering for the legitimate amateur athlete.

An occasional guy who goes early to the pros is part of sports life.  But there is something hollow about a school that constantly churns one-year athletes.

Kentucky coach John Calipari has made it part of his MO.  He actually tells guys not to come back to school.  He says that that advice is for the student-athlete's benefit, but I, for one, don't believe him.  Not that it matters what I think, but my point is that some college freshmen, talented though they may be, aren't physically and mentally ready for the NBA.

Ready or not, if Calipari can clear his roster of players and thereby have room for the next monster haul of recruits, he'll do it.  That keeps the fan base excited and prevents other teams from getting high-level athletes.

Well, if that is his strategy, it didn't work this year.  Zimmerman committed to UNLV.  Bryant to Indiana, Swanigan to Michigan State.  Ingram to Duke.  Newman to Mississippi State.  Brown to California.

Kentucky fans have reacted with righteous indignation.  "How dare they!"

Not that anybody should feel sorry for Coach Calipari.  He still has a five-star point guard, five-star power forward, and two four-star shooting guards coming in.  And the cupboard isn't exactly bare, either, with Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress ready to play a lot more minutes.

At the same time, playing Kentucky next season will be different. UK dominated teams this year through superior length.  Lots of big guys.  Next year, not so much (although Thon Maker could pledge soon).  If Kentucky starts to lose games, Calipari may jump to the NBA himself.

4.  Went outside the SEC

If UGA didn't get Brown, the best case scenario for the Dawgs was that Brown go to a team outside the SEC.  That, he did.  Which brings up the last point:

5.  Parity in the SEC

Going to be interesting this year.  Have to like what LSU has put together.  Ben Simmons went there.

Mississippi State will have some good outings.  Malik Newman went there.

UK will still be quite good.  Briscoe went there.

Florida has some good recruits.  But with the coaching turnover, Florida's loss is Oklahoma City's gain.  Donovan went there.

The bottom line is that with Brown to California, there is no one dominant line-up in the SEC.  That's good for the SEC and great for UGA.

We were third in the SEC this season.  With our upgrade in talent, we should be right there to win the conference title this year.

True, we didn't get Jaylen Brown, but UGA basketball is in better shape than it has been in a long time.