Georgia men’s basketball coach Mark Fox was also on the docket to speak to fans at the UGA Days gathering at the Convention Center at Gwinnett Center on Monday evening and he was effusive in his optimism.
Coaches are allowed by rule these days to spend a certain amount of time working their players over the summer, and that includes the incoming freshmen and transfers. The Bulldogs, who notably lost sophomore Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the NBA draft lottery, added four first-year players through recruiting. Fox likes what he has seen so far.
“We’ve been real impressed,” Fox said an two hours before taking the stage to speak to fans. “Juwan Parker is stronger than most freshmen that come in. He tested with a 40-inch vertical and he’s having a good summer. J.J. Frazier brings a dimension to us that haven’t had with a lot of speed and quickness and the ability to stretch the defense with a deep 3-point shot. Kenny Paul Geno has had an unbelievable summer, maybe graded out the best of all the freshmen in workouts. Cam Forte came in as a JUCO player the first of July and he’s off to a good start. All those guys have worked very hard.”
The KCP Effect: Of course, Caldwell-Pope’s absence is will be a blow to the Bulldogs on the court this coming season. But his early departure is actually good for the program’s image, Fox said.
“For Kentavious to go where he went in the draft (No. 8 to Detroit Pistons), that just helps us in the long run,” Fox said. “Coach Richt and I have talked about this. In the short term it makes it challenging. But ultimately you’ve got to be able to prove you can put guys into next level. Outside of Kentucky I think we’ve had more early-entries than anybody else in the league. That certainly brings some challenges, but ultimately that’s what these young people you recruit want to be able to do, to go to the next level. You have to be able to prove you can help them do that.”
Meanwhile, Caldwell-Pope is keeping a presence in Athens. Despite invitations to train in Los Angeles and other cosmopolitan cities, KCP chose to return to Athens to work out before heading to the Pistons’ training camp later this summer.
“He’s actually working out with (director of basketball operations) Kent Davison, who’s not allowed to train our players when they’re in school but can once they graduate,” Fox said. “Kent spent 10 years in the minor leagues training pro players, so he’s working with him every day. Gerald Robinson has been back the last couple of days working with him, too, and he’s really working hard.”
Fox figures that kind of presence can only enhance Georgia’s basketball reputation.
Not your average redshirt: Here’s one you don’t hear every day. Fox said that an invited walk-on is likely headed for a redshirt year due injuries from a bomb explosion.
Dasun Langura, a native of Romont, Switzerland, who played high school ball at Furtah Prep in Acworth, is serving a mandatory year of military service as a citizen of his country and it was in that capacity that he was injured. Fox would not provide details of the explosion other than Langura suffered a knee injury as a result.
“It’s a unique story,” Fox said. “He was injured when a bomb exploded while he was serving his military time in Switzerland. He’s recovering from a torn ACL, so he won’t play this year… . He had to serve his military commitment and this happened during it, so we’re going to honor our commitment to him. Once he gets healthy, he’ll be out there with us. But he probably won’t cleared to practice until I would guess January or February.”
Langura, a 6-4 wing player, is one of two invited walkons. The other is 5-10 guard Brandon Young of Marist.
Thornton ready to go: Speaking of knee injuries, junior forward Marcus Thornton has had several of them, including the latest which led to a medical redshirt last season. But Fox reported Thornton was fully recovered and cleared to play.
“I think he tested just short of 40 inches on his vertical jump,” Fox said. “He’s got a lot of confidence in his body again. We have to get him in shape, in practice shape and in game shape. But he’s healthy to start doing everything and he’s had a really good summer. He’s really looking pretty good.”
A week after a pair of unimpressive losses, Georgia Tech regained a bit of its footing. The Yellow Jackets delivered an emphatic 87-57 thrashing of East Tennessee State on Saturday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion to head into their final exam week on an up note.