LEADOFF: Dominique Wilkins looks forward to calling UGA game

Basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins is in his eighth season as analyst on Hawks telecasts. (File photo by Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com)

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Basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins is in his eighth season as analyst on Hawks telecasts. (File photo by Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com)

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Dominique Wilkins will do something Friday night he's never done before: broadcast a college basketball game.

“This is my first one,” he said. “But basketball is basketball. It’s just a different environment.”

Wilkins and Bob Rathbun, who work together on Hawks telecasts, will take advantage of an off day on the NBA team’s schedule to call Georgia’s season-opening game at Clemson on Fox Sports South.

Wilkins, a former UGA and Hawks superstar, said he jumped at the assignment because the Bulldogs are playing in the game.

“If it hadn’t been Georgia, I probably wouldn’t have done it, to be honest with you,” he said.

“I can’t tell you what that university means to me personally, so anytime I can engage and show my face and show my appreciation I want to do it. Georgia has a pretty nice team this year. It’s going to be interesting to see them perform and get a chance to call the game.”

Rathbun and Wilkins will handle the same roles they do on the Hawks’ 78 Fox Sports Southeast telecasts — play-by-play announcer and game analyst, respectively.

Unlike Wilkins, Rathbun is a veteran of college basketball broadcasting. Around his Hawks duties, he currently fits in about five to seven college telecasts a year.

Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast this season will televise 83 men’s basketball games and 78 women’s games, including home games from four conferences — ACC, Atlantic 10, Big 12 and Big East. The networks’ first telecast of the season, at 7 p.m. Friday on Fox Sports South, features the “grand reopening” of Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum, which was closed last season for a $63.5 million renovation.

“It’s such a big night for Clemson with the reopening of Littlejohn and a great way to kick off the college season,” Rathbun said. “Getting Georgia on our air is a rarity, so it’s big from that standpoint and big for our subscribers in South Carolina to get to see Clemson play.

“I think we’ll have a great game. We’ve got two of the biggest stars in the ACC and SEC — Jaron Blossomgame for Clemson and J.J. Frazier for Georgia — and two programs that I think are going to be NCAA (tournament) teams.”

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Already a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Wilkins will be inducted next week into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

He’ll enter the college hall with his former UGA coach, Hugh Durham.

Both will be enshrined during ceremonies Nov. 18 in Kansas City.