ATHENS — It’s summer, and football season is about to begin. So of course here’s a detailed post about the Georgia basketball team.
Mark Fox’s team is preparing for a summer trip to Spain, where it will play three exhibition games and presumably find out whether Generalissimo Franco is still dead. In the lead-up to the trip the team is allowed to hold full-fledged practices, and on Thursday Fox let members of the public (and the media) view the team’s run through.
Here are some observations, mainly dealing with the newcomers, but also some on the returning players:
- The player that stood out, at least at this practice, was Pape Diatta. The junior college transfer made shots shots in the lane, ran the floor well, swatted a ball out of someone’s hands, and just generally looked ready to play. He has the size (6-7) to play power forward in some smaller lineups, in which he could flex out to that stretch-4 spot; His outside shot is good enough to do so. But Diatta also runs well enough to be a small forward in a bigger lineup, where he could be a size mismatch for a smaller offensive player. Fox called Diatta “a very good passer – almost to a fault.” Diatta may not be a spectacular scorer, but he looks like a good piece for this year’s team. He’ll play.
- Freshman guard Tyree Crump also looks ready to contribute, perhaps as the first guard off the bench. He’s only 6-foot-1, but he’s pretty stout and moves very fast, and moves easily with the ball. That should help him in transition and perhaps as a slasher. It’s hard to tell about Crump’s shooting ability; he kind of rares back before he shoots. He was matched with J.J. Frazier for much of the scrimmage portion of the practice, which should help hone his defensive skills.
- Jordan Harris, the other freshman guard, wasn’t as active in this practice. Maybe he’s still feeling his way through and will be more assertive later. He’s 6-4 and thus can do a few more things than Crump, but not yet.
- Watching Juwan Parker play reminds you that his loss did really hurt. He may not have been quite the difference-maker Fox has played him up to be, but he’s a veteran presence who can do almost everything pretty well: Passing, defending, rebounding, shooting, driving. We’ll see how it plays out, but Parker could return to his starting small forward spot. Either Parker or Diatta appear the best options.
- Sophomore forward Derek Ogbeide had some good made shots close to the basket. He’s already a rebounding machine, and if he can be a consistent scoring threat, taking some attention off Yante Maten, then that would bode pretty well for the Bulldogs.
- It’s ridiculously early to say this, but the best starting five right now might be this: 1-Frazier, 2-Parker, 3-Diatta, 4-Ogbeide, 5-Maten …. A few of the other guys (Turtle Jackson, the freshman guards) may have more long-term upside, but Parker and Diatta looked ready to play right now, and that gives you a very veteran lineup.
- Jackson was held out of Thursday’s practice with tendinitis, so no updated thoughts on him. But for what it’s worth he was the first player Fox mentioned when he was asked if any returning players had made any offseason strides. (The other player was sophomore forward E’Torrion Wilridge, who hit a corner 3 during Thursday’s practice.)