While most of the talk around the South is about getting the college football season cranked up within the next month or so, it might be hard to wrap your mind around the fact that Georgia’s basketball team is already hard at work and will actually embark on full-time preseason preparations within the next month.
The Bulldogs are one of college basketball’s fortunate teams in that they’re playing an early exhibition schedule this year in Spain. Their 10-day trip gets underway July 31 and they’ll get 10 practices to prepare for it beforehand.
“We do get 10 practices as a group before we go, so that will be very beneficial for us in July,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said on the SEC basketball coaches’ summer teleconference on Monday.
Led by stars J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten, the Bulldogs return three starters from last year’s 20-14 team that advanced one round into the National Invitation Tournament last year. That number grows to five if one counts guard Juwan Parker, a previous starter who missed last season due to an Achilles injury, and Kenny Paul Geno, who started 10 of 34 games.
Fox spoke optimistically about Parker being able play this season.
Juwan’s doing very well. “He’s back full-go in workouts. He’s doing much more this summer than he did at the end of last winter. So I think he’s back on track, though he still does have some limitations.”
Georgia obviously will have to replace strong contributions and production of guards Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann. The Bulldogs are getting some idea of their ability to do that during summer workouts with their three newcomers: freshman guards Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris and junior college transfer Pape (pronounced “pop”) Diatta.
“We probably still have the same opinion of all three of them as we did when we recruited them,” Fox said. “They’ve spent the first few weeks just trying to learn how hard you have to work at this level. They’re trying to make the transition as students and players. The summer is about just trying to do that and get them comfortable with the workload that’s required. Once they adjust and find a new comfort level with that I think we’ll see them really improve and become the players we think they can be.”
- Diatta is a 6-7, 210-pound forward from the College of Southern Idaho. A native of Dakar, Senegal, Diatta averaged 13.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while helping Southern Idaho’s Golden Eagles to a 22-9 finish as a sophomore.
- Tyree Crump (6-2, 175) was named first-team All-State for Class 4A by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a junior and averaged 22.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the Bearcats.
- Harris (6-5, 175) was named 2015 Georgia Player of the Year for Class 2A by both the Georgia Sports Writers Association and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after leading Seminole County to a state championship. Last season, Harris averaged 27.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 3.6 steals and 1.9 blocks per game for the Indians.