By GEORGE HENRY
Associated Press Writer
ATHENS, Ga.(AP) — Before focusing on leading Georgia to an NCAA
tournament appearance, first-year coach Mark Fox has a more
Winning recruiting battles in his home state comes first, and
Fox knows his work has just begun to positively spin the
Bulldogs with nearby high school kids.
“That’s an issue that this program has faced,” Fox said Tuesday.
“I think what we’re focused on is that young people come to
Georgia and all their dreams can come true.”
Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina
are visiting the same homes. Fox also must convince recruits
that his university offers a better alternative than other
regional schools like Clemson and Florida State that the
Bulldogs rarely play.
“We want young men to know they can come to Georgia and leave to
play in the NBA,” Fox said. “They can come to Georgia and leave
here with a degree. They can come to Georgia and play in the
NCAA tournament. Those are things we have to establish.”
In his previous job, Fox was instrumental in helping Nevada earn
three NCAA bids in five seasons. Georgia is coming off a 12-20
season and a 3-13 mark in the Southeastern Conference under
Fox’s predecessor, Dennis Felton, and former interim coach Pete
Fox already solved his biggest potential problem in May when
highly regarded forward Trey Thompkins, the Bulldogs’ top
returning scorer (12.6 points) and rebounder (7.9), decided not
Another concern was getting other returning players to believe
in his ability to wipe out the disappointment that Felton,
despite a surprising SEC tournament title in 2008, left behind
with a career conferencerecord of 26-59 at Georgia.
Center Albert Jackson, who along with guard Ricky McPhee is one
of just two returning seniors projected for lots of minutes, was
the first player to verbally support Fox when the new coach held
his debut meeting with the Bulldogs.
“I think he can be a good example and a good leader for us,” Fox
said. “Hopefully he won’t be the lone ranger in that regard.”
Fox went 123-43 in five years at Nevada, winning four Western
Athletic Conference titles. The Wolf Pack advanced to the second
round of the NCAA tournament twice, an accomplishment that has
helped him show that his insistence on running man-to-man
defense and a hybrid version of NBA coach Phil Jackson’s
triangle offense can work.
Dustin Ware is the only returning point guard with experience,
but Fox signed transfer Gerald Robinson to help in practice.
Robinson, who averaged 17.8 points last season at Tennessee
State, can’t play until next year.
“I think our players are ready for a fresh start,” Fox said. “I
think last year was a long year was a long year for them. They
would admit that to you. I’ve inherited a group of young people
that are very receptive to what we want to do.”