Georgia sports have been in a lull lately, something that may have not hit every Bulldog fan yet. The football team had its worst season of the decade, finishing with a less than outstanding 8-5 record.
Though we are all optimistic that football will fix itself, basketball in Athens has been overlooked and neglected by most for the past decade.
The team has not been relevant since 2002, when NCAA violations sent the program spiraling downward.
With Dennis Felton taking over, Georgia seemed to be making their way back up. However, just as soon as the Dawgs began winning games, superstar in the making Mike Mercer was kicked off the team.
Junior College transfer Takais Brown would have to leave the team.
One of Georgia's top scorers Billy Humphrey never stayed out of trouble, and he had to leave the team.
There might even be Georgia fans reading this and going, "Who?"
Let's face it, how many people are passionate about Georgia basketball?
Well, as a life long Dawg fan, I can say Georgia basketball has always been relevant to me. I try to watch any marquee game they play. I follow their recruiting just as closely as football.
All in hopes that this program will one day become relevant yet again. They seem to be the masters at failing to develop young talent, and furthermore getting young talent kicked out of Athens.
Well Dawg fans, the future might actually be brightening up. The Mark Fox era has begun, and although an 8-6 record is nothing pretty, the Dawgs are playing good basketball.
Their 73-66 win over No. 17 Georgia Tech sparked some excitement, and their near-upset of Kentucky yesterday almost felt like a win.
Georgia has two big-name players who could develop into playmakers — the type of players that lift programs.
Howard "Trey" Thompkins and Travis Leslie are just as impressive of prospects as anyone else in the SEC.
However, Leslie has escalated above his teammate Thompkins, and against Kentucky put on an impressive performance that raised some eyebrows.
Leslie, the talented two/three guard, is second on the team in scoring behind Thompkins.
Leslie impressed me with his versatile shooting. He made a stellar fade-away bank-shot in a key moment in the game. He also had a steal and reverse lay up which pulled Georgia within two points with just over a minute remaining.
And let us not forget about the posterizing dunk he slammed in the first half. Leslie scored Georgia's first 10 points, all against one of the best teams in the country, proving that he is a big time player.
His highlights are pretty extensive, and his 20 point effort against Kentucky was the second best of his young career. Georgia fans have been waiting for that Mike Mercer, Takais Brown, Billy Humphrey type of player who could stay out of trouble.
Well, hopefully not to jinx anything, but Leslie might be it. Thompkins has already built plenty of accolades for himself, and his potential is great. However, Leslie has risen up to be a stand out player — something Georgia has needed to get their team to stand out.
As the Dawgs turn to the SEC schedule, and more of their games come on television, try tuning in and watching Travis Leslie. Just a sophomore, he is surely becoming an energetic leader and someone who can lift the confidence and intensity of the players around him.
He really seems to be a special player, and hopefully can help mold Georgia into a better team in the next three seasons.