With small forward Brandon Morris gone and the door slammed behind him, the Bulldog Nation is speculating on the versatile rising junior’s replacement. Dawn of the Dawg has discussed the likely new role for rising sophomore guard Juwan Parker. However, the falling dominoes of Morris’ departure effect every player on the team, and none more than rising sophomore J.J. Frazier.
Frazier, a point guard first and last, is the lynchpin of Georgia Basketball’s 2015 roster. If he can play significant minutes, Charles Mann can play SG or SF – positions he played well last year. With Mann or Parker playing the SG position, Kenny Gaines can also play the SF position.
While Mann, Gaines and Parker all can play well at Morris’s former SF position, to do so regularly J. J. Frazier must play significant minutes and play well. There is no other option.
Frazier is slightly built at 5’9” and his first appearance in a Georgia uniform – a month after turning 18 – prompted jokes of, “ . . . bring your kid to work day?”
It took only a few games to confirm the gifts which prompted J. J.’s scholarship offer – blazing speed, excellent ball handling, athleticism, strong hands, excellent passing and court vision, and a promising 3 point shot. It took only a few minutes for Frazier to endear himself to the Bulldog faithful with his ball raking defense, court generalship, and hell-bent for leather play in the open court.
Frazier’s early commitment out of little Faith Baptist Christian School in Ludowici, GA, and the likelihood of weak scholastic competition, lifted eyebrows and rolled eyes. A closer look revealed a different story.
Jesse Fleming, Frazier’s AAU Coach (South Georgia Kings) told Dan McDonald of Rivals.com duing Frazier’s senior year, “He’s basically been playing at a junior college level. He’s been playing against 19 and 20 year old kids since he was in 8th grade. It’s really helped his game over the years and it will help transition to college. They play against a lot of the top prep schools in the country. They played against Oak Hill this year and did pretty well and J.J. did very well.”
Regarding Frazier’s immediate commitment to Georgia, fans assumed he would have no other high major offers. Of this we will never know because the lifelong Bulldog fan committed to Georgia in February of his junior year. About that early commitment, Fleming said, “He always wanted to go to Georgia. He’s always dreamed of playing at Georgia. So when Mark Fox calls and comes down to watch you play and offers you a chance to play there, it didn’t matter who else came into the picture for him.”
Frazier’s comments to Dan McDonald of Rivals.com should endear him to all Bulldogs:
“It only took three days after I got offered for me to commit. Once I got the offer, there was nothing to really compare. I always knew I wanted to go to Georgia, so it wasn’t a hard decision. I wanted to be a Dawg from the start.”
This past season, Frazier played in all but one game (regular season Kentucky) and averaged 10.5 minutes a night. However, he averaged 15.4 minutes a night the last 10 games of the season, including two NIT games and Georgia’s 5 – 3 stretch run to gain a post-season birth.
If Frazier can extend that effort to 20 minutes a game in the coming season, it will allow Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines to split the 15 – 20 minutes of the needed 40 minutes at the SF position. If Juwan Parker and Cameron Forte – Morris’s occasionally used backup last year – can then play 20- 25 minutes of the needed 40 SF minutes this year, Georgia can have a successful season.
What must Frazier do to play the effective 20 minutes a game needed this year? During the past season, Frazier shot 35.7 % from the field and 66.7% from the free throw line to average 3.7 points per game. With nearly three-quarters of his shots coming from behind the arc (32.4% ) and his two point attempts (44.4%) coming inside against much taller players, those numbers may be deceiving. Frazier also averaged 1 assist and a half a turnover per game in his ten minutes a night.
However, this season Frazier must shoot over 40% from the field and over 35% from behind the arc. He also must shoot 68% from the free throw stripe and, in the clutch with the game on the line, over 75%.
To drop all of this to the bottom line, Frazier needs to score eight points a game. This is certainly doable as during the last 10 games of 2014, which included eight games against conference competition and two NIT games, Frazier shot over 41% from the field and over 36% from behind the arc to averaged over six points a game.
There is little doubt in the mind of Dawn of the Dawgs that Frazier, playing 20 minutes a night, will make over 2 assists per game and have less than one and a half turnovers per game. We’ll predict a 3 to 1 assist to turnover ratio.
Everything J. J. Frazier must do for the Bulldogs to be successful is reasonable to expect. Dawn of the Dawg expects him to surpass some of these expectations and to remind Bulldog fans that it’s not the size of the dog, but the size of the fight he carries in his heart.