Can Georgia Basketball Get Its Big Man?


All but a handful of basketball programs live away from the edge, but Georgia Basketball has a permanent address mere feet from a fatal fall.

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The Georgia basketball program is riding the wave of back to back 20 win seasons and two cycles of elite guard recruiting. Still, Georgia is once again in a scrap for big time post players.

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With the departure of Nemi Djurisic and Marcus Thornton, the Dawgs must replenish the front line. Once again, as in the previous two recruiting cycles, the Dawgs are battling other desperate schools for post talent.

Eighteen months ago, the Dawgs out fought Indiana for 2014 post recruit Yante Maten. Maten turned out to be far superior to his high school rating and was a difference maker during the Bulldog 2015 season.

The skyward recruiting trend continued into July 2014 when the Dawgs flipped elite local 2015 guard William Jackson (6’4″ 185, Athens, Athens Christian ) from UConn.

With Jackson in the house for 2015, the Dawg Nation celebrated the 2016 dream package deal of four star South Georgia backcourt pals Tyree Crump (6’2″ 175, Bainbridge, Bainbridge High) and Jordan Harris (6’4″ 200, Donalsonville, Seminole County High). The Dawgs then took an October commitment from 2015 forward E’Torrion Wilridge (6’6″ 215, Beaumont TX, Central Medical Magnet) to lay the last  brick in a backcourt foundation that would support a run to the top of the SEC and into the national top 25.

Despite back to back 20 win seasons in one hand and the backcourt of the future in the other, the Dawgs again found themselves desperate to shore up the frontcourt in the 2015 recruiting cycle. Coach Mark Fox and his staff answered by picking up 2015 four-star center Derek Ogbeide (6’10 240, Atlanta,  Pebblebrook High) and 2015 three-star post Mike Edwards (6’9″ 225, Westland, MI, John Glenn High).

Still, the Dawgs find the talent pipeline woefully low on post players. Can the Dawgs nail down one – or even better, two – quality post players in the 2016 recruiting cycle?

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It’s been discouraging so far, as Georgia has lost two key 2016 post recruits to Harvard.

With 20 or more wins each of the last six seasons, an Ivy League title each of the last five seasons and an NCAA berth each of the last four seasons, Harvard’s a sneaky good basketball program. Harvard Coach Tommy Amaker has resources and has recruited away Chris Lewis (6’8″ 205, Alpharetta, Milton High) and Robert Baker (6’10” 185, Marietta, The Walker School). That Chris Lewis is the son of former Georgia linebacker Mo Lewis only adds salt to the wound.

As Maten demonstrated, it only takes one great player to turn the tables, and 2016 post recruit James Banks (6’10” 230, Stockbridge, La Lumiere Academy) could solve Georgia’s problem in one stroke. But while Georgia is working hard, Banks’ stock is rising, having taken an unofficial visit to Kentucky. Complicating the recruitment is Banks’ recent transfer out of the state to La Lumiere Academy in La Porte, Indiana. Securing Banks signature would be a major recruiting coup.

Also on the Bulldogs radar is Abdulhakim Ado (6′ 11″ 235, Chattanooga TN, Hamilton Heights Christian), a four star center. Ado would also immediately solve the Bulldogs post issues, but Louisville appears to be all but a lock for Ado’s signature.

The Dawgs have made the final cut for 6’8” forward Jordan Bruner from Columbia, South Carolina. Bruner is just outside the Top 100 list of 2016 recruits, coming in at Rivals 109. Bruner is ranked 85 nationally by The big competition for Bruner appears to be Clemson, with Yale, Richmond, and Temple also on his final list.

Bruner is between 6’7” 190 and 6’8” 210. Despite the marginal size, Bruner would be a big get for the Bulldogs.

The newest recruit on the Dawgs board is John Fulkerson.  Fulkerson is unranked but is garnering some high major offers from schools with needs similar to the Bulldogs, such as Clemson and Tennessee. The 6’8” 200 pound forward from the Arden School in North Carolina has about 25 offers.

Fulkerson unexcited about the possibility of playing for Georgia, and Georgia doesn’t seem too excited either. The best-case scenario for all involved is for Georgia to land Bruner or Banks. Then Fulkerson would not have to worry about Georgia – and vice versa.

Georgia has lost two key 2016 post recruits to Harvard.

A final option bandied about the water cooler could make the 2016 recruiting cycle very interesting.

Zach Norvell (6’4′ 185) of the Simeon School in Chicago recently received an offer from Georgia. Norvell is a composite four star shooting guard and is no secret to the college basketball world. But with Georgia’s offer, there appears to be mutual interest.

Something interesting is going on with Norvell’s recruitment, as he does not claim an offer from local DePaul University. He does, however, have an offer from Illinois and Purdue, as well as Oregon, Georgetown, and Mempis. If the Dawgs sneak away with Norvell in 2016, the depth and breadth of backcourt talent may be Georgia’s best ever by January 2017. The Dawgs would then likely expect Houston Kessler to graduate and use the spot to chase a spring post recruit as they did with Maten two years ago and Mike Edwards last spring.

And while the finger nail chewing is understandable, that worked out pretty well.

BREAKING: Russ Wood of reports:

Three-star big man John Mooney, the last remaining member of the Florida 2016 recruiting class, has reopened his recruitment.

“John did open up his recruitment,” Mooney’s father, Kevin Mooney told Wood. “Johnny committed to Billy [Donovan] when he was a fifteen year old. Billy had seen him play a good number of times over a couple of years. So it was a real easy and comfortable decision for Johnny and for us.”

Mooney is a 225 pound post player from Allamonte Springs, FL, and plays at Lake Brantley High. Expect Georgia to jump after Mooney.

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