After a disappointing 2016-17 Georgia basketball season, Mark Fox will remain the head coach for 2017-18.
After a decent start to the season, Fox’s seat began heating up after losing a few games in a row and were swept by Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina. Georgia entered the season with high hopes for making the NCAA Tournament with senior J.J. Frazier leading the team alongside junior Yante Maten. Both of which were named first team All-SEC Tuesday afternoon.
So the fact that Georgia will likely have to settle for another trip to the National Invitational Tournament is seen as a major disappointment for fans and everyone around Georgia basketball.
In eight seasons in Athens, Fox has only gotten Georgia to the NCAA Tournament twice and they haven’t even won a game in the tournament. Georgia’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 2015 when the Bulldogs lost to Michigan State in the first round.
The fans are right to question whether Mark Fox is the man to take Georgia basketball to a higher level. And the university would be right to look for replacements.
At the same time however, keeping Fox for at least another year is the right move. One thing fans of every team in every sport hates to say is that their team will be better next year. But that’s exactly why Fox should coach Georgia next season.
The 2017-18 Georgia basketball squad should be the best of Fox’s tenure in Athens, even without Frazier. That’s of course assuming Maten stays for his senior year.
This past year, Georgia struggled because they didn’t have anyone besides Frazier and Maten scoring consistently every night. Several players had that ability, but for various reasons, they didn’t contribute to Georgia’s points total enough.
Juwan Parker did in the middle of the year and at the very end. But throughout non-conference play, and in the tough stretch in the middle of SEC play, he didn’t score enough.
Derek Ogbeide improved a ton on offense throughout the year but he really stepped up after Maten’s injury.
Mike Edwards has at times shown that he is one of the most talented players on the team, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t show up on the score sheet very often.
And while fans criticized Fox for not playing the freshmen Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris enough despite the both of them being skilled shooters, both of them have undeveloped skills in other facets of the game that held them back. Harris turned the ball over a lot and often it was in the worst time. Crump needs to work on shot selection.
Fox and Georgia just did not have anyone to rely on to shoot the ball besides Frazier and Maten. But Georgia was also very young.
Besides those two and Parker (a junior), Georgia’s biggest contributors were sophomores. Ogbeide, Edwards, and William Jackson.
You also can’t forget about Pape Diatta who played his first season of Georgia basketball as a junior this year. He was one of the best junior college players in the country when Georgia signed him.
Then there’s Crump and Harris who will be sophomores next year. They both should improve and become more consistent. They’re both already really good shooters, so Georgia will benefit with them being able to stay on the court.
Beyond the players who are returning next season, the biggest high school recruit of the Mark Fox era is also coming to Georgia in Rayshaun Hammonds. 247 Sports rates Hammonds as the no. 44 player in the country, the no. 11 power forward and the no. 4 player in Georgia.
More from Dawn of the Dawg
- Georgia Football: Top 5 Nick Chubb Moments at Georgia
- Georgia Football: Know the enemy UAB Blazers
- Nick Chubb is America’s running back, and he will return
- Georgia Football: Should laundry list of injuries be a cause to panic?
- Georgia Football: Report cards for Week 3 game against South Carolina
Yante Maten will continue being a superstar. Juwan Parker is another year removed from the injury that made him miss the 2015-16 season and slowed him down early this season, he’s going to continue to improve and become a senior leader next year.
Ogbeide, Edwards, Jackson and E’Torrion Wilridge will continue to get better. As will Diatta, Harris and Crump after their first years in the program. Add in Rayshaun Hammonds who has a potential to be the best freshman to play for Georgia basketball in many years. Georgia will be a legitimate contender in the SEC next season and they should make the NCAA Tournament.
Firing Mark Fox now would hurt that team’s chemistry. You don’t want to waste a great team by forcing them to go through a transition as big as hiring a new head coach.
However, if Mark Fox does not succeed with the team he’ll have next season, it will be hard to defend him and it will be hard to not start looking for a replacement.