Still Room to Grow

ATHENS – Most figured Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie and Gerald Robinson would lead Georgia in scoring this year.

While each component of the trio is averaging double figures, all three have a story of struggle to accompany their respective stat line.

Thompkins, thought to be the best NBA prospect on the team, was named the SEC's preseason player of the year. His scoring and rebounding was said to be key for Georgia to make the NCAA tournament this season.

A severely sprained right ankle initially derailed Thompkins' plans. A little more than a week before the season opener, Thompkins rolled the ankle in a scrimmage. At first, thinking the worst, coach Mark Fox said he was unsure when Thompkins would return.

"The injury he had really came at a terrible time for our team," Fox said. "He missed basically the entire month of November in practice."

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound junior missed three games. Georgia picked up three close wins over Mississippi Valley State, Colorado and Saint Louis in his absence.

"When Trey is out there, it makes everything else a lot easier," senior forward Jeremy Price said. "I mean, he rebounds, he scores—so it makes everybody's job easier when he's out there with us."

Thompkins returned in time to play in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. After taking part in only one practice, he returned to the court against Notre Dame. Thompkins had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.

"We played him down in Orlando after him basically completing one practice the day before the game, kind of walked him through just before a 3-day tournament," Fox said. "So he really has been thrown back into the fire without really much practice time. We've tried to get him back in rhythm, back in shape, get the ankle fully healthy. That has taken some time."

A loss to Temple and a close win over Manhattan followed, as Thompkins worked himself back into game shape.

The Bulldogs have since reeled off seven straight wins. Thompkins led the team in scoring in five of those wins and is now averaging a team-high 17.4 points per game.

"It's hard for a guy to be as productive if you don't practice," Fox said. "But he still has been very productive for us. I think he's finally looking like his old self. I think he's feeling healthy, and that's good for us because he's a terrific player."

Meanwhile, Leslie, picked as a preseason All-SEC player, has enjoyed an injury-free season. But he has played up-and-down this year.

The junior small forward entered the season answering questions about improving his perimeter game to help his draft stock. His shooting is still a work in progress. Leslie is currently shooting 18 percent from 3, taking only four 3's the past six games. He has led the team in scoring four games this season. But he counters that statement by posting five points or less in three games this season.

Still, Leslie is averaging 13.8 points per game, adding 7.6 rebounds. The most surprising statistic: Leslie has 28 assists compared to only 23 turnovers. In his previous two seasons, Leslie committed more turnovers than assists, so his decision making and ballhandling has improved.

"Travis has improved," Fox said. "He's a much more complete player than he was last year. He still has a spectacular play now and again, but I think he's been much more productive in the unspectacular areas. He really has played really well for us. He worked hard in the offseason, he's having a good year and he's putting up pretty good numbers. We can talk about that as opposed to the spectacular dunks, and he's still getting a few those."

Thompkins and Leslie figured to be prominent fixtures in the box score. Robinson entered this season as the wild card. Rumors of Robinson's ability picked up steam as he sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Robinson has lived up to the expectations thus far. Logging over 30 minutes a game, Robinson is averaging 12.6 points per game and dishing out 4.7 assists.

Still, Robinson admits, there is room for improvement. He's shooting 30 percent from 3 and only 52 percent from the free-throw line.

"Gerald Robinson has been off to a good start," Fox said. "He's averaging double figures for us, leading us in assists as well. But he's a player who would probably be the first one to tell you he could play better."

The addition of Robinson has helped open up the Bulldogs offense. His speed in transition has been key, and he's also helped junior guard Dustin Ware, who is hitting 39 percent of his 3's.

Robinson, 6-foot-1, 165-pounds, can score, but he also enjoys filling the role of facilitator.

"I think he's off to a good start because he was able to sit out last year and really use his redshirt year as a way to get better," Fox said. "I think he added almost 20 pounds to his frame, and he really has made an impact on our team. I think he'll be a guy that continues to get better through the year because he had a little rust on him when the year started, but he's off to a good start and hungry to get all the rust off."

So here Georgia stands, having finished off the out-of-conference schedule 11-2. The three key players—Thompkins, Leslie and Robinson—have led the team thus far, just like they were supposed to. And all three have yet to play up to their full potential this season.

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