Learning As They Go

ATHENS – Georgia's two freshmen may not play much. They may not score much. But don't discredit their worth.

Combined, Marcus Thornton and Donte Williams average less than three points a game. And they're not on the court all that often (17 minutes per game combined).

But they're an important component to the Georgia basketball team—now and especially for the future.

Thornton, the 2010 Mr. Georgia Basketball, is currently the seventh man behind the starters and senior Chris Barnes. He's averaging 1.2 points per game, but his length and defensive versatility has given coach Mark Fox more options this season, the second year coach says.

While he hasn't been as assertive on the offensive end, Thornton has limited his mistakes (only 11 turnovers in 14 games) while providing depth at both small and power forward.

"It's been some ups and downs," Thornton said. "I had a pretty rough preseason, but I've had a lot to learn, just the change with the college game and the speed, definitely. I'm still adjusting and still learning. I can say I haven't played up to where I could be playing, but I still have a lot of stuff to learn. Hopefully with time I'll keep improving day by day and get where I need to be."

The change in game pace and tempo from the high school level to the college game has been the hardest adjustment, Thornton said.

"Oh, definitely. Naturally, I've caught up, but to begin with the speed was little much for me," he said. "I had to adjust with everything that was going on in preseason. I'm starting to catch on and be more assertive."

Meanwhile, Williams has played in 13 of Georgia's 14 games this season. A late addition to the 2010 recruiting class, many thought Williams was in line for a redshirt season this year due to his skinny build and perceived lack of strength.

But he's become a solid option for Fox to use in case of foul trouble down low. Also, since Jeremy Price and Barnes are seniors and most believe Trey Thompkins will turn pro after this season, Williams' future worth is amplified.

"As a whole I think I've played OK so far," he said. "I think I'm doing OK for the most part. I've got to get to another level with getting stronger and with rebounding. There are different levels I need to improve on. But for the most part I've done all right."

Williams, who helped lead his high school (Miller Grove) to multiple state championships, says the biggest adjustment he's had to make is accepting a lesser role.

"Coming here, in high school I was a leading scorer, a leading rebounder and all that," he said. "Now coming here, I'm playing my role as a guy coming off the bench and just trying to help my team out the best I can."

Playing a lesser role has been a blessing, because the players ahead of Williams have been instrumental with improving his game on a daily basis.

"Trey (Thompkins) helps me a lot," he said. "In practice he's going hard at it. He makes me better every day in practice. Every mistake I make in practice the older guys tell me what I need to improve on. I think it's a lot. I'm just thankful for all the guys older than me. I'm thankful they can help me out with everything I need."

While Thornton and Williams—as well as fans—get used to their new role now, the future appears bright for the duo.

Georgia is currently 12-2 and not heavily relying on its freshmen. But next season will be a completely different team. Thornton and Williams could play a much bigger part in it.

"I mean, you could say it was hard," Thornton said. "But I came in prepared for anything. Every thing I have in life I had to earn. Before I can come in here and play I have to earn it. I have to earn every minute I get. That's just the way I look at it. I'm just going to keep working hard to earn more playing time to try to help this team in any way possible."

Dawg Post Top Stories