Teammates are Future of Georgia Basketball

The few, but very loyal Georgia Bulldog basketball faithful finally got some news they've wanted to hear for so long last week. The two biggest recruits on the Bulldogs' radar, committed to play in Athens.

"I was feeling the coaches," Mike Mercer, Jr. said after his game last Friday evening. "I already knew what I wanted to do, so there was no point in me waiting."

"It's a big decision in my life, after next year it determines what I do the next four years," according to Louis Williams. "We always considered we were going to college together. Georgia was always the frontrunner, then everybody else. There's no deep story behind it, just Mike pulled the trigger first. I followed."

One of the factors that led to Mercer finally going public was ironically, a down moment for Georgia, a 21 point home loss at the hands of the Gamecocks on January 10.

"I think it played a big part," according to Mercer, about watching all 40 minutes with Williams from the Stegman Coliseum stands. "It showed me what I wanted to do. We can step into Georgia and start. We can make a big impact on the team."

The 2005 Guards are both top 50 players overall, as well as being teammates for South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, GA.

"(Coach Felton) is one of the big parts on why they said yes," South Gwinnett coach Roger Fleetwood said. "As a leader, and a coach who cares about them off the court as much as on it, looking at academics and being the best young men they can be, they can do that with Coach Felton."

"They just have a knack for each other," he added. "Somebody made a comment a week ago that they didn't think it was a good idea that these two guys should go (to school) together, but he doesn't know these guys. (Mercer and Williams) are unusually good friends; they love playing together; they make each other better. It will only be a positive thing for them down the road. They know each other so well, they're like twins. They'll be great players, at all levels before it's over."

Georgia has been through some tough times in the past several months, and while Saturday's win in Rupp Arena was a shining light, more dark losses will come before Mercer and Williams ever suit up for the Bulldogs, but the two know what lies ahead.

"We already know what's going to happen; we know what's coming, we're ready for it," Mercer said. When asked how one says no with UCLA and North Carolina, among others looking at him, or both of the young men. "It's hard, but they should already now what's going through our heads. I don't see any chance (of decommitting), we'll be at Georgia."

Mercer, a 6'4 PG, has averaged almost 18 points, as well as over 6 rebounds and 6 assists for South Gwinnett this year. Georgia fans can look forward to seeing an aggressive defender and slashing offensive threat, who feels Felton is "his type of guy".

"I like the way he coaches," the 17 year old said, saying he needs to continue to improve his defense, and his outside shooting before arriving in Athens. "I like the defense. I like the offense. I think I can fit in really well."

Williams, who's putting up over 27 points a night this year to go along with over 5 rebounds and 5 assists, called the Bulldogs new head coach a "fanatic at working hard."

The best aspect of this may not be just landing a pair of very talented guards who can help Georgia quickly rebuild a program that was self-destructed last March, but also having the two juniors able to go out and help the Bulldogs find a capable big man the program has so rarely had in its history to play in Felton's High/Low, post oriented offense.

"I'm sure Georgia is happy for several reasons," coach Fleetwood said. "There's nothing that would excite a big guy more than having these two guards bringing the ball up the court."

"We'd like some other big guys to come with us," the high flying 6'2 Williams said. "I'm not going to go look for anybody. That's Coach Felton and his staff's job. With (assistant) coach (Pete) Hermann being the big man coach, I trust those guys to do their jobs and go find some good guys."

One player Felton and staff have already landed is fellow Snellville resident and Georgia Stars AAU teammate, Channing Toney.

"It'll be fun because we are Gwinnett county guys," Williams said about the prospects of playing with another good friend. "We're just keeping it in the neighborhood, and we have a lot of support down the road."

The proximity to family and friends was one other factor for the dynamic duo that played in Georgia's favor.

"That played a big part in the decision too," according to Mercer. "(My family) being able to come 45 minutes to see me instead of flying out. (At Georgia), they can see every game they want to."

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