Gibson still drawn to basketball

As long as Gibson is in good academic standing, Richt won't turn back on his promise. The coach also says the lanky Gibson needs the offseason football conditioning — especially in the weight room — to perform up to expectations as a blocker.

ATHENS, Ga. — Reporters entering the Georgia basketball team's lockerroom following Wednesday night's win over South Alabama were greeted by a familiar face — Fred Gibson.

 Gibson, the Georgia receiver who last year as a freshman joined the basketball team in January, has not said if he will be a two-sport participant as a sophomore. But it is clear Gibson, who also attended Georgia's win over Gonzaga in Atlanta last weekend, is still drawn to basketball.

 Gibson always has said basketball is his first love but he realizes his professional future is in football. But cutting his ties to basketball before he leaves school may prove difficult.

  For a player who missed preseason practice and the early part of the schedule and then walked in cold off the football team, Gibson made a surprise impact as a backup shooting guard on Coach Jim Harrick's basketball team last season.

 Harrick says Gibson could have a future in basketball if he made that his full-time sport, but Harrick is respectful of the fact Gibson is on football scholarship. He wants Gibson on his team only with the blessing of Coach Mark Richt and the football staff.

 When he was recruiting Gibson at Ware County High School, Richt promised the 6-foot-4 Gibson would have the opportunity to play both sports at Georgia.

 As long as Gibson is in good academic standing,  Richt won't turn back on that promise. The coach also says the lanky Gibson needs the offseason football conditioning — especially in the weight room — to perform up to expectations as a blocker.

 Poor blocking was one reason Gibson briefly lost his starting job this season, though he still is second on the team with 41 receptions and ranks third in the Southeastern Conference with his average of 67.8 yards receiving per game (behind teammate Terrence Edwards and Florida's Taylor Jacobs). For now, it appears Gibson plans to spend his winter with the basketball team.

 "Hey, you never know,'' Gibson said this week as Georgia began its practice schedule for the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl.

 Said Gibson: "I've got the football game to play. I'm not going to talk about basketball until after that.''

  Shockley still thinking: On Wednesday, redshirt freshman quarterback D.J. Shockley told the Athens Banner-Herald he has decided to return next season instead of seeking a transfer. On Thursday, Shockley told the Atlanta Constitution he has not made up his mind after all.

 Shockley wants more playing time than he earned this year behind sophomore David Greene, a first-team All-Southeastern Conference pick by SEC coaches and The Associated Press.

 Shockley also recognizes there are no guarantees at another school, and he does not like the idea of having to sit out a season as a transfer. Also, aside from the prospect of two more years playing behind Greene, he is enjoying his life at Georgia and is a good fit in Richt's offense.

 Last offseason, a promise from Richt that Shockley would play every game convinced Shockley to stay. When Shockley backtracked Thursday and said he will think about his options after the bowl game, he may have been sending a signal that he would like further assurances from Richt about plans for the 2003 season.

 Shockley missed four games with a broken foot this season and was 31 for 51 passing for 378 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions in nine games. He also ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Richt believes both Greene and Shockley have NFL potential. The coach encountered much skepticism from outside the program about employing a
two-quarterback system before the season. The criticism faded as Georgia led the SEC in scoring.

  Two-a-days continue: Richt was happy with Thursday's two practices. Each
lasted about 90 minutes.

 The week of two-a-day drills ends today, followed by a light practice Saturday morning.

 "It was highly competitive (Thursday) morning,'' Richt said. "... Therewas a lot of full-speed and a lot of hard hitting.''

 Richt noted the intense hitting even led to "some scraps'' after the end of plays.

 "It was spirited, but nothing spectacular, just a usual practice,'' Richt said.

 After Saturday's practice, the players will be off for Christmas. The team will reconvene in New Orleans on Dec. 26.

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