New Players (rankings from PrepStars)
Corey Gibbs 6-8 Freshman #23 ranked
Steve Newman 6-8 Freshman Unranked
Marcus Sikes 6-6 Freshman Unranked
Levi Stukes 6-1 Freshman Unranked
(1) Experience. No other team in the SEC could put a lineup on the court that consists of seniors, all of whom have already played a lot of minutes in their careers. Steve Thomas (6-8, 240 lbs) could handle the low post; Jonas Hayes (6-8, 240 lbs) the high post; Rashad Wright (6-3) the point; and Damien Wilkins (6-7) and Chris Daniels (6-7, 220 lbs) the wings. However, Daniels is more likely to play the high post, leaving Hayes to fill his usual role of third man under. Another senior, Richard Wehunt (6-4), is a deadly outside shooter.
(2) Playmaking. Rashad Wright has been one of the top point guards in the conference since he was a freshman. Not only is he a top playmaker, but he is excellent at protecting the ball (2.89 Assist/Turnover ratio). His backup is freshman Levi Stukes, player of the year in Baltimore County, Md., last year, a good shooter and "a multi-talented player who can do all the things you like to see in a guard," according to new coach Dennis Felton.
(3) Good newcomers. After the scandalous departure of Coach Jim Harrick, the Bulldogs lost most of their recruits. However, the best one, Corey Gibbs, remained. At 6-8, 235 lbs, he can play either high post or shooting forward. Felton did a fine job of rounding up three decent prospects, despite his late recruiting start. These include Stukes, forward Marcus Sikes, and Steve Newman. The 6-8, 235 lbs Newman, was an all-state player in Florida, and (according to Felton) "is a very skilled, very versatile post player."
(1) Aftermath of the tumultuous end of the Harrick era? Georgia's season ended before the SEC tournament. With a 19-8 overall record, 11-5 in conference play, the Bulldog players had every reason to expect to play in the NCAA tournament. Some of them were openly bitter about the decision to end the season prematurely. Now they must learn a new system under a new coach who seems to have personal characteristics much different from those of Harrick.
(2) Outside shooting? The departed Jarvis Hayes and Ezra Williams were experts at sinking the long bomb. Wehunt, who is likely to see spot duty, is the only returning player who is an established three-point threat. Gibbs and Stukes may help in this area.
(3) Depth? With only ten scholarship players, the Bulldogs will have to rely to some extent on walk-ons, something they have been doing for the past couple of years. Fred Gibson, 6-4 junior and a star football player, saw considerable action two years ago. Clark Williams, 6-6 sophomore, had some scholarship offers from Division I schools.
Overall Prospects for 2003-04
The question marks, mentioned above, make this a hard team to predict. Probably the most rational prediction is that they will finish fourth in the Eastern Division but, if they can find the balance that they probably lack, they could finish much higher.