Kenatvious Caldwell-Pope “really wrestled” with the decision to leave Georgia and declare for the NBA draft, coach Mark Fox said today.
He didn’t make the jump based on a whim.
Fox said “in the ballpark” of 25 NBA teams were consulted to gauge Caldwell-Pope’s NBA draft stock. In addition, Caldwell-Pope got an official NBA evaluation back that Fox said was based on the insight of 20 teams.
“He obviously got lots of positive feedback,” Fox said. “We were very diligent to get as much information as we could from NBA people.”
That process started with Fox meeting with Caldwell-Pope and his family back in August.
Caldwell-Pope told Fox after Georgia’s season ended with a loss to LSU in the SEC tournament that he would be very patient and he was, Fox said.
“I think he went back and forth some,” Fox said. “He took his time, but it wasn’t easy. Even today, he was in thanking me today. He’s very appreciative of the experience he’s had at Georgia. He really has enjoyed playing here. He’s got an opportunity to pursue his lifelong dream and so he’s chosen to do that.”
Georgia said Caldwell-Pope’s family asked that he not field questions about his decision.
Fox said Caldwell-Pope is viewed as going “from different points in the first to early second. But I’m confident he’s on solid ground. No player’s in a perfect place, but he’s on what he feels is a solid decision. Again, this is his decision to make. Our job was to get him the most accurate information that we could.”
Caldwell-Pope went so far as to look at what life might be like if he were drafted and was placed on the NBA’s D-league, Fox said.
“I thought he handled it very well to be honest with you,” Fox said. “So I’m supporting him.”
More from Fox:
–On losing Caldwell-Pope’s offensive production: “We recruited with the idea that this may happen. Kenny Gaines I thought came here last year and I think had a lot of really good moments. Certainly, he has a big opportunity in front of him. We signed Juwan Parker in the fall knowing that this was a possibility. If Kentavious had stayed, it would have put us three-deep at that spot, but we knew this was a very likely possibility.”
–More impact of KCP leaving: “It does leave us very young in the backcourt again. There’s no way around it. We’re losing a great player and a very productive player. It’s not easy with the timing because as you know most players sign in November. Here we make a decision in April.”
–On team next year: “Obviously had he been back, we thought we really would have been inn terrific shape from the start. The challenge now will be to get guys to accept and learn and be comfortable in roles that are bigger than they would have been had he returned to school. They’re going to have to do some growing up on the job. That’s what happens when you have early entries.”
–Georgia forward Marcus Thornton received a medical redshirt from the NCAA, Fox said, after knee surgery last December. He now has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Fox said Thornton could be back on the court today for the first time since before surgery.
The Bulldogs have two scholarships available this spring, but Fox said Georgia might not use both.
“His declaration for the draft, it changes a lot of things with kids that you’ve been trying to recruit that didn’t think you had a scholarship,” Fox said. “Teams have been using it against you. The way the rules are set up and the timing, it’s a nasty situation. Now we know exactly what direction we have to go.”
Fox said there are “quite a few” players still on the recruiting radar for the incoming class. He said Georgia “would look at a transfer if it was the right fit.”
–Caldwell-Pope is not close to picking an agent yet, but is all in the draft, Fox said.
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