NBA decision looms for Caldwell-Pope as UGA gears up for SEC tournament

The Southeastern Conference’s Player of the Year plays for Georgia, but for how much longer?

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be on display for the Bulldogs again in the SEC tournament in Nashville starting Thursday against LSU.

The sophomore guard, named Tuesday as the league’s player of the year, is considered an NBA talent one day. He will have to decide whether that is after this season.

“I’m not really trying to worry about that right now,” Caldwell-Pope said soon after the conference announced its coaches had picked him for the top player honor. “We’ve got the SEC tournament to worry about and I’ve just got that on my mind right now.”

Caldwell-Pope admitted before Georgia’s final home game against Kentucky that the decision about whether to return for his junior season or declare for the NBA draft bounces around his head.

“Sometimes,” he said then.

He’ll look deeper into it when the season is over.

“This is Kentavious’ life and career we’re talking about,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “So I take that very seriously. And I’ll make sure that Kentvious has accurate information from the right sources. He has been very focused on his season. We have had conversations about this for the last year. He knows that I will get him that information, and we’ll discuss things at the right time. It’s not something that has to be done anytime soon.”

Caldwell-Pope is ranked as the No. 31 overall prospect by ESPN’s Chad Ford, No. 32 by NBAdraft.net and No. 41 by draftexpress.com.

Caldwell-Pope said he did not yet have a baseline of being a projected first-round pick or lottery pick that he is looking for when making his decision.

He indicated Georgia possibly being a contender for an NCAA tournament bid next season if he returned would be something that could pull him back. Georgia is 15-16, but started the season 2-7.

“I kind of do (think about that) because we do have a great team,” he said. “We did improve faster than I thought we would. Every day we get better.”

Kentucky assistant coach John Robic said earlier this month that Caldwell-Pope “has a pro jump shot because he gets great lift when shooting the ball. It looks like it’s going in every time he shoots it. He’s able to post up smaller guards in their system the way that they play.”

The NBA’s deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft is April 28. The NCAA, however, has set an April 16 deadline for a player to withdraw from the draft if the player has not entered it once previously.

“He said he’ll let us know after the season,” Georgia freshman forward Brandon Morris said. “We’ll see shortly.”

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