Caldwell-Pope chooses his shots wisely

semerson@macon.comFebruary 8, 2013 

ATHENS -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope does not want to be known as just a shooter. And to be fair, Georgia’s star guard has a game with as many facets as his name has syllables.

“He rebounds, he defends, he gets steals. He’s a more complete player,” Bulldogs head coach Mark Fox said.

But lately the shooting has been something to behold.

The sophomore has been hitting a number of big outside shots as Georgia has rolled to a four-game win streak. His 3-pointer with a man in his face Wednesday night at Tennessee basically put the game away.

Caldwell-Pope is second in the SEC in scoring at 17.8 points per game, but he’s not a volume shooter: His shooting percentage (46.5) ranks fourth in the conference, and at Tennessee he was an incredible 9-for-12 from the field in that game, including 5-for-7 on 3-pointers.

And during Georgia’s current win streak, he’s shooting 67 percent from the field and 54 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

“He’s definitely in a zone right now,” said teammate Sherrard Brantley, who otherwise is the team’s best outside shooter. “He’s taking great shots within our system too. He’s shooting with a lot of confidence right now.”

That confidence may have started with desperation, as Caldwell-Pope was basically a one-man team. But his teammates have been providing more consistent help over the past six games, and as a result Caldwell-Pope has found himself taking more high-percentage shots.

“I’ve always shot the ball where I’ve been shooting it from. It’s just the position I’m getting my shots in, either I’m open, or I’m using my teammates to get open. I’m just knocking down shots,” Caldwell-Pope said. “And since I’ve been using the system to my advantage it’s been helping me a lot, and I’ve been consistent on the offensive end.”

Caldwell-Pope said he grew up patterning his game after LeBron James. James is known for way more than his outside shot and uses his defensive end-sized frame (6-foot-8, 250 pounds) to overpower opponents.

Cadlwell-Pope (6-4, 205) doesn’t quite have that luxury.

“I’m not strong enough,” he said, with a knowing smile.

But he still manages to use his defense and rebounding to create another opportunities. In fact he leads Georgia in rebounding, at 6.4 per game, and he’s usually good for at least one steal-and-dunk per game.

And as Brantley said, and Fox has echoed, the more impressive sign is that Caldwell-Pope has done his scoring within the system, without devolving into a one-man offense.

“I just want to become an all-around player: Drive the ball, sometimes post and shoot the ball. Just become a great player,” he said. “And right now being here is helping me. Since I’ve been here I’m becoming a great player, and just using my teammates and the system to help do that.”

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