NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope isnt very loquacious in the first place, but with the constant questions about the NBA the Georgia star clams up even more.
Right now its not something Im worried about right now, the sophomore guard said, minutes after scoring a career-high 32 points in Georgias 68-63 loss to LSU in the SEC tournament.
The question now is whether Caldwell-Popes career high will have come in his final career game, at least on the college level.
Caldwell-Pope doesnt have to decide right away, and he can declare for the draft and then later pull out, as long as he hasnt signed with an agent. He has until April 28 to declare, and if he doesnt sign with an agent he technically has until June 17 to withdraw his name. But NCAA rules say players have to announce a week after the Final Four if theyre going to stay in school.
Several times after Thursdays game, Caldwell-Pope said he was just worried about school. He is finishing up his sophomore year at Georgia.
Caldwell-Pope was also asked whether he had made a decision and had just yet to announce it. Thats not the case, he said.
No decision right now, he said.
Georgias fate next season -- an NCAA tournament contender or fighting for .500 again -- seems tied to Caldwell-Popes decision. He was named the SEC player of the year by the coaches this week, the first Georgia player to be named the SECs top player since Dominique Wilkins.
This team is a great team, Caldwell-Pope said. With me or without me, it will still be a great team because I know theyll always be fighting, theyre gonna always help each other and be confident within the group.
There was little help from the supporting cast for Georgia, as Caldwell-Pope scored more than half of the teams points. The exception, once again, was Charles Mann.
The freshman point guard scored 14 of his 15 points in the second half, when he practically lived at the free throw line. Mann was 12-for-14, including a 2-for-2 trip that got Georgia within two with just over a minute left.
It has been a remarkable turnaround at the charity stripe for Mann. He also went 12-for-14 in Georgias win over Tennessee, and during SEC play he shot 73.3 percent from the line, compared to 58 percent during non-conference. There were some non-conference games in which his struggles were glaring, including six missed free throws in a home loss to Iona.
Manns improved free-throw shooting is a good sign for next season. At 6-foot-4, hes a height advantage for Georgia at point guard and can thus draw plenty of fouls. In fact, he shot more free throws (170) than any Bulldogs player this season.
Fox considers season over
Technically, theres still a chance the Bulldogs could play another game. The NIT doesnt officially require a team to be above .500, and there are other postseason tournaments.
But Georgia (15-17, with an RPI of 124 as of Thursday) is not considered a candidate for the NIT. And Fox basically shut the door on considering the CBI or Collegeinsider.com tournaments. No SEC has ever played in those events.
Weve played our last game, Fox said.