Notebook: Caldwell-Pope defers decision on NBA

semerson@macon.comMarch 14, 2013 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope isn’t very loquacious in the first place, but with the constant questions about the NBA the Georgia star clams up even more.

“Right now it’s not something I’m worried about right now,” the sophomore guard said, minutes after scoring a career-high 32 points in Georgia’s 68-63 loss to LSU in the SEC tournament.

The question now is whether Caldwell-Pope’s career high will have come in his final career game, at least on the college level.

Caldwell-Pope doesn’t have to decide right away, and he can declare for the draft and then later pull out, as long as he hasn’t signed with an agent. He has until April 28 to declare, and if he doesn’t 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 they’re going to stay in school.

Several times after Thursday’s 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. That’s not the case, he said.

“No decision right now,” he said.

Georgia’s fate next season -- an NCAA tournament contender or fighting for .500 again -- seems tied to Caldwell-Pope’s decision. He was named the SEC player of the year by the coaches this week, the first Georgia player to be named the SEC’s 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 they’ll always be fighting, they’re gonna always help each other and be confident within the group.”

Mann’s improvement

There was little help from the supporting cast for Georgia, as Caldwell-Pope scored more than half of the team’s 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 Georgia’s 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.

Mann’s improved free-throw shooting is a good sign for next season. At 6-foot-4, he’s 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, there’s still a chance the Bulldogs could play another game. The NIT doesn’t 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 tournaments. No SEC has ever played in those events.

“We’ve played our last game,” Fox said.

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