ATHENS - Regarding the next few years for the men's basketball program, these are potentially the most vitally important few weeks - at least off the court - that Georgia will have.
And on that front, there's still nothing very firm to report. As of Wednesday evening, the team was just waiting and hoping.
Paramount is the decision by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on whether to return for his junior year, or enter the NBA draft. Caldwell-Pope is a quiet kid by nature, and he's keeping his decision-making process just as quiet.
Elsewhere other players are making their decisions: Kentucky has had Archie Goodwin announce he's leaving, but Alex Proythress somewhat surprisingly announced his return. Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss has also decided to return for his senior year.
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The NCAA deadline to declare for the draft is April 16, a week after the national championship game. But if Caldwell-Pope wants to take more time he can. The NBA deadline is mid-May, so if he were to up and decide he was leaving he could announce it between April 16 and mid-May. So if you're a Georgia basketball fan, you're waiting on Caldwell-Pope to announce he's staying, not simply for the deadline to pass.
Caldwell-Pope's draft projection is still a little all over the place, depending on where you look.
Meanwhile, there's no deadline for Tony Parker, the freshman center at UCLA who is now obviously contemplating a transfer. As of Wednesday he had not officially requested or been granted a release from UCLA, and apparently he had also not met with new UCLA head coach Steve Alford. At this point most people would be surprised if Parker decided to stay at UCLA, but nothing is definite yet. Korey McCray, the UCLA assistant coach and former Mercer player who helped recruit Parker to UCLA, has a decent chance of being retained by Alford, and if he does he will try to keep Parker in Westwood.
(Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com reported Thursday that McCray was offered a chance to stay at UCLA in an administrative role, but could still leave if offered a coaching job somewhere else.)
There was one interesting tidbit on the Parker-to-Georgia front: Late Tuesday night Brandon Kublanow, a Georgia football signee at Walton High School in Marietta, tweeted this out:
"Worked out with Tony Parker today guess I'm back on the Recruiting grind again #DawgsonTop."
When a Georgia fan followed up by asking about Parker's intentions, Kublanow answered that Parker "hasn't decided."
Should Parker decide to leave UCLA, his choice wouldn't automatically be Georgia. He also considered Ohio State and Duke. But if Parker's desire is to seek a hardship waiver from the NCAA and play right away, then according to NCAA bylaws it must be a school within 100 miles of home. Georgia obviously qualifies.
There isn't any official word out of Parker's camp that he would seek such a hardship penalty. His high school coach has also been careful not to say anything.
And by the way, don't expect much out of Georgia on either Parker or Caldwell-Pope. That's because:
a) Georgia does not want to be seen as tampering with a student-athlete at another school who doesn't have a release. UCLA could release Parker to only certain schools. This happens all the time in college basketball when a school feels there's been improper contact. That's why I'd be dubious of any reports of Parker and Georgia's staff having direct contact.
b) As for Caldwell-Pope, the Georgia staff doesn't want to pressure him into anything.
It's hard to say right now when there will be a resolution to either situation. It could happen five minutes from now, it could last awhile. What is obvious is that either situation has a huge bearing on the Bulldogs going forward. While the team feels it has a good core of young players - Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines, Brandon Morris, Nemanja Djurisic and the two incoming guards - Caldwell-Pope provides star power, and Parker would be the low-post threat the team has been sorely lacking.
That's why all this is so critical to the immediate future of the program. Stay tuned.