ATHENS - Georgia will not have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope next season. It will, however, now have Kenny Paul Geno.
Geno, a very unheralded prospect from Mississippi, committed on Wednesday to Georgia and will sign Thursday, his high school coach confirmed.
The 6-foot-6 swingman is a senior at Bonneville High School whose other reported offers were mid-majors. Neither of Geno's home-state SEC schools apparently offered him, so either Georgia got a late steal, or the Bulldogs had to make a gamble after Caldwell-Pope entered the NBA draft on Monday.
"By the time that he leaves, they're gonna be very proud that they gave him an opportunity to play at Georgia," Bonneville head coach Michael Smith said. "He's gonna play and contribute. He's gonna play (next year)."
Smith said the fact it's a small school probably hurt Geno's marketability.
"The game's still kind of old-school around here," Smith said. "It's a team game, where the game is still respected. Everybody plays it blue-collar."
Geno had taken an unofficial visit to Mercer. Other schools who offered scholarships included Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee. Smith said Mississippi State "flirted" with Geno. Florida Gulf Coast, the recent NCAA tournament darling, had also expressed interest recently.
"He's a lot like those Florida Gulf Coast kids," Smith said.
This past season, Geno averaged 22.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and three blocked shots a game. And as a sophomore and junior, each year he drew over 40 charges, according to Smith.
Fox and his staff were in contact with Bonneville last summer. In late January, Bonneville played a team with an Ole Miss signee, and Geno had a 26-point, eight-rebound game. Fox came up and watched Geno work out in late March.
Smith described him as "a legitimate, bare-foot 6-foot-6," with a long wingspan. Fox (who can't comment per NCAA rules) told Smith that he could see Geno playing anywhere but center.
"He's such a team player," Smith said. "He's not your typical star player who's going to yank it every time he gets it. He's not a one-on-one player. He's such a team player."
Geno becomes the 12th scholarship player projected for Georgia's 2013-14 season. The team had one scholarship open prior to Caldwell-Pope leaving for the NBA.
The current roster:
Seniors: F-C Donte' Williams.
Juniors: C John Cannon, F-C Tim Dixon, F Nemanja Djurisic, F Marcus Thornton.
Sophomores: SG Kenny Gaines, PG Charles Mann, SF Brandon Morris.
Freshmen: G-F Kenny Paul Geno, PG J.J. Frazier, F-C Houston Kessler, SG Juwan Parker.
UPDATED on Thursday:
Geno officially signed on Thursday, and Fox had this to say in a statement:
"We're very excited to add Kenny to our team. He's a great kid, a great student with high character, and I really like what he brings to the court. He can shoot it with long range. He can also play above the rim. We're looking forward to having him on campus and being part of our team."