Mark Fox didn’t pull any punches when he was recruiting Kenny Paul Geno.
It was late in Geno’s recruitment, with the then-two star forward holding mostly mid-major offers from the likes of Middle Tennessee State, Mercer, Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville State and Lamar.
But Georgia realized a key event could occur and, if so, would need to fill a scholarship spot. Georgia focused its attention on Geno, with Fox traveling to Booneville, Mississippi, to offer him with one condition.
“What I remember is telling him if Kentavious (Caldwell-Pope) goes pro, we’ll have a spot,” Fox said. “If he stays in school, we won’t have a spot. They looked at me like, ‘That’s pretty brutally honest.’ But that’s where we were at that time.”
As it turns out, Caldwell-Pope left after his sophomore season in 2013 and entered the NBA draft. He was the eighth overall pick by the Detroit Pistons. That opening allowed Geno to sign a national letter-of-intent to Georgia on April 18, 2013.
And Geno has been quite the role player since, especially the past three years. Geno, this season, is averaging 37.5 percent from behind the 3-point line and 44.8 percent from the field. Trailing by 11 points in the second half against Auburn, Geno hit a 3 that started Georgia on a 13-2 run to tie the game up. The Bulldogs would go on to win 96-84.
“Every time I get in there I try to play hard and do what I can,” Geno said. “I like to bring energy and stuff like that. The other night at Auburn, I remember yelling in the huddle during one of the timeouts, ‘Here we go, we’re going to break through this drought.’ I think I got on the court, and we were tied. Then I looked back up, and we were up 12.”
Geno will return to his home state Wednesday when Georgia takes on Mississippi in Oxford, located an hour and 20 minutes west of Booneville. His goal each time out is to do the dirty work and provide an emotional spark.
“I’m glad to be a part of team,” Geno said. “I’ll do whatever Coach tells me to do.”