After over two months of rumors and speculation, the Georgia basketball players were made aware Thursday night of Athletic Director Damon Evans’ decision to hire former Nevada head coach Mark Fox to the same position.
Upon hearing the news, only one word came to the mind of shooting guard Travis Lesley: Google.
“I had never heard of him before,” Lesley said. “The second I found out who our new coach was, I got on the computer and had to Google his name. When the different Web sites came up, I just started seeing what I could find.”
Although Lesley was previously unaware of Fox’s reputation and achievements, it didn’t take long for him to like what he found. Throughout five seasons at Nevada, Fox compiled a .741 winning percentage with post-season appearances every year.
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“I was impressed by everything he accomplished at Nevada,” Lesley said. “You don’t just get those kind of numbers if you can’t coach. He has a great overall record and I’m hoping that he’s going to bring that to Georgia. He won at least 20 games each year and that’s something that we want to accomplish here.”
But with marquee names such as Missouri head coach Mike Anderson, Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel and Minnesota coach Tubby Smith all mentioned as possible replacements for Dennis Felton, not all the players were immediately behind their new head coach.
“I don’t know Coach (Fox) any more than anyone on our team does,” freshman Trey Thompkins said. “We’ve only known him for five hours, so I’m not going to make any decisions.”
When asked if he plans on returning to UGA next season, Thompkins declined to comment.
“To be honest right now, I have no comment for nobody,” he said. “I just want to finish my school year and I’ll focus on it when the time comes.”
With sophomore guards Zac Swansey and Troy Brewer already electing to transfer schools, Georgia’s current roster has been cut to eight scholarship players, and Fox has no intentions of making that number grow any smaller.
Georgia natives Daniel Miller and DeMario Mayfield have accepted scholarships to come to UGA next fall, increasing that number to 10.
“We have enough scholarships right now, we don’t need to create more,” Fox said in response to whether he would be looking to replace any of the current players. “We need 10 guys just to scrimmage, and we got to make sure that we have two guys in every position so we can have some competition.”
Although Felton wasn’t officially fired till late January, the process has been anything but easy for the Georgia players.
The idea of Felton’s termination had been a lingering question for UGA players for nearly two years, and the hire of Fox came as a much needed relief to many.
“It feels great to get the weight off our shoulders,” Barnes said of the hire.
“We’ve been so anxious to know who our coach was going to be. We had the Anderson and Capel rumors, and we were just waiting to see who we were going to get. It’s a sigh of relief.