Georgia basketball has new go-to player

semerson@macon.comDecember 13, 2013 

ATHENS -- Being a tall point guard brings its own challenges. So Georgia’s Charles Mann has spent time watching film and studying someone who pulls it off well: Michael Carter-Williams, the recent lottery pick and early NBA rookie of the year candidate.

“He’s not a great jump shooter, but he can knock down shots, he can get his team involved,” Mann said. “I just try to really watch him and compare my game to his.”

Mann, to be clear, is not trying to be as good as Carter-Williams, but is trying to emulate the balance the Philadelphia 76ers rookie is pulling off well. When you’re a tall point guard, and one of your team’s top scorers, you have to figure out when you’re in pass mode and when you’re in scoring mode.

Or put another way: Sometimes Mann has to be Georgia’s point guard. Sometimes he also has to carry the scoring load.

It’s a new role for Mann, who like everyone else last year took a supporting role to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who ended up being picked three spots before Carter-Williams in the draft. The question after Caldwell-Pope’s departure was how Georgia would replace his scoring. It was expected to be a collective effort, but in crunch time it has ended up being Mann, the 6-foot-5 sophomore.

Mann is averaging 14.6 points through seven games after averaging just 6.7 last season.

Last year, he was in double figures in eight of Georgia’s 32 games. This year, he has done it five times already.

But the drawback has been Mann’s ball handling. He has 21 turnovers thus far with only 20 assists. Ideally, the ratio is closer to 3 assists per turnover.

Mann said he has had some “careless turnovers” early in the season, but he called them correctable. He said he has been guilty of trying to fit them into a window that’s not that open.

Head coach Mark Fox said it’s not a case of being too tall, thus the ball being too high off the ground and defenders taking advantage.

“Decisions are probably 90 percent of it,” Fox said. “In that scenario, it’s correctable.”

What Fox doesn’t want to do is discourage Mann’s scoring or play him a lot with freshman J.J. Frazier, who is more of a traditional point guard. The goal is to improve Mann’s ball handling and keep him scoring.

“For us, the best point guards I’ve had have been guys who could distribute the ball but also score it,” Fox said. “Charles was recruited to do just that. Score the ball, make plays for himself, but also for other people. This year, I think he’s made a step forward. We’ve got to get him healthy, but I think he’s off to a decent start about it.”

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