Fox breaks down his two big men recruits

semerson@macon.comApril 16, 2014 

ATHENS - Georgia men's basketball head coach Mark Fox was watching the Final Four a couple weeks ago when his phone rang. Osahen "Fred" Iduwe, a center prospect, was calling to commit. It was welcome news, the first commitment to Fox's team in more than a year.

The second commitment came a minute later: Yante Maten, a power forward, texted to say he was also coming to Georgia.

"So we got them both within a minute," Fox said.

It was a very important minute for Fox's program, which badly needed post players, especially one who can make an immediate impact, as Maten is expected to do. Their additions to the Georgia became official on Wednesday when each signed on the first day of the basketball spring signing period.

Fox said the two recruits give Georgia "legitimate length and size, which was critical for us." The Bulldogs, who went 20-14 this past season, haven't had a prototypical, reliable big man for some time, and the only starter leaving the team this season was a post player.

"Yante is very ready to help us," Fox said. "A lot of high school kids have a big physical adjustment. He's more advanced physically than typical freshmen. And he's got a versatile game. So I think he can certainly help us this year."

That would seem to plant the seeds of Maten sliding into the starting role vacated by outgoing senior Donte' Williams, who averaged 4.9 points and 5.1 rebounds this past season.

"Yante is more of an offensive player than Donte' was," Fox said. "Donte' was a terrific, I mean a terrific defender, and a very versatile defender. Yante is mobile like Donte', but a better offensive player out of the gate than Donte' was."

Maten, a 6-foot-8 power forward, is a senior at Bloomfield Hills High School in suburban Detroit. He averaged 19.8 points, 15.2 rebounds, 6.6 blocks and 4.8 assists, and shot 66 percent from the field, for a team that went 24-4 and reached the Michigan Class A state championship game. He was named the Gatorade Player of the year in Michigan.

Maten had offers from Michigan State and Indiana.

"He obviously has some great offers," Fox said. "Not that we pay too much attention to that. But that just shows the kind of quality player he is."

Iduwe, a 6-11 center, moved to the U.S. from Nigeria three years ago, first graduating from high school in Birmingham, Ala., and is spending this year at a military academy in Delafield, Wis. This past season he averaged 8.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

Iduwe is regarded as more of a long-term project, but Fox likes his athleticism.

"He's a bigger frame guy than Donte', but he has a lot of those characteristics than Donte' had as a defender," Fox said.

The two signings came after Georgia went until early April without a single commitment for this year's class. But Fox disputed that his team missed out on a number of top prospects, pointing out that Georgia only had one open scholarship until junior center John Cannon's transfer in March.

"When you only have one, you can't take the fringe guy," Fox said. "We had to get size, and there was no wiggle room in that."

It seemed that many recruits were in a wait-and-see mode on Fox's future. But the coach was recently awarded a two-year contract extension, taking him through the 2016-17 season, which Fox agreed was a help.

"I think that was key, to be honest with you," Fox said. "We have a team that had success, we've got a lot of them back. We've got good young players. So I think we've got some momentum."

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