Sports

Kenny Paul Geno embraces his role for Georgia

Kenny Paul Geno (25) during a NCAA men's basketball game between the University of Georgia Bulldogs and SEC opponent Kentucky Wild Cats at Stegeman Coliseum on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 in Athens, Ga. 
 (Photo by John Kelley)
Kenny Paul Geno (25) during a NCAA men's basketball game between the University of Georgia Bulldogs and SEC opponent Kentucky Wild Cats at Stegeman Coliseum on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 in Athens, Ga. (Photo by John Kelley) John Kelley/UGA Sports Communications

ATHENS -- Junior Kenny Paul Geno didn't have any gaudy numbers appear on Tuesday's statistical sheet from Georgia's win over South Carolina.

The multi-positioned Mississippi native scored two points and posted two rebounds in 17 minutes of action. On the surface, it wouldn't seem like Geno had a great game.

But what has been impressive about Geno this season, his teammates say, is what he does off the ball can easily go unnoticed.

"It's just as simple as setting good screens and just being another offensive threat, stretching the floor because he can shoot and rebounding," senior guard Kenny Gaines said. "He's another tough player on the court."

Geno has averaged 20.7 minutes per game this year and started Georgia's first seven games of the season before J.J. Frazier moved into the lineup. But in a shakeup due to recent inconsistencies from frontcourt players not named Yante Maten, Geno earned his eighth start of the season against the Gamecocks. It's quite possible Geno earns another start against Auburn on Saturday.

Geno has become a utility player for head coach Mark Fox as someone who will play center on defense when called upon. He has played numerous roles, and that is something he'll continue to do as long as it helps his team.

"I like to bring energy. I like to do the dirty things," Geno said. "I like to dive on the floor. I like taking charges when I can. I've done that ever since I grew up. I played the same way I do now. I'll do whatever it takes to win."

Fox said Geno leads the Bulldogs in charges taken this season, which sums up the gritty style of play he brings on the basketball court. Geno has been a pass-first player, as well, only averaging 5.3 shots per game.

He has 32 assists this season, ranking third on the roster.

"Kenny and J.J. are great shooters," Geno said. "If I got that one extra pass for them to shoot, that would help us. They're going to knock it down. Whatever Coach calls on me to do, I'll do, and not stick to too much."

Fox said Geno is a player who very well could look to shoot more but would rather defer based on the skills his teammates possess.

"He is a very willing passer," Fox said. "I think his unselfishness shows in that he is one of our top-three shooters, but yet he knows those guys have more experience, so I think he's turned down a lot of shots to give those guys more opportunities to score. I think he's unselfish in that way. He just cares about winning. He doesn't care who he guards, what position he plays. He just focuses on trying to help our team win."

When he was a freshman, Geno said he watched and studied former teammate Nemanja Djurisic's game on the court, considering the versatile roles he played off the bench. Geno said he stays in touch with Djurisic and will ask for advice every now and then.

Georgia has been looking for a spark offensively to go with the scoring production from its big four in Gaines, Frazier, Charles Mann and Yante Maten. Geno might not be the player who puts up points in bunches or posts more than five rebounds per game, but he'll do the little things that go unnoticed by the public but are cherished by his teammates. And he's fine with that.

"I think I found my role, and I do what I can do," Geno said. "I don't try to do too much. I try to be a smart player."

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