Bulldogs Blog

Thompkins and Leslie's advice for Caldwell-Pope

ATHENS - What did I do with my Saturday night? I drove up to Charlotte to watch some NBA basketball and interview former Georgia stars Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie. Their new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, was in town to play Charlotte.

Thompkins and Leslie had a lot of interesting things to say, about how they're doing now, their decisions to go pro and how the Bulldogs would be doing this year if they had stayed. I also spoke to Blake Griffin about whether he and Leslie have had any dunk contests, and Chris Paul passed along what the Clippers' nickname is for the Georgia rookies.

I'll have a story in tomorrow's papers with all that info and more. But first I thought I'd pass on one part of the interview: I asked Thompkins and Leslie what advice they would have for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the current Georgia freshman who someday will face the same decision on going pro.

Thompkins was the first to respond:

"Don't play to get drafted," he said. "Play college basketball. It'll take care of itself. Everything will take care of itself. Just focus on getting your team as deep into the tournament and the best record you can get. Whatever you can do to focus on that, do it. Take away everything that you possibly can."

Leslie offered essentially the same advice.

"Just play ball," he said.

Then I asked each player if it was hard to do that last year - to focus on college - when they knew they soon had to make a decision on their future.

"It's a hard thing to do. Just because it's what we wanted to do since we were kids," Thompkins said. "But at the same time coach (Mark) Fox did a good job of making sure we stayed in the moment and weren't sidetracked with the fact that we could be making millions of dollars in a few months. So we appreciate him for that."

Leslie said: "I was out there playing my game. So I was just playing consistent."

Fox said during Monday's SEC coaches teleconference that Caldwell-Pope, who is averaging 14.5 points per game, has a chance for a "great future, both on and off the court" and likes the way he has handled himself.