COLUMBUS - Mark Fox has now had three full recruiting cycles at Georgia. The third one finished this week with the Bulldogs missing on their top target - center Tony Parker went to UCLA - and settling for a legacy prospect who may redshirt, Houston Kessler.
But Fox remains confident in his record as a recruiter. He pointed to his entire track record, dating back to his time at Nevada, when a couple under-the-radar signees turned into NBA players. He also pointed out that Hessler's uncle, Alec, was lightly-recruited and ended up being an NBA lottery pick.
All that is why Fox, when it comes to the idea that his Georgia classes have lacked star power, believes that can be deceiving.
“When I look at guys that I’ve had: Ramon Sessions right now is the starting point guard for the Lakers. Who nobody wanted. JaVale McGee started probably 50 games (in the NBA) this year. Had no (scholarship offers)," Fox said of those two players he recruited to Nevada. "I think you have to find guys that fit into place. Most guys who are giving stars don’t know much about, if they were experts they’d be doing something else. So to be honest I never look at that. I never look at that. We look at certain things and go from there.”
Fox does have one marquee signing at Georgia: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the guard who was a McDonalds All-American and ended up on this year's SEC all-freshman team. He also landed Marcus Thornton three years ago when the Georgia Mr. Basketball selection was released from his Clemson letter-of-intent.
But the Bulldogs haven't been able to land other top in-state prospects, such as Parker this spring, and Robert Carter last fall, who signed with Georgia Tech. Still, Fox said that won't dissuade him from going after top in-state prospects like Parker.
“We lost a guy to a team that’s had a great tradition," Fox said of Parker. "But outside of maybe my first year – Jeremy Lamb’s a guy we started so late on – but we’re going to recruit the best players. And so is everybody else.”
Fox was asked an open-ended question: How would he rate his recruiting at Georgia so far? He answered by pointing to how the 2012-13 team will look.
“If you look at our team, we have finally the athleticism and size that we want," Fox said. "We have guys that will be able to win and graduate. You know, playing at Georgia, going to school at Georgia isn’t for everybody. … This will be the first team we’ll have (where) it should be a pretty complete roster. We should have a deep team. We won’t feel like we’re having to put a band-aid on a certain position.”
It's also "no question" that the improved size will affect how Georgia plays this year, according to Fox. The Bulldogs will be able to defend better, especially on the perimeter with wings who are 6-foot-7 (signee Brandon Morris) and 6-5 (signee Kenny Gaines).
The problem is still down low, where the team lacks a dominant post presence, or even someone as dependable as Jeremy Price, who graduated last year, or Trey Thompkins, who took his talents to the pros last year.
That's why Georgia tried hard for Parker. Fox said he wishes Parker well, and called him a "great kid." But while Georgia will keep recruiting the five-star prospects, Fox's future at Georgia may depend more on his ability to find the next Ramon Sessions or JaVale McGee.
“That’s something I think we’ve had a pretty good history with, is finding the right guys," Fox said. "And hopefully these guys will develop as we wanted to.”