2011 was supposed to be Mark Fox’s moment. After guiding the Georgia Bulldogs back to the NCAA Tournament, he appeared poised to seize a rare opportunity, as the Hoop Hounds were resurgent and two of their closest rivals, Georgia Tech and Tennessee, were in disarray in the midst of coaching changes. If ever there was a time for Coach Fox to clean house on the recruiting trail, this was it.
Mark Fox may be the man, but the man and his moment did not meet. A key local prospect slipped through the Bulldogs’ fingers at a time when the Red and Black ought to have been building a fence around the Atlanta recruiting market, and the expected high-profile commitment never came. The moment passed, the opportunity was lost, Trey Thompkins took his services to the L.A. Clippers, Travis Leslie followed suit, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope found his eligibility in question, and the beleaguered Georgia basketball program appeared to be sinking back into mediocrity more swiftly than it had risen. Maybe Mark Fox was not the man, after all.
Then along came the man . . . more specifically, Charles Mann, who committed to the Bulldogs for the 2012 recruiting class. It wasn’t as though the Peach State’s top point guard didn’t have the option of going elsewhere, either; 24 schools extended scholarship offers to Mann, in fact. Among them were the 2011 national champion Connecticut Huskies, the Florida St. Seminoles, and the in-state Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Not to put too fine a point on the matter, but 24 scholarship offers are a lot of scholarship offers. If every scholarship offer was an hour, Charles Mann would have a day. If every scholarship offer came with a beer, Charles Mann would have a case. In the end, he chose to wear the Red and Black, explaining: "The most important thing about UGA is that it’s close to home, so my friends and family can watch me play. . . . I’ve built a great relationship with the coaches, and I felt like Georgia was the best place for me."
Perhaps we got it backwards, or we were just a little bit off. Maybe Mark Fox is the man, or maybe he’s just the man who landed Charles Mann. Maybe 2011 wasn’t Coach Fox’s moment; maybe it was just the opening act, and 2012 will be when he hits his stride.
I’m cool with the idea that Georgia basketball has a bright future, even if there are a few bumps along the way. As for the man and his moment meeting a year behind schedule, well, hey, better late than never, right?