While considerable attention is paid annually to National Signing Day for college football, far less attention is paid to basketball's signing rituals. I think several reasons exist for this. One is that basketball signing is an ongoing process, with an early signing period and a spring signing period. Good players routinely stay on the board well past their first opportunity to sign a letter of intent. There's just not the frenzy that surrounds football's signing day.
But arguably, any given signing period in college basketball is far more significant than any given football signing day. The reason is that football players must stay for three seasons before turning pro, and there are a lot more of them. One good football signing day isn't going to revolutionize your football program. Ask Jim Donnan. Ask any South Carolina Gamecock fan. But one great basketball signing period can totally change your basketball program. Two or three good ones can have the same effect.
And that''s what Dennis Felton is banking on. Obviously there was a lot of buzz last year regarding the 2007 class consisting of Jeremy Price, Jeremy Jacob, Troy Brewer, Chris Barnes and Zac Swansey. This year's group consisting of Georgians Trey Thompkins, Ebuka Anyaora, Travis Leslie, and Dustin Ware (and Serbian Drazen Zlovaric) is equally touted.
One aspect of the recruiting news that hasn't drawn nearly enough attention however is where Felton is recruiting. The F-Bomb has made explicit his effort to put a fence up around the state, and especially basketball rich metro Atlanta. The AJC talked to him about it recently, and his comments are worth taking note of. Coach Felton opines that "we can literally dominate the nation and win championships with just Georgia players. That capability exists because of the level of coaching and talent in this state. It's just a fantastic area for basketball. This is a basketball hotbed."
At this point in this program's trajectory, we're not going to outrecruit Wake Forest and Duke for guys in New Jersey and California. But we can do very, very well just by getting the best players in metro Atlanta. Coach Felton deserves praise for recognizing this and responding with a recruiting strategy that can work.
Anybody who follows college basketball recruiting in the state of Georgia can attest to the fact that the University of Georgia has missed out on enough top flight, in-state, Division I basketball talent in the past two years to put together a veritable All-Star Team. It's been frustrating. But I think any keen observor realized that Dennis Felton didn't really have a lot to sell here recently. But now he does, and he's found the appropriate target audience. While it might be hyperbolic to say Georgia can "dominate the nation" with just Georgia players, for now I would settle for being a perennial tournament team with Georgia players. That can be done. Until later . . .