Our good friend leedawg gave us the heads up over the weekend, and we wanted to wait on an official announcement of at least one of these moves, if not both, before discussing them. And now that Cameron Forte is officially on board, let's talk about them.
First things first is the new guy, Cameron Forte. Both his father and mother played college ball, with the dad at New Mexico and mom Arizona St. The F from Tempe, Arizona was one of the nation's best scorers in high school, and originally signed with Texas Tech. But when he arrived in Lubbock, he had to deal with the lovable, huggable, Billy Clyde Gillespie, and well, that didn't go well. Reports of Gillespie's short tenure at Texas Tech were pretty bad, and Forte didn't last but a few months. He decided to bolt that first December, having never played a game for the Red Raiders, and took a redshirt on his way to Northern Arizona.
Fortunately for us,the NCAA denied his waiver to play immediately at Northern Arizona. Instead of waste a year of eligibility since he'd burned his redshirt leaving Lubbock, Forte decided to head to Howard (Tx) College, in the middle of nowhere Texas, where his high school coach had a job as an assistant. There, he played himself well above the Northern Arizona level, and started to hear from programs like Tennessee, Pit, and of course, Georgia.
With KCP leaving a scoring void, and a good relationship with the soon to be departed Kwanza Johnson, and a need for quality players in Athens, Forte decided to come east and become a Dawg.
So, what can we expect from Forte? Reports on him describe improved defense, which is nice. He works the glass, particularly on the offensive end, hard, and he has good size and length. Offensively, his game lacks the outside shooting touch that so many others in the program also lack. But he is said to have a good handle, and a very effective and consistent scoring touch within 15 feet. He uses his left hand extensively, but the reports on his game sounds like we may have picked up the capable scorer on the low block we've lacked since Jeremy Price. Defensively, he might guard SFs or PFs, but offensively he sounds like a C, which could dovetail nicely with fellow frontcourt players Brandon Morris, Nemi Djurisic, and Donte Williams.
Mark Fox has said he likes his newcomers to focus on just one position, so it'll be interesting if he has Forte focus on PF with Nemi and others, or SF with Brandon Morris and fellow recent signee Kenny Paul Geno. The reports make it sounds as though he will focus on SF, which could allow the perimeter limited but long and athletic Morris to work at both F spots. Forte joins Morris as a sophomore, since he redshirted that first year with the Red Raiders. Combine that with the recent redshirt of Marcus Thornton, and the class breakdown for next year is now...
Senior- Donte Williams (F/C)
Juniors- John Cannon (C), Tim Dixon (F/C), Nemi Djurisic (PF), Marcus Thornton (F)
Sophomore- Cameron Forte (F), Kenny Gaines (SG), Charles Mann (PG), Brandon Morris (F)
Freshman- JJ Frazier (PG), Kenny Paul Geno (SF), Houston Kessler (F), Juwan Parker (SG)
That's decent balance in the two most recent classes, but a very big heavy upperclassman group. It also leaves us with potentially just 1 open scholarship for recruiting the talented and good sized 2014 in state class.
And since we mention recruiting, we'll address the men's hoops development recently reported but yet to be announced. Kwanza Johnson is expected to join former LSU, Stanford, and Nevada coach Trent Johnson's staff at Texas Christian. Mark Fox was an assistant on Johnson's staff at Nevada, before he left for Stanford and Fox took over the head role for the Wolfpack. Good luck to Kwanza going forward, and thanks to all your hard work in Athens.
The reason we tie that with recruiting is two fold. First, Kwanza helped bring a lot of that roster to Athens, as his relationship with Forte and the incoming Parker, among others, played a huge role in their decisions to play for the Dawgs. Second, is this leaves an open spot on Mark Fox's staff, with fans clamoring for it to be filled by someone that can help improve what has to date been extremely below par in-state recruiting.
Current assistant Jonas Hayes, who has been in the position of "operations coordinator", is said to be filling that void right now. Hayes could easily be given the promotion to full assistant, and the off campus recruiting privileges that go with it. If you asked me, that is the path I expect to be taken.
Of course, there is the possibility that Korey McCray, having recently been demoted from assistant coach to an as of now unannounced administrative role. Seth Emerson has reported that he is interested in the position, and as a man who formerly ran the Atlanta Celtics AAU program, and whose brother currently runs that group which churns out several major college players on a yearly basis, he could help improve in-state recruiting significantly, and immediately. After all, McCray is the reason two Georgia prep products, wing Jordan Adams and big man Tony Parker (both of whom would have been extremely beneficial to last year's roster) were in Westwood last year. But it should be noted that if McCray is the choice by Fox (which seems doubtful as many times as he's passed on the man previously), it wouldn't be as a package deal with Parker. Unless something unexpected happens, we have all 13 scholarships filled for next year, so there'd be no room at the inn for him.
Another well-connected-throughout-Georgia coach on the market is former Georgia Southern head man Charlton Young. But reports seem to connect him with the opening on Frank Martin's staff at South Carolina. Either Young or McCray joining Martin's staff would open a pipeline to this state that could become a huge problem for Fox and the program.