College basketball's early signing period begins today and Mark Fox already has two prospects in the fold. However he may have another even bigger recruit in his sights.
Athens Christian standout William "Turtle" Jackson is set to announce at 11:00 a.m. at a ceremony at his school. Jackson chose the 'Dawgs over offers from the likes of Alabama, UConn, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Louisville. Keeping him in Clarke County was a rousing coup for Mark Fox. The 6'4 point guard could have gone almost anywhere, but is really needed in a Bulldog back court that will have to replace Charles Mann after the 2015-2016 season. Jackson may well be the heir apparent for that spot. Mark Fox hasn't done a great job keeping national top 150-level talent instate, but he won this one, and I suspect it may go down as one of his bigger recruiting hits in Athens.
Georgia is also expecting paperwork from Texas small forward E'torrion Wilredge. The 6'6' Wilredge, who could also slide over to the shooting guard spot, chose the Bulldogs over SMU, Iowa State, Marquette, Oklahoma, and Auburn. He's not quite as highly ranked as Jackson, but is a long, lean athlete who's only going to get better under Coach Fox's tutelage.
The real news for the Hoop Hounds will be the decision of national top 100 forward Tevin Mack out of Columbia, S.C. (Dreher). Mack is set to choose at some point this week from among Georgia, UConn, Virginia Commonwealth, and South Carolina. No one seems to know who he'll choose, or even precisely when he'll make his decision known. Mack is a smooth ball handler with a solid jumper who's also deceptively physical taking it to the hole. In this regard he'd be an excellent fit in Mark Fox's system.
Following a 20 win season and an NIT appearance Coach Fox is building real momentum in the Classic City. He returns all the key components of that 2013-2014 squad that followed a terrible non-conference start by becoming a surprise contender in the SEC. A solid early signing period would help keep the momentum going. Also bear in mind that Georgia is still in the running for Wheeler small forward Jaylen Brown, easily the top player in the state and in the running for the top spot in the nation in 2015. Brown won't sign until the late signing period in April, but a solid campaign this season might help convince him that he can accomplish his basketball goals at home rather than leaving for Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, or any of the host of other powers clamoring for his services.
Georgia's a long way from being a basketball school, but as the above shows, there's some reason for optimism inside the Stege these days. What a refreshing change of pace, right? Until later . . .