It hasn’t been a great few weeks for Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox, as a series of tough, late losses in winnable games has placed his team squarely on the bubble in a season in which many were expecting a March tournament run. The flat performances have led to some rumblings about Fox’s future in Athens, and now those rumblings have led to the loss of the biggest recruit Fox had on his commitment list.
Newton High guard Ashton Hagans has withdrawn his commitment according to multiple outlets, citing uncertainty surrounding Fox’s job status.
How big a loss would Hagans be for the program? Huge. He’s rated the #1 point guard in the nation by 247Sports and the #8 player regardless of position in the nation. He would be the highest-rated recruit to set foot on campus in the eight years of the Mark Fox era. Hagans is also considering Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Auburn.
It does not sound like Hagans has eliminated the Bulldogs from consideration, but one has to wonder exactly what would be required from here on out to convince Hagans that Fox has a future in Athens beyond next month. Because right now it’s really hard to imagine this team playing enough consistently good basketball to make a run in the SEC tournament. And if they do, it’s even harder to imagine a scenario that ends with Georgia making the tournament and going anywhere of consequence. One imagines that’s the sort if positive momentum that might convince the 6’4 guard from Covington to change his mind again and commit to the G.
It’s also hard to see Hagans as a four year player at any school. But if he plans to be in Athens in 2019-2020 there’s been precious little evidence over the past couple of months to support the proposition that Mark Fox will be there with him. The best reason to think that Mark Fox will be back at least for 2018-19 has nothing to do with his own team’s performance.
It’s the fact that the FBI is in the midst of a process that may well make every hot coaching prospect Georgia could hire in April subject to a show cause order by October. With dozens of big name programs and big name coaches cropping up in the widening college basketball corruption scandal, now could be the absolute worst time in history to be shopping for a college basketball coach.
I think Greg McGarity is probably keenly aware of that, even if he isn’t 100% satisfied with his current lukewarm, plain oatmeal breakfast of a basketball program, a fact of which I am not convinced. Hagans’ defection wouldn’t be enough to bring about Fox’s ouster on its own, but it is certifiably bad news for a program that didn’t really need any more doom and gloom.