Juniors Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie flirted with the NBA after last season and presumable will have to make another decision once this season concludes.
Thompkins was unavailable for comment Tuesday, leaving Leslie to field the tough questions.
“Whatever I got planned for the future—that’s up to me and my family,” Leslie said. “We’ll decide that whenever.”
Does Leslie think about Wednesday night against LSU potentially playing out as his home finale?
“Definitely not,” he answered. “It’s their senior night (seniors Chris Barnes and Jeremy Price). I’m just going to go out there and have fun with those guy."
Thompkins leads the team with both 16.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Leslie (14.3 points and 7.0 rebounds) is second in both categories.
While mock drafts differ on the stock of both players, coach Mark Fox says there will be no talk of the impending decision until after the season.
“Yeah, that’s something that out of respect to them and our team would be addressed after the season,” Fox said. “Those two kids are focused on winning, and that’s their entire focus right now. I would appreciate their approach in that way.”
A win Wednesday night against LSU would give Georgia 20 wins for the season. Excluding the vacated years under Jim Harrick, the 1997-98 season, under coach Ron Jirsa, was the last time the Bulldogs reached the 20-win plateau.
“Well, it would be a milestone,” Fox said. “To get a 20-win season would be important for us. It would show progress, and it would be an accomplishment. It is one game at a time for us, but one game right now would mean No. 20.”
Old friends to do battle
Fox and LSU coach Trent Johnson go way back. Both were assistants at Washington under Lynn Nance in the early 90s.
There were plenty of battles on the basketball court between the two during those days, Fox said.
“20 years ago we would go play pick-up basketball and always end up on different teams,” Fox said. “So the two biggest guys, we had to guard each other. He’s Boise State’s all-time leader in fouls, so you know what that probably meant to go against him. He’s a very competitive person. We were kind of like brothers at that age, where we would fight and kind of leave angry with each other.”
Fox later would join Johnson’s staff at Nevada in 2000, eventually taking over when Johnson left for Stanford in 2004.
During all the time spent coaching together, Fox and Johnson became close. When Fox was mulling over leaving Nevada for Georgia in 2009, Johnson, who had taken the job at LSU the previous offseason, played an important role in Fox eventually coming to Athens.
“He won the SEC the year before I came,” Fox said. “When it got down to it, I think I was in the airport when we first really discussed it. His opinion means a great deal to me, so his thoughts on this league and this program was important for me to get that because he had just won the league and made the move from a different school and those types of things.”
Fox took the job and immediately became a conference competitor, once again facing Johnson. Last season, LSU defeated Georgia 50-48.
“It was hard,” Fox recalls of his first meeting with his friend. “We didn’t play well, which disappointed me because I think we were still in the position to get the fifth seed. We didn’t play well. They outplayed us. But it was a little different.”
Fox says there are no plans to meet with Johnson before the game Wednesday night. The two see one another frequently on the recruiting circuit and at the SEC coaches meetings in May.
“He’s as close a friend as I have,” Fox said.
Wear and tear
Thompkins was unavailable for interviews Tuesday due to time spent receiving medical treatment on his foot, according to Fox.
“He’s got a minor thing on his foot,” Fox said. “He’ll be fine.”
Thompkins has battled multiple foot injuries this season, including an ankle sprain and sore shin.