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Friday, May 1, 2009

Still No Decision From Thompkins

New Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox has spent his first month on the job frenetically trying to find a few new additions to his team, but he still isn't clear on the future of one of his top current players.

After Fox's hiring, freshman forward Trey Thompkins said he would wait until the end of the spring academic semester before he made any decisions on whether he would return to Georgia for his sophomore season, and while Fox said he has enjoyed a strong relationship with Thompkins thus far, that timetable hasn't changed.

"Trey will do what's best for him, as he should," Fox said. "Certainly there's a great future for him here, but he deserves time to get to know me. I understand that."

Thompkins was one of several Georgia players to admit he wasn't sure who Fox was when the coach was hired nearly one month ago, but said he would reserve judgment until he had a chance to learn more about Fox.

While NCAA restrictions have prevented Fox from overseeing significant practice sessions and workouts since he took over the program, Fox said Thompkins has remained a crucial part of the team. He simply hasn't assured his new coach he'll be around in the fall.

"He hasn't directly said that, but he and I and his family have had some great conversations," Fox said. "He's been a part of everything we do. He's hosted recruits, he's done everything. We've had some very healthy conversations, but right now he's focusing on finishing the semester."

Thompkins averaged 12.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game as a freshman last season, but battled injuries early in the year, while getting little offensive help most of the time. That has been a key issue Fox said he hopes to remedy for 2009, which started with the addition of point guard Vincent Williams, who committed to Georgia earlier this week.

Thompkins will be the only Georgia player not to enroll in summer school, Fox said. Instead, he'll attend the Team USA Under-19 tryouts, a move Fox said he fully supports.

Sophomores Zac Swansey and Troy Brewer announced their intentions to transfer prior to Fox's hiring, and Daniel Miller, a commitment left over from Dennis Felton's tenure as head coach, was granted his release as well. Miller landed at Georgia Tech.

Several other players, including Thompkins, publicly discussed the possibility that they might follow suit, but Fox said that so far, he expects the rest of his team to return next season.

"I have not had one player tell me, 'I'm leaving' or 'I want to leave,' " Fox said. "Their response, their actions have shown that they're excited about the direction. I've been pleased with their reaction to what we want them to do."

With just one senior and few offensive weapons returning to a depleted roster that finished last in the SEC East a year ago, however, Thompkins' return will be the most crucial and it remains a top priority for Georgia's first-year coach.

"He's a great kid, and we've had a great start," Fox said. "We've enjoyed time in the gym, time in the office, and I look forward to helping him grow and improve. That's the goal."

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