It’s tough to accept that UGA will leave a scholarship vacant.
Recruiting in the wake of a poorly handled situation where both James White and Tevin Mack turned down Georgia, the staff has evidently shifted toward 2016, 2017 and 2018 recruiting. Georgia has been very active in 2016 and 2017 recruiting as it appears for 2016 there will be either one or two scholarship spots available and in 2017 there will likely be three or four scholarship spots available. The 2015 Class provides a great deal of hope and optimism for the program, but the way things ended was like watching a NASCAR race where the driver taking the white flag makes an unforced error and smacks into the wall allowing for others to pass on that final lap.
It is sub-optimal to not use all of the scholarships that you are allowed to distribute for a particular school year. Mark Fox did it last year and his depth suffered, he’ll do it again this year and he better hope that he can get more out of his twelve scholarship guys than he did last year out of his eleven. When NCAA Basketball teams go on probation or get penalized by the NCAA, typically they lose the ability to offer scholarships and this hurts team depth both in games and in practice. By not using all 13 scholarships on scholarship-quality student-athletes, it is the equivalent of the punishment issued out by the NCAA. Fox should have got his money’s worth out of a recruiting violation of some sort, if he was going to not use all of his scholarships the past two years!
At this point, Fox cannot do much to change the depth composition of his 2015-16 team. He’s not going to bring in that game changing graduate transfer we all thought he would do. This team is a quality graduate transfer away from contending for an SEC crown and making the deepest NCAA Tournament run in a generation. Now almost all of the graduate transfers have been taken off the board. Fox was pursuing a graduate transfer post and rightfully so, but now the best guys left are Willy Kouassi (who is down to his final 3: Arkansas, Memphis, BYU), Kenyatta Smith (nobody has been known to be pursuing him), Joseph Uchebo (same situation as Kenyatta Smith) and Ben Dickinson (nothing has been said about his recruitment anywhere). The graduate transfer market has dried up.
It is unlikely a graduate transfer joins the team next season, which means that actual previews of this team can be made in earnest. This is a team that has a lot to play for next season, but it would be fair to expect a similar outcome to last season. The 2015-16 Georgia Basketball team in its current form could very well start SEC Tournament play on Friday and earn the double-bye for a third straight year while landing a seed that is between 8 and 11. Let’s not leave a scholarship vacant in 2016-17, please.