Mfiondu Kabengele chose to attend Florida State over Georgia and several others.
Kabengele was considered to be leaning toward Florida State during the process, but had made a visit to Athens before as discussed in a previous article. Kabengele’s decision to go to Tallahassee certainly leaves Georgia with few options in the frontcourt for the Spring 2016 Class. E.J. Datcher committed to Mississippi State and now the only post left over for Fox to pursue is Isaiah Whaley. (Just in: JUCO Small Forward Pape Diatta was reported to have received an offer.)
Florida State just landed Canada native Mfiondu Kabengele, source tells ESPN. 6-foot-8 2016 forward.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 2, 2016
The case against Florida State was made concerning their development of frontcourt prospects, but Georgia once again loses in a recruiting battle against Leonard Hamilton. Mark Fox and his staff have fared better against other coaches, but he struggles against Florida State. Florida State assistant and recruiting ace Charlton Young certainly plays a large role in thwarting Georgia’s efforts. From the Class of 2012 going forward, Florida State has beat out Georgia in landing: Jarquez Smith, Montay Brandon, Phil Cofer, Malik Beasley and now Mfiondu Kabengele. Auburn, Mississippi State, Clemson and even Georgia Tech cannot legitimately be considered Georgia’s #1 recruiting rival, it’s actually Florida State. Georgia and Alabama used to have a major recruiting rivalry and the same could be said regarding Clemson, but the biggest threat to Georgia Basketball in the recruiting game is Florida State. This cannot be denied anymore, just because Georgia does not play Florida State, it does not mean that they are insignificant.
Florida State is 17-12 this season, which is not mindblowing at all and their track record with frontcourt prospects is not exactly impressive as far as development and production. Florida State is not on pace to make the NCAA Tournament as only two out of seventy-plus projections place them in the tournament. Florida State is headed to the NIT barring a major run in the ACC Tournament. The Seminoles are 11th in the ACC with a 7-10 record in the conference and are coming off a victory on Saturday at home over then #23 Notre Dame, which snapped a five game losing streak.
Kabengele was supposed to visit Athens, but did not end up doing so. Was the noise swirling around concerning Mark Fox’s job situation enough to dissuade him? The disappointing season may reflect negatively in Spring 2016 recruiting. Keep in mind that last season, Mark Fox was able to jump out early to land Mike Edwards and it was propelled by an NCAA Tournament appearance. Fox had an easier sale for Edwards compared to other suitors that had underachieved that season. Mark Fox is now in the position of the other coaches because of the team’s performance this season. Fox also has to deal with new negative recruiting talking points and some programs will be more than eager to use them.
Talking point sound bytes may include:
“Mark Fox does not give freshmen minutes on the floor.”
“Mark Fox strips his freshmen of their confidence.”
“Mark Fox will only get you to the Big Dance once over three or four years.”
“Trey Thompkins came into the 2011 NBA Draft with extremely high body fat. Fox won’t prepare you for the NBA Draft combine.”
“Mark Fox may be fired soon or take another job.”
Get the idea. Spring 2016 recruiting may be a rockier road than expected and Fall 2016 recruits may have serious questions. Taking late deciding recruits to Georgia Football games may not help either as the many of the fans have an antipathy toward Basketball and certainly toward Mark Fox. It is very hard to control the things that fans say to a recruit and adding in the fact that many of the fans are more lubricated than normal, it would not be surprising that someone says something incredibly offensive toward a taller than usual visitor. It is also easy for competitor programs to tell recruits that the Georgia Football experience is not the Basketball experience, it is easy for the Georgia Football program to make Georgia Basketball look insignificant. Attending a Georgia Football game typically does not go hand-in-hand with getting recruits to commit.
Spring 2016 recruiting may involve another frantic search and if it does, it is not a good sign for what is to come in Fall 2016 recruiting for the Class of 2017.