Georgia

Report: Vanderbilt lands commitment from 2014 SG Matthew Fisher-Davis

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With Kyle Fuller entering his senior season and leading scorer Kedren Johnson suspended for the entire 2013-14 season, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings needed some reinforcements on the perimeter. Earlier this summer the Commodores received a verbal commitment from shooting guard Wade Baldwin, and late Sunday evening it was reported by Evan Daniels of Scout.com that Charlotte, N.C. shooting guard Matthew Fisher-Davis has verbally committed to the SEC school (subscription required).

The 6-5 Fisher-Davis, who attends Charlotte Christian, is highly regarded as a perimeter shooter and his recruitment gained momentum back in July. In addition to Vanderbilt, Fisher-Davis considered programs such as Georgia, Wake Forest and Virginia before making the decision to commit according to Jamie Shaw of the Phenom Hoop Report. Fisher-Davis took an official visit to Vanderbilt in late August, with Baldwin also taking an official to the SEC school that weekend.

Last season was a tough one for the Commodores, as key personnel losses from a team that won the SEC tournament in 2012 proved to be too much to overcome. Johnson’s 13.5 points per game are gone (as is leading rebounder Kevin Bright, who signed a professional contract to play in his native Germany), leaving forward Rod Odom (10.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Fuller (8.7, 2.3) as the team’s leading returnees from a statistical standpoint.

And with both players being seniors, the development of guards Eric McClellan and Dai-Jon Parker becomes an important aspect of the 2013-14 campaign. Both McClellan and Parker will have eligibility remaining in 2014, as will forwards Shelby Moats, Damian Jones and Luke Kornet with the latter two being freshmen.

Here are a few highlights from Fisher-Davis’ junior season at Charlotte Christian, where he averaged 17.2 points per contest.

Youngstown State silences Georgia on the road

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In the early going of a long night of college basketball, Youngstown State delivers the first surprise of the night.

The Penguins (I still love the mascot) beat Georgia in Athens in the Progressive Legends Classic, 68-56. The loss is the first for the Bulldogs this season.

While Youngstown State was billed as a much-improved team in the Horizon League, I don’t think anyone thought this would be the case. Georgia never led and only scored 14 points in the first half (YSU led 25-14 at halftime).

While every team has their struggles in the early season, the biggest problem was probably that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was the lone Bulldog in double-figures in points — and it wasn’t even close — with 27, making 10 of the team’s 17 field goals, including five of their six threes. Tim Dixon and Marcus Thornton had eight each for Georgia.

Kendrick Perry, a front-runner for Horizon League Player of the Year, led the Penguins (seriously though, isn’t that animal just awesome for a mascot?) with 23 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. He was also 10-for-11 from the free throw line as well.

In yet another stupid rule that needs to be changed, however, Youngstown State won’t get a berth in the tournament semifinals in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, because the last four teams that make it are predetermined. What a waste, because I think Perry could hang with the big boys.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Booker T. Washington (Okla.) guard Juwan Parker commits to coach Mark Fox and Georgia

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Booker T. Washington (Okla.) guard Juwan Parker has committed to coach Mark Fox and the Georgia Bulldogs, Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World is reporting.

Parker, a 6-5 native of Tulsa, reportedly had 24 Division-I offers before choosing Georgia.

“My visit to Georgia was in June,” Parker told the paper. “They’ve been in the lead ever since then.”

He becomes the second player committed to Georgia from the Class of 2013, joining in-state point guard J.J. Frazier, who committed in February.

As a high school junior this past season, Parker averaged 20.5 points and 9.4 rebounds, on his way to being named an All-State player for the second time.

“My family has a good relationship with coach Kwanza and coach Fox, and Georgia has one of the best business schools in the country,” Juwan Parker said. “Coach Fox built a winner at Nevada and he’s doing the same thing at Georgia. When I visited there, I felt very comfortable. I felt at home.”

Before committing, Parker had narrowed his list to Georgia, Memphis, and Stanford. The Bulldogs finished this past season with an overall record of 15-17, including 7-11 in the SEC.

Coach Mark Fox is will be entering his fourth season with Georgia when he takes the floor in the fall to being the 2012-13 season.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Four college hoops programs on the rise

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Some friendly advice for team schedule makers: Avoid Georgia, Missouri, St. John’s and Richmond in the near future. Unless you don’t mind losing.

Those schools represent four college hoops programs on the rise. Missouri and Richmond are already enjoying resurgences, while Georgia and St. John’s – thanks to new coaches brining in better recruits – are on their way.

Craig Ruttle/AP

Looking back, we might be calling this the summer of St. John’s. When Steve Lavin was hired in May, some wondered if the former UCLA coach would still have his recruiting touch. Um, check. Lavin’s snagged commitments from four 4-star recruits this summer, including local product Maurice Harkless. That’s crucial for the Red Storm, who are usually ignored by NYC talent.

Big deal, right? Lavin hasn’t been on the sidelines since 2003, and coaching Xs and Os were never his strong suit. (Ask any UCLA fan.) That’s why Lavin hired veteran Mike Dunlap, a premier tactician, and ex-Purdue coach Gene Keady as an advisor. Lavin, 46, is older, wiser and destined to avoid the same mistakes he made as a young coach in Westwood.

There’s no such coaching doubt regarding Georgia‘s Mark Fox. He took Nevada to three NCAA tournament in his five-year stint, averaging almost 25 wins a season. Pundits wondered if he could do the same in the SEC. A 14-17 debut season surpassed all expectations. Wins against Tennessee, Illinois and Florida proved that.

Switching coasts didn’t hurt Fox’s recruiting, either. He secured a commitment from in-state star Kentavious Caldwell, a five-star shooting guard, who’ll be flanked by capable role players. Georgia’s biggest issue is their SEC division. Playing against Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and Vandy doesn’t allow for any missteps. (Improving the defense would be a big help.)

That’s called a quick turnaround. Chris Mooney did the slow build at Richmond.

After plodding along in the A-10, the Spiders progressed from 8 wins in 2006-07 to 26 last season, mostly because a series of solid recruiting classes jelled into a solid defense. (Having guard Kevin Anderson morph into one of the A-10’s finest players doesn’t hurt either.)

This season, Anderson’s a senior and Richmond’s expected to be an A-10 contender because of the pressing, frenetic defense. But more importantly are the additions of freshmen Cedrick Lindsay and Derrick Williams. They’re like the current Richmond players – solid players who can help the Spiders stay among the A-10’s best.

But perhaps the best rebuilding job goes to Mike Anderson at Missouri. The Tigers plummeted at the end of the Quin Snyder era, leaving Anderson to clean house and re-fashion the team in his preferred image – one that features a full-court defense and frustrated opponents.

The payoff? A trip to the Elite Eight in 2009 and a return trip to the Big Dance last season. That hadn’t happened in Columbia since 2003. (Another sign your program’s on the rise? Your coach is in demand.)

And, like any program seeking to maintain its momentum, Anderson’s done well with recruits. He stocked the roster with loads of three-star recruits, then scored big with his 2010 haul that featured speedy point guard Paul Pressey, rugged forward Ricardo Ratliffe (both four-star players) and five-star power forward Tony Mitchell.

Mitchell may not play because of eligibility issues, but his commitment marks an important step for Anderson’s program. He’s the first five-star guy in nearly a decade. Winning games and recruiting hauls? That’s a promising program.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

Florida downplaying the preseason hype

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It’s already basketball season in Gainesville. The football team is faltering (well, for Florida football, anyway) and SEC writers picked Billy Donovan’s team to win the SEC this season.

And it’s not even close. Florida returns all five starters from a 21-13 team and added highly touted prospect Patric Young. Guard Kenny Boynton and forward Chandler Parsons both snagged preseason All-SEC honors.

I’m already on the Gators train – they’re No. 9 in our preseason rankings – but considering they received four times as many first-place votes as Kentucky, everyone else is too.

Everyone except the players. From Gatorsports.com:

“We understand, if we’re picked first we’re going to have a bull’s-eye on our back and we’re going to have everyone’s best games,” Parsons said shortly before the poll was released. “Picked first or picked last, we’re still going to compete hard and try to get better every day.”

Added senior center Vernon Macklin, one of UF’s five returning starters: “At the end of day you can be placed wherever you want to be placed, but if you don’t produce, you’re going to go right to the bottom. So we have to go out there and keep fighting every day in practice.”

Those Florida guys aren’t stupid. Kentucky’s got enough talent to win the SEC again, Georgia has the top player in forward Trey Thompkins and Tennessee NCAA-caliber again.

The team that wins the SEC East is probably headed for a No. 1 or 2 seed in the Big Dance.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.