Friday, January 30, 2009

The Mailbag: Jan. 30

Another week, another great set of questions inside The Mailbag. Where does Mfon Udofia rank in the senior class’s loaded talent pool? Who is the best college player from the Peach State that no one talks about? Is Wheeler rolling at the right time? Those questions and more are answered in this week’s edition of The Mailbag.

What do you think of Mfon Udofia and would you say he starts next year at Georgia Tech over Moe Miller? Put him at PG and move Shumpert to the SG and you got two great competitors and makes a great backcourt....Also is he you're #2 player in the state of Ga this year?

I don't know if Udofia starts right away at the point for Georgia Tech but I think he should. I agree with your comment about him at the point and Shumpert at the two. The Tech coaches tell me that won't happen right away. One of the biggest issues with the Yellow Jackets is a collective lack of toughness on the team. The team needs a leader in the clubhouse and they need someone to push them to new heights. Udofia clearly does bring that element to the table.

As far as Udofia as the number two player in the state...he is right now. After his performance against Centennial and Lorenzo Brown, it is hard to argue against that. All of that being said, I think Brown has a higher upside, albeit not by much. If Brown can continue to fine tune his point guard skills, he is a better professional prospect. Udofiia's work ethic and competitiveness will be hard to argue against. He reminds me of former Virginia star Sean Singletary in that regard.

Who is the best player from Georgia in college basketball that people don’t know about?

Great question! The first name that comes to mind is Utah’s Luke Nevill (pictured). Sure, he isn’t a native of Georgia but the Australian spent a season at Kell High School as a student exchange student. He was a late-bloomer for the Longhorns and steadily improved his senior year in Cobb County.

After a red-shirt year at Utah, Nevill has been one of the top big men in the West for four years. He has already scored 1,386 points in his career and grabbed 805 rebounds to date.

His latest game was a 32-point, 10-rebound performance in a huge win over BYU. Nevill may not be a native but he is by far the best player from Georgia that no one talks about.

Dunwoody is having a down year but seem to be getting better as the season progresses in spite of their pedestrian win-loss record. Do you think that Coach Bracco can coach up this young bunch into a state playoff berth?

If I know anything about coach Bracco, he knows how to coach up his team in pressure cooker situations like a region tournament. This year's Dunwoody team is streaky and you never really know what you are going to get with this group of Wildcats.

If Dunwoody was in any other region, I would like their chances a little better. Columbia, Druid Hills, Cedar Grove and Riverwood will all give Dunwoody a tough game. As of right now, I'm not too sure if this year's Dunwoody team gets into the state playoffs. But it wouldn't surprise me if the Wildcats made it happen in the region tournament.

Is Wheeler on the rise with their back-to-back double-digit wins over Milton and Walton?

That seems to be the question of the week. Here's the deal, I have always believed that they are the most talented team in the state. I don't think that is debatable really.

I wrote the following in December:

"Two keys to this team: Better decision making from Phil Taylor and more production from Ari Stewart. That alone is 15 more points for the Wildcats and four to six made field goals given up on defense."

Taylor is getting the ball to Howell more than usual and Stewart is scoring better. But with two games against Lassiter, Campbell and Pope, the road won't be a cake walk. Lassiter gives up a ton athletically but the team's mental toughness and overall team defense will be a great counter punch to the Wildcats. I think Wheeler wins all five of it's games to close out the season. The wins won't come easy but I can promise you there isn't a team in AAAAA that would want to play Wheeler right now.

Do you think Shawn Kemp sticks with Bama or does he start to look at UGA or GT?

When I spoke to Cherokee head coach Roger Kvam about the situation, he said Kemp will likely play the wait and see game with the Alabama situation.

Kemp won't fit in at Georgia Tech simply because of a numbers game. There just isn't any room on the depth chart there for him.

IF Kemp does decide to ask for a release from his National Letter of Intent and is granted it, Georgia actually makes sense for whomever becomes the new head coach of the program.

Truth be told, I thought Nevada was actually the best place for him. Mark Fox is one of the best coaches at developing raw talent like Kemp. Heck, he has coached four players that are in the NBA right now. Plus, the WAC is a good conference for him to compete in and improve in.

hey Justin, ive been to a couple of Whitefield Academy games and they are really gelling together in time for the playoffs.. Do you believe they can dethrone Hancock Central for the State Championship? Cameron Baskerville and Brandon Reed are really playing well.

Whitefield already dethroned Hancock this season by 10 points so I think it is possible that the Wolfpack can get rolling at the right time.

However, I've only watched them once this season and they were spanked by a very good United Faith team from North Carolina. Whitefield didn't look very good in that game.

With Reed and Baskerville, I'd expect them to play well. It's the rest of the team that needs to take it up a notch. Reed is a no-brainer all-state player. Baskerville could still crank it up some more and be more of a presence in the post.

Do you see Shaw being a legitimate state title contender?

Tough call. I saw the Raiders on Wednesday and they beat a big Northside team in overtime. Guard play is the foundation for Shaw and guard play wins games in high school basketball.

That being said, 11 of the team's 20 wins have come by less than a margin of six points. Shaw is tough and balanced but teams like South Atlanta and Columbia would be too much to handle.

To submit a question for next week's mailbag, click HERE.

Archived mailbags:
Jan. 15
Jan. 22