May 1, 2009

New hoops coach says Miller could have stayed

New Georgia coach Mark Fox said that neither Daniel Miller nor his family informed him that the former signee would seek a transfer to Georgia Tech before he was granted his recent release from the Bulldog program.

"No, I didn't know and I didn't care," Fox told reporters during a luncheon Friday afternoon.

Miller, a 6-foot-11, 240-pound center from Loganville Christian Academy, originally signed with the Bulldogs before asking for his release shortly after Fox was hired one month ago.

After meeting with Fox, Miller signed a financial aid agreement with Georgia Tech.

"I think he wanted a fresh start, and quite frankly that's understandable. Daniel's a nice kid and I told him I would not stand in his way," said Fox, who added that he would have honored Miller's scholarship to UGA. "That wouldn't be the right way to start out."

Fox broached a number of subjects during a luncheon with beat writers Friday at the team's basketball complex.

Another was the future of sophomore Trey Thompkins.

The 6-foot-9, 245-pounder was one of the SEC's top freshmen last year, averaging 12.6 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds per game, but after the firing of former coach Dennis Felton, speculation began that Thompkins might be looking for another school.

Although Fox did not conclusively say whether Thompkins is or isn't thinking about that possibility, all signs point to the player returning to Georgia next year.

"Trey has been a part of everything we do. He's hosted recruits, he's done everything we've asked and we've had very healthy conversations with him and his family," Fox said. "His focus now is on finishing his semester and I think Trey will do what's best for him, as he should. I think he sees there's a great future for him here. Certainly, it's a situation where he deserves some time to get to know me and how we want to function."

Fox said no players currently on the team have asked to transfer.

"I've not had one player say they're going to leave or they want to leave," Fox said. "I think they've responded well and show that they are excited about a new direction. I've been pleased with their reaction to the things we've asked them to do. Even when they got in trouble because their lockerroom was not clean the other day, their reaction was very good."

That includes sophomore guard Travis Leslie, who was asked by program administrators to forgo the final three-plus weeks of the season to concentrate on his academics.

Fox has his fingers crossed that Leslie will able to resume playing when the team begins preseason practice.

"Travis has certainly worked hard in the classroom," Fox said. "The semester's not over, but he's worked hard and I've very pleased with his response to what we want done. Certainly, this is about guys earning an education and we're going to be working hard to make sure they do that."

As for recruiting, Fox said he's very excited about the addition of guard Vincent Williams, and that he'll continue to look for players to help fill out next season's depth chart.

Fox said the Bulldogs have three scholarships currently available (not counting Williams), but would like hold one or two back to help balance out next year's class.

"We'd like to add somebody else (this year). We'll look for transfers if we can, we'll look internationally," Fox said. "We're going to keep looking because you never know what you might find."

Scheduling teams for next year remains a tedious process.

Fox said the program currently needs to find eight games, although three or four or close to reaching agreements.

"We've just got to dot some I's and cross some T's," Fox said. "But those last three or four more; it's going to be a bit more challenging."

Currently, Georgia Tech is the only "big-time" non-conference team slated to visit Stegeman Coliseum in 2009-2010. The Bulldogs will play Illinois at the Gwinnet Center, but two other non-conference matchups - Missouri and Virginia Tech - will be on the road. Georgia will play St. John's in the SEC/Big East Challenge at Madison Square Garden.

NOTES: Fox said he has been staying at the UGA Continuing Education Center, right across the street from the Basketball Complex until he finds a home. … Former Bulldog Jarvis Hayes was in town Thursday and had lunch with Fox that afternoon.

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