Cuonzo Martin, Kenny Hall on Vols' depth issues
Cuonzo Martin, Kenny Hall talk turnover troubles
We heard a lot about battleground states during the last presidential election. When it comes to basketball recruiting, Georgia is a battleground state.
To Tennessee's basketball program, you could say it's the most important state.
Protecting the home turf first is fine, but the facts are UT's roster includes two scholarship players from Tennessee and four from Georgia.
Which raises the question:
Will the outcome of Wednesday's game between the Vols and Georgia Bulldogs at Thompson-Boling Arena have any impact in shaping the future of these two SEC rivals?
Tennessee assistant coach Tracy Webster doesn't think so and I tend to agree with him.
"You can talk about 'they beat this team or that team,' but at the end of the day,'' Webster said, "it's all about relationships with the kid and if they feel like they fit and they have a chance to come in and play.''
At the moment, both programs offer ample opportunity.
Neither the Vols (11-9, 3-5 SEC) nor the Bulldogs (10-11, 4-4) are setting the world on fire this winter.
As for recent history, Tennessee has the upper hand with six NCAA tournament appearances to Georgia's two in the past seven years.
That factors into why the Vols have three Georgians on the roster who were Rivals Top 150 recruits.
"Georgia recruited me,'' junior Jordan McRae of Midway, Ga., said Monday, "but I was pretty sold on Tennessee.''
The Bulldogs recruited senior Kenny Hall in Stone Mountain. Hall, however, was looking north to UT, which was then deep into a 10-game winning streak against the Bulldogs.
"I enjoyed the atmosphere at Tennessee a lot more than I did Georgia,'' Hall said. "I just really wanted to get out of Georgia.''
Junior Trae Golden of Powder Springs had Georgia on his mind and his shortlist, but ultimately picked Tennessee.
Freshman Armani Moore is UT's fourth Georgian. He attracted only mild interest from the Bulldogs, he said.
November signee A.J. Davis of Buford, Ga., will replace Hall on the roster next year.
The Atlanta metro area is important to UT because it's closer to campus than Memphis. Then again, it's important to a lot of schools.
Georgia (20) is the leading producer of SEC players, edging Texas (19) and Tennessee (17). (Those figures include walk-ons.)
The ACC schools also work Georgia hard. For the blue-chippers, everybody shows up. Jeremy Lamb, out of Norcross, Ga., was a key cog on Connecticut's 2011 national title team.
Keeping the blue-chippers home has been daunting for the Bulldogs. Mark Fox, in his fourth year at Georgia, has scored one major recruiting coups.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was ranked No. 12 in the Class of 2011. A sophomore, he's playing at an All-SEC level.
Fox has also stopped the bleeding in the UT rivalry, splitting his first six games with the Vols.
It's probably accurate to say Wednesday's outcome won't tilt the recruiting landscape greatly one way or the other.
Still, as long as Tennessee is going to emphasize raiding Georgia for talent, when the battle spills over to the court, it doesn't hurt to win.