- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox and most of his players met with reporters Monday to discuss their upcoming trip to Italy and their summer practice sessions leading up to the trip.
We’ll have more on the Italy trip tomorrow. For now, here are some updates on the status of the team after adding freshmen Kenny Gaines, Houston Kessler, Charles Mann and Brandon Morris to the roster.
• Fox did not address whether junior forward Donte Williams will face any game punishment related to his May arrest for marijuana possession. Williams said Monday that the case was dismissed and that he passed three drug tests, showing that he is not a drug user (more on this tomorrow, as well)
“I don’t know. I think we’ll weigh that out,” Fox said. “I think the important thing was for him, when he’s trying to get a job when he’s 30 years old and people Google his name, I want the truth to be known. I’m not mad at anyone for reporting what they had to report, that’s your jobs, but the accuracy of what someone tells you may not be right, and I think it’s important that that be stated.”
• Fox said he plans to play Gaines, Mann and Morris this season and to redshirt Kessler, but he will have set roles for each of them as true freshmen. Mann will play only point guard, Gaines only shooting guard and Morris only small forward.
“All the freshmen will just play one position -- the old Dean Smith model, let them learn one thing first,” Fox said.
He said each freshman has already been impressive during summer workouts. Mann’s 6-foot-4 size and natural passing ability will be an asset, Fox said, while Gaines’ athleticism and scoring ability and Morris’ versatility will all help them contribute in the upcoming season.
“I think when the season starts in November, they’re going to feel like they’re almost sophomores,” Fox said. “They’re going to have had this entire experience this summer, they’re going to have the normal preseason and I think that they should be much more comfortable when the year starts next year.”
• Fox said Morris has “probably the most versatile game of all the freshmen,” saying that he has already shown the ability to be a strong offensive rebounder, a good face-up shooter and can handle the ball well enough to drive to the basket.
Morris agreed that he prides himself on being a well-rounded performer.
“Whether it’s my ball-handling, being at 6-8 or 6-9, or just flat out just making plays, making the right decisions with the ball, making passes, playing hard defense, giving all my effort, that’s really what it means to me is my versatility,” Morris said.
• Fox said small forward Marcus Thornton will not compete on the Italy trip following offseason knee surgery. Instead, Sherrard Brantley will shift from shooting guard to small forward, where he will be able to contribute alongside Thornton, Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
“I think he’s well on track to a full recovery, but we didn’t anticipate when he had surgery that he’d be cleared to play on this trip,” Fox said of Thornton. “The key for us was to get him to do some of the things in practice, to start getting that rhythm back, and he’s been able to do that. Then we’ll continue to rehab while we’re traveling and then upon our return and then hopefully be ready for full go when they start next fall.”
• Speaking of position shifts, Caldwell-Pope will predominantly play shooting guard this season, but Fox also has him practicing at point guard this preseason. He played small forward and two guard most of the time last season.
“I’m psyched about playing multiple positions,” Caldwell-Pope said. “But I’ve really got to focus and key in on if he’s going to play me at the 1 in some games, try to focus in on learning the 1 spot.”
• Despite losing valuable seniors Dustin Ware and Gerald Robinson from last season, Fox said he expects the team to have better depth and to play a more physical brand of basketball.
• Williams said he has gained 12 pounds this summer and is up to 226. He hopes to be at 232 by the time the season starts. Likewise, Morris -- who just arrived on campus in early June -- said he has already added 15 pounds to his frame. He said he weighed 192 pounds when he arrived at Georgia and weighed in at 207 on Friday.
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