- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- Samuel L. Jackson didn’t reveal the contents of the mysterious briefcase he carried in “Pulp Fiction,” but the actor shared plenty of thoughts on life with Mark Fox and his Georgia basketball team when he visited Athens last week.
Fox said he and assistant coach Stacey Palmore hounded Jackson with questions during a round of golf, and he met with Georgia’s basketball and football teams that afternoon, as well.
“He was very gracious talking about different characters he played and how much preparation goes into it and how he got into acting. You name it,” Fox said. “He was very open and talked about how stars deal with fame and how some people mismanage their money and what pitfalls guys can fall into. He talked to our team about some of that, which I thought was terrific. He was as down to Earth as you can imagine and I really appreciated his approach to it. I don’t know if he enjoyed it, but we sure did.”
Fox said the players’ chance to meet Jackson “made those kids’ day” and that he learned a lot about moviemaking during the visit -- although he doesn’t think either men decided they wanted to change jobs.
“It’s amazing how many films he’s done and you start talking to him about it and the roles and just how much leeway do you have when you get a script,” Fox said. “As I learned, it kind of depends on the director and how much prep they have to put in to really play the part the right way. It’s more work than people realize, but I don’t think he’d trade his job just like I wouldn’t trade mine.”
Fox met with reporters Monday afternoon and discussed several topics, from the Bulldogs’ recent trip to Italy to their improved depth as the 2012-13 season approaches. Here are some of the highlights from Fox’s media Q&A:
On who was impressive on the trip to Italy:
“Every player started a game. We played everybody a healthy chunk of minutes, which to Kenatvious [Caldwell-Pope] and Neme [Djurisic] and Donte [Williams] probably didn’t feel like a healthy chunk because they played less minutes than they ususally play. Marcus Thornton obviously did not play. So of the guys who started and played major minutes for us last year, most of them were reduced to smaller roles. So statistically it’s kind of hard to gauge because we weren’t able to keep track of how many minutes guys played. But I do think Tim Dixon was very productive for us. I think that Charles Mann had a very good trip, Kenny Gaines and Brandon Morris. All three of those new perimeter guys learned some valuable lessons. They learned some lessons that they won’t have to learn again in November if they’re smart kids, which they are. But I think it was a situation where Tim probably stood out the most of the guys who hadn’t played significant minutes.”
On Marcus Thornton’s progress in recovering from offseason knee surgery:
“Marcus was able to practice in certain situations where there was no contact. He did quite a bit of things in preparation for the trip. He has not been cleared for contact, but he is moving very well in his rehab. We’re not back working out yet, so I think we’ll get another evaluation from our trainers as to his status here in another week or 10 days. But I think to this point we’ve been very pleased.”
On how the 10 practices preceding the team’s Italy trip might help when the team opens practice:
“I would think that it should allow us to proceed a lot quicker. Just implementing most of the things that we did this summer and not having to reteach those all over again will give us the ability to maybe put some more things in before our first game that maybe we normally wouldn’t. It will allow us more time to drill on certain things and polish certain things up. So I think it should allow us to go into the fall with certainly a good head start. But like with anything, there’ll be some slippage. They’ll forget some things. They probably already have. But that’s to be expected, too.”
On whether they might redshirt someone besides Houston Kessler:
“Houston, who had some bright moments, too, on the trip, I think we would like to redshirt Houston. He knows that, you guys know that, and I look at our team and we’ve got really good competition across the board now. I think the battle at the point will be fun to watch. I think that Kenny Gaines has come in at the two spot with some playmaking ability, which makes that spot real fun to watch every day. Obviously at the three, Marcus when he gets healthy with Brandon Morris and we can play Kentavious there, he can play Sherrard Brantley there or play Sherrard at the two. I think we’ve got some real depth that we haven’t had before. And then up front with everybody returning, I think we have some real depth. So will I redshirt anybody besides Houston? I’m tempted. Long-term I’m tempted, but we won’t have to make that decision until the first of November. But I would be less than honest if I didn’t tell you it crossed my mind because I think we have a deeper team.”
On Georgia’s 2012-13 SEC schedule:
“We’re going to have to play in some tough environments. We get to go to Florida, to Tennessee, to Missouri, to A&M, to Alabama, to Arkansas. I think our road schedule -- and I haven’t looked at anybody else’s -- but I’d say our road schedule’s probably as hard as anybody’s. We’ve got to go to Ole Miss. I’m not sure that there’s a harder road schedule that’s out there.”
On whether he has an update for Donte Williams’ status to start the season:
“I have nothing further to add on Donte at this time, if ever.”
On what he’s excited/worried about as the season approaches:
“We’re just so much more physically equipped to deal with the season. We’re just bigger, we’re more mature physically, we’re more athletic, we have better depth. So we I think from a physical standpoint are more equipped for it. My list of concerns is probably a mile long. I didn’t think we defended very well. Are we going to be able to improve in that area? Are we going to pick up the system that we’re trying to implement?”