Looking for leaders: Fox counting on Maten and Parker to fill the void

Anthony Dasher, Editor
GA Varsity
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UGA Sports Communication

Who is going to replace J.J. Frazier as this year’s leader on the Georgia basketball team?

On paper, that mantle should fall to the senior tandem of Yante Maten and Juwan Parker, a pair of veterans who have been through their share of SEC wars. But as head coach Mark Fox points out, Frazier’s leadership went way beyond how many points he scored. It also included the work he did both on and off the court, making sure his teammates stayed focus and prepared for each game accordingly.

So, even though Maten and Parker seem like the obvious choices, it’s going to be up to them to want the job.

“We never appoint leaders. They (players) don’t get a vote. Leaders emerge when it is necessary. If you have it, you have it,” said Fox, whose Bulldogs are in the midst of preseason practice in preparation for the opener against Bryant College.

“When the bullets start flying you find out who your leaders are,” Fox continued. “But I will say this, Yante and Juwan are two guys who have been around, they know how to win and there’s a lot to be said for that.”

However, neither Maten nor Parker so far have been the vocal contributors like Frazier was during his four years in Athens.

Both prefer to lead by example, although Fox believes both can step out of their comfort zone to provide the team with the leadership it will need.

“(Marcus) Thornton was a great example for Yante to learn from, and as a senior he’s witnessed some great leaders so we’re hoping he can provide the same,” Fox said. “Juwan had two serious surgeries to come back from, much like Thornton who went under the knife. With the wear and tear on him we might limit practice, but physically he has no limits and because of that we’re hoping his production will improve.”

So far, practice is going off without a hitch.

“We’re just staying in the moment, building a defense that will get stops and put together an offense that will put points on the board and be balanced,” Fox said. “Of course, the biggest question is how to replace J.J.”

Turtle Jackson, Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump will give it their best shot.

All three are veterans who saw their share of court time last season, with freshman Teshaun Hightower also getting a chance to show what he can do.”

Freshman forward Rayshaun Hammonds looks to make his mark.

The 6-foot-8, 227-pounder earned all-state honors last year at Norcross High, averaging 17.3 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, and while freshmen typically have had a hard time gaining consistent playing time under Fox, perhaps Hammonds can break the trend.

“Rayshaun and our other three (Hightower, Nicholas Claxton and Isaac Kante) freshmen, they look great getting off the bus, but that doesn’t win you a lot of games,” Fox said. “But I have really been pleased with their approach to learning with the reps we’ve seen them take.”

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