Monday, February 8, 2010

Hoops: The Other Star of the Georgia Basketball Team

Under Mark Fox, the Georgia Bulldogs men's basketball team has shown a great amount of progress the team has made under the first year coach. Despite the record, the team is much better than in year's past and is getting some attention from the media. Most of the attention is on Georgia's two stars, versatile big man Trey Thompkins and the high flying Travis Leslie. While watching Georgia upset #18 Vanderbilt on Saturday night, I noticed another player who really seemed to make an impact on the floor: senior guard Ricky McPhee.
McPhee hails from Lilburn, Georgia where graduated from Parlview High School in 2005. Despite being 12th all time in Gwinnett County in scoring, the county all-time leader in 3 pointers, and finishing second in state in scoring his senior year, McPhee did not have a local basketball scholarship offer. This was mostly likely due to three other Gwinnett County players who graduated at the same time as McPhee who all accepted scholarships to Georgia: Dacula's Billy Humphrey and South Gwinnett's Louis Williams and Mike Mercer. In a twist of fate, McPhee is the only one of those three players that will end his college career at Georgia.

McPhee committed to play a Gardner-Webb, where he made an impact during first collegiate game. Ricky scored 21 points against national powerhouse North Carolina. He would play the next years at Gardner-Webb, averaging 8.9 points a game. He even scored 12 points against Georgia in a near upset of the Bulldogs (the final was Georgia 97, GW 96). McPhee then transferred to Georgia as a walk-on, where had to sit out the 2007-2008 season.

Once eligible to play, Ricky did not see the floor much during the first half of the 2008-2009 season. But once January came around, he gradually began to see his role increase. McPhee hit the game winning three pointer in a Georgia victory over Vanderbilt. A few weeks later, he scored a season high 15 points in a loss to Mississippi State. For the year, he averaged 11 minutes per game and hit 36% of his shots from 3 point range.

Under Mark Fox, McPhee has become a starter and one of the constants of the floor for the Dawgs. He has started all 21 games at guard and is averaging over 31 minutes per game. He is third on the team averaging 10.3 points per game, third in assists with 41, and leads the team in steals with 31. McPhee is one of the top deep threats in the SEC, hitting on nearly 41% from downtown (44 of 108). McPhee played a key role in Georgia's upset victory over #8 Tennessee, scoring 11 points. He also had a big game in Georgia's loss at Florida where he scored a season high 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting (5 for 8 from 3).

Ricky McPhee has been one of the true surprises on this year's Georgia team. It is a shame that he only got to spend two years on the court in Athens. "McThree" has certainly lived up to his nickname this season.

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