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Mark BradleyMark Bradley

Tech won’t let Carter go to UGA, and I understand

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Robert Carter Jr.: He's a transfer, not a free agent. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Robert Carter Jr.: He’s a transfer, not a free agent. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

As noted by esteemed colleague Chip Towers, Georgia isn’t pleased that Georgia Tech refused to let the Bulldogs contact Robert Carter Jr., who considered signing with the Bulldogs — he’s from Thomasville by way of Shiloh in Snellville — before landing at Tech. As noted by esteemed colleague Ken Sugiura, the Jackets are unapologetic in their refusal, invoking the industry standard not to allow a transfer to alight with a school in the same conference or with a team his old school plays on a regular basis.

Without trying to cast myself as arbitrator, I have to say I understand Georgia’s frustration — the Bulldogs could use a good big man — but am swayed by Tech’s position. It’s bad enough when a guy leaves your program; it’s worse when you have to face him. I know why the Jackets, who play Georgia every season, would want to avoid that. (For one thing, Tech’s 3-0 record against the Bulldogs is one of the few real achievements under Brian Gregory.)

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity has said the Bulldogs put no restrictions on their transfers, claiming that they have the student-athlete’s best interests at heart. That’s laudable. That’s their prerogative. But Tech is justified in its stance. Even if transfers have reached a record high in college basketball, transferring isn’t quite the same as becoming a free agent.

Luke Hancock, MVP of the 2013 Final Four, went from George Mason to Louisville — to a non-rival in a different league. Kevin Ware has gone from Louisville to Georgia State, which has essentially become an arrival gate for transfers. Ryan Harrow, who played first at North Carolina State of the ACC, bounced to Kentucky of the SEC and is now at Georgia State, lately of the Sun Belt. Jerrone Maymon left Marquette for Tennessee; Trae Golden left Tennessee for Georgia Tech.

Sometimes strange things happen. Jordan Sibert, who was Aaron Craft’s roommate at Ohio State, left the Buckeyes and landed at Dayton, which is just down I-75 from Columbus but which Ohio State has refused to schedule. Lo and behold, the two were paired in their opening NCAA tournament game, and Sibert’s Flyers upset Craft’s Buckeyes and went on to the Elite Eight. (Dayton’s winning basket against Ohio State was made by Vee Sanford, who transferred from Georgetown.)

Surely Georgia would have gnashed its canine teeth if LSU, working behind the former Bulldog Zach Mettenberger, had held its late lead in Sanford Stadium last fall. And the sight of Nick Marshall, who’d been a Georgia cornerback, throwing the long ball that became the tipped Prayer at Jordan-Hare spawned gnashing beyond measure, but with both Mettenberger and Marshall there was this difference: Neither chose to leave Georgia. Both were dismissed from the football team. Both went the JUCO route and then transferred to an SEC school. Neither went directly from Athens to another conference outpost.

Carter’s case is obviously different. AD Mike Bobinski said he hasn’t expressed a desired destination — there’s an appeals process, should he wish to sign with Georgia or, say, Clemson — and this could all be a moot point. Rumor holds that Carter could be bound for Auburn, which just hired the disgraced Bruce Pearl. Auburn is only a bit farther from North Avenue than Athens or Clemson, but it’s not in Tech’s conference and it doesn’t play Tech every winter. That mightn’t sound like much of a difference to you, but it does to me.

From myajc.com: Will Carter’s departure leave Tech in the lurch?

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