Thad Matta won’t be Georgia’s next head basketball coach


Georgia basketball was in need of a new head coach following the release of Mark Fox after nine seasons. Thad Matta was interested in a return to the sideline after stepping down as Ohio State’s head coach last summer.

Despite a generous offer from the Bulldogs, Matta won’t be heading south. The three-time Big Ten coach of the year turned down Georgia’s bid, telling ESPN’s Jeff Goodman he wasn’t ready for the position.

Georgia had reportedly offered Matta a five-year contract worth at least $16 million, an annual figure that slightly exceeded the $3.182 million he’d made in the final year of his contract in Columbus. It wasn’t enough to lure him to a program that will lose two of its top three players to graduation this spring — including All-SEC forward Yaten Maten. The news of Fox’s departure also cost the Bulldogs a commitment from a four-star small forward in its 2019 recruiting class.

What’s next for UGA?

The Bulldogs weren’t part of the rising tide that’s lifted the SEC in 2017-18. Despite having one of the conference’s top big men in Maten, Georgia went just 7-11 in conference play. Without their stellar senior, the team’s fortunes appear doomed to go from bad to worse.

Missing out on Matta, regardless of reason, is a blow to the program. UGA has never been considered a powerhouse program and has only advanced beyond the first weekend of the NCAA tournament one time since 1983. While Fox did a great job of attracting and cultivating talent in Athens — players like Maten, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and J.J. Frazier thrived under him — he struggled to create the depth needed to pose a legitimate threat to the SEC’s top teams.

Matta’s rejection will only serve to strengthen that perception. The Bulldogs will have to move past their top candidate to find the right fit — the kind of coach who can thrive by developing three- and four-star talent into one of the South’s top teams. That’s easier said than done, and it may take an ambitious young hire to get there.

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