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Sadly for Bulldogs, there’s only one Caldwell-Pope

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s Ranking in SEC

(Through Friday)

Scoring: 2nd (17.5 points per game)

Steals: 2nd (2.4 per game)

Three-point shot made: 2nd (2.4 per game)

Minutes played: 3rd (33.5 per game)

Defensive rebounds: 3rd (5.5 per game)

Free throw percentage: 5th (.798)

Field goal percentage: 6th (.444)

Three-point percentage: 6th (.361)

Rebounding: 16th (6.7 per game)

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is inclusive by nature; it is written right there on the back of his Georgia basketball jersey.

He wants everyone to be happy. Just read between the hyphen. As a junior at Greenville High, in a move symbolizing a personal family reunion, the then-Kentavious Caldwell attached his father’s last name to his own.

His parents, he said, discussed the matter one night after a football game — that was when Kentavious was still a receiver of some promise before giving up the game to concentrate on more spherical pursuits.

He had announced to them that he wanted to change his name. Rhonda Caldwell and Lawrence Pope talked it over, reached an accord on that fall Friday, then fired up the machinery that made Kentavious legally a Caldwell-Pope.

“I just wanted my dad to be a part of my life, wanted him to continue to be there,” the soft-spoken and happily hyphenated shooting guard said.

His current challenge is somewhat more ticklish: to append the lesser talents of his Georgia teammates to his own and construct a successful whole. For upon his slender 6-foot-5 frame, Bulldogs basketball and coach Mark Fox would much love to build legitimacy.

The sophomore was Georgia’s first five-star signee in 20 years. “Just watching them on TV and coming to a couple of games, I thought I fit in well with the offense,” he said, explaining his thinking. “Meeting with the players, they showed a lot of love, and that really helped me a lot.”

To date, the result has been to create not a demonstrably better Bulldogs team — entering the weekend it was 24-28, 8-15 in the SEC during Caldwell-Pope’s brief tenure — but rather one of the more painfully obvious solo acts in college basketball.

After scoring 20 on Wednesday in Georgia’s victory over Auburn, Caldwell-Pope has led the Bulldogs in scoring in 18 of its first 20 games this season. Seven times, he has been the only Bulldog to score in double figures. He has 50 more rebounds than any teammate. And 33 more steals. He is the only player to be on the court an average of more than 30 minutes per game. He has made 43 percent of the team’s 3-pointers.

Let’s pretend you are an opposing coach. You don’t have to be John Wooden to recognize certain neon numbers on an otherwise dimly lit stat sheet. You tilt your defense accordingly. Indeed, Caldwell-Pope — KCP to those few who are intimate with Georgia basketball — draws more attention than a peacock in a pigeon coop.

“He knows all year he’s been the focus of the defense. It was that way in league play, that way in non-league play; it’s that way every night,” Fox said. “And he handles it pretty well. We need other guys to make plays for us.”

Caldwell-Pope is not prone to complain about a lack of support. For a scorer with flair, he is quiet and unselfish by nature, said his former high school coach.

“He knows he hasn’t had any serious help, but I promise you you’ll never hear him say anything bad about it,” said Richard Carter, who left Greenville when Caldwell-Pope did, and now coaches in Alabama.

Ask him if he gets frustrated much being Job 1 (2, 3 and 4, as well) of every defensive game plan, Caldwell-Pope allows that he does, “but I can’t let it overwhelm me. I can’t let my frustration get the best of me. I got to control that and try to get my teammates involved.”

As to the difficulty of adjusting to life in the bottom tier of the conference standings, Caldwell-Pope says a little prayer and a few heart-to-hearts with the folks back home have had calming effects.

His former coach, however, is pretty vocal about questioning his decision to go to Georgia as well as the prospects of the team improving around him.

“Personally, I wanted him to either go to Kentucky or Tennessee,” Carter said. “I was always afraid because I just didn’t see the recruiting at Georgia. And it has proven out. They got the best player in the state of Georgia and never got him any help the last two years.”

Then comes a gripe that has been aimed at Georgia basketball for great chunks of its existence: “I don’t know what’s going on over there,” Carter said. “All those players in Atlanta alone, they got enough kids to supply 10 colleges. Why? Why none of the state kids want to go to the state school?”

Those are questions for the hoary heads of the athletic department.

All Caldwell-Pope can do is keep doing what a scorer does. That’s score.

Just keep shooting. In high school, his credentials were those of a fellow who had a natural way of putting the ball through the hoop and then grew that ability through countless hours in the hothouse of the gym. “A lot of other kids would be outside, hanging around waiting for the girls, seeing them off on the bus. Shucks (Caldwell-Pope) would come running into the gym taking his shirt off getting ready to go to practice,” Carter said.

In one game, an exasperated opponent pleaded with Caldwell-Pope to miss just one shot. As he was walking off the floor after the halftime buzzer sounded, he casually tossed the ball off the front of the rim. “There, that’s your one miss,” he said flashing a smile toward the other bench.

Opposing coaches used to ask Carter how he could allow his star to shoot from any distance at any time. “I’d say, ‘Why not, he’ll make them. Why not let him shoot ’em?’” the coach said.

Those were among the gifts Caldwell-Pope took to the college court. Question is, how much longer will he express them in a Georgia uniform? Will he stay around long enough to significantly alter the course of Bulldogs basketball?

Opinions vary as to whether he should come back for his junior season or flee to the NBA draft.

Carter, who recommended he stay at Georgia rather than go into the draft after his freshman season, says his former player is ready to go pro now.

One long-time NBA scout, however, strongly suggested Caldwell-Pope stay in college another year. He could stand to improve his draft position, his defensive skills, his strength. “He may get held a little in college, but he’ll get beat up in the NBA,” the scout said.

Days of large decisions loom. Caldwell-Pope is far from finished with the process of making a name.

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  • The Latest on the nightclub shooting in Cincinnati (all times local): 9:45 p.m. The operator of a Cincinnati nightclub calls the shooting that took place there, 'senseless.' Police say a gunfight broke out inside the crowded Cameo club early Sunday, leaving one man dead and 15 other people wounded. They say a dispute among several patrons escalated into a shootout. Club operator Jay Rodgers released a statement Sunday night, saying he's 'deeply saddened' by the shooting. He says the club will continue to work closely with law enforcement to 'make sure the monsters that did this are caught and brought to justice.' Rodgers says the club will remain closed until the investigation is complete. Police have identified the victim as 27-year-old O'Bryan Spikes. There are no suspects in custody. ___ 5:15 p.m. At least five people remain hospitalized, two of them in critical condition, after a Cincinnati nightclub shooting that killed one man and left 15 people injured. A University of Cincinnati Medical Center spokeswoman said that as of 4:40 p.m. Sunday, two people there were in critical condition and that three were in stable condition. Other injured people were treated and released at UC Medical Center and other hospitals. Calls came in of shots fired at the Cameo club around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Police Chief Eliot Isaac said the bar was very crowded at the time when several men got into a dispute at the bar and shots were fired by several people. Police are still working to identify the shooters. ___ 11:45 a.m. Police have identified the name of the person killed in an overnight Cincinnati nightclub shooting that also left 15 people injured. The victim was identified at a news conference as 27-year-old O'Bryan Spikes. Police say calls came in of shots fired at the Cameo club around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Police Chief Eliot Isaac said the bar was very crowded at the time when several men got into a dispute at the bar and shots were fired by several people. Isaac said the club does wand and pat down patrons but several firearms made it through security anyway. ___ 11:30 a.m. Cincinnati's police chief says shots were fired by multiple people inside a crowded nightclub, killing a 27-year-old man and leaving 15 other people wounded. Previously, the police counted 14 wounded. Chief Eliot Isaac said at a news conference Sunday that the initial investigation indicates that several Cincinnati area men were in a dispute, leading to the gunfire early Sunday at the Cameo club. Several people were involved. A hospital spokeswoman said two of the wounded are in critical condition; the police chief said one is 'extremely critical.' Authorities don't believe there is a terrorism link. They are still working to identify the shooters. ___ 10:50 a.m. Ohio's governor says he has instructed his administration to offer any assistance the state can provide in the aftermath of the Cincinnati nightclub shooting. Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) says he is saddened and offers prayers for the victims and families of all involved. One person was killed and 14 others were injured in the early morning shooting Sunday at the Cameo club. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, of Cincinnati, says his office is ready to help any way it can. He says he and his wife Jane extend their thoughts and prayers to those involved. Both Kasich and Portman are Republicans. ___ 10:40 a.m. Cincinnati city officials plan an 11 a.m. press conference on what the city manager calls a 'horrific' overnight nightclub shooting that left one dead and 14 people injured. City Manager Harry Black says police are devoting 'all necessary resources' to the case and the investigation is continuing. It isn't believed to be terrorism-related. Authorities say a conflict between at least two people and possibly groups earlier Saturday apparently escalated into gunfire that erupted at 2:20 a.m. Sunday. Black commends first responders who 'handled a very difficult situation extremely well.' There was a shooting inside the club on New Year's Day in 2015 and in the parking lot in September that same year. ___ 9:30 a.m. A hospital spokeswoman says eight among those injured in the Cincinnati nightclub shooting are being treated at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The Sunday morning shooting at the Cameo club left one person dead and more than a dozen injured. Hospital spokeswoman Kelly Martin says one person is in critical condition at the Medical Center, three others are in serious condition, and four are listed as stable. She had no details on the types of injuries or the ages of the victims. Police haven't released any information on possible suspects or whether they have determined the motive for the assault. They say there is no evidence the shooting is terrorism related. ___ 7:50 a.m. Police are now saying only one shooter was responsible for the deadly Cincinnati nightclub assault. Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate says in a tweet there was only one reported shooter but police are still investigating. Police earlier had said 'at least a couple of shooters' opened fire inside the Cameo club early Sunday, killing one person and wounding more than a dozen others. The motive for the shooting remains unclear, and Neudigate says there is no indication the attack is terrorism related. The shooting occurred on a busy night. Capt. Kim Williams says the crowd there is often very young on Saturday nights and they have had trouble in the past, but 'this is the worst by far.' A coroner removed a body from the scene shortly after 6 a.m. ___ 6:45 a.m. Police say there is no indication the deadly shooting at a nightclub in Cincinnati is terrorism related. Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate says in a tweet that the motive is still unclear. Police say 'at least a couple of shooters' opened fire inside the Cameo club early Sunday, killing one person and wounding more than a dozen others. Capt. Kim Williams says the crowd there is often very young on Saturday nights and they have had trouble in the past, but 'this is the worst by far.' She says the scene was chaotic when the gunfire erupted. Police are interviewing witnesses. ___ 5:45 a.m. Police in Cincinnati say there were 'at least a couple of shooters' who opened fire inside of a nightclub, killing one person and wounding more than a dozen others. Capt. Kim Williams says authorities are not sure what prompted the shooting at the Cameo nightclub early Sunday. She says the crowd there is often very young on Saturday nights and they have had trouble in the past, but 'this is the worst by far.' She says the scene was chaotic when the gunfire erupted. Police are interviewing witnesses and asking anyone with information to come forward. Authorities do not have any suspects at the moment. WLWT reports that at least one of the wounded is in critical condition at a hospital. ___ 4:35 a.m. Police say 15 people were shot and one person was killed when gunfire erupted at a Cincinnati nightclub. WLWT reports (http://bit.ly/2mDfUV3 ) that the shooting was happened about 2 a.m. Sunday at Cameo nightclub. The victims were taken to four area hospitals. Police have not said whether anyone is in custody, and the investigation is ongoing. It wasn't immediately clear what prompted the shooting.
  • Election officials say early voting begins Monday in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.   Secretary of State Brian Kemp says voters should contact their county elections offices for specific information on the early voting process. State law requires that polls be open during normal business hours during the early voting period.   Polls also will be open Saturday, April 8.   More than a dozen candidates are competing in the April 18 contest to fill the seat representing many of Atlanta's northern suburbs and formerly held by Tom Price. Price, a Republican, is now secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.   Georgia requires a so-called 'jungle primary' to fill congressional vacancies. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, move to a June 20 runoff.
  • A woman fought off a knife-wielding man who broke into her southeast Atlanta home Saturday night. Adrien Gass said she was terrified when the man burst into her home on Memorial Drive and chased her with a knife. 'I said, 'I have money.' He said, 'I don't want no money. I want the car and I want your life.' And I said, 'Not today,'' Gass said. The mother of three told Channel 2's Matt Johnson that she threw a piece of furniture at the intruder, who chased her down the hall. 'I know he's bleeding because I attacked him,' she said. Gass said she locked herself in a bedroom. The attacker kept kicking the door and it hit her in the mouth while she held on to it. 'All my might, yes. I would not let that door go,' she said. Gass said she escaped by jumping out a window and the intruder left with nothing. 'I lifted up the window and pushed out and ran as fast as I could to the neighbor's house,' she said. Atlanta police said just three minutes earlier, a quarter of a mile away on Allendale Drive, someone carjacked a husband and wife at gunpoint. 'He was in the car, got the keys and gone,' Tris Siciginanosaid. Siciginano said the thief stole her husband's car and she believes the two crimes are related. 'It was too much in one night and the descriptions are so close,' she said. Police have not said if the crimes are related, but neighbors said they are staying vigilant. No arrests have been made.
  • The family of an American slain in last week's attack in London expressed gratitude Monday for the kindness of strangers as they insisted some good would come from the tragedy. Kurt W. Cochran from Utah was on the last day of a European trip celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary when he was killed when an attacker mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer in a Parliament courtyard. Cochran's wife, Melissa, suffered a broken leg and rib and a cut head, but is steadily improving. 'So many people have been so kind, and we are deeply touched by their goodness and generosity,' said Melissa Cochran's brother, Clint Payne. 'Your notes, prayers, donations and love have helped us so much.' Attacker Khalid Masood was shot dead by police after his deadly rampage, which police have revealed lasted just 82 seconds. Police believe Masood — a 52-year-old Briton with convictions for violence who had spent several years in Saudi Arabia — acted alone, but are trying to determine whether others helped inspire or direct his actions. Detectives on Monday continued to question a 30-year-old man arrested Sunday and a 58-year-old man arrested shortly after Wednesday's attack. Both were detained in the central England city of Birmingham, where Masood had recently lived. Meanwhile, the British government repeated calls for tech companies to give police and intelligence services access to encrypted messages exchanged by terrorism suspects. Masood used the messaging service WhatsApp just before he went on his deadly rampage. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Sunday that such services must not 'provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.' Tech companies have strongly resisted previous calls to create back-doors into encrypted messaging, arguing that to do so would compromise the secure communications underpinning everything from shopping to tax returns to online banking. Rudd is due to hold a previously scheduled meeting with internet companies on Thursday. Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman, James Slack, said tech firms 'should be helping us more' to prevent terrorism. 'The ball is now in their court,' he said. Slack said that if agreement was not reached with the companies, the government 'rules nothing out,' including legislation. Meanwhile, the families of the dead and injured set about the difficult task of piecing together their lives. A dozen members of Cochran's family gathered to face the media, sharing their shock and sense of loss. Melissa Cochran's father, Dimmon Payne, said that they had heard about the attack, but only realized their loved ones were involved when they saw their photos online. 'That came to us shortly after pictures were recognized; our daughter-in-law ... recognized the pictures and called us immediately,' he said. 'We got online and realized it was our loved ones, and that's how we found out.' The family offered profuse thanks — to the first responders, British and American authorities, the airlines, and people who had sent notes, prayer and donations. But there were few tears. Instead, there was simple resolve: that Kurt Cochran would be remembered first and foremost as an 'amazing individual' who tried to make the world a better place, according to a family statement read out by Clint Payne. Cochran's legacy, they say, should be one of generosity and service. 'Last night we were speaking as a family about all this and it was unanimous that none of us harbor any ill will or harsh feelings towards this,' said Sarah McFarland, Melissa Cochran's sister. 'So we love our brother. We love what he brought to the world and we feel like that this situation is going to bring many good things to the world.' ___ Jonathan Shenfield contributed to this story.