Georgia had a a disappointing 2019 season as they were expecting big things with the Anthony Edwards addition. Unfortunately even without a pandemic the Bulldogs were far away from a NCAA Tournament birth. They’ll be hoping for a tournament win in Tom Crean’s third season – something he was unable to do with both Marquette and Indiana.
2019 Record: 16-16 (5-13), 13th in SEC
The early non conference schedule left Georgia with a respectable 10-3 record and high hopes for the conference slate. The three losses came against Michigan State, Daytona and Arizona State all of which were likely tournament teams.
The highlight of the non conference came at No.9 Memphis. The Bulldogs trailed by eight points five minutes into second half but finished the game on a 27-15 run to get the huge win. A dominant 10-point win at home against No.13 Auburn highlighted a less than stellar conference schedule.
Beyond those two wins Tom Crean was looking on to next season. The Bulldogs were able to get their record to .500 with a win over Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament before COVID-19 ended the season.
Projected Starting Lineup: Sahvir Wheeler (G, So), Justin Kier (G, Sr), Christian Brown (F, So), P.J. Horne (F, Sr), Toumani Camara (F, So)
Filling the shoes of Edwards and Hammonds won’t be any easy task. Sahvir Wheeler had an excellent freshman debut last season and will be joined by transfer Justin Kier. Wheeler led the team in assists and excelled getting to the rim despite his 5-foot-10 stance. If Kier can stay healthy the duo will provide an adequate backcourt. Kier made the All-Atlantic 10 two years ago before dealing with injury last season.
Christian Brown is a former top 75 recruit who brings good size to the 3 for Tom Crean’s squad. His numbers were underwhelming last season but they’re expecting a larger role for Brown this year. The sophomore is good at crashing the boards and poses a perimeter threat for opposing teams.
P.J. Horne could have a similar role as Brown in the 3 or 4 spot. The former Hokey also provides good size for the 3 or 4 and has experience there after essentially playing the 5 for an undersized Virginia Tech team a year ago. Once again Horne brings a perimeter threat that he’s developed as part of his game, shooting 34.9 percent on 129 attempts after shooting just 14 shots beyond the arc in his first two seasons.
Toumani Camara proved himself more than capable of the starting big man for Georgia this season. In his freshman year he averaged 6.6 points and 4.3 rebounds. His emergence last season was brought to fruition after the suspension and eventual transfer of former starter Amanze Ngumezi.
Camara returns as the team’s leading rebounder and is all alone in that category as four of the top five rebounders have departed. JUCO products Tyron McMillan and Jonathan Ned will be able to provide size in the frontcourt and fill the void left by top rebounders Edwards and Hammonds. Both are top 50 JUCO prospects.
2020’s No.88 prospect K.D. Johnson is already turning heads in practice and is expected to contribute early. The 6-foot-1 Atlanta native brings good athleticism and quickness to both sides of the ball. He plays smothering, aggressive defense complimented by his discipline, something Tom Crean was excited about when he was recruiting him.
Finally, Stony Brook transfer Andrew Garcia provides another solid addition off the bench. Garcia earned 2nd team All-American East last season averaging 13.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He can play as a guard with good length or the forward position and excels at crashing the glass. His three-point threat is there with 32.1 percent from distance but poses more of a threat driving to the basket which earned him nearly four free throws a game last year. Defensively he’s a factor as he led the Seawolves in steals last season.
Overall Tom Crean has pieced together a solid program considering the production lost from last season. Having eight newcomers added to the roster is going to pose a challenge so don’t expect the group to mesh well right away. All told, it likely won’t be enough to put together a playoff run but Crean seems to have the pieces moving in the right direction.
2020 Prediction: 13th
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