ATHENS — Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean was named one of the 100 most influential people i college basketball by Silver Waves Media earlier this week.
The Bulldogs’ third-year head coach was one of nine SEC representatives — including coaches John Calipari (Kentucky), Cuonzo Martin (Missouri), Ben Howland (Mississippi State), Rick Barnes (Tennessee) and Frank Martin (South Carolina).
“It’s always nice to be recognized amongst your peers and other leaders in the game,” Crean said. “If it doesn’t impress my daughter Megan, though, then it’s very short lived around our house.
“I live with a tough crowd.”
Indeed, and Crean has inherited a tough situation at Georgia that has required a basketball culture overhaul the past two seasons.
Nic Claxton was the one shining star Crean inherited from previous coach Mark Fox, and he developed him so quickly the UGA legacy player left after Crean’s first season.
“Coach Crean just brought everything out of me and my skill set,” Claxton said in the UGA release. “He brought things out of me I didn’t even know I had at the time, (and) had me doing things I didn’t even know I could do. (Crean) instilled that confidence in me and coached me really hard.
“That year with Coach Crean, it was special. I really appreciate him.”
Claxton’s transformation under Crean was impressive, as the 6-foot-11 All-SEC pick left UGA following a sophomore season that saw him average team-highs in scoring (13 points) and rebound (8.6).
This, after a freshman season where he had averaged 3.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Crean appears on the verge of producing another NBA player in this draft in the form of Anthony “Antman” Edwards, a projected lottery pick who helped lead a young Georgia team to a 16-16 record last season.
Bulldogs’ fans packed Stegman Coliseum last season to see Crean’s high-scoring Georgia team, setting a single season total attendance record while selling out seven of nine SEC home dates.
It’s not Crean’s first rebuild, but it may be his most challenging after earlier stints at basketball schools Marquette and Indiana.
The list of NBA players Crean has mentored is long and impressive. In addition to Edwards and Claxton:
• Dwyane Wade
• Victor Oladipo
• Yogi Ferrell
• Cody Zeller
• Noah Vonleh
• Wesley Matthews
• OG Anunoby
“Known as one of the best coaches for development of players, Crean has had more than his fair share of players that have had eye-opening progress from point A to point B,” the website wrote.
“The best evidence perhaps lies within two of Crean’s posterboys, Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo, that went from nearly unranked players who didn’t have much of a recruitment to NBA superstars.”
Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean
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