ATHENS — The official start of the Anthony “Antman” Edwards Era tips off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, even if coach Tom Crean would prefer people don’t look at it that way.
“He’s a very young man, he’s 18 years old since August 5, (and) he should be in his second week of high school basketball practice in a normal world, but he’s here,” Crean said on Monday at Stegeman Coliseum. “He’s getting ready to take everybody’s best shot.”
Western Carolina, a veteran SoCon team with a knack for shooting the 3-pointer, is first up for a Bulldogs team that features 10 newcomers including nine freshmen.
Edwards, projected by some to be the first pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, is considered by most to be the most dynamic Georgia basketball player since Dominique Wilkins 37 years ago, from 1979-82.
The 6-foot-7 “Human Highlight Film” went on to a Hall of Fame NBA career that included nine NBA All-Star season and two NBA slam-dunk titles.
The 6-foot-5 Edwards can elevate, too, but he possesses a more well-rounded game and has already shown the knack to lift the play of teammates around him.
“He’s really athletic, he shoots, puts it on the floor, he passes the ball,” senior guard Tyree Crump said. “He’s got so much impact on the game that he doesn’t even know. He makes everybody on the team better – just off the court too, just because of who he is.
“On the court, he tries to get his teammates going and tries to bring the energy, and a guy that age, 18 years old, can do that – that is a great start.”
Crean, one of the most respected offensive minds in college basketball, has taken note of the same attributes.
“He’s got an infectious energy,” Crean said. “When [Anthony] is rolling, he brings a lot of energy and confidence to everybody else, and that’s ultimately what you want.”
That’s what happened the last time Georgia played an opponent, on Oct. 25 in Charlotte, N.C. It was Edwards who triggered a 10-1 run that lifted the Bulldogs over UNC-Charlotte 77-69.
It will be Edwards who is vital to his team’s success in each and every game this season.
That might seem like a lot of pressure for an 18-year-old freshman, but that’s not how Edwards views things.
“I don’t really look at it like a challenge, I just look at it as the next step,” Edwards said, “and I’ve been grinding and just trying to prepare myself.”
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