ATHENS — Former Georgia star Anthony “Antman” Edwards was the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
— Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) November 19, 2020
It’s the second year in a row Coach Tom Crean has had a player drafted out of UGA. Nicoloas Claxton was the second round draft of the Brooklyn Nets in the 2019 NBA Draft.
“The two things he’s ready to do right now, he’s ready to create his own shot,” former NBA star and current analyst Steve Smith said.
“His physicality, whether that’s on the defensive end or offensive end, I compare him with his body size to Joe Johnson, but with the craftiness and wiggle room of a Dwyane Wade.”
Edwards represents the highest a former Bulldogs’ player has been selected in school history. Former NBA all-star Dominique Wilkins was previously the highest UGA player selected, going No 3 overall to Utah in 1982 (he was traded to Atlanta).
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Edwards led Georgia with 19.1 points per game last season, and he was also the team leader with 43 steals.
Edwards was selected the SEC Freshman of the Year, the first UGA player to earn that honor since its inception in 2001.
The Bulldogs went 16-16 last season and had beat Ole Miss in the SEC tournament to advance to the second round before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season.
Smith pointed out the Atlanta Holy Spirit Prep School product had other options.
“He chose to stay home, but he had other choices,” Smith said. “North Carolina, Kentucky and Duke. He wanted to stay in Georgia and elevate the program.”
Edwards shot 40 percent from the floor and made 29.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, while finishing second on the team with 91 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Smith, a former star of the Atlanta Hawks, points out that Edwards’ background should serve him well.
“He’s been around a lot of pros in Atlanta, so he’s had guys getting on him,” Smith said. “He played for Tom Crean who was my assistant coach at Michigan State, so no one is going to coddle him, and he doesn’t want that.”
Crean said Edwards stays in close contact with the team, but he’s missed greatly.
“As much as you miss him as a player, I miss him as a person,” Crean said. “I miss his energy. There’s an aura about him. He’s a charismatic person, and we saw it at the 18, and he’s that way at the age of 19 as he prepare to embark on this.
“The thing that keeps me awake at night is him being in the right environment, where he’s going to have a head coach that will invest in him in the right way, and take that responsibility,” Crean said.
“My hope is that he gets around leaders and mentor and a team, that no matter where they are as players, they can help show him what it means to be a professional. He has humility, hunger, he wants to learn, and he’s going to need people that he can trust.”
Prior to Claxton last season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was the most recent UGA player selected in the NBA draft, going in the first round of the 2013 draft to the Detroit Pistons.
Georgia junior Rayshaun Hammonds also declared himself eligible for the NBA draft following last season. Hammonds, a 6-foot-8 power forward, is not projected to be selected.
Georgia 1st round picks
2013 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
2003 Jarvis Hayes
1999 Jumaine Jones
1990 Alec Kessler
1988 Willie Anderson
1984 Vern Fleming
1982 Dominique Wilkins