ATHENS — Georgia basketball freshman Anthony Edwards declared for the 2020 NBA Draft on Friday.
Edwards’ decision was anticipated in light of his stock as a projected lottery pick. Some mock drafts have him going No. 1 overall to the Golden State Warriors.
“We’re proud of him,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said on Friday. “This is no surprise, him making this decision.
“I think he has an incredible future ahead, and he’s only going to get better.”
The NBA draft analysts seem to be in agreement.
“Edwards remains the top prospect in this class largely by default,” per Sporting News NBA draft analyst Chris Stone.
“He hasn’t quite done enough to deserve a demotion, and no other talent has performed well enough to jump him.”
Edwards was the top scoring freshman in the nation, averaging 19.1 points per game. The Atlanta Holy Spirit Prep School product also led his team in steals and deflections, tied for the team lead in blocked shots, and he was second on the team in assists and rebounds.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Edwards was sensational at times. One memorable outing, he scored 33 points in the final 16 minutes of a 93-85 loss to Michigan State.
No doubt, Edwards’ star power was key to Georgia setting a single-season home attendance record. UGA sold out seven of its nine league home dates.
“It’s the reason why he got all the hype, it’s the reason why he got a name like that,” said Spartans’ captain Cassius Winston. “You let a player like that get going, it’s very difficult to slow him down.”
Edwards more recently closed out an Arkansas team that was fighting to stay on the bubble with nine points in the final 67 seconds.
“He’s got an NBA body right now,” said Eric Musselman, who spent 16 years of his career coaching in the NBA, including five as a head coach with Golden State and Sacramento.
“He can dribble drive in traffic at the next level, take contact, finish through contact,” Musselman said. “You watch the guy on film, and he’s really good. Then you watch him live, just his explosiveness. He’s got NBA athleticism and NBA strength.”
SEC teams aimed their game plans at stopping Edwards, however, and that was reflected in his final performance when he made just 2-of-13 shots.
The difference was, Edwards had learned by the end of the season not to allow a poor shooting night to affect other areas of his game.
“Anthony did a lot in the game that impacted the game and the win,” Coach Tom Crean said after Georgia beat Ole Miss 81-63 in the opening game of the SEC tournament on March 11 in Nashville.
“The offensive misses, they are just part of the game. But there were so many other positives, we don’t win the game without him.”
Edwards wouldn’t rule out returning in the days leading up to what proved to be the final game. Edwards emphasized his commitment to his teammates, a common theme during his time at UGA.
“I know you see the projections and what everyone says, but me personally, I don’t know what I’m doing yet,” Edwards said. “I’m still an 18-year-old kid, I haven’t thought about anything like that.”
Edwards is on the verge of a salary worth tens of millions of dollars, based on the deal Zion Williamson received from the New Orleans Pelicans as last year’s top pick.
Georgia basketball loses three seniors and returns seven of the nine freshmen who signed with Edwards in the Bulldogs’ Top 10-ranked 2019 signing class after seldom-used post Rodney Howard entered the transfer portal on Friday.
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