ATHENS — Georgia basketball is back with another reload under third-year coach Tom Crean, the Bulldogs less than two weeks away from their Nov. 25 home opener.
“We have eight new players,” said Crean, who lost the two leading scorers off last season’s 16-16 team, Anthony Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds to early entry into the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.
“Their energy has been fantastic, the comaraderie has been very good, and I love coaching them.”
It will be another fast-tempo, undersized team under Crean.
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Georgia added three senior transfers and two junior college transfers to the mix with UGA freshman assists record holder Sahvir Wheeler.
Former Virginia Tech post P.J. Horne, a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder originally from Tifton, will be looked to assume more than an equal share of the scoring load.
“I fully believe he’ll be an NBA player,” Crean said on his Thursday Zoom press conference call.
The COVID-19 affected offseason has been just as hard on UGA basketball as any other sport, Crean revealed. The head coach said the team had “a significant” amount of COVID-19 cases and contract tracing cases since reconvening to work out in July, but none of them recent or current.
The team will go from testing once a week to three times a week next week.
“Everything has been about handling the protocol,” Crean said, “making adjustments, handling the flexibility.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the scheduled as well.
Georgia will not play Georgia Tech in men’s basketball for the first time in 96 yards (1923-24 season) due to “situations beyond or control,” Crean said, adding that the schools look forward to resuming the rivalry game next year.
The Bulldogs, originally scheduled to open the season last Tuesday, will now play seven different schools from seven different conferences before opening SEC play at home against Mississippi State on Dec. 30.
“The rough draft of this schedule probably changed 15 or 16 times in the last month,” Crean said.
As for the roster reload, Crean said he expects high turnover to become more of a thing than less in the future.
“At some point you’d like to have more stability,” Crean said. “But the way college basketball and the way college sports are changing, with the one-time transfer rules, the rules are changing right in front of us.”
Crean said the UGA players in the car with Justin Kier when the senior was arrested for reckless driving last month in Barrow County are being disciplined internally. Crean said he had no comment at this time if there would be player suspensions for the opening game against Division II Columbus State.
The team has worked to put the incident behind it, Crean said.
“I like where we are getting better and the guys we have,” Crean said. “There’s going to be anywhere fro 25 to 27 games this season, and you have to have a minimum of 13 to quality for the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re going to need a lot of flexibility.”
DawgNation was selected to cast a ballot for preseason All-SEC and order of league finish.
PRESEASON ORDER OF FINISH
8. South Carolina
9. Ole Miss
10. Mississippi State
13. Texas A&M
Keyontae Johnson (Fla.)
Olivier Sarr (UK)
Trendon Watford (LSU)
John Petty Jr., (Ala.)
Yves Pons, (Tenn.)
PRESEASON POY: Trendon Watford (LSU)