A secret to life is building and maintaining relationships.
That’s the No. 1 priority this summer for Anthony “Antman” Edwards, the basketball phenom who quietly enrolled in classes at UGA earlier this week.
There’s nothing quiet about Antman’s accolades: He’s the highest-ranked recruit to ever sign with Georgia in the history of the basketball program.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder finished his prep career ranked as the nation’s No. 2 overall recruit. He’s a 5-star combo guard from Atlanta’s Holy Spirit Prep high school that signed with UGA over Kentucky.
There are too many additional awards and accomplishments (such as playing in the McDonald’s All-America game) to mention, but this one sticks out more than all of the rest: ESPN projects Edwards to be selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
For Edwards to reach that lofty status, he’s going to need a stellar freshman campaign at Georgia. Edwards obviously has personal goals, but his team’s success with the Bulldogs is just as important to him.
The 18-year-old prodigy is wise enough to realize that he can’t do it all by himself — which leads us back to his summer goals: He’ll be working on his dribbling, foul shots and passing skills over the next few months. But Edwards told DawgNation before he left for summer school that his No. 1 priority is building developing friendships with his new Georgia teammates.
“I just want to build a relationship with my teammates, so they know I trust in them and that I believe in them – so we can play together really well,” Edwards said. “That way, they will have my back, and they’ll know I will have their back.”
Even without looming presence of Edwards, Georgia’s team chemistry and leadership roles were set to undergo a massive overhaul this season — as four seniors finished their eligibility, and several other players opted to transfer. There was also the high-stakes’ decision by sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton to keep his name in the NBA Draft. With Claxton’s return, along with Edwards’ arrival, Georgia was a popular pick to make the NCAA tournament. Now there’s nowhere near the confidence.
Looking ahead to this season, Georgia’s 2019 recruiting class finished with the No. 8 overall ranking in the country, with Edwards as the headliner. He will be joined by four other recruits ranked in the top 100: 6-6 forward Christian Brown, 6-6 forward Jaykwon Walton, 5-8 point guard Sahvir Wheeler, and 6-6 forward Toumani Camara.
“We’ve all been keeping in contact,” Edwards said. “We’ve got a group chat going. We’re already cool. We’re going to build chemistry when we get on campus and become close friends. We are all freshmen, so we know there’s a lot for us to learn. We’re all going to help each other and push each other.”
Some other random items on Edwards’ interview with DawgNation:
- What is his escape from the spotlight? “Playing Fortnite (video game) is my way of relaxing, yes sir.” How hardcore is he? Does he own any Fortnite skins? “No, not many. I don’t really spend money on video games. I probably have three or four skins. But I love the game.”
- If there was a movie about Edwards, which actor would he want to play him? “Oh, I can’t play myself? (laugh) Who would play me? Probably my older brother. He would do a really good job.” Note: Edwards lost both his mother and grandmother to cancer four years ago; his brother Antoine and sister Antoinette have shared legal custody ever since, and raised him. The two main factors why Edwards picked UGA was (1) the proximity to his support system in Atlanta and (2) to play for Bulldogs coach Tom Crean.
- Any pre-game rituals or superstitions? “No, I just go out there and play basketball. I just put my shoes on. Sometimes I stretch, other times I don’t stretch. I don’t really have any pre-game rituals.”
- Tom Crean’s claim to fame is developing Dwyane Wade into an NBA first-rounder while both were at Marquette. Crean did the same with Victor Oladipo when both were at Indiana. That was the sales pitch to Edwards, although Antman is more developed out of high school than the other two. “That’s what (Crean) told me – when they (arrived in college), they weren’t as developed. They had the game (or potential), but they weren’t there yet, so he had to help them. With me, this is how I look at it: With me coming with (the level of development that Crean said I’m at already), he’s going to make me way better. If he can develop them into (top NBA draft picks), what can he do with me?”
Georgia basketball could be must-see TV in 2019, with Edwards leading the charge.