Curtis Compton/AJC
Former Georgia player Jonas Hayes was with Mark Fox for the final five years of his tenure, the past four as an assistant coach.

Will Jonas Hayes stay on staff with Tom Crean?

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How about an update on whether or not Tom Crean is going to retain Jonas Hayes?  I know that Kenny Johnson was Tom Crean’s ace recruiter who left Indiana to go be Rick Pitino’s top recruiter.  Unfortunately, Kenny Johnson was fired after getting caught up in Pitino’s problems. Just curious if Tom Crean has reached out to Kenny Johnson? The right hire is Jonas Hayes. That good news should have already been announced.  Thank you.
— Henry Stone

OK, so I should put you down in the category of wanting Jonas Hayes to be retained? Seems you feel that way but want to be sure.

Nothing is official yet, but things certainly seem to be moving in the direction of Hayes remaining on staff. He has been recruiting alongside Crean this week, and Crean keeps having nice things to say about Hayes, such as this in an interview with AM 960 The Ref on Friday morning:

“It’s actually been a little too busy to just sit down and lay everything out, but I’ll say this: I really, really like him. I know how important he is to Georgia and I know how important Georgia is to him. I see the way people respond to him, which is great.”

One important point: Hayes is still under contract to UGA through this summer, as are all of Mark Fox’s assistants. So Hayes still working and recruiting doesn’t mean he’s been retained. Phillip Pearson and David Carter, the other two assistants, are also under contract and as far as I know also continue to work, even if it’s just administrative duties.

That’s another reason Crean doesn’t need to rush to announce Hayes is being retained. This also allows him to get to know Hayes and make his own evaluation. Evidently he likes what he sees so far.

I don’t know if retaining Hayes will be enough to get Ashton Hagans and Elias King, the two one-time 2019 commits, back in the fold, especially Hagans. When he de-committed last month amid the Mark Fox uncertainty, it opened the floodgates for interest from other programs. But Hayes’ prowess as a recruiter certainly would help down the line and would provide an instant bridge between Crean and the Georgia fan base.

An underrated asset that Hayes brings to the table: The ability to restrain coaches from getting too heated during games. Hayes excelled at that the past couple of years. Here he is doing it with Mark Fox:

Jonas Hayes-Mark Fox-Georgia basketball
(Curtis Compton/AJC)

And here is Hayes restraining Kent Davison a couple of years ago:

Jonas Hayes-Kent Davison-Georgia basketball
(DawgNation/file photo)

As for Kenny Johnson joining Crean, I have trouble seeing that happening, given the uncertainty over the FBI scandal.

Matt Bucklin, who has been on Georgia’s staff in an operations capacity the past few years, could be a candidate to stick around. Bucklin is the nephew of Tom Izzo, who is close with Crean.

If Crean wants to reach back to his Marquette days and get someone who knows the SEC, he could talk to Darrin Horn, the former South Carolina head coach who has been an assistant for Shaka Smart at Texas the past two years. Horn was an assistant for Crean at Marquette.

Another name: Bennie Seltzer was an assistant for Crean at both Marquette and Indiana, but was also born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., and and was the head coach at Samford from 2012-14. So he should know the southeast recruiting territory well.

This isn’t football, where you get 10 assistant coaches, and now a bunch of quality-control spots. Those three full-time assistant positions are precious. If I had to guess now, I’d say that if Hayes is retained then the other two spots are likely to go to people closer to Crean’s orbit.

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