ATHENS — Georgia basketball freshman Anthony “Antman” Edwards isn’t holding anything back, his energy and enthusiasm often bubbling over in a demonstrative fashion.
“I want to keep my teammates in the game,” said Edwards, who scored 29 points in the 95-86 victory over The Citadel on Tuesday night with 8,058 in attendance at Stegeman Coliseum.
“Most of it is my passion for the game,” the 18-year-old projected NBA lottery pick said. “I love what I do, I love my teammates, and I want to keep my teammates happy.”
Most importantly, Edwards is keeping his head coach happy for now.
Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean is in Year Two of a massive overhaul of the Bulldogs’ downtrodden basketball program.
Crean has 10 new players on a roster this season that is lacking size and maturity in the front court.
The 6-foot-5 Edwards can seemingly do it all. Edwards is scoring 26.5 points per game and averaging 7 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game.
“I thought he did a lot of good things,” Crean said. “When they went box-and-one on him (defense), I thought Anthony made adjustments really quick.
“I think he did a lot of good things for his second college game.”
Senior graduate-transfer Donnell Gresham agreed.
“I think he impacts the game in a lot more ways than scoring, on defensive especially,” Gresham said. “(He gets) deflections and steals. He does a great job rebounding and finds all of us open when passing and gets us open shots.”
Edwards’ 53 points through two games is a new UGA mark, eclipsing the 47 Georgia legend and NBA star Dominique Wilkins scored in his first two games for the Bulldogs in 1979.
Crean and Edwards, however, are much more interested in the future than measuring achievements against history.
Georgia has one more warm-up this Friday against Delaware State before the meat of the schedule arrives.
Rival Georgia Tech comes to Athens on Nov. 20, and then a trip to Hawaii looms where a Nov. 25 game against hard-nosed Dayton awaits.
Basketball royalty Michigan State, Kansas and and UCLA are also in the Maui Invitational’s heavyweight field, the three games taking place Nov. 25-27.
Crean has made it clear he wants and needs more from his big men, junior Rayshaun Hammonds (6-9, 235) and Amanze Ngumezi (6-9, 235), as well as others on the glass.
“The number one issue we have as a team… is how are we going to get our rebounding right,” said Crean, whose team was out-rebounded by The Citadel 43-36. “We’re not physically aggressive yet, we’re not urgent enough on the glass yet, and we haven’t been.”
“If we’re going to shore up and be able to compete, we’ve got to have a team defensive rebounding mindset with five guys being in that paint.”
That would include Edwards, who to this point has been up to most every challenge.
As much as Crean needs Edwards’ athleticism, he’ll need the freshman’s infectious enthusiasm to carry over to the Bulldogs’ front-line players.
Edwards may not know any better, or he might just be that confident, but he believes this Georgia team will find a way despite its obvious limitations.
“I feel like we are extremely dangerous,” Edwards said. “We have (Donnell Gresham) who can knock the 3 down, we’ve got Tyree Crump who’s a vet who can knock the 3 down, we have Sahvir Wheeler who’s coming downcourt dishing the ball out.
“And we’ve got Ray (Hammonds) who can knock the corner 3 down or post-up, and Amanze (Ngumezi) can catch (alley-) oops, everybody on the team can contribute.”
Tyree Crump on Anthony Edwards
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