ATHENS — The Georgia Bulldogs secured the services of a sixth new player to join the team next season when coach Tom Crean on Monday received a verbal commitment from Sahvir Wheeler, a 4-star point guard from Houston.
For those keeping count — and the college basketball world no doubt is — that gives Georgia an unprecedented five Top 100-ranked players in its Class of 2019. The other addition is arriving via graduate transfer.
However, that shouldn’t be seen as a sign that the Bulldogs are more likely to be without their best returning player. Nicolas Claxton has been paying attention as well and, if anything, all the new blood headed to Athens makes the possibility of returning even more enticing.
“It’s a blessing we are getting these kids,” said Charles Claxton, Nic Claxton’s father. “If Nic comes back, it will be icing on the cake.”
Nic Claxton, a 6-11 forward from Greenville, S.C., continues to work out for NBA teams in advance of next week’s NBA Combine. The rising junior declared himself eligible for the draft, but NCAA rules now allow student-athletes to return if they’re not satisfied with their draft projections.
Claxton’s stock appears on the rise after he was extended a combine invitation last week.
“It’s going well,” Charles Claxton said of son’s experience so far. “He has several (team workouts) left after the combine. We’re getting real good feedback.”
If Claxton does return, that puts the Bulldogs at 11 scholarship players for the 2019-20 season. The NCAA allows a maximum of 13 in men’s basketball.
Regardless of what happens, Crean will be working with more new players than returning lettermen next season. Four players have left via transfer. Currently, only guards Tyree Crump, Tye Fagan and Jordan Harris and forwards Rayshaun Hammonds and Amanze Ngumezi are slated to return.
But Crean will be adding to that group an unprecedented level of new talent. Wheeler, the latest addition, is a 5-foot-8 ball distributor who is drawing instant comparisons to former Georgia great J.J. Frazier. Wheeler is currently ranked No. 94 in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite.
Wheeler joins No. 2-ranked Anthony Edwards, No. 64 Christian Brown, No. 75 Jaykwon Walton and No. 95 Toumani Camara in the Bulldogs’ class of 2019. Also joining the team as a graduate transfer is Donnell Gresham, a 6-2 guard from from Northeastern University.
That’s an enticing pool of talent for Claxton to jump back in with. But for him, the pro question remains unanswered.
“It’s still 50-50,” Charles Claxton said.