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Austin Riley homers in MLB debut, Braves blank Cardinals 4-0

Austin Riley homers in MLB debut, Braves blank Cardinals 4-0

Austin Riley homers in MLB debut, Braves blank Cardinals 4-0
Photo Credit: Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Atlanta Braves outfielder Austin Riley gets high fives in the dugout hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Atlanta Braves' rookie Austin Riley follows through on a home run in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. It was Riley's first Major League hit. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Braves' rookie Austin Riley rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. It was Riley's first Major League hit. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

St. Louis Cardinals' Kolten Wong (16) is safe at first base with a single as the ball gets past Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) in the seventh inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna Jr. steals third base and loses his helmet going home to score on the errant throw during the third inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Atlanta Braves outfielder Austin Riley gets encouragement from his dad Mike Riley as he takes the field to make his major league debut against the St. Louis Cardinals prior to a baseball game, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka (40) works against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Braves rookie left fielder Austin Riley catches a fly ball from St. Louis Cardinals' Marcell Ozuna in the second inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. Riley was making his Major League debut. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha (52) works against the Atlanta Braves in the first Inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) dives head first as he steals second base in the third inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Braves outfielder Austin Riley takes the field making his major league debut against the St. Louis Cardinals in a baseball game, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Austin Riley homers in MLB debut, Braves blank Cardinals 4-0

ATLANTA (AP) - When Austin Riley connected with the pitch, his father was watching from the concourse at SunTrust Park.

Mike Riley knew it was good contact, but he couldn't tell how far the ball went.

Then he looked toward the outfield.

"As soon as I saw the outfielders not move," the elder Riley said, "I knew it was gone."

Austin Riley homered in his big league debut Wednesday night, leading Atlanta to a 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals and signaling the arrival of another top prospect for the Baby Braves.

"He's got lights-out power," said Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, who played his entire career with the Braves and was at the game. "I think he's a 40-homer guy before it's all said and done in the big leagues."

Mike Soroka turned in another strong start with three-hit ball over seven scoreless innings, but this night belonged to the 22-year-old Riley. He was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before the game after Ender Inciarte went on the injured list with a sore back.

Riley, who started in left field and batted sixth, struck out swinging against Michael Wacha in the first at-bat of what the Braves hope will be a long major league career.

Then, leading off the fourth, Riley showed why he was leading the International League with 15 homers and 39 RBIs.

Riley launched a high fastball deep into the left-field seats, a 438-foot drive that gave the Braves a 2-0 lead and sent his parents and a group of about 40 family and friends - many of whom hastily made the drive from his native Mississippi - into a delirious celebration.

"I'm speechless," Riley said, struggling to find the words. "That second at-bat, I figured he was going to challenge me a little bit. I was able to put a good swing on it."

Riley hit another drive to the edge of the warning track his next time up, and handled a couple of chances without any problem in left. Normally a third baseman, he figures to mostly play left field at least during his initial stint in the big leagues. Josh Donaldson is locked in at third base for 2019 with a one-year, $23 million deal.

After taking over as a defensive replacement for Riley, Charlie Culberson sealed the victory with a two-run homer in the eighth.

It was quite a showing for Atlanta's kids.

Even younger than Riley, the 21-year-old Soroka (4-1) lowered his ERA to 0.98 in six starts. The right-hander has yet to allow more than one earned run in any of his appearances, and this was his best one yet.

Soroka escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third, getting Paul Goldschmidt to ground into an inning-ending double play. He stared down another trouble spot in the sixth when the Cardinals put runners at second and third, fanning Jose Martinez to snuff out the threat.

"What I like about this kid is he doesn't panic. He just goes pitch to pitch," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "That's a great trait for a young pitcher to have."

In the eighth, Dan Winkler walked the first two St. Louis hitters on eight pitches, but Luke Jackson worked out of the jam - this time, it was Paul DeJong hitting into a double play - and finished up for his fifth save in six chances.

Wacha (3-1) surrendered only four hits and one earned run over five innings.

"Anytime you've got somebody new coming in there, you don't really have too much video on that guy," Wacha said. "Obviously, I didn't want to make that pitch where he ended up hitting the homer, but he didn't miss a mistake."

Atlanta also scored when the Cardinals pitcher threw one away at third base after appearing to pick off Ronald Acuna Jr., who was able to trot home when the ball skidded under the glove of Matt Carpenter.


Jackson has been a godsend for Atlanta's shaky bullpen.

After giving up four runs in his first appearance of the season, he has surrendered just one over his past 19 innings and appears to be the closest thing the Braves have to a closer.


Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez (shoulder) threw two innings for Double-A Springfield in an 8-2 loss to Arkansas on Wednesday. He allowed one run on four hits and could rejoin St. Louis for a weekend series in Texas.

Braves: Inciarte went on the 10-day injured list with a lumbar strain. He left Tuesday night's game after experiencing tightness in his lower back.


In the rubber game of the series, RHP Adam Wainwright (3-3, 4.15) goes for the Cardinals against Atlanta RHP Julio Teheran (2-4, 4.26).


Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry


For more AP baseball coverage: https://apnews.com/apf-Baseball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Georgia Sports News

  • ATHENS Now comes the hard part. So says Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity with the return of college football underway across the country. 'We have one chance to get this right and we all know what happens if we don't get it right, it certainly pushes us back to the way things are right now,' McGarity said on the Bulldogs Game Day program. RELATED: Kirby Smart discusses Georgia's return to campus 'So we've got to be careful, we've got to do our due diligence, we've got to do a tremendous educational job not only for our staff, but our student athletes, for his new world.' SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced that the league's new world on campus can begin as early as June 8 with voluntary workouts on campus. RELATED: SEC presidents' vote, what it means for Georgia football The football coaches will not be allowed to oversee the workouts, but the programs' strength and conditioning staff will be permitted to supervise. What next? DawgNation Friday Night Mike 1. Uniform football start College programs' return to campus for workouts vary, but the start date for football practices overseen by coaches is expected to be uniform. The Big Ten is allowing its schools to return to campus at their own discretion, Nebraska among the early returners on the first eligibile date, June 1. The SEC has announced a June 8 date, and the Big 12 schools can return as early as June 15. The conference commissioners have agreed on a six-week training camp in effect by mid-July with an on-time season start date in mind. UGA officials have discussed among many possibilities quarantining the coaches and players on campus during a two-introductory phase. McGarity pointed out there is much to be determined. 'It's only the first step and there are many details still to be determined on every campus,' McGarity said. 'We'll certainly be driven by the medical community and our sports medicine staff led by (director of sports medicine) Ron Courson.' The NCAA oversight committee had recommended the six weeks of preparation before the season. 2. Fans in the stands The most fluid element of college football's return also figures to be the most controversial, with impassioned fans holding their collective breath as in-person attendance remains in limbo. Georgia, like every other program, has been considering several models with any sort of final decision still weeks way and almost completely at the mercy of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ohio State announced last week it was considering a social-distanced model of 20,000 to 22,000 fans in its 102,000-seat football coliseum. Georgia is considering several attendance models that would take into consideration various COVID-19 conditions and circumstances, using a similar formula to Ohio State from approximately 18,000 on up. The question is, how would the tickets be distributed beyond essential personnel needed for sideline and stadium operations? Major donors, parents of players, recruits and students would seem to be at the forefront of the line in terms of ticket priority. Many scenarios and models are being worked on. 3. Georgia athletes' testing The SEC provided minimum guidelines for its 14-member schools upon announcing the league's June 8 start date with coaching restriction. SEC provides blueprint for team's return A league-appointed 'Medical Guidance Task Force,' which includes top pubic health, infectious disease and sports medicine professionals from across the league, plans a 3-stage screening process and testing symptomatic team members. Georgia's plan, however, takes it a step further and involves COVID testing and the medical evaluations on all student-athletes. The obvious question is what happens when a player or players test positive? How will the quarantine process work? McGarity said early on the key words would be 'testing, tracing and treatment,' but until it plays out, there are questions. Players who test positive will likely have their identities withheld by the school under HIPAA guidelines. The value of the UGA sports scholarship has never been more evident, as the programs need not cut any corners because of the $105 million available in the schools' reserve fund. Only 41 percent of FBS programs have a reserve fund, and many have announced cuts and furloughs, some schools eliminating athletics programs. DawgNation College Football Offseason SEC presidents make it official, looking ahead to June 8 return RELATED: 5 keys, NCAA vote on Wednesday includes pivotal provisions College football return takes turn out West NCAA president Mark Emmert discusses issues with return to campus Les Miles says college football set for return, expert says no fans in stands Return of college football critical to fans' psyche, pocketbooks UGA president Jere Morehead employs 9 research groups for optimal return NCAA advances ball on name, image, likeness player compensation States opening equates to flickering light for college football return Greg Sankey hasn't ruled out a CFB season without all conferences Three keys amid college football return process, from Greg Sankey NCAA board of governors votes unanimously in favor of NIL compensation The post WATCH 3 things: What's next for college football return appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss coach Kirby Smart's quest to return the Bulldogs to the top of the SEC. On episode No. 1,201 (May 24, 2020) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about why not all the hype growing around new UGA quarterback Jamie Newman is a bad thing even for Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart, who usually goes out of his way to downplay excessive media attention. Georgia football podcast: An example of Jamie Newman hype that Kirby Smart probably likes Beginning of the show: Georgia coach Kirby Smart typically goes out of his way to downplay hype for his team, his players and himself. He seemingly views excessive media attention as an unnecessary distraction that could detract from the goals UGA sets for itself. However, when it comes to battling programs such as Alabama and Clemson on the recruiting trail and their substantial national brands it seems safe to say not all hype is a bad thing. I'll share an example of some good hype for new UGA quarterback Jamie Newman on today's show. 10-minute mark: I discuss another interesting compliment for Newman given by a well-known quarterback coach this week on the Paul Finebaum Show. 15-minute mark: DawgNation's recruiting insider Jeff Sentell joins the show. Some of the topics covered include The latest on four-star tight end Brock Bowers An update on four-star pass rusher Dallas Turner An update on the nation's No. 1 player, defensive end Korey Foreman And the latest on five-star cornerback Tony Grimes 35-minute mark: I share other headlines from around the SEC including the SEC's vote to allow players to begin voluntarily returning to campus and a PSA featuring Alabama coach Nick Saban that went viral this week. 40-minute mark: I mock the growing number of analysts who've made their case for Florida winning the SEC East. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. DawgNation Daily Episode 1201: An example of Jamie Newman hype that Kirby Smart probably likes The post Georgia football podcast: An example of Jamie Newman hype that Kirby Smart probably likes appeared first on DawgNation.
  • It's been interesting to see how the newspapers I read regularly have chosen to deal with the lack of sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Athens Banner-Herald has done away with its sports section for the duration; what sports stories it runs (mostly about what the future holds for the UGA football program), are in the news pages. USA Today has kept its sports section, spending a lot of time discussing what the sports landscape might look like later this year. And, the AJC also has kept its sports section, much of which has been devoted to nostalgic looks back at local teams' triumphs, like the Braves' World Series-winning season. The AJC also has been running a series of columns from its various sports staffers, in which they recount the five most memorable games they have covered in their careers. The articles have been fun reading, covering quite a wide variety of sports (with Georgia football well represented). That put me to thinking about the five most memorable games I've attended. I won't say 'covered,' because, although I've been blogging about Georgia football for 15 seasons, that's always been as a fan, not a reporter. I wasn't a sportswriter during my career with the AJC, and I only ever participated in covering one football game in my career, for The Red & Black student paper at UGA. That was the Sept. 15, 1973, season opener in Athens against the Pitt Panthers. The Dogs were a 17-point favorite, but the Panthers had a running back making his collegiate debut that day named Tony Dorsett, and he rushed for 101 yards as the two teams played to a 7-7 tie. I'd been managing editor of The Red & Black that summer, and all of the paper's student staff wasn't back yet, since school hadn't started (UGA began classes much later in those days), so the sports editor asked me to help out with the coverage. It was the only regular season game I've ever watched from the press box, an experience I didn't particularly enjoy, since you weren't supposed to cheer. After the game, I did the locker room interviews with a disappointed bunch of Dawgs. 'We just never could get going,' my old Athens High classmate Andy Johnson told me. 'We didn't underestimate them. We knew they would be good, but I don't know, I guess we just weren't ready.' So, yeah, it was one of the most memorable games ever for me, in terms of how I experienced it, but not a great outcome. Likewise, the Oct. 22, 1977, homecoming game certainly was one of the most memorable ever, with Prince Charles in attendance (the Georgia student section chanted 'Damn good prince!') and James Brown performing with the Redcoats at halftime (with my brother Jonathan underneath the stage, bracing it with his back as the Godfather of Soul did his splits). But, the game itself was one of the worst ever in Athens, a 33-0 loss to Kentucky. (I believe that might have been the game where an irate Vince Dooley pushed over a row of lockers at halftime in frustration.) The 21-10 win to end the losing streak against Tennessee in 2000 also was memorable. The atmosphere was unforgettable, as the Sanford Stadium crowd sensed victory and massed around the field, but while fans taking down the goalposts after the game was understandable, the fact that some of them then trashed their own stadium, ripping up the hedges, was an act so mindless that I still don't understand it. So, that one stays off the list. I also was at the basketball game in the Georgia Coliseum on March 8, 1969, when 'Pistol Pete' Maravich scored 58 points. With LSU ahead by 8 in the second overtime, Maravich dribbled around Bulldogs defenders for about a minute, putting on a show, then launched a 35-foot hook shot at the buzzer for a 90-80 win. Georgia fans, appreciative of the amazing performance they'd just seen, mobbed him on the floor. But, again, it was a Georgia loss. So, stipulating that I want my five most memorable games to be Dawgs wins, that sent me back to a listing of the greatest games my brothers and I ever have attended. We first compiled it shortly after I started the Junkyard Blawg in 2005, and I updated it in 2009 and 2017, to add additional games. The most recent version offered a baker's dozen of the greatest games I'd seen, and, believe me, it was tough narrowing it down to those. Picking the five most memorable? Even tougher. Still, here goes, ranking them in ascending order, like the AJC series did. (Keep in mind, this is limited to games I saw in person. My list doesn't include some of Georgia's greatest wins games that I watched on TV or listened to on radio, including the upset of Michigan in Ann Arbor, 'Run, Lindsay!' in Jacksonville, the national championship win over Notre Dame in New Orleans and the 'hobnail boot' game in Knoxville.) 5. Georgia over Georgia Tech, 30-24, Nov. 28, 2009:Frankly, I was dreading attending this one when my son Bill decided to take me to my first game at Grant Field in decades, but the lightly-regarded Dawgs ran it down the throats of a Jackets team that ended up winning the ACC Championship. This was the original 'We run this state' game. The looks on the faces of the Tech fans on the walk back to the North Avenue MARTA station afterward were priceless. 4. Georgia over Clemson, 27-12, Oct. 5, 1991:Recently replayed on WSB radio, this was one of the high points of the Ray Goffyears (and there weren't many), as the Dawgs upset the No. 6 Tigers, who went on to win the ACC Championship, in a night game on national TV. Key plays were Georgia safety Mike Jones stripping the ball after a Clemson back had run 54 yards, and quarterback Eric Zeier setting up a TD with a 59-yard bomb to Arthur Marshall. This also was the day the Braves clinched the division title that began their celebrated run under Bobby Cox.When the Braves score was announced after the football game, Georgia and Clemson fans chopped and chanted together. Unforgettable. 3. Georgia over Auburn, 45-20, Nov. 10, 2007:The first 'Blackout' game. I don't think I've ever seen a Sanford Stadium crowd as excited as when the Dawgs burst through that banner in those black jerseys. Still, the Tigers made it a game, taking a 20-17 lead, before a Georgia team featuring Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno scored 28 unanswered points, and wound up dancing to Soulja Boy. 2. Georgia over Alabama, 21-0, Oct. 2, 1976:The outcome of the game between the No. 6 Bulldogs and the No. 10 Crimson Tide never really was in question, and the Sanford Stadium crowd smelled the Bear's blood from the start. This was the loudest I ever heard a Sanford crowd until they enclosed the east end of the stadium. Matt Robinson and Ray Goff alternated running Georgia's veer option offense, and Erk Russell's Junkyard Dogs defense held Bama's vaunted wishbone attack to just 49 yards rushing. Manhandling Bama, which was coming off five straight conference crowns, just wasn't done in those days. This game was one of the toughest tickets ever in Athens. Folks camped out overnight on the tracks, and my Dad had to watch from the Sanford Drive bridge. The postgame celebration in Athens was wild, with police having to close Milledge Avenue. 1. Georgia over Alabama, 18-17, Sept. 18, 1965: This was back during a period when Alabama was our opening game, and the last time the Dogs had won was during the 1959 SEC championship season with Fran Tarkenton. After that, the whippings by the Tide had become somewhat expected. N ot many folks gave the Dawgs much of a chance against the defending national champion Tide at the beginning of Dooley's second season. But, the Dawgs were hanging tough and behind only 17-10 in the fourth quarter. I'd gone to get a Coke and was walking back to my seat when I heard a guy I knew casually from school say to his father, 'The Bear better do something, or Bama could lose this thing.' I'm not sure if he was happy or sad about that, but, sure enough, moments later came the legendary flea-flicker pass from Kirby Moore to Pat Hodgson to Bob Taylor. And then, with the 2-point play pass to Hodgson, Georgia had one of its most unexpected wins ever, especially considering the Tide went on to take another AP national title that year. So, those are five memorable games I've seen in person. Are they the most memorable? Well, yeah, but, ask me tomorrow, and you might get a slightly different listing. After all, they don't come much more memorable than the 2013 UGA-LSU shootout featuring former roomies Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger (the loudest game I've ever experienced at Sanford Stadium) or the butt-kicking of Nick Saban's defending national champion LSU Tigers in 2004 (featuring f ive touchdown throws by David Greene ) or that spine-tingling moment last year when the stadium was lit-up all red at the beginning of the fourth quarter of yet another Georgia win over Notre Dame, or Yeah, I've seen a lot of memorable games. The post It's not easy to narrow down my five most memorable UGA games appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Jamaree Salyer couldn't have had a much better end to the 2019 season than he did for the Georgia Bulldogs. He made his first career start in the Sugar Bowl and played well as the Bulldogs came away with a 26-14 win over Baylor. That performance should that he could possibly hold up as a starting tackle for the Bulldogs, something they desperately need for the 2020 season, as Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson are both now off to the NFL. Wilson, Thomas and Solomon Kindley all spoke highly of Salyer while speaking at the NFL combine, as the two tackles expect him to be a leader on Georgia's offensive line this coming season. 'They're young kids but they work so hard,' Solomon Kindley said of Salyer and Trey Hill. 'They're leaders and if you go around them, they have great character. If you go around them, you'd think they're one of us. Related: Jamaree Salyer and his playing time explain why Georgia offensive line is one of the nation's best Salyer hasn't gotten a chance to showcase his improvements on the field just yet, but he has turned a lot of heads with his workouts. He's even dropped weight, as he's under 315 pounds, at least 10 pounds less than what he played the 2019 season at. And it has gotten the attention of his head coach, Kirby Smart. I can see abs in his future Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) May 20, 2020 The Bulldogs need Salyer to be not just a leader but also one of the best offensive linemen on the 2020 team. Replacing Thomas and Wilson, two first-round picks, won't be easy. But so far this offseason, Salyer has shown that he'll be up to the task of being a starting offensive tackle for the Bulldogs in 2020. More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation WATCH: Georgia basketball look ahead, how Tom Crean's building another winner Kirby Smart reveals thoughts on return, Georgia outlines voluntary workout transition plan Why aggressiveness, not athleticism, could mark the most important difference between Jamie Newman and Jake Fromm HEDGES: The rival programs looming as the big hurdles for Georgia recruiting in 2021 Brock Bowers: Nation's No. 3 TE knows what he'd like to do before his decision Former UGA greats Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter are helping in recruitment of key prospects Athlon Sports Top 25 football preview explains why Florida ahead of Georgia Update: DeAndre Baker legal issues tangled, libel and slander case pending Where Georgia football 2021 recruiting commitments and targets rank after latest updates The post Jamaree Salyer has been one of the big winners of Georgia's offseason appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Tom Crean is well known for his Xs and Os and uptempo teams, and Georgia's 2020 basketball recruiting class makes it clear there are no plans to slow down. The Bulldogs are coming off a 16-16 season that saw the team peak the final night with an 18-point win over Ole Miss in the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament in Nashville. RELATED: Georgia pounds Ole Miss, aims for Florida in SEC tourney The next day, March 12, the college sports world shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. Crean and his team were left wondering what might have been. The Bulldogs have made just one NCAA tournament appearance the last nine years (2015). Crean, who rebuilt Marquette into a Final Four team and rebuilt Indiana into a two-time Big Ten champion knows UGA remains a work in progress. Crean inherited a mess two years ago. A vacuum existed among six returning seniors after star Yante Maten took his leadership and scoring with him to the NBA. Three other players served disciplinary suspensions or have been dismissed from the program. The sole shining star was Nicolas Claxton, and he improved so much under Crean in one season that he went to the NBA following his sophomore year. This rebuild is such that just one player remains from that 2018-19 team. RELATED: Tom Izzo shares insight into his former assistant, Tom Crean UGA appears to be a refreshed and recharged program moving in the right direction. Georgia has a solid nucleus to build around with players like freshman assists record holder Sahvir Wheeler, junior guard Tye Fagan and sophomore power forward Toumani Camara returning. The players are eligible to return to campus as early as June 8 after the SEC presidents voted on Friday to give the green light to players wanting to return to practices for voluntary workouts. The basketball team's plans are currently being evaluated. Look back The 2019-20 campaign saw Georgia set a single-season attendance record in Stegman Coliseum that included marquee home wins over Tennessee and Auburn. On the road, Crean's Bulldogs scored only the second non-conference road victory over a Top 25 team in program history, beating Memphis. And now, another reload is underway, with projected NBA lottery pick Anthony Edwards moving on. RELATED: Georgia's 'Antman' declares for NBA draft, stock soaring Junior power forward Rayshaun Hammonds also elected to leave early, though his professional status is considerably less certain. Crean is looking forward, his roster now void of any players recruited by former coach Mark Fox. 'What I want is a team that can switch, a team that can play multiple ways,' Crean told DawgNation during the Ingles On The Beat show last Monday night. 'We don't need to get anyone that will slow us down or clog that lane. We have to get to the basketball, but we have to be able to run.' No doubt, Georgia has scored 90 or more points 11 times in Crean's two seasons. Prior to his arrival, the Bulldogs had scored 90 or more points in 11 times in 11 seasons. 'We were second in the country in transition points, we were third in the country at points at the rim, and yet we shot 30 percent from three,' Crean points out. 'You look at some of the games we had, if you had another 3-point make, or two more 3-pointers and I'm not talking about manufacturing threes, I'm talking about making the open threes that we had that's four or five more wins right there.' Georgia could be that close to the bubble again the season, but they'll need to rely on newcomers once again. Experienced recruits Once season after reloading with 10 newcomers and the No. 5-ranked signing class in the county, the Bulldogs are poised with seven more new players. Georgia most recently added Andrew Garcia, a 6-foot-5, 228-pound shooting guard who figures to add scoring punch and muscle to a team that will need to grow up in a hurry. Garcia is the second graduate transfer in the class, joining George Mason transfer Justin Kier (6-4, 197) on what looks to be another very versatile team. '(Kier) is gonna be a combination guard that can handle it and that can score,' Crean said. 'He'll be comfortable bringing the ball up the floor, or be comfortable having the ball thrown ahead to him.' Crean said this Georgia team will need to grow up fast, and that's likely why he's adding two graduate transfers and two junior college transfers, as well. Jonathan Ned is a 6-9 inside-out forward from Eastern Florida State junior college that shot 48-percent from beyond the 3-point line last season. 'We need Jonathan to come in and make threes,' Crean said. 'We need him to drive the ball, rebound and defend his position, but we also need him to make open jump shots.' Mikal Starks (6-0 guard) is another Eastern Florida State junior college transfer 'I think he's a highly competitive leadership guy, he's a winner, he competes, he fights, he's quick and he can get to the basket,' Crean said. 'I think he's going to be a good shooter for us, and I think that's important.' Georgia also has a commitment from Tyron McMillian, a 6-8, 225-pounder from Kilgore, Texas. McMillan is ranked the No. 11 junior college player in the nation. Incoming freshmen K.D. Johnson is a 6-1, top 100 signee out of Hargrave Military Academy High School the Crean believes will have an immediate impact. 'K.D. is a high, high level competitor,' Crean said. 'He's a two-way guy that picks the ball up full court, he'll hawk you, he'll fight you. 'He plays with a high motor, he plays to win, and I love his fearlessness.' Crean said Johnson will take on anybody at the rim, though he expects the talented prospect will quickly adjust to the SEC competition level. 'Sometimes he thinks he's going to go score on the 6-10, 6-11 guy, and I think he's going to have to make the growth of how to get to the other side of the rim and make the kick out (pass),' Crean said. 'But he passes the ball well, when he's locked in and stepping into his shot he's making it consistently. 'I love his track mentality, and I love the fact that he loves the game. Anthony Edwards is like that. You want guys that want to be in the gym making themselves better.' Josh Taylor is another incoming freshman, a 6-8, 195-pounder out of Norcross. 'Josh works around the bucket and he's a very good rebounder,' Crean said. 'He wants to get better as a shooter and driver but he rebounds the ball, he runs both ends and he wants to compete.' Future profile Crean plans to keep with his uptempo style, and he's hoping to develop more toughness and see leaders step up in tight games. That was something that was missing at times the past two seasons. 'Some of those games last season, we couldn't stop the runs because we couldn't stop the bleeding,' Crean said. 'We couldn't go in and get a bucket inside, or we couldn't just say we're going to get an And One. ''We had some maturity leadership issues with that when it was time to get it settled down.' Crean said it's something he needs to recruit to, and he feels good about what Georgia has in the works with a class currently ranked No. 29. 'You can't put a value on people that can settle your team down and bring them confidence on the floor,' Crean said. 'And it isn't always the point guard, and it isn't always the oldest guy. 'Anybody can change momentum inside a game, but very few can bring a lot of confidence every day to a team. Your job as s coach is to develop it and recruit it, and it's imperative you find those people.' Tom Crean May 18, 2020 DawgNation Georgia basketball Bulldogs upset Ole Miss in SEC tourney opener LSU beats Georgia in regular-season finale Georgia basketball goes cold in loss to Florida Anthony Edwards takes over final minute, UGA topples Arkansas WATCH: Georgia celebrates like crazy after Vandy win Bulldogs score resounding win over No. 13 Auburn Georgia basketball drops close one at Texas A&M, Anthony Edwards ill Georgia suffers deflating defeat at Florida UGA snaps four-game losing streak with Texas A&M win Perplexing loss for Georgia basketball at Missouri Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener The post WATCH: Georgia basketball look ahead, how Tom Crean's building another winner appeared first on DawgNation.