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Anthony Edwards’ commitment a potential ‘game-changer’ for Georgia basketball and Atlanta AAU
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Anthony Edwards’ commitment a potential ‘game-changer’ for Georgia basketball and Atlanta AAU

Anthony Edwards’ commitment a potential ‘game-changer’ for Georgia basketball and Atlanta AAU

Anthony Edwards’ commitment a potential ‘game-changer’ for Georgia basketball and Atlanta AAU

Georgia basketball-Towers' Take-Anthony Edwards commitment breaks AAU barrier for Georgia Bulldogs-Tom Crean

ATLANTA — Game-changer.

That’s what we witnessed Monday morning at Holy Spirit Prep. A game-changer for Georgia basketball.

And that’s not me talking. That’s from some of the folks who were in the Commons Building of this sprawling private school in the north Buckhead area of our fair city to hear the college basketball announcement of Anthony “Antman” Edwards. Most of them knew what the news was going to be, they just wanted to see it and hear it for themselves.

Nobody was happier than Georgia basketball letterman D.A. Layne to see the Bulldogs break the Atlanta AAU barrier on Monday. (Chip Towers/DawgNation)

D.A. Layne was among those observers. Layne played guard for the Bulldogs from 1998-2001. He was actually the first person to utter those two hyphenated words to me on Monday, “game-changer.” We talked in the final minutes leading up to Edwards’ 9 a.m., live-broadcast announcement before a crowd of the reporters and the entire student body of this Catholic school suburbs.

Layne obviously already knew what was about to take place and he couldn’t have been more thrilled about it. Shortly after Edwards made if official he is going to sign with the Georgia Bulldogs, unzipped his black jacket In The Layne basketball camps jacket to reveal a gray UGA hoodie with the word “Bulldogs” emblazoned across the front. And he was beaming.

“This is game-changer right here,” he said excitedly. “I’m missing work for this. Had to call in late. I’m telling you, I’ve been waiting on this for a long time. I can’t tell you how happy I am.”

He didn’t have to. It was all over his face.

Yes, Layne was happy his alma mater had just secured the commitment of the No. 1 or 2 college basketball prospect in the country, depending on which recruiting site to which one subscribes. But it represented more than that to him. To Layne, it’s a dam breaking, a wall falling down, a bridge being built, a tunnel being constructed. Choose your metaphor.

I didn’t realize until Layne told me and I haven’t independently verified it, but he says he was the last basketball player out of Wheeler High School to have signed on with the Bulldogs. If you know anything about basketball, college or pro, you might’ve heard that more than a few great players have come out of Wheeler. E.J. Montgomery is the latest you might know. The 6-foot-10, 5-star forward is currently a freshman at Kentucky. Or maybe Jaylen Brown. He’s a pro now with the Boston Celtics but he few years ago he was another McDonald’s All-American who signed somewhere other than Georgia (he went to Cal). The list only grows longer and more distinguished from there.

But it’s not really about Wheeler, Layne’s high school alma mater. It’s about AAU basketball. That’s what all those guys play the other nine months while they’re not playing high school hoops. Those are the coaches and the people of influence when it comes to the best of the best playing their games and deciding where they want to go with it. And for the greater part of this century, those guys have been taking their games elsewhere.

Which is not to say some very good players haven’t come to Georgia in the meantime. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a Top 10 player who signed with the Bulldogs just a few years back and is now in the NBA. And people forget about such frontline players as Trey Thompkins and Jeremy Price and Travis Leslie and Kenny Gaines. Those guys weren’t chump-change and they played AAU ball and they did UGA proud by coming there.

But convincing the AAU player that’s also a sure-fire pro in short order is the really new ground for the Bulldogs under Tom Crean. Not only was he able to convince Edwards and his family that he can provide the continued development a player of his ilk would need, but he also says he’s willing to deal with the hassle and extra burdens that come with that as well. And there are more than a few. Handling the livelihood of a young man who has already been told he’s going to earn millions from it is not a casual affair. You’ve got to be ever-vigilante and serious and focused about it.

AAU coach Winfred Jordan of the Atlanta XPress, posing with Anthony ‘Antman’ Edwards shortly before his announcement Monday, has long felt that Georgia should do more to engage the Atlanta AAU community and believes Tom Crean will be benefit from an improved relationship. (Chip Towers/DawgNation)

Edwards had the opportunity to go anywhere in the country, including those places where this is standard operating procedure. But he chose to entrust his career to Crean and UGA, and that had a feeling of historical significance on Monday.

“We’re loving it; we’re really going to enjoy this,” said Winfred Jordan, head coach of the Atlanta Xpress AAU team for which Edwards plays year-round. “First of all, I think this is the best situation for Anthony Edwards. I believe that. I think once all of America sees that a kid like him made that decision, it could change Georgia basketball.”

It’s never a small thing when anybody beats Kentucky in anything related to basketball. The same goes for Kansas and North Carolina and Duke and FSU, all of which not only extended offers but put considerable time, effort and resources into Edwards’ recruitment. But it bears reminding that Edwards could have gone to school right down the road from his house to Georgia Tech or Georgia State to satisfy the “close to home” factor that was important to him.

He chose instead to travel east 65 miles to UGA to live out the next chapter of his journey and for that Crean and assistant coaches Chad Dollar and Amir Abdur-Rahim deserve an enormous amount of credit. Nobody knows that better than Edwards’ high school coach, Ty Anderson, who was a four-year letterman at Georgia Tech.

“They showed up,” Anderson said of Georgia’s coaches. “They’ve been here every time they could. They’ve been to several games, workouts, practices. Wherever I’ve been my advise has always been, ‘go where they recruit you the hardest.’ That’s where they believe in you and where you’re going to get the most love. Georgia recruited Ant really hard.”

Retrospectively, that might’ve been the easy part. Now Crean and the Bulldogs have to follow through on what they’ve sold. And if you haven’t been paying attention, things having been going great during Crean’s 11-month tenure. Georgia just dropped its eighth SEC game in a row and Crean created a mini-controversy by blaming himself for not encouraging more of his players to leave when he took over because they can’t give him what he needs to run his system.

Edwards heard all that, too, and was unfazed.

“I know he’s not like that,” said Edwards, wearing the red Georgia cap and holding his 4-month-old nephew, Jace, after the live-broadcast announcement. “He’s a great guy. He didn’t mean it like that.”

Edwards can’t actually sign with the Bulldogs until the spring period opens on April 17th, but he assured one and all that his recruitment was over and his commitment to Georgia and Crean was unwavering. In the meantime, he said he “a couple of guys in mind” that he wants to convince they should join him in Athens.

That’s the effect Layne has always said getting a player like Edwards to break the Atlanta AAU barrier would have on the program he played for and still loves. Maybe now the Bulldogs will finally sign another player from Wheeler.

“This big, Chip; this is big,” Layne said.

I think so, too.

 

The post Anthony Edwards’ commitment a potential ‘game-changer’ for Georgia basketball and Atlanta AAU appeared first on DawgNation.

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Georgia Sports News

  • ATHENS – Their average age is 40. Most of them played college football at places like Arkansas Tech and Texas Southern. Three of them didn’t play college ball at all. They are the 10 full-time coaches who will be assisting Georgia head coach Kirby Smart for what’s expected to be a championship run in the 2019 football season. It’s an interesting mix of youth and experience and it features a surprising lack of actual on-field, Division I playing experience. The makeup of the Bulldogs’ staff came more into focus after roles and salaries were revealed last Friday in response to open records requests from media outlets. Smart has yet to offer comment or answer questions about his new staff. Here’s some factoids to consider as we take a closer look at the group: Not that it matters, but two of Georgia’s three coordinators did not play college football themselves. Neither offensive coordinator James Coley nor co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann played ball beyond high school. Recently hired tight ends coach Todd Hartley also didn’t play college football. He was a student assistant coach while attending UGA as an undergrad. Only running backs coach Dell McGee played major college ball. He was a wide receiver and defensive back at Auburn from 1992-95 and played briefly in the NFL. New defensive backs coach Charlton Warren played as a defensive back at the Air Force Academy. The rest of the staff were small-college football players. Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning played linebacker at tiny William Jewell College, an NAIA program at the time. Heralded offensive line coach – and newly-appointed associate head coach — Sam Pittman also played NAIA ball. He was an All-American lineman at Pittsburg State in Kansas. Special teams coordinator Scott Fountain played at Samford, receivers coach Cortez Hankton played at Texas Southern and defensive line coach Tray Scott played at Arkansas Tech Georgia’s staff also is not extremely deep on experience. Pittman, 57, and Fountain, 52, have been around the longest. They’ve logged 32 and 31 years, respectively, in the college game. Many people don’t realize that Pittman was once a head coach. He spent two seasons as head coach at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, three overall. Today he is considered one of the most successful recruiters of offensive linemen in the country. When broken down into experience as actual on-field, college assistant coaches, the average length of service for members of Smart’s staff is a relatively low 11.5 years. The 28-year-old Schumann has the least, entering his fourth year as inside linebackers coach for the Bulldogs. He was a volunteer analyst as an undergraduate student at Alabama, then a graduate assistant and, finally, a director of player development and personnel for two years before following Smart to UGA. Hartley (7), Hankton (7), Lanning (6), McGee (6) and Scott (6) all have less than eight years experience as well. Most of Georgia’s coaches spent a good bit of time coaching high school ball before moving into the college ranks. Fountain and McGee were high school head coaches before breaking into college as analysts. Pittman was also a high school head coach. Coley and Lanning each were high school assistant coaches before getting their breaks as analysts, or quality control specialists. Smart lost a combined 56 years of college and pro coaching experience off his staff when coordinators Jim Chaney and Mel Tucker left to accept new jobs after last season. Tucker became head coach at Colorado while Chaney accepted a $650,000-a-year raise to make a lateral move to Tennessee. That resulted in Smart paying $375,000-a-year less for his assistant coaches. Chaney’s addition along with the hiring of Derrick Ansley as defensive coordinator and Tee Martin as wide receivers coach and some other staff moves mean that Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt is now paying his staff $800,000 more than Georgia is ($6.045 million). That’s primarily due to coordinator pay. Chaney ($1.6 million), Ansley ($1 million) and Chris Rumph ($805,000) all have multiyear contracts and make $3.4 million annually between them. Georgia’s three coordinators are due $2.25 million in the next year. It’s not yet known if they signed multiyear deals, but three-year deals are standard operating procedure in the business. What’s it all mean? Not much at the moment. Smart’s doing just fine, thank you very much. He is a combined 10-3 against Georgia’s four primary conference rivals of Auburn (3-1), Florida (2-1), South Carolina (3-0) and Tennesssee (2-1). He is, of course, 0-2 vs. Alabama. The post Georgia Bulldogs’ 2019 football staff is short on experience, long on potential appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings at least four days a week. The play sheet today calls for a look at two very big recruiting “fishing holes” for 2020.  The big picture for Georgia football recruiting on DawgNation now looks like the United States. Specific stories may point to this 5-star or that hot prospect, but sometimes the zoom button does the reporter tribe no favors. Can the Bulldogs sign the No. 1 class in 2020? The 2,680-mile wide view says yes. That is the approximate width of America from tight end to tackle. Alaska and Hawaii are still split out wide. That big picture means the Bulldogs now recruit off a national footprint. Kirby Smart and his staff have now signed the No. 1 player out of 10 different states. The Bulldogs will always be knocking at the door on signing the nation’s top class with Smart. He is simply just that effective leading the recruiting in Athens. With respect to the 2020 class, the chances there will sink or swim based off how the Bulldogs do around two specific pinpoints on that map. Let’s aspire to be true sons of the south and call them fishing holes. There are already two clear “fishing holes” that will largely determine whether this class can finish No. 1 overall. This Google Maps screenshot shows off a pretty good visual of what the DC “DMC” fishing hole looks like for UGA this cycle. (Google Maps) Oddly, the first one is 590 approximate miles away from Sanford Stadium. That pinpoint would be St. John’s College High School in the Washington, D.C. area. This blue-chip recruiting perimeter will extend just 30 miles north to Damascus High School in Maryland and then another 42 miles east to Baltimore. The circuit completes with a 33-mile trip back south near the nation’s capital at DeMatha Catholic. DeMatha is only about eight miles east of St. John’s College High. The region is commonly known as the DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) area. There are at least five players in that radius the Bulldogs would love to sign for 2020. How the Bulldogs recruit that area amid challenges from Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State and now Maryland will be watched closely. The “DMV” fishing hole  Bryan Bresee -UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting” width=”640″ height=”615″ /> 5-star strong-side DE Bryan Bresee was in Athens over the weekend. (Bryan Bresee/Instagram) Who has their reels up there for Georgia: Offensive coordinator James Coley, receivers coach Cortez Hankton, running backs coach Dell McGee, Outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning, defensive line coach Tray Scott and head coach Kirby Smart. Trophy pulls from the “DMV” 5-star SDE Bryan Bresee/Damascus HS/Damascus, Md: The 6-foot-6, 280-pound junior ranks as the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. He was in Athens this weekend with the family in tow. It was no less than his fourth unofficial to UGA in the last 14 months. Bresee sat next to Kirby Smart at Stegman Coliseum for the LSU game and might just have heard his name being chanted by the crowd. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 2 )   5-star OLB Mekhail Sherman/St. Johns College HS/Washington, D.C: The nation’s No. 2 OLB is in the process of bouncing back from a season-ending knee injury in 2018. Looking good. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder can play inside or outside (See Rian Davis, Quay Walker) but flashed a serious 4.52 time in the laser at the Nike Opening finals out in Texas last summer. He was also very pleased to see the official promotion of Dan Lanning to defensive coordinator. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 13 )   5-star WR Rakim Jarrett/St. Johns College/Washington, D.C: St. John’s also had an Alabama  How did St. Johns ever lose a game, right? The 6-foot, 182-pound blur was in Athens last weekend on an official. The Bulldogs didn’t make his original top 6, but they are in it now. UGA was a little late to offer the nation’s No. 3 WR and that’s a good reason why. The interest is there now for the nation’s No. 3 WR prospect. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 21 )   5-star RB MarShawn Lloyd: Lloyd is as serious of a contender at this time to join the 2020 class as anyone in the “DMV” fishing hole. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound will flash to a lot of former great UGA backs with his game. How does a one-part Sony, one-part Chubb, one-part Knowshon, one-part Verron Haynes and one-part MarShawn sound? The nation’s No. 4 RB has already visited Athens once this year. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 25 )   4-star DE Demon Clowney:  The nation’s No. 5 weak-side DE resides in Baltimore. Clowney, a cousin to NFL All-Pro Jadeveon Clowney , is a big Lanning fan. UGA was his first offer back in February of 2018 and it was his pinned tweet for a significant amount of time. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has made at least two trips back to Athens since then. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 78 ) Will the blue-chips be biting?: If the program puts up a 0-for-5 in the DMV, then that means it will have to go down the board scrambling for alternate targets. It is not out of bounds to think that the Bulldogs can pull at least two of these targets out of the region, though. Another obstacle is the Bulldogs have yet to sign a player out of this region during Smart’s time as head coach. The other big “fishing hole” on Georgia’s mind is a lot closer down the road. The Cobb County fishing hole  Myles Murphy -UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football” width=”640″ height=”427″ /> 5-star weak-side DE Myles Murphy has remarkable speed and athleticism. He can play out on the edge in space. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Gwinnett County hasn’t been good to the Bulldogs the last few years. Cobb County is more of a success story. Georgia has signed elite targets like Dominick Blaylock, Justin Fields, Ryland Goede, Azeez Ojulari, Tyler Simmons and Julian Rochester from this region, among others. This pinpoint on the map will cover 345 square miles, but the radar here pings around the 18.5-mile circuit from Marietta High School to Hillgrove High School to McEachern High School and back to Marietta. Cobb County has five players rated among the nation’s top 100 recruits for the 2020 class. The Bulldogs can sign a pair of 5-star prospects from this pocket of the Peach State. These two elite athletes could also go down as the two of the three highest-rated signees in the 2020 class at that. Who is doing the fishing there for Georgia: Tight ends coach Todd Hartley, running backs coach Dell McGee, defensive coordinator and OLBs coach Dan Lanning, defensive line coach Tray Scott and head coach Kirby Smart. The big fish in Cobb County Arik Gilbert -UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting” width=”400″ height=”267″ /> Arik Gilbert rates as the nation’s No. 9 overall prospect for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite scale. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Arik Gilbert/Marietta High/Marietta, Ga: DawgNation profiled Gilbert late last week . The nearly 6-foot-6, 250-pounder wants to be a tight end or a hybrid at the next level in the Travis Kelce mold. He has agility, acceleration, catch radius and length for days. That’s why he rates as the nation’s No. 1 ATH for 2020. He visited Alabama over the weekend and was back for another unofficial at UGA today. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 9 )   B.J. Ojulari/Marietta High/Marietta, Ga.:  He’s started both ways for the Blue Devils for the balance of his high school career at offensive tackle and defensive end. His future is on defense flying in off the edge. His older brother, Azeez, is already at UGA. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior plans to make his decision sometime in May. Look for him to play ball in the Southeast. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 84 )   Myles Murphy/Hillgrove High/Powder Springs, Ga.: Murphy will check off every box of what an elite national recruit should look like in high school. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder has exceptional agility and footwork. There’s another national prospect with a UGA offer with the same name in North Carolina, but very few prospects like Myles Murphy come along every 10 years. That’s why Dabo Swinney has his fishing pole mounted near Hillgrove High, too. (Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 14)   COMMIT: Jamil Burroughs/McEachern High/Powder Springs, Ga.: The nation’s No. 4 DT is already in the boat. So to speak. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound prospect is one of three current commitments in the class of 2020. ( Overall 247Sports Composite rating: 62 ) Will the blue-chips be biting: Burroughs is in the boat and should be seen as a very invested recruit in the program. Clemson looms large for both Gilbert and Myles. The chances with Ojulari might very well spike with how well the Bulldogs are recruiting at that position. He’s a terrific player and one of the most impressive in this class but not even Brandon Adams can foresee the Bulldogs ending up with Clowney, Murphy, Ojulari and Sherman at OLB going on the wall for the 2020 class. Gilbert and Murphy are two players in the state this year that the Bulldogs cannot let leave the state and still hope to finish with the nation’s top class. It would bring up too many empty net stories with the likes of Andrew Booth, Derrick Brown, Jadon Haselwood, Aubrey Solomon and Trevor Lawrence from back in the day.   Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.   The post UGA recruiting: Which two points on the map lead to the nation’s No. 1 class for 2020? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia Athletic Association board members will be briefed on the progress of efforts to add a new football-dedicated building to the Butts-Mehre Athletic Complex when it holds its annual winter meeting on Wednesday. In a conference call with members of the board’s facilities and development committee Monday morning, Athletic Director Greg McGarity confirmed that a status report will be provided on the latest multi-million dollar project to come on line since Kirby Smart became the Bulldogs’ head coach in 2016. McGarity said Georgia is in the process of selecting engineers and architects for the project, which is expected to be erect a building in the space between the Spec Town Track & Field grandstands and the Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. As DawgNation reported six months ago, such a facility is expected to carry a price tag of more than $50 million. Fundraising efforts are already underway. Since Smart’s arrival on campus in January of 2016, Georgia has built and dedicated a $30 million indoor practice facility and $65 million locker room and recruiting area underneath the West grandstand at Sanford Stadium. Since the fall of 2015, members of Georgia’s relatively new Magill Society have pledged donations totaling nearly $100 million to cover the cost of those projects. Board members will also be briefed on an upcoming project to improve the lighting at Sanford Stadium, McGarity said. The majority of the focus on facilities updates on Wednesday will be on construction of a new grandstand for the Henry Feild Stadium courts at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, McGarity said. Cost for that project is now expected to exceed $8 million. The board will also be briefed on plans to erect a new six-court indoor tennis facility for the complex. “That will be the only action item on Wednesday,” McGarity said. To date, none of the monies raised from the Magill Society have gone toward tennis. That is the sport Magill oversaw for decades before his death in 2014 at the age of 93. Board members will also be briefed on an ongoing $3.1 million equestrian project that will include a 7,000-square foot clubhouse at the team’s facility in Bishop. The post Expansion of Georgia Bulldogs’ football complex to be discussed at UGA athletics board meeting appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — As many as three outgoing Georgia football players have been projected as first-round NFL Draft picks by different analysts at different times. But there’s always one Bulldog on the first-round list — Deandre Baker. That didn’t change on Monday when the Georgia Thorpe Award winner surfaced as the No. 20 overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Mel Kiper’s latest first-round mock draft on the ESPN Insider pay site. RELATED: Georgia opens with 10 on NFL Draft boards Kiper has Baker as his second-highest rated cornerback in the draft behind LSU’s Greedy Williams, who he forecasts will go to Denver at No. 10. Earlier this month, NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter opened eyes when he projected both Baker and tailback Elijah Holyfield to be selected in the first round. Reuter, in a Feb. 5 three-round NFL mock draft, had four Bulldogs listed: Deandre Baker, No. 24 overall, Oakland Elijah Holyfield, No. 30 overall, Green Bay Riley Ridley, No. 35 overall, Oakland Isaac Nauta, No. 62 overall, New Orleans Ridley was at one point projected as high as the first round — at No. 32 — by NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah. WATCH: Riley Ridley coached up by NFL legends Jeremiah and fellow NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein recently penned an article on which one player each team should keep an eye on. The Baltimore Ravens were advised to keep an eye on speedy Georgia receiver Mecole Hardman, as “the buzz is starting to build in personnel circles.” The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, should watch for Ridley, according to the story: “The Niners need another big target at wide receiver with size and toughness for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. Ridley’s college production was just OK, but there were plenty of mouths to feed in the Georgia offense. Ridley might be a fit for San Francisco as a Day 2 option, provided he shows ball-tracking ability and some route acumen in Indianapolis.” Projections from one analyst to another vary, as they each do their own evaluations and rely on different NFL sources. Kiper, for example, doesn’t have Holyfield, Ridley or Nauta ranked in the top 10 at their respective positions in the upcoming draft. It’s all talk for now, and NFL Draft projections are sure to get a thorough shaking up after the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The combine testing runs from March 1-4. Georgia will have eight players at the combine, seven taking part in on-field testing. Outside linebacker D’Andre Walker had sports hernia surgery on Jan. 16 in Birmingham, Ala., and is rehabilitating. Walker hopes to be healthy enough to take part in the Bulldogs Pro Day for NFL scouts on March 20.     The post Georgia football favorites Elijah Holyfield, Mecole Hardman generating NFL Draft buzz appeared first on DawgNation.