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College
How Tom Crean put Georgia Bulldogs in position to land nation’s top basketball prospect, Anthony ‘Ant Man’ Edwards
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How Tom Crean put Georgia Bulldogs in position to land nation’s top basketball prospect, Anthony ‘Ant Man’ Edwards

How Tom Crean put Georgia Bulldogs in position to land nation’s top basketball prospect, Anthony ‘Ant Man’ Edwards

How Tom Crean put Georgia Bulldogs in position to land nation’s top basketball prospect, Anthony ‘Ant Man’ Edwards

Georgia basketball-How Tom Crean put Bulldogs in position to sign Anthony 'Ant Man' Edwards-Georgia Bulldogs

ATLANTA –  Winfred Jordan is a self-professed basketball junkie. When he was an adolescent in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, his uncles would pick him up in his Oakland City neighborhood in southwest Atlanta and take him up to Georgia Tech to watch the state high school playoffs.

Jordan rattles off the names of the great players he saw there.

“There were so many of them,” Jordan said. “Dale Ellis, Jeff Malone, Terry Fair, Donald Hartry, Lamar Heard, Cedric Henderson, Melvin Howard, James Banks. I watched James Banks destroy people all by himself.”

Banks, of course, ended up going to the University of Georgia where he helped lead the Bulldogs on their Final Four run in 1983. Fair, Heard and Hartry also were on that team.

That’s why Jordan, head coach of the Atlanta Xpress AAU team, is taken aback when people react with such surprise that the state’s latest basketball sensation – Anthony “Ant Man” Edwards – is seriously considering signing with the Bulldogs. In fact, Jordan doesn’t discount the notion that Georgia might actually hold a lead in the bid to sign his 6-foot-5 guard, who is considered the No. 1 basketball prospect in America.

Then again, the Bulldogs haven’t signed the No. 1 player in America in a while. OK, maybe never.

“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?” Jordan said with a laugh. “But Georgia has a strong basketball history. People tend to forget about the times they’ve been really, really good. Hugh Durham always recruited great players.”

The world will find out Monday morning if Georgia’s latest head coach has been able penetrate Atlanta’s AAU zone. Tom Crean has been on the job only since March 15, but he and his staff have made up an enormous amount of ground when it comes to the considerable pursuit that has been recruitment of Edwards.

Edwards will announce his decision at a conference news conference scheduled for 9 a.m. at his high school, Holy Spirit Prep of Atlanta. The Bulldogs are one of three finalists. The other two are Kentucky and Florida State.

“If they’re still in it at this point they’ve done a good job,” said Ty Anderson, Edward’s coach at Holy Spirit.

Georgia most definitely is still in it. Edwards himself acknowledged that after scoring 41 points in Holy Spirit’s Region 1-AAA championship game this past Friday night in Duluth.

But Edwards gave no hints as to which way he is leaning, only that he’s “pretty sure” to which school he’s going to choose and he’s eager to get the decision behind him.

“I can’t wait,” Edwards said. “It’s going to take a lot of pressure off me. I won’t have too much to worry about. I can focus just on school. It’s going to be a dream come true.”

Just who is The Ant Man

Everybody who knows anything about basketball can tell you about the Ant Man. That’s the explosive, high-scoring athlete who averages 27 points and 9 rebounds a game and can literally score from anywhere on a basketball court at any moment.

Fewer know about Anthony Edwards, the person behind the cool nickname. That’s actually the way he prefers it. His is a past of great personal tragedy, but also of remarkable personal triumphs.

Edwards was raised by his mother, Yvette Edwards, and grandmother, Shirley Edwards, in the same Oakland City neighborhood that Jordan grew up. The difference is, when Jordan was coming up, Oakland City wasn’t considered one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden areas in all of Atlanta.

“When I grew up over there it wasn’t rough like it is now,” said Jordan, who’s in his 50s. “Years later, after crack came along, it took over those inner-city areas.”

But Edwards’ world came crashing down four years ago. In the same year, both his mother and grandmother died, according to Jordan. He said both women died of cancer.

“They were both very important people in his life,” Jordan said. “They raised him.”

Jordan said Edwards’ father is not involved in his life, so custody was granted to Edwards’ 25-year-old brother, Antoine. It has been between Antoine and Jordan that Edwards has received his care ever since.

“He doesn’t want that stuff talked about,” Jordan said. “He just wants to the focus to be on who is as a person and a basketball player.”

Edwards gets high marks on both of those fronts. He busted out on the basketball scene as a ninth-grader playing AAU basketball for the Atlanta Xpress. At the time he was attending Therell High School in southwest Atlanta. But it wasn’t always clear that basketball was his future.

“People don’t believe me when I tell him but he’s just as a good of a football player as he is a basketball player,” Jordan said. “When I met him in the eighth grade, he played football at the time. But it was ninth or 10th grade he got an injury. He hurt his foot. When he did, I told him he needed to layoff football for a while. I told him he could always go back to football but he wouldn’t be able to with basketball. But once he got go dedicating more time to basketball he just blossomed, more and more and more.”

It was Jordan that initiated what ended up being one of the biggest moves in Edwards’ life. They decided to transfer schools. He ended up at Holy Spirit Prep, a relatively new private Catholic school located in the North Buckhead suburbs of Atlanta.

“I felt like he needed a change,” Jordan said. “I was looking for a better situation for the young man, something that would make him better for the next 20 years of like and prepare him for college. He needed something a little more structured, something that would make him a little more polished as a young man. He needed more diversity in his life and more structure academically. He’s gotten that at Holy Spirit.”

Greg McClaire was the coach at the time. He was succeeded last year by Anderson, a four-year letterman as a basketball player at Georgia Tech and the grandson of coaching legend Lefty Driesell.

“Ant’s an extraordinary human being,” Anderson said. “He’s just a high-character, hard-working, fun-loving kid. Whichever school he says he’s going to on Monday morning, he’s going to be a great ambassador for that basketball program and for that academic institution.”

NBA definitely ‘down the road’

In Anderson, Edwards received a fresh set of eyes. Anderson starred at Oconee County High School at the same time Louis Williams was playing at South Gwinnett High. He said Edwards is the best basketball talent he’s seen.

Anthony Edwards takes off with the ball after a steal from Lance Terry of Heritage, one of the top players in the state. (Bryson Towers/DawgNation)

“I think he’s the best scorer I’ve seen in high school since Louis Williams,” Anderson said. “I played against (Williams) and he was unbelievable. Georgia almost got him, too, but he went straight to the NBA. So, yeah, there are comparisons. But I think it won’t be too long before guys are comparing the next generation to Ant. He’s going to make his own mold.”

Dan McDonald, a longtime recruiting analyst for Rivals who also runs his own basketball camps, probably has seen more of and knows more about Edwards as a basketball player than anybody.

“I’ve been saying since last summer that I think he’s the best player in the country,” McDonald said. “He’s a great athlete, really strong and powerful, and he’s become very skilled. He has NBA level moves already with room still to grow. He’s very unselfish and a great a decision-maker for most part. Along with all that, he’s just a great kid that others gravitate to.”

The NBA could be an option for Edwards as well, but at this point none of his advisers are recommending it. The NBA can be a risky path, especially without the assurance of an extended future.

Edwards is part of the first graduating high school class that would have the option of choosing the NBA’s G-League, which in 2019 will offer “select contracts” for players not yet eligible to enter the NBA draft. It offers the alternative of earning as much as $125,000 to play professional basketball in the U.S. rather than go overseas or choose the “one-and-done” in college.

Edwards told the AJC in January he prefers the college alternative. “You can only struggle for so long,” he said.

Anderson has also seen the lofty projections for Edwards as a pro, but advises him to not be in a hurry.

“There’s a lot of time – maybe 19 months – between now and the 2020 draft,” Anderson said. “There’s plenty of work he needs to do and he knows that. So he’s approaching that with humility and a workman’s mentality, getting in the gym to work on his game. As far as how the NBA fits in, I don’t know. He’s a kid who definitely focuses on the next step, whatever that is. Right now the next step is choosing college. The step after that is winning a state championship, then graduation, then college. The NBA is a little down the road.”

That’s good news for Georgia — and Kentucky and FSU as well — and that’s where Crean represents a change from the previous regime. Former coach Mark Fox often complained about the trend of college basketball powerhouses such as Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina to recruit “one-and-done” players that had no intention of playing beyond a single season before entering the NBA draft.

Crean embraces the concept and says there’s no reason players of that pedigree shouldn’t consider Georgia as an NBA launching pad same as they would Kansas or Kentucky

“You can do everything you can do there here,” Crean said earlier this season. “And look at what this place has to offer? We have everything you could possibly need, plus a great education.”

The next Georgia great

Such an attitude has endeared Crean to Edwards’ camp and, indeed, to many in Atlanta’s tight-knit AAU community. It’s no fluke that two members of Crean’s coaching staff — Amir Abdur-Rahim and Chad Dollar — have deep ties to the AAU scene.

“Crean is amazing to us; he’s going to be the second-best thing to happen there outside of Hugh Durham,” said Jordan, a longtime presence on the Atlanta AAU scene. “He is a true teacher of basketball. He teaches his players the game and he doesn’t have just one philosophy. He’s always doing a lot of individual stuff to help develop his players. That’s important, that’s big. Coach Crean spends a lot of time making players better individually.”

Georgia has, in fact, signed great basketball players before. There’s some debate as to whether Dominique Wilkins was, in fact, the No. 1 player in the class of 1980. James Worthy was also in that class and ended up going to North Carolina. But he was definitely in the top three or four.

But one really doesn’t have to go back that far to find the Bulldogs landing some of the top players in the country. Dennis Felton signed Williams out of South Gwinnett in 2005. The 6-foot-2 guard was ranked the No. 1 player in the state and the No. 7 in the nation by Rivals that year. He ended up going straight to the NBA, where he’s now with the Los Angeles Clippers.

In 2012, Georgia landed the state’s top player again in 6-foot-6 guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Ranked 12th nationally by Rivals, Caldwell-Pope played two seasons with the Bulldogs before becoming a first-round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons. He’s now with the L.A. Lakers.

But it has probably been since Wilkins that the Bulldogs have been in position to land a player Edwards’ ilk. Not only is he considered the No. 1 prospect in the country by 247Sports.com (Rivals ranks him No. 2), but NBAdraft.net projects him as the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

Jordan was asked why Edwards would choose an upstart Georgia program under Crean over a tried-and-true, one-and-done factory like Kentucky has been under John Calipari.

“He respects those other universities very much,” Jordan said. “He loves Duke; he loves Kentucky. Kentucky really has him in awe right now. It’s hard to go against Kentucky basketball. But Anthony wants to write his own script, write his own chapter. He wants to write his own book. That’s him.”

McDonald and 247Sports’ Evan Daniels are both predicting Edwards to announce Georgia on Monday. Should he choose the Bulldogs, it will be considered a major upset by the college basketball world.

Jordan’s not so sure that should be the case.

“It’s been 20 years, I guess, and people tend to remember what they saw recently,” Jordan said. “Georgia is known for football, so you talk about basketball and people say, ‘ah, it’s not a basketball school.’ They forget what it used to be.”

If Crean lands Edwards, Georgia could become what it’s never been.

The post How Tom Crean put Georgia Bulldogs in position to land nation’s top basketball prospect, Anthony ‘Ant Man’ Edwards appeared first on DawgNation.

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  • ATHENS Former Georgia football receiver Jeremiah 'J.J.' Holloman has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal after being dismissed from the Bulldogs team last Friday. Holloman was set to be the go-to target on a Georgia team expected to compete for the SEC championship this season before a police report surfaced in which he allegedly admitted to striking an ex-girlfriend following the 2018 UGA G-Day game. The victim did not file a report of the incident that allegedly occurred on April 22, 2018, with the University of Georgia Police Department until June 2, 2019. The police report states that the victim 'did not want to pursue an investigation for this incident' and 'wouldn't want him to be subject to criminal charges.' Due to that, the police report lists the case as 'inactive.' Georgia coach Kirby Smart issued a statement after the police report surfaced in the media, first in Holloman's hometown paper, the Covington News. 'We expect every member of our team to uphold the highest standards and values of the University of Georgia and Georgia football,' Smart said. 'It is disappointing when this does not happen.' RELATED: Georgia title hopes take hit, transfers must step up The Bulldogs lost three receivers to the NFL Draft along with their top receiving tight end from the 2018 season. Holloman's dismissal leaves Georgia without its top five pass catchers from last season. Georgia will likely lean heaviest on incoming Miami graduate transfer Lawrence Cager, along with 2018 transfer Demetris Robertson and returning senior Tyler Simmons at the start of fall camp. UGA also added Tennessee graduate transfer tight end Eli Wolf. The Bulldogs also lost three players to transfers during this offseason. Backup freshman quarterback Justin Fields elected to transfer to Ohio State, freshman tight end Luke Ford chose to transfer back to his home state of Illinois, and reserve linebacker Jaden Hunter transferred to Western Kentucky. Fields was granted immediate eligibility with the Buckeyes, but Ford's request for a waiver to play immediately has been denied. Ford had high-profile attorney Tom Mars helping him make his case, leaving some surprised by the result. Mars helped paved the way for Fields' successful bid to gain immediate eligibility. Hunter played in only four games last season, which constitutes a redshirt under new NCAA rules. Former Georgia defensive back Deangelo Gibbs was suspended indefinitely when he transferred to the University of Tennessee, where he will be eligible to play this season. Former UGA reserve safety Tray Bishop, once a 4-star U.S. Army All-American recruit from Dawson, Ga, is also in the transfer portal. Bishop took part in the 2018 G-Day Game before being arrested in May of 2018 as a result of a 2017 incident. He did not appear in any games for Georgia. The post Former Georgia WR Jeremiah J.J.' Holloman enters NCAA transfer portal, his case inactive appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia basketball freshman Anthony 'Antman' Edwards has yet to play a second in a college game, but already, he's a legend in the making. RELATED: High-flying Antman' dazzles in McDonald's All-American Game Edwards, who's expected to start for Coach Tom Crean's Bulldogs this season, is being projected as the No. 1 overall pick by Bleacher Report in its 'Way-Too-Soon 2020 NBA Lottery Mock Draft.' 'He's a scoring 2-guard with secondary playmaking ability in the mold of Victor Oladipo,' writes Jonathan Wasserman, comparing the UGA freshman to the top-five NBA pick Crean developed at Indiana. 'Edwards has developed into a ball-screen weapon who can also create his own shot with drives, pull-ups and step-backs.' Edwards recently sat down with the WSB Bulldogs Game Day show and made it clear his mindset is to make it about 'team' at Georgia. 'I came to Georgia where we're a team, we were all highly recruited,' said Edwards, a consensus top-five national recruit out of Atlanta's Holy Spirit Prepatory School. 'We're in this together, no one is separate, and I love all my guys,' he said. 'We're all gelling together, getting to know each other, spending time with each other, building our chemistry and trying to get better as a team.' How's life at @UGABasketball with all the new recruits now in Athens? Here's Ant Man, Anthony Edwards! Go Dawgs! More on the Dawgs Saturdays at 10am on @WSBbulldogs on @wsbtv. pic.twitter.com/Gx2fUcZ4Ek Bulldogs Game Day (@WSBbulldogs) June 25, 2019 Some of that time together has been spent on the football field for conditioning, pushing sleds. DAWG SLEDS pic.twitter.com/SscBZ1PPCL Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) June 25, 2019 'We're gonna really kick the training up this offseason after this mandatory seven-day break,' Crean said after last season. 'This is not going to be business as usual.' The post WATCH: Georgia basketball's Anthony Antman' Edwards already projected No. 1 in NBA draft appeared first on DawgNation.
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  • ATHENS It has been said that perception can overtake reality, and while in some instances that's true, it doesn't apply to SEC football. So while it's always a fun read to pick up the preseason magazines, people do so knowing the season will bear out where teams really stand, and how good players and position groups really are. That said, it's worth reviewing how Nashville-based Athlon Magazine editors Steven Lassan and Mitch Light view Georgia, from their preseason rank, to how they think the Bulldogs' position groups stack up. Georgia is the magazine's preseason No. 3 team, and Athlon is predicting the Bulldogs run the table in the regular season before losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. That seems to be the most common narrative across the country: Until the Bulldogs finish the job and beat the Crimson Tide, people won't be convinced. RELATED: Tebow says Kirby ahead of schedule, but needs to beat Bama Never mind that Georgia has led or been tied with the Tide118 minutes and 54 seconds of 120 minutes and 281 of 290 plays of the past two meetings in the CFP title game and SEC title game. Here's where Athlon has the Georgia position groups ranked among the top five, and a quick take on whether it's too high, or too low: Running backs 1. Alabama; 2. Georgia; 3. Florida; 4. Vanderbilt; 5. Auburn About right. If the UGA backfield stays healthy QB Jake Fromm and D'Andre Swift the Bulldogs will beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and can claim the best RB unit. Wide receivers 1. Alabama; 2. Florida; 3. Texas A&M; 4. LSU; 5. Missouri Too low. The rankings go seven deep, and Georgia is among those seven. It's understandable, but considering how transfers Lawrence Cager and Demetris Robertson project, UGA should be top 5. Offensive line 1. Georgia; 2. Alabama; 3. Missouri; 4. Auburn; 5. LSU. Spot on. Georgia has six offensive linemen returning with starting experience, including three former FWAA Freshman All-Americans. Four of the five projected starters are likely top 100 NFL Draft picks in 2020. Defensive line 1. Auburn, 2. Alabama; 3. Florida; 4. Texas A&M; 5. LSU; 6. Georgia About right. Sophomore Jordan Davis ranks is a rising star, but this is UGA's weakest group, and that's alarming considering there are five seniors in the rotation. Linebackers 1. Alabama; 2. Georgia; 3. LSU; 4. Mississippi State; 5. Florida Too high. Tae Crowder leads unsettled group. Can Monty Rice stay healthy? Sort out: Azeez Ojulari, Nolan Smith, Brenton Cox, Jermaine Johnson, Adam Anderson, Walter Grant, Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall, Robert Beal Jr., Quay Walker and Nate McBride. Defensive backs 1. LSU, 2. Florida, 3. Alabama, 4. Georgia, 5. Auburn. Too low. Richard LeCounte and J.R. Reed are the best safety duo in the league, and Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell rank among the league's best cornerbacks. There's quality depth, as well, with Otis Reese, Divaad Wilson, and Tyrique McGhee pushing, and newcomers DJ Daniel and Tyrique Stevenson impressing. The post Georgia football position groups SEC ranking with Athlon, too high or too low appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Welcome to Good Day, UGA , your one-stop shop for Georgia footballnews and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more. The best former 3-star, 4-star and 5-star prospects on the Georgia football team All recruiting rankings are based on 247Sports Composite rankings 3-star recruit: J.R. Reed, senior safety Despite all of Georgia's recruiting success over the past three cycles, Georgia will still be getting a number of contributions from 3-star recruits in 2019. On the offensive side of the ball, Solomon Kindley will be holding things down at left guard. He's started double-digit games in each of the last two seasons, and barring an injury will do so again. Running back Brian Herrien also figures to play an important role, as does wide receiver Tyler Simmons, following the dismissal of Jeremiah Holloman. But it's on the defensive side of the ball where there is even more 3-star talent. Monty Rice is expected to be a starter at one of the inside linebacker spots. Cornerback Eric Stokes had an excellent spring after a strong close to the 2018 season. And he might not even end up being the best 3-star prospect in the secondary, with senior J.R. Reed entering his third season as a starter. Reed wasn't highly thought of as a recruit or as a transfer from Tulsa. But he's become a key piece in the Georgia secondary. After bypassing the 2019 NFL Draft, Reed is expected to be a leader for the Georgia defense in 2019. And it's a challenge that the former No. 1856th ranked prospect in the country is ready for entering his final season in Athens. 'I have to take my role more seriously,' Reed said of his senior season. 'It is a different role than I have had in the past. Now, a lot of it comes on your shoulders. We just have to get everybody leaning in the same direction.' Related: Georgia safety J.R. Reed puts NFL dream on hold to pursue championship goals with Bulldogs 4-star recruit: Andrew Thomas, junior offensive tackle In the four recruiting classes that Kirby Smart has signed, he's landed a total of 58 4-star prospects. Some of them have played well above that already high ranking, as several multi-year starters on Georgia's 2019 team were 4-star recruits. Perhaps the most important 4-star recruit Smart has landed is quarterback Jake Fromm. He was ranked as the No. 44 overall player in the 2017 class, just missing out on 5-star status. In his two seasons at Georgia, he's racked up 23 wins as a starter and thrown 54 touchdown passes. Defensively, nose guard Jordan Davis proved to be a huge difference-maker on the defensive line last season, while outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari has been pegged as a possible breakout player by ESPN. But in terms of pure talent and how they rank amongst their peers, there is no better 4-star recruit on Georgia's 2019 roster than left tackle Andrew Thomas. As a freshman, he started every game at right tackle for a team that played for a national championship. As a sophomore, he started 13 games at left tackle and earned First Team All-SEC honors in doing so. As a recruit, he was the No. 45 overall prospect in the 2017 class, one spot below Fromm. Next April, he's got a very realistic chance of being the first offensive tackle taken in the NFL draft. And while Thomas might not grab or garner a ton of headlines, he might end up being the most talented player on Georgia's team, regardless of their high school recruiting ranking. 5-star recruit: D'Andre Swift, junior running back Georgia has signed 18 5-star recruits under Smart, the most in the country. He's signed a 5-star prospect at every position group and in 2019 signed the No. 1 overall player in the country in Nolan Smith. 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This was 1 of 3 connections this drive. @ReuseRecruiting @SmallwoodTrent @patrickgarbin @UGASportscom pic.twitter.com/WbqP9AastQ Jack Austin (@jackaustin663) June 25, 2019 #UGA WR commit Marcus Rosemy pulls down the tough grab. #RivalsChallenge pic.twitter.com/4Iy9qPceBw Trent Smallwood (@SmallwoodTrent) June 25, 2019 Rosemy committed to the Bulldogs last week, as he ended up picking Georgia over the Florida Gators. He is rated as the No. 6 overall wide receiver in the class and the No. 39 overall prospect. If he were to just remain at those rankings, he would be the third highest ranked wide receiver Georgia has signed in the past decade, behind only 2019 signees George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock. Related: Expectations rise for freshmen George Pickens, Dominick Blaylock following Jeremiah Holloman dismissal Rosemy is the highest rated of the three wide receiver commits in Georgia's 2020 recruiting class. 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