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National Govt & Politics
Scaramucci ousted as White House Communication Director

Scaramucci ousted as White House Communication Director

Scaramucci ousted as White House Communication Director
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Scaramucci ousted as White House Communication Director

The staff changes and upheaval continued at the White House on Monday, as White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was pushed out of his post after less than two weeks on the job, and just hours after President Donald Trump welcomed his new Chief of Staff, former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

Scaramucci, who had been brought into the White House just two Fridays ago, on July 21, had been grabbing the headlines repeatedly in that time, most notably with a profanity-laced interview with the New Yorker magazine, as the hedge fund financier evidently fell from grace in no time.

After getting his position, Scaramucci had told reporters there would be a number of people fired at the White House; many might not have assumed that would include him before the end of July.

At a televised White House briefing that was scheduled before Scaramucci's departure occurred, incoming Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shed little light on why the change happened.

"What matters most to us is not who is employed in the White House, but who is employed in the rest of the country," Sanders said, adding that the White House "is focused on the President's agenda."

In a written statement issued by the White House, the official explanation was that Scaramucci wanted to give Kelly a "clean slate" to work with - that phrase was identical to one that outgoing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had used when Scaramucci was hired earlier this month.

Jamie Dupree


Jamie Dupree

The move also came not long after President Trump pushed back against media reports of trouble at the White House, specifically using a morning tweet to deny that.

"No WH chaos!" Mr. Trump tweeted.

Democrats in Congress immediately seized on the news, and said it simply showed there was indeed chaos at the White House, as they openly mocked the President.

"Another one bites the dust," said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).

"Adios Mooch hardly knew ya," added Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).

There was even GOP scorn for Scaramucci in Congress.

"864,000 is impressively large," Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) tweeted, saying that's the number of seconds Scaramucci spent as White House Communications Director.

"It's almost as if a 4 star Marine GEN just took over," as Chief of Staff, Zeldin tweeted.

"I'm surprised The Mooch is already gone," Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) said of Scaramucci, using his nickname. "I thought he'd last at least a few more episodes on this reality show."

It was not immediately clear if Scaramucci would stay on in another role in the Trump Administration, or if his time was over - after just a week and a half.

One thing that is different as of today is that the White House Chief of Staff will now be 'the' gatekeeper for President Trump, as Kelly will have all staff report to him, with no one going directly to the President, a system that reportedly caused trouble for former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

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Local News

  • There is a chance of rain and thunderstorms for Athens and northeast Georgia. The threat of severe weather, apparently diminishing overnight, nonetheless leads several school districts in south Georgia—Albany among them—to cancel classes for the day.  From Channel 2 Action News… There are several metro Atlanta counties under a Tornado Watch early Friday morning as a line of storms and rain move into the area. Severe Weather Team 2 has been tracking the system all week as it moved through the country. The Tornado Watch has been issued for Troup, Meriwether, Pike and Upson counties.
  • The University of Georgia gymnastics team begins competition in the NCAA Finals: the Gym Dogs are taking part in the tournament set for this weekend in Fort Worth Texas.  “We’re peaking at the right time,” says Georgia coach Courtney Kupets Carter. Oklahoma is ranked first going into the tournament. UGA is eighth.
  • A Newton County fine arts teacher faces two felonies for allegedly sexually assaulting students last month, authorities said. Christopher Ehren Matyas, born in 1980, of Covington, was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of sexual assault by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority, according to a sheriff’s office arrest report. He was a teacher at Alcovy High School, and both school employees and students reported the alleged sexual assaults on March 22, according to the police report obtained by Channel 2 Action News. Newton County School District spokeswoman Sherri Davis sent the news station a statement that said, in part:  “School officials launched an investigation and immediately reported the allegations to local law enforcement. Mr. Matyas was removed from the classroom setting and placed on leave during the course of the investigation. He will not return to the classroom.” He’s out of jail on a $16,700 bond, records show.
  • A White County judge denies bond for Mitch Simpson. The former Cleveland car dealer closed his auto lot earlier this year; he was arrested in March on theft charges.From WSB TV…   A north Georgia car dealer was denied bond Thursday in what’s now being described as a more than $2 million fraud and theft case, prompted by a Channel 2 investigation. Mitch Simpson was arrested and charged with three counts of felony theft by conversion late last month. They were tied to unpaid state vehicle taxes in which nearly 60 buyers say they paid Mitch Simpson Motors for their purchases, but their TAVT taxes were left unpaid and their titles were never delivered. Those purchases spanned a time period between late 2018 and early 2019, right before the Cleveland dealership shut its doors, and the buyers came to Channel 2 after unsuccessful attempts to contact Simpson. Soon the Georgia Department of Revenue began working with the White County Sheriff’s Office and state Attorney General’s Office to investigate the case. On Thursday, the Georgia DOR filed two additional theft charges in the case and argued against bond in Simpson’s case. A prosecutor revealed a much larger, complex case while highlighting Simpson’s 2011 federal conviction in a car loan scam. He served probation in the case, while several other co-defendants went to federal prison. In addition to $385,000 in unpaid vehicle taxes that were collected, prosecutors say Simpson failed to pay multiple floor planning companies $780,000 for vehicles they financed. Those companies essentially act as a bank for car dealerships, lending them the money to provide inventory on car lots. In a third tier of the ongoing investigation, prosecutors allege Simpson double and sometimes triple-financed the same vehicle through the lenders, pocketing about $1.3 million. Simpson’s attorney hit back at those allegations after a state investigator told the court Simpson’s personal bank records had been subpoenaed but not yet analyzed. Search warrants netted titles and documents from Simpson’s Habersham County home, as investigators say evidence was taken out of the car dealership building. “He has a compelling story, and there are certainly issues with the state’s case,” defense attorney Jeff Wolff told Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr. Wolff highlighted in court that Simpson simply managed the namesake lot and that it was owned by his former in-laws.  No one else has been charged in the case, and employees of McGregor Financial, the dealership’s in-house financing company, have cooperated with investigators. They’ve maintained their role was financing and Simpson had access to accounts and paid the bills, according to investigators’ testimony. “It was an underfunded business,” Wolff said. “And that’s a large gap between an underfunded business and criminal enterprise.” About a half-dozen friends and family members served as character witnesses for Simpson, arguing against a notion that he’d serve as a flight risk in this case. Perhaps his strongest supporter was his 86-year-old mother, Elsie Hogan, who said Simpson never had a desire to leave his north Georgia roots, even when he faced trouble in his earlier federal case. “He says he’ll never fly until he gets his wings and goes to heaven,” Hogan said. Hogan also revealed she’d used yard sale money to pay for Simpson’s heart medication while he was in jail. She pushed back against any suggestion that he’d profited from stolen car lot funds. “He has no money at all. He has nothing. He has nothing, sir,” Hogan said, answering Wolff’s questions. Nonetheless, Superior Court Judge Joy Parks ruled against bond in the case, citing the complexity and seriousness of the newly-revealed allegations. A grand jury is set to convene in June. The good news for Simpson’s car buyers is that they are receiving their titles. Fifty-three of the car buyers affected are from Georgia, and the state says it worked with those floor planning companies to get the missing titles. “We've been able to obtain 52 (titles) with the help of the Attorney General's Office. It's been a great win for us,” said Josh Waites, director of special investigations for the Georgia Department of Revenue. The department says it continues to receive complaints tied to purchases from Simpson. Outside of court, car buyers Paul Cleiman and Justin Mathis thanked Channel 2 for exposing the case. Both men have either received titles or expect them any day after four months of uncertainty. “It’s been a long battle,” said Mathis. “We appreciate you, Nicole. We wouldn’t be here today without you.” 'I don’t think it was getting any attention until you stepped in and got the Department of Revenue involved,” Cleiman said. “We need justice, and I think that’s been served today for now.”
  • Three building renovation projects at University of Georgia win awards from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. UGA’s Russell Hall, the HH Tift Building, and the Agricultural Research Building are recognized for rehabilitation and sustainability efforts. From UGA Media Relations…   Russell Hall University Housing’s Russell Hall, which is the residence to about a thousand students, went through a 15-month renovation and reopened in August 2018.   The updated student rooms include individual modernized climate control and flexible room furnishings and there is increased bathroom privacy and lounge spaces to encourage group interaction.   At over 230,000 square feet, Russell Hall is the largest comprehensive historic building renovation at the University of Georgia and serves as a model of sustainable historic preservation — all of the worn building systems were replaced with new modern efficient ones, new high-performance windows were installed, the roof was replaced, and various exterior repairs were performed including reworking brick sills and lintels.   The building’s renovated interior preserves a unique mid-century aesthetic, such as the original ­terrazzo floors in the lobby, and it also includes at least 10% Georgia-based materials.   “We’ve taken a building with good bones and transformed it to a modern-use residence hall that will stand the test of time for another 50 years,” said University Housing Director of Facilities Gary Thompson.   Agricultural Research Building The Agricultural Research Building, which was rededicated in April 2018, is an 81-year-old building that was the second structure built on the UGA Tifton campus.   Renovations to the building included the addition of high-efficiency LED lighting, extensive fiber-optic cable and wireless internet capabilities. The building retains many of its original features, including restored steel windows.   Renovations to the 12,000-square-foot structure, which was built in 1938, were made possible by $5 million in state support. The building houses the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Animal and Dairy Science and Department of Entomology.   H.H. Tift Building Included as part of the same award is the H.H. Tift Building, which was rededicated in September 2016 after its renovation.   The Tift Building, which was built in 1922 and was the UGA Tifton campus’s first structure, was funded by $5 million in state support. The facility houses the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics as well as administrative offices, including the assistant dean’s office. The renovated building also contains modern classroom space to provide faculty and students with the latest in learning technology.   The Tift Building complements the campus’s vital research enterprise, which is recognized worldwide for scientific discoveries related to agricultural commodities such as cotton, peanuts, pecans, turf grass and vegetables.   “The results of the renovations have exceeded even our highest expectations,” said Joe West, assistant dean for the UGA Tifton campus. “When you undertake major renovation you expect challenges, financial and otherwise. Our team did an excellent job of dealing with unexpected challenges, was fiscally responsible and gave us these wonderful results. They’re everything we dreamed they would be.”   Founded in 1973, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country’s leading statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. The Trust works for the preservation and revitalization of Georgia’s diverse historic resources and advocates their appreciation, protection and use.

Bulldog News

  • In case you missed it, the Bulldogs signed the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2019. Georgia native Nolan Smith enrolled in January with 13 other members of the #NewBreed19 and #K19 class. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound OLB turned 18 that month, too. He is set to suit up for Georgia for the first time this Saturday in front of a welcoming Sanford Stadium crowd for G-Day. There have been a lot of impressive things said about Smith this spring. There was what coach Kirby Smart said early on in spring drills, what promising sophomore OL Jamaree Salyer said at the median of those workouts and even what Smart said last week. “Nolan plays hard all the time,” Smart said this week. “He doesn’t always play smart but he plays with great effort and does a good job.” Nolan Smith has never been seen as the strong and silent type coming up as a high school prospect. He’s always a ball of energy. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) When Smart said just that, he said a lot. Those words, when filtered through years of listening to coaches cut block the hype train for promising young players, did mean something. The “Georgia Way” means not too much. Not too soon. Earn it first. Especially for highly-regarded players who have yet to do anything at all in the Southeastern Conference. Smith is not going to leap tall buildings in single bound or take down The Night King in Week 1 at Vanderbilt, but he is going to help Georgia in 2019. Of that, it seems fairly certain. Getting to know this Nolan Smith fella from Savannah  To mark his first game (ahem: scrimmage) week, we thought it would be a good time to share a sliver of the reporting that will be part of a larger profile DawgNation is planning for a large number of the 2019 signees this spring. The former 5-star recruit from IMG Academy ( by way of his native Savannah) certainly does leave an impression on anyone who comes into contact with him. That’s been true since this reporter first came into contact with him in his sophomore year. Here’s the simple premise: We asked 12 people who have grown to know Smith fairly well to come up with the five best words they would use to describe him. They all fit somewhere into the Smith story. Most were able to come up with five words to describe the former 5-star recruit. Some needed a few more. They stuck to five words or five phrases. It was fun, but it also fits the time span. Those few seconds it takes to describe Smith in one of those five words will very likely mirror the amount of time he will make his mark snap-by-snap at Georgia. RELATED: Check out the DawgNation conversation with 5-star UGA signee Nolan Smith Getting to know Nolan Smith: The 5-words (mostly) edition Nolan Smith grew up in the state of Georgia. He feels that the state of Georgia helped make him what he is today. The Georgia boy suits up and plays inside Sanford Stadium for the first time in front of DawgNation on Saturday. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Let’s say this just once: Smith inspires very clear opinions in those who meet him for the first time. Not to mention those who have been a big part of their life and seen him become a supporting character in their own lives. Former IMG Academy teammate (and Penn State freshman) Noah Cain: “ Energetic. Worker. Pusher. Physical. Bright bright future.”   Former IMG Academy teammate and rising senior Lejond Cavazos: “Crazy. Loud. Atrocious. Beast. Superhuman. Different.”   IMG Academy Media Relations Manager Johnny Esfeller: “Determined. Observant. Discerning. Ambitious. Intelligent.”   Auburn freshman OL Keiondre Jones: “ Outgoing. Different. Well-spoken. Freak. Wow. Special.”   IMG Academy defensive line coach Ernie Logan: “Competitor. Compassionate. ‘Dawg. Intense. Opinionated.”    Former IMG teammate (and FSU freshman) Jaleel McRae: “Brother for life. Leader on and off a field. Different. First rounder or first overall pick. Joker. Character.”   Former IMG teammate (and Alabama freshman) Evan Neal: “Annoying. Aggravating. Little brother. Joker. My guy. Cool people.”   Auburn freshman LB Owen Pappoe: “Animal. Athletic. Huge playmaker. Goofy. Good dude.”   4-star former IMG teammate Michael Redding III: “Crazy. Very crazy. Energetic. Cocky. Loud.”   His mother Chakeima Thompson:  “Lovable. Caring. Leader. Smart. Talkative.”   5-star UGA signee Travon Walker: “ Charismatic. Gregarious. Upbeat. Outgoing. Positive.”   IMG Academy football coach Kevin Wright: “Competitive. Charismatic. Talented. Intelligent. Bursting with opinions on everything.”   Check all of those qualities? See anything repetitive? It sure seems like Smith has always had that ‘Dawg in him. The post Who is this Nolan Smith? Those who know him best break him down in five words appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Nakobe Dean is looking forward to Saturday’s G-Day Game. The freshman linebacker from Mississippi always looks forward to football. It’s the most relaxed and stress-free part of his existence. Academics are a different story. It’s not that he struggles academically. Dean quite famously is an honors student who had his pick of college destinations whether or not he was rated the No. 1 inside linebacker in America. It’s that Dean is an academic perfectionist. That can be problematic when one graduates from high school early and chooses to major in engineering while also earning snaps with the No. 1 defense for a Top 5 football team. The combination therein tends drive up the stress factor just a bit. “The biggest issue he’s got right now is he is stressed beyond all measure with the academics,” said Brad Boyette, Dean’s coach at Horn Lake High School in Mississippi. “He’s got a B in a class and he’s never made a B before.” Well, that last statement is not entirely true. Dean has, in fact, made a B before. It came in a seventh-grade typing class. Otherwise, it’s been straight A’s all the way through. Dean came to Georgia with the same intention, to make all A’s all the way through college. But this goal-oriented student-athlete already is experiencing some push-back on that front. First of all, he chose arguably the most rigorous major available at UGA, or any university, for that matter. Secondly, this would-be high school senior is transitioning through that while also experiencing his first college spring practice with a what’s expected to be a Top 5 team. Meanwhile, Dean’s doing all that while also trying figure out how quickest to get from Ag Hill to Driftmier Hall with 10 minutes to spare between classes. But Dean is not one one to shrug off challenges. That, Boyette said, is what that B grade represents to his former pupil. And that’s something Dean simply doesn’t shy away from. This has created some more than a little uneasiness for Georgia’s young linebacker. For Dean, there is but a thin red line between challenge and obsession. Boyette said one of UGA’s academic advisers recently met with Georgia linebackers coach Glenn Schumann to discuss the situation. “They said they had a professor who was getting two or three emails a week from (Dean), sometimes at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Boyette said with a laugh. “He’s asking if he can do this and wondering about doing that, worrying the guy to death. They told the professor, ‘Ah, that’s just Nakobe. He just wants to do good work.'” Dean definitely is doing good work on the football field. For him, Georgia football has been a relative crip course. Though the Bulldogs already are well represented at the inside linebacker position, Dean has managed to show enough and earn enough trust to get occasional reps with the No. 1 defense. Not that’s not an insignificant development considering Georgia effectively has returning starters back in Tae Crowder and Monty Rice and experienced backups in Channing Tindall, Quay Walker and several others. But between Dean’s quickness, which has been compared to Roquan Smith, and his ability to absorb the playbook, the coaches have wanted to give Dean some looks with the 1s for comparison’s sake. According to Boyette, they’ve liked what they have seen. It’s to the point now that any notion of a redshirt, a stretch though it might’ve been anyway, has all but been eliminated even before G-Day. Dean’s reaction to competition is another one of the interesting traits of his psyche. Boyette spoke of a conversation he had with Dean during the height of his recruitment back in Horn Lake, Miss., last year. He said Dean asked him why so many of the coaches coming through kept telling him they didn’t have any depth at linebacker. “I said, ‘well, they’re telling you that you’d have the opportunity to come in and play right away without a lot of competition,” Boyette recounted. “He said, ‘Coach, that’s the opposite of what I’m looking for. I want to go to a place where there’s an All-American at my position. I want to learn from that guy and practice every day until I can beat him out.” Kirby Smart must’ve thought he’d died and gone to heaven. Fun watching @KobeDean2 repping with the 1s today !!!! Keep grinding ! pic.twitter.com/vI2jht3NXF — Brad Boyette (@BradBoyette1) April 13, 2019 Boyette made the 7-hour drive from Horn Lake to Athens last Saturday and brought along with his wife Lee and teen-aged children Asa and Gabi. They came so they could watch Dean practice and spend a little time with him afterward. They hoped to ease Dean’s anxiety to whatever extent possible. “We just wanted to show him a little love and support from home,” Boyette said. “Despite all the expectations, his and other people’s, he’s still a kid away from home. He’s always trying to be just short of Superman, but being away from home and all that transition he’s going through, I know that’s tough on him.” After watching the Bulldogs scrimmage at Sanford Stadium last Saturday, the Boyettes took Dean downtown for dinner at Five Bar. Then they went back to his dorm room and just hung out and talked for a good long while. “It was nice,” Boyette said. “My wife told him, ‘Nakobe, sometimes in college you’re going to run into professors who just aren’t going to give an A to anybody, no matter how hard they work and how much they know. Just relax and do your best. And B’s are OK sometimes.'” Dean is having to make adjustments on the football field as well. Boyette said the most eye-catching thing about what he witnessed at Georgia’s scrimmage last Saturday was the size of the offensive line and “the physicality” they played with. “That just jumped out at me, how talented they are there,” Boyette said. “The SEC is a physical league, but it looks to me like they can out-physical anybody.” Dean can vouch for that. Listed at 6-foot, 220 pounds on Georgia’s roster, he often has to tangle with the Bulldogs’ offensive linemen, who average 6-5, 330. Like Smith did so well, Dean utilizes his quickness and agility to avoid locking up with the behemoths as much as possible. Sometimes, though, hand-to-hand combat is inevitable. “He had two real good collisions Saturday where he had to fit up on an offensive lineman,” Boyette said. “One, he got the better end of the deal; the other one didn’t work out so well for him. Out there with Georgia, he looks like a runt sometimes. But he plays with such leverage and he’s so explosive, I don’t think it’ll be an issue.” Boyette said he expects Dean to similarly overcome his academic challenges, such as they are. So serious did Dean take his academics as a recruiting prospect that he refused to take official visits in the fall because it would disrupt his academic routine. As soon as he can establish somewhat of a regimen on that front, Boyette believes things should smooth out considerably. In the meantime, Dean can get away from it all on the football field. The hope is that might benefit both him and the Bulldogs. “His escape right now is when he’s on the practice field,” Boyette said. “The rest of his day is just so spoken for, as far as time and assignments and studying and treatment. … He said practice is the only time during the day he feels relaxed and is not worried about three other things he ought to be doing.” Once Dean gets it all figured out, look out. The post Football remains the great escape for Georgia’s serious-minded linebacker Nakobe Dean appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia baseball clamped down on Missouri on Thursday night a Foley Field, scoring a 3-0 victory. The Bulldogs, apparently, had plenty of energy left after Tuesday night’s record-setting 3-2 win over Clemson in 20 innings. RELATED: Slap-happy Bulldogs outlast Clemson in marathon game Not that sophomore pitching ace Emerson Hancock (7-2) needed a tremendous amount of help. Hancock, who throws a 96 mph fastball, fanned 11 batters in eight inning, allowing three hits and walking none as the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (31-8, 11-5 SEC) topped the Tiger. Zac Kristofak pitched a scoreless ninth to get the save. Georgia plays host to No. 21-ranked Missouri (26-13-1, 7-8-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday before closing the three-game set at noon on Saturday. “(Hancock) was awfully good, he threw eight innings, faced one over the minimum,” UGA coach Scott Stricklin said in a release. “ Three baserunners got on, and we got two guys off, picked one off, and threw one out stealing.” Stricklin said it was only natural his team did have some carryover fatigue from the Clemson game. “A lot of these guys had some heavy legs,” Stricken said. “We were really light on them yesterday, and we were lighter today pregame than we normally are, trying to get some of those legs back.” The Bulldogs got their bats going in the sixth inning when Tucker Maxwell led off with a bunt single, breaking up Jacob Cantelberry’s bid for a no-hitter. Riley King followed with a double to left, scoring Maxwell. LJ Talley hit an RBI sac fly and John Cable delivered a pinch-hit RBI double that made it 3-0. “Having Tucker Maxwell get that leadoff base hit was really the push we needed,” King said. “Seeing hits makes it contagious for the dugout and really got us all going.” Missouri coach Steve Bieser gave proper credit to Hancock. “Georgia’s Emerson Hancock took control and threw the ball really well all the way through the game,” Bieser said. “He kept us off-balance.” Georgia baseball notes • Hancock matched his career high with the eight shutout innings pitched and 11 strikes. His ERA dropped to a gaudy 1.04 on the season. • Kristofak has 10 career saves along with 10 career wins after working the ninth on Thursday night. Georgia baseball stats The post No. 5 Georgia baseball bats awaken in sixth, Emerson Hancock shuts down Missouri appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia coach Tom Crean gave an assist to the Bulldogs’ fans after landing the No. 7-ranked signing group in the 2019 class. McDonald’s All-American Anthony “Antman” Edwards, the nation’s No 1-ranked shooting guard coming out of Holy Spirit Prep School in Atlanta, chose UGA in part to stay close to his loved ones. RELATED: Georgia lands Fab Four in Top 100 class, Crean says ‘we’re not done’ But Edwards was also inspired by the Bulldogs’ 98-88 upset over eventual NIT champion Texas in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, Crean revealed. Many viewed it as Crean getting Sugar Bowl revenge on the Longhorns’ program. But Edwards also attended the game that day, and the energy that the capacity crowd brought to Stegeman Coliseum played into the elite prospect’s decision making. RELATED: Georgia basketball rips Texas 98-88 amid electric environment “I think win or lose in that game, the atmosphere was incredible, and there was a lot of passion and juice,” Crean said at his spring signing day press conference on Thursday. “The fact we did win and score those kinds of points against a team like that was helpful. “But the atmosphere in this situation was probably one of the biggest determining things.” Georgia basketball set a single season attendance record despite an 11-21 finish, and the Texas game was one of seven sellouts. The Bulldogs’ top recruits, like the fans, took note of the grit and resiliency Crean was building in close losses to NCAA teams like Auburn (78-75), Ole Miss (72-71), LSU (83-79) and Mississippi State (68-67). “Building that level of resiliency, and building that level of toughness, and that level of belief and care, that’s the same thing you’re trying to get across to recruits,” Crean said. “The fact that people could see the way we were competing and coming back time and time again, when it didn’t go as well, they see this is a team that’s improving. “We try to get across to them that we’re not recruiting to try to get in the hunt — we’re not trying to recruit to get a little bit better — we’re recruiting to be all the way in.” The Georgia basketball fans did their part as Crean and his staff was doing theirs on the recruiting trail, and it helped lead to the highest ranked recruiting class in program history. Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean The post WATCH: Tom Crean credits Georgia basketball fans with assist for Top 10 class appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS —  I called James Banks Thursday morning. You’d have thought I was talking to a kid on Christmas morning about the awesome gift he’d just opened under the tree. “Oh, man, I’m excited. I’m ecstatic. I’m beyond ecstatic,” said Banks, star of Georgia’s 1983 Final Four basketball team. “I’m as excited as I was when we went to the Final Four, and I’m not being facetious about that.” Banks I’d barely gotten my question out of my mouth — what’d you think about the Bulldogs landing The Antman? — when Banks launched into this enlivened soliloquy. “Great player. Great kid. The real deal,” Banks said of the nation’s No. 2-rated overall prospect, also known as Anthony Edwards. “Can get to the rim anytime he wants to. He’s a pro for sure.” Banks went on. He said he wasn’t excited just about Antman. It was about the 2019 recruiting class overall. It was about second-year coach Tom Crean. “I really think he’s got this program heading in the right direction,” Banks said. It would appear so. Georgia’s 2019 class is currently ranked No. 7 nationally. Edwards, a 6-foot-4 guard who’s considered the No. 1 overall recruit in America by a 247Sports.com, is obviously cream of the crop. But the Bulldogs also signed three other Top 100 players. On Wednesday, the first day of the spring signing period for basketball, they added No. 62-ranked Christian Brown, a 6-foot-6 forward from Oak Hill Academy. They’re added to a list that already included Jaykwon Walton and Toumani Camara, who signed with the Bulldogs during the early signing period in November. Both 6-6 wings, they’re ranked 69th and 96th, respectively, in 247Sports’ composite. It’s sum total of that group that has Banks pumped. It reminds him of what the Bulldogs did in the early 1980s under coach Hugh Durham. Everybody remembers that Georgia signed Dominique Wilkins during that time. The man who would become known as “The Human Highlight Film remains the greatest recruit the Bulldogs have ever signed, Antman included (for now at least). But that was not the greatest recruiting class Georgia would sign. That would be the 1980 group that Durham landed the year after Wilkins’ arrival that catapulted the Bulldogs to that incredible run in 1983. “Derrick Floyd was an All-American; Lamar Heard was an All-American; Terry Fair was the No. 1 player in the state,” said Banks, who was also a McDonald’s All-American coming out of Atlanta that year. “So that was the nucleus of that team. Of course, Dominique had gotten there the year before us. But Coach Durham sold us on starting a tradition instead of being part of a tradition. We all bought into that, and that gave us a nucleus of good guys, good people first, but outstanding players. Coach Crean is following that same formula.” Banks said he’s trying not to get ahead himself, but he sees similar potential in this group. The Bulldogs expect to have 6-11 forward Nicolas Claxton back next year, as well as 6-8 Rayshaun Hammonds and 6-9 Amanze Ngumezi. Add this class of multi-skilled, outside-shooting, ball-handling, rim-rattling prospects led by Edwards, and Banks sees Georgia becoming immediately competitive on national level. And not just for a minute, mind you, but for a while. “I really like Coach Crean,” said Banks, a 14-year European pro who now coaches girls’ basketball at Athens Academy. “I really like what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. I like his spirit, his energy, his passion about what he’s doing. He’s just really doing things the right way. He’s doing a wonderful job of recruiting this state and recruiting period. You could say I’m a Tom Crean fan.” Banks said Crean has reached out to and embraced former lettermen like himself, past players who experienced great basketball success at Georgia. Crean is the keynote speaker tonight at The Classic Center for the annual Steak & Steak Dinner to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Athens. Floyd, also of that ’83 team, is the director of operations for that organization. The event is sold out. Banks said he made an impromptu visit to one of the Bulldogs’ practices earlier this year. He said Crean stopped the workout and had the entire team come over to shake his hand and thank him for what he did for Georgia basketball. “That’s why I’m so excited, to be honest with you,” Banks said. “I think Coach Crean and his staff are committed to making this program great and embracing anything and everything he can to make that happen.” A collection of former high school All-Americans helped lift Georgia to its one and only Final Four appearance in 1983 in Albuquerque, N.M. (UGA file) Of course, that starts and ends with getting great players. And while Georgia has always signed talented basketball players, like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Trey Thompkins and Jarvis Hayes, it’s the ability to land several at a time and get them to blend together and play well as a team that translates into winning on a high level and competing for championships That’s what Georgia has done whenever it has had its pockets of success over the years. The run to the Sweet 16 under Tubby Smith in 1996 started with the core group of Shandon Anderson, Terrell Bell, Pertha Robinson and Carlos Strong. Same for the 1990 SEC Championship team, led by Rod Cole, Litterial Green, Alec Kessler and Marshall Wilson. A cynic might point out that even the great Wilkins didn’t lift the Bulldogs to a championship. It was only the year after Wilkins left early for the pros that Georgia won the SEC Tournament and made the run to the Final Four. Edwards is, of course, the closest the Bulldogs have had to Wilkins in terms of can’t miss pro potential. Right now, before he has even stepped foot the UGA campus, Edwards projects to be an NBA lottery pick in 2020. Sometimes such expectations can overshadow a team and/or throw it out of balance. To some degree that happened with Wilkins, who might take 20 or 25 shots a game. But Banks said he has spent a lot of time studying and watching Edwards, and he thinks he different. “From everything I’ve seen, (Edwards is) a great team player,” Banks said. “He obviously can shoot and score, but he handles the ball so well and passes so well and can do a lot of other things to make everybody on the team better.” The biggest key to success, Banks said, is going to be the coaching and leadership of Crean. And in Crean, Banks believes. “That’s all about the coach, and Crean knows how to handle that,” Banks said. “He did a wonderful job with Dwayne Wade and Victor Oladipo. He’s coached guys who could flat out play the game. He knows how to coach them into being a great teammate and making their teammates better. That will help Antman become a great pro. I have the utmost confidence in coach Crean getting it done in that aspect. He’s done that before.” Meshing together is what Georgia did so well that magical season of 1982-83. With the point guard named Vern Fleming from New York City leading the way with 16.9 points per game, the Bulldogs had four players average in double figures and they pretty much beat all comers on the backboards. That got landed them an SEC Tournament championship and got them past the likes of St. Johns and North Carolina on the way to the 1983 Final Four in Albuquerque, N.M. With Antman out front and Crean on the sideline Banks thinks such heights are possible again. The key, he said, is in the blending. “Players in the locker room, they always know who’s that dude,” Banks said. “We were some dudes, but we knew who the dude really was. You practice with those guys every day, so there’s no mistaking that. Antman is that dude. But it’s got to be about the team and playing for one another and that’s where leadership comes in.” Banks said he thinks Georgia now has “the dude” and “the coach.” “So I can’t wait,” Banks said, almost giddy now. “I’m excited. I hope I don’t have to miss a game this year ’cause I really think this is gonna be a lot of fun.” Take a look at this “Day in the Life of Anthony Edwards” video below and you’ll get an idea of the kind of player Georgia is getting. The post James Banks, star of Georgia’s 1983 Final Four team, among the many with ‘Antman Fever’ appeared first on DawgNation.