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National Govt & Politics
Text of President Trump's State of the Union Address
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Text of President Trump's State of the Union Address

Text of President Trump's State of the Union Address
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Text of President Trump's State of the Union Address

Vowing to break "decades of political stalemate," President Donald Trump told Congress and the nation on Tuesday night that despite bitter political standoffs during his administration - including a five week partial government shutdown which blocked paychecks last month 800,000 federal workers - he's ready to pursue legislative accomplishments which are not defined by party.

"The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican Agenda or a Democrat Agenda. It is the agenda of the American People," the President told a Joint Session of Congress on Capitol Hill.

Hours after reportedly ridiculing Democratic leaders in a lunch with network television anchors - and earlier in the day on Twitter - the President repeated his appeal of his first State of the Union, for more bipartisan cooperation.

"We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future," the President said.

Here is the full text of President Trump's State of the Union Address, as provided by the White House:

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP’S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

Remarks as prepared for delivery

TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:

     Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:

     We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential.  As we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans.

     Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one Nation.

     The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda.  It is the agenda of the American people. 

     Many of us campaigned on the same core promises:  to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers; to rebuild and revitalize our Nation's infrastructure; to reduce the price of healthcare and prescription drugs; to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern and secure; and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America's interests first.

     There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage to seize it.  Victory is not winning for our party.  Victory is winning for our country.

     This year, America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America's mission, and the power of American pride.

     In June, we mark 75 years since the start of what General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the Great Crusade -- the Allied liberation of Europe in World War II.  On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the sky, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea, to save our civilization from tyranny.  Here with us tonight are three of those heroes:  Private First Class Joseph Reilly, Staff Sergeant Irving Locker, and Sergeant Herman Zeitchik.  Gentlemen, we salute you.

     In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon.  Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag:  Buzz Aldrin.  This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets.

     In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, and redefined the middle class standard of living for the entire world to see.  Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure, and we must create a new standard of living for the 21st century.  An amazing quality of life for all of our citizens is within our reach.

     We can make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper, and our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before.

     But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution -- and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.

     Together, we can break decades of political stalemate.  We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America's future.  The decision is ours to make.

     We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.

     Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.

     Over the last 2 years, my Administration has moved with urgency and historic speed to confront problems neglected by leaders of both parties over many decades.

     In just over 2 years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before.  We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs -- something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.

     Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue collar workers, who I promised to fight for, faster than anyone else.  Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.  The United States economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.  Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low.  More people are working now than at any time in our history –- 157 million.

     We passed a massive tax cut for working families and doubled the child tax credit.

We virtually ended the estate, or death, tax on small businesses, ranches, and family farms.

     We eliminated the very unpopular Obamacare individual mandate penalty -- and to give critically ill patients access to life-saving cures, we passed right to try. 

     My Administration has cut more regulations in a short time than any other administration during its entire tenure.  Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers thanks to historic reductions in taxes and regulations.

     We have unleashed a revolution in American energy -- the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world.  And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.  

     After 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world, our military is the most powerful on earth, and America is winning each and every day.   Members of Congress:  the State of our Union is strong.  Our country is vibrant and our economy is thriving like never before.

     On Friday, it was announced that we added another 304,000 jobs last month alone -- almost double what was expected.  An economic miracle is taking place in the United States -- and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations.

     If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.  It just doesn't work that way! 

     We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad. 

     This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate – some after years of waiting.  The Senate has failed to act on these nominations, which is unfair to the nominees and to our country.      

     Now is the time for bipartisan action.  Believe it or not, we have already proven that it is possible.

     In the last Congress, both parties came together to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, a sweeping new Farm Bill, historic VA reforms, and after four decades of rejection, we passed VA Accountability so we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans.

     And just weeks ago, both parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform.  Last year, I heard through friends the story of Alice Johnson.  I was deeply moved.  In 1997, Alice was sentenced to life in prison as a first-time non-violent drug offender.  Over the next two decades, she became a prison minister, inspiring others to choose a better path.  She had a big impact on that prison population -- and far beyond.

     Alice's story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing -- and the need to remedy this injustice.  She served almost 22 years and had expected to be in prison for the rest of her life.

     In June, I commuted Alice's sentence -- and she is here with us tonight.  Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have the power to shape our own destiny.

     When I saw Alice's beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing, I knew I did the right thing.

     Inspired by stories like Alice's, my Administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the First Step Act into law.  This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community.  The First Step Act gives non-violent offenders the chance to re-enter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, States across the country are following our lead.  America is a Nation that believes in redemption.

     We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee.  In 1996, at age 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses.  Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored fellow inmates.  Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act.  Matthew, on behalf of all Americans:  welcome home.

     As we have seen, when we are united, we can make astonishing strides for our country.  Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis.

     The Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our Government, protect our homeland, and secure our southern border.

     Now is the time for the Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business.

     As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States.  We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to our country in areas where there is little border protection.  I have ordered another 3,750 troops to our southern border to prepare for the tremendous onslaught. 

     This is a moral issue.  The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well‑being of all Americans.  We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.  This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws.  Legal immigrants enrich our Nation and strengthen our society in countless ways.  I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.

     Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.

     No issue better illustrates the divide between America's working class and America's political class than illegal immigration.  Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards. 

     Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration -- reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net. 

     Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate -- it is cruel.  One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north.  Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.

     Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.

     Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities -- including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl.

     The savage gang, MS-13, now operates in 20 different American States, and they almost all come through our southern border.  Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York City.  We are removing these gang members by the thousands, but until we secure our border they're going to keep streaming back in.

     Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens.

     I've gotten to know many wonderful Angel Moms, Dads, and families – no one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache they have endured.

     Here tonight is Debra Bissell.  Just three weeks ago, Debra's parents, Gerald and Sharon, were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada, home by an illegal alien.  They were in their eighties and are survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.  Also here tonight are Gerald and Sharon's granddaughter, Heather, and great‑granddaughter, Madison.

     To Debra, Heather, Madison, please stand:  few can understand your pain.  But I will never forget, and I will fight for the memory of Gerald and Sharon, that it should never happen again. 

     Not one more American life should be lost because our Nation failed to control its very dangerous border.

     In the last 2 years, our brave ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 killings.

     We are joined tonight by one of those law enforcement heroes:  ICE Special Agent Elvin Hernandez.  When Elvin was a boy, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic.  At the age of eight, Elvin told his dad he wanted to become a Special Agent.  Today, he leads investigations into the scourge of international sex trafficking.  Elvin says:  "If I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I've done my job."  Thanks to his work and that of his colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from horror and more than 1,500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars in the last year.

     Special Agent Hernandez, please stand:  We will always support the brave men and women of Law Enforcement -- and I pledge to you tonight that we will never abolish our heroes from ICE.

     My Administration has sent to the Congress a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border.

     It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling, and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry.  In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall -- but the proper wall never got built.  I'll get it built.

     This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier -- not just a simple concrete wall.  It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down.

     San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country.  In response, and at the request of San Diego residents and political leaders, a strong security wall was put in place.  This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.

     The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime -- one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our Nation's most dangerous cities.  Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.

     Simply put, walls work and walls save lives.  So let's work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe.

     As we work to defend our people's safety, we must also ensure our economic resurgence continues at a rapid pace. 

     No one has benefitted more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new jobs created in the last year.  All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before -- and exactly one century after the Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.

     As part of our commitment to improving opportunity for women everywhere, this Thursday we are launching the first ever Government-wide initiative focused on economic empowerment for women in developing countries.

     To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount -- reversing decades of calamitous trade policies.

     We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end.  

     Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods -- and now our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from a country that never gave us a dime.  But I don't blame China for taking advantage of us -- I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen.  I have great respect for President Xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China.  But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.

     Another historic trade blunder was the catastrophe known as NAFTA.

     I have met the men and women of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, and many other States whose dreams were shattered by NAFTA.  For years, politicians promised them they would negotiate for a better deal.  But no one ever tried -- until now.

     Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement -- or USMCA -- will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers:  bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words:  made in the USA.

     Tonight, I am also asking you to pass the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, so that if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us.

     Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America's crumbling infrastructure.

     I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill -- and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future.  This is not an option.  This is a necessity. 

     The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs -- and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.

     Already, as a result of my Administration's efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years. 

     But we must do more.  It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place.  This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it.

     I am asking the Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients.  We should also require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs down.

     No force in history has done more to advance the human condition than American freedom.  In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS.  Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach.  My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years.  Together, we will defeat AIDS in America.

     Tonight, I am also asking you to join me in another fight that all Americans can get behind:  the fight against childhood cancer.

     Joining Melania in the gallery this evening is a very brave 10-year-old girl, Grace Eline.  Every birthday since she was 4, Grace asked her friends to donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  She did not know that one day she might be a patient herself.  Last year, Grace was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Immediately, she began radiation treatment.  At the same time, she rallied her community and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer.  When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered with tears in their eyes as she hung up a poster that read:  "Last Day of Chemo."  Grace -- you are an inspiration to us all.

     Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades.  My budget will ask the Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research.

     To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America's children.  I am also proud to be the first President to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave -- so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.

     There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our Nation saw in recent days.  Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth.  These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world.  And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.

     To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother's womb.

     Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.  And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth:  all children -- born and unborn -- are made in the holy image of God.

     The final part of my agenda is to protect America's National Security.

     Over the last 2 years, we have begun to fully rebuild the United States Military -- with $700 billion last year and $716 billion this year.  We are also getting other nations to pay their fair share.  For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by NATO -- but now we have secured a $100 billion increase in defense spending from NATO allies.

     As part of our military build-up, the United States is developing a state-of-the-art Missile Defense System.

     Under my Administration, we will never apologize for advancing America's interests.

     For example, decades ago the United States entered into a treaty with Russia in which we agreed to limit and reduce our missile capabilities.  While we followed the agreement to the letter, Russia repeatedly violated its terms.  That is why I announced that the United States is officially withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF Treaty.  

     Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can't –- in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.

     As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula.  Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months.  If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed.  Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one.  And Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.

     Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim President, Juan Guaido.  

     We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom -- and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.

     Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country.  America was founded on liberty and independence –- not government coercion, domination, and control.  We are born free, and we will stay free.  Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

     One of the most complex set of challenges we face is in the Middle East. 

     Our approach is based on principled realism -- not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield progress.  For this reason, my Administration recognized the true capital of Israel -- and proudly opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem.

      Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years.  In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives.  More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded.  We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East.

     As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach.  Great nations do not fight endless wars.

     When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria.  Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers. 

     Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.

     I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan.  Our troops have fought with unmatched valor -- and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict.

     In Afghanistan, my Administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban.  As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism.  We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement -- but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.

     Above all, friend and foe alike must never doubt this Nation's power and will to defend our people.  Eighteen years ago, terrorists attacked the USS Cole -- and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of the attack.

     We are honored to be joined tonight by Tom Wibberley, whose son, Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, was one of the 17 sailors we tragically lost.  Tom:  we vow to always remember the heroes of the USS Cole.

     My Administration has acted decisively to confront the world's leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran.

     To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.  And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country.

     We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people.  We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism, or those who spread its venomous creed.  With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs.

     Just months ago, 11 Jewish-Americans were viciously murdered in an anti-semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.  SWAT Officer Timothy Matson raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times chasing down the killer.  Timothy has just had his 12th surgery -- but he made the trip to be here with us tonight.  Officer Matson:  we are forever grateful for your courage in the face of evil. 

     Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet.  He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began.  But not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall -- more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps.  Today is Judah's 81st birthday.  Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp.  Suddenly the train screeched to a halt.  A soldier appeared.  Judah's family braced for the worst.  Then, his father cried out with joy:  "It's the Americans."

     A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau Concentration Camp. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks.  "To me," Joshua recalls, "the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky."

     I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-Day in the Second World War. One of them was Herman Zeitchik.  But there is more to Herman's story.  A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau.  He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth.  Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight -- seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom.  Herman and Joshua:  your presence this evening honors and uplifts our entire Nation.

     When American soldiers set out beneath the dark skies over the English Channel in the early hours of D-Day, 1944, they were just young men of 18 and 19, hurtling on fragile landing craft toward the most momentous battle in the history of war.

     They did not know if they would survive the hour.  They did not know if they would grow old.  But they knew that America had to prevail.  Their cause was this Nation, and generations yet unborn.

     Why did they do it?  They did it for America -- they did it for us.

     Everything that has come since -- our triumph over communism, our giant leaps of science and discovery, our unrivaled progress toward equality and justice -- all of it is possible thanks to the blood and tears and courage and vision of the Americans who came before.

     Think of this Capitol -- think of this very chamber, where lawmakers before you voted to end slavery, to build the railroads and the highways, to defeat fascism, to secure civil rights, to face down an evil empire. 

     Here tonight, we have legislators from across this magnificent republic.  You have come from the rocky shores of Maine and the volcanic peaks of Hawaii; from the snowy woods of Wisconsin and the red deserts of Arizona; from the green farms of Kentucky and the golden beaches of California.  Together, we represent the most extraordinary Nation in all of history.

     What will we do with this moment?  How will we be remembered?

     I ask the men and women of this Congress:  Look at the opportunities before us!  Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead.  Our most exciting journeys still await.  Our biggest victories are still to come.  We have not yet begun to dream.

     We must choose whether we are defined by our differences -- or whether we dare to transcend them.

     We must choose whether we will squander our inheritance -- or whether we will proudly declare that we are Americans.  We do the incredible.  We defy the impossible.  We conquer the unknown.

     This is the time to re-ignite the American imagination.  This is the time to search for the tallest summit, and set our sights on the brightest star.  This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots.

     This is our future -- our fate -- and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness.

     No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.

     We must keep America first in our hearts.  We must keep freedom alive in our souls.  And we must always keep faith in America's destiny -- that one Nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world!

     Thank you.  God Bless You, God Bless America, and good night!

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  • 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.