The Georgia Bulldog basketball team begins play in the Southeastern Conference tournament tonight in Nashville: the Dogs take on the Missouri Tigers in a game that tips at 7 o’clock.
From Mike Mobley, UGA Sports Communications…
Georgia Basketball SEC Tournament Game Notes
Georgia (11-20, 2-16 SEC) vs. Missouri (14-16, 5-13 in SEC)
Wednesday, March 13, at 7:00 p.m. ET
Bridgestone Arena (19,395) in Nashville, Tenn.
Watch: SEC Network (Tom Hart, play-by-play; Jimmy Dykes, analyst; Laura Rutledge, sideline)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network Flagship: WSB AM 750 Atlanta (Scott Howard, play-by-play; Chuck Dowdle, analyst; Tony Schiavone, producer)
The Starting 5…
- UGA broke its all-time total attendance record for home games this season by drawing 148,700 fans for the Bulldogs’ 17 home outings.
- Nicolas Claxton is one block shy of No. 6 Lavon Mercer on UGA’s single-season leaders and two from No. 10 Chris Daniels on the career list.
- Tyree Crump and Turtle Jackson are No. 15 and No. 16, respectively, on UGA’s career 3-pointers made list, separated by a single 3FG.
- Derek Ogbeide earned his 100th career start at S. Carolina, becoming just 7th Bulldog in the 2000s to reach that plateau.
- UGA’s coaching staff sports a combined 80 seasons of D-I experience (Crean-28, Scott-27, Dollar-23, Abdur-Rahim-12) with 38 postseason bids
The Opening Tip
Georgia and Missouri will meet for the second time in a eight days – and for the second time in the SEC Tournament in 370 days – when they face off on Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The game will be first of the league’s 2019 postseason event.
Last season in St. Louis, the Bulldogs secured a 62-60 victory over the Tigers in the tourney’s second round behind a 21-point, 10-rebound performance from AP SEC Player of the Year Yante Maten.
Last Wednesday, the Tigers earned a 64-39 victory over the Bulldogs in Athens.
Series History With Mizzou
Georgia owns a 7-6 lead in its all-time series with Missouri, including last season’s first-ever meeting in SEC Tournament action.
After the Tigers won the first four meetings, the Bulldogs captured the next six.
Georgia’s SEC Tourney History
Georgia sports a 47-56 all-time record in 58 editions of the SEC Tournament.
The Bulldogs are 38-37 in SEC Tourney action since the event resumed in 1979 following a 27-year hiatus from 1953-79.
The Bulldogs won the 1983 and 2008 SEC Tournaments and finished as runners-up in 1940, 1981, 1988 and 1997. Georgia has reached the semifinals 15 times.
Claxton Earns All-SEC Honors
Nicolas Claxton was tabbed second-team All-SEC in balloting of league coaches announced on Tuesday.
Claxton, a 6-11, sophomore forward, from Greenville, S.C., leads the Bulldogs in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. He also is second in assists.
Claxton ranks second in the SEC in both rebounds and blocks, as well as first in defensive rebounds and 15th in playing time. Nationally, he entered this week ranked No. 10 in blocks and No. 54 in rebounding.
Like All-SEC Father...Like All-SEC Son
Nicolas Claxton’s dad, Charles, was an All-SEC center for Georgia in 1993.
The Claxtons are just the second father-son All-SEC tandem for the same school in league history. Vanderbilt’s Frank and Luke Kornet were All-SEC in 1989 and 2017, respectively. Arkansas also sports a father-son all-conference duo – Ron Brewer was All-SWC in 1978 and Ronnie Brewer was All-SEC in 2005.
Hammonds Has Surgery
Rayshaun Hammonds underwent surgery on March 7 to address a fracture in his right foot. The procedure took place at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.
Hammonds injured his foot during the Ole Miss game on Feb. 23 but didn’t experience any significant discomfort until two days later. He missed Auburn game on Feb. 27 but returned to play five minutes at Florida.
Hammonds’ DNP versus Auburn snapped a streak of 31 straight starts dating back to last season’s regular-season finale at Tennessee. He was averaging 12.6 ppg and 6.3 rpg, but his abbreviated outing at Florida dropped those to 12.1 ppg and 6.1 rpg.
Dogs Solid In Challenging Stretch
Georgia completed a late-season five-game stretch against projected NCAA Tournament teams – LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn and Florida – with a 1-4 record...but with a scoring margin of just -3.
After losing the first four games by a combined nine points, the Bulldogs defeated Florida, 61-55, in Gainesville behind a career-high 25 points from Nicolas Claxton.
Prior to that, Georgia lost to LSU (by four points), Mississippi State (by one), Ole Miss (by one) and Auburn (by three). The last three contests were decided by last-second shots.
The March 11 edition of ESPN’s Bracketology included LSU as a No. 2 seed, Auburn as a No. 5, Mississippi State as a No. 6, Ole Miss as a No. 9 and Florida as an No. 11.
That stretch began when Georgia pushed No. 19/21 LSU to the brink on Feb. 16 before falling, 83-79. The Bulldogs led by as many as five points midway through the second half before the Tigers surged.
On Feb. 20, Georgia rallied from a 17-point, second-half deficit to tie Mississippi State before a heart-breaking ending. Tyree Crump’s 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds remaining knotted the score at 67-67, but Quinndary Weatherspoon’s free throw with .5 of a second left provided State with the victory.
The Bulldogs dropped a second-straight one-point decision at Ole Miss on Feb. 23. Georgia fought back from a 10-point halftime deficit to force four ties and six lead changes in the second stanza. The outcome wasn’t decided until the Bulldogs’ potential game-winner was off the mark at the buzzer.
On Feb. 27, Georgia erased a 14-point, first-half Auburn lead. The second half featured two ties and eight lead changes before the Tigers pulled out the victory on an NBA range 3-pointer as the shot clock expired on their final possession of the night.
The Bulldogs finally broke through to defeat the Gators on March 2 at Exactech Arena. Georgia outscored Florida 10-5 over the final 2:54 to secure the victory.
Bulldogs Set Attendance Mark...
Georgia shattered its total attendance record at Stegeman Coliseum this season, surpassing the old mark by 9,130 fans.
Georgia drew 148,700 for its 17 home dates at Stegeman Coliseum, easily outdistancing the previous record as outlined below.
UGA Basketball Total Attendance
Rk. Season Games Total
- 2018-19 17 148,700
- 2015-16 19 139,570
- 2003-04 16 137,902
- 2006-07 18 132,048
- 2010-11 16 131,998
...and Have Fourth-Best Average
The Bulldogs averaged 8,747 fans this season, the fourth-best tally in school history as outlined below. Georgia had seven sellouts, including six-straight from Jan. 15-Feb. 16.
UGA Average Attendance
Rk. Season Games Avg.
- 2002-03 13 9,857
- 2001-02 13 9,064
- 1990-91 12 8,822
- 2018-19 17 8,747
- 1981-82 14 8,670
Series History With Mizzou
The Bulldogs are 7-6 all-time against Missouri, including a win in the first-ever SEC Tourney meeting last season.
Yante Maten scored 21 points and grabbed 10 boards to lead Georgia in a 62-60 win over the Tigers in the SEC Tourney’s second round.
That contest featured a series of runs.
Missouri opened the day by scoring the game’s first 10 points, before Georgia responded with a 19-2 surge to gain control.
The Bulldogs led 33-24 at the half and extended that margin to a dozen points on a Turtle Jackson 3-pointer to open the second stanza scoring...before the Tigers rallied to knot the score at 39-39 with 14:11 remaining.
A Jackson layup followed by consecutive 3-pointers from Tyree Crump and Nicolas Claxton quickly put Georgia back up by eight just 1:48 later.
Missouri chipped away and pulled within 59-57 on a pair of free throws with 3:57 remaining and then closed the gap to 61-60 with 60 seconds left.
Georgia forced three misses the rest of the way and grabbed a pair of key rebounds to secure the victory.
Just last Wednesday in Athens, Georgia dropped a 64-39 decision to Missouri on the Bulldogs’ Senior Night.
After a tight first 10 minutes, the Tigers used a 15-4 run to build an 11-point lead at the intermission. Missouri maintained that margin for the second stanza.
Last Time Out...
Despite double-double outings from Nicolas Claxton and Derek Ogbeide Georgia fell 66-46 to South Carolina in the Bulldogs’ regular-season finale last Saturday.
Claxton finished with 13 points and 10 boards, while Ogbeide posted 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Georgia led 13-12 just under six minutes into the game before the Gamecocks exploded on a 17-2 surge. The Bulldogs trimmed a 23-point deficit to 10 three times in the second half but could get no closer.
Ogbedie Secures 100th Nod
Derek Ogbeide earned the 100th start of his career with the Bulldogs last Saturday at South Carolina.
Ogbeide became just the seventh Bulldog in the 2000s to secure 100 career starts, joining former teammate Charles Mann (106 starts) as well as Sundiata Gaines (123), Dave Bliss (112), Levi Stukes (111), Rashad Wright (110) and Dustin Ware (102).
Ogbeide was close to earning a spot in Georgia’s starting five during preseason of his freshman year before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. After missing the first five contests, he returned to play in the final 29 games. Ogbeide started 15 outings, including each of the last 12.
Ogbeide stretched that starting streak to 41 games before coming off the bench against Auburn on Senior Night as a sophomore. He started 28 games last season and 24 more as a senior.
Turtle, Tyree And the “3”
Although the above headline sounds like the title to a children’s book, it’s actually in reference to the standing of Turtle Jackson and Tyree Crump among Georgia’s career leaders in 3-point field goals.
Jackson and Crump both joined the Bulldogs’ top-20 all-time for successful shots from behind this arc. They have gone back and forth over the last nine games while climbing that ledger.
Crump and Jackson enter the SEC Tournament at No. 15 and No. 16, respectively. Tyree now has 127 3-pointers, while Turtle has 126 as outlined below.
UGA Career 3-Point FG Leaders
Rk. No. Player Season 3FGA
- 261 Levi Stukes 2004-07 683
- 231 D.A. Lane 1999-01 583
- 215 Litterial Green 1989-92 544
- 213 Ezra Williams 2001-03 582
213 Kenny Gaines 2013-16 569
- 204 J.J. Frazier 2014-17 576
- 194 Dustin Ware 2009-12 536
- 193 G.G. Smith 1996-99 500
- 184 Bernard Davis 1991-94 453
- 172 Jody Patton 1988-91 387
- 149 K.Caldwell-Pope 2012-13 439
- 143 Ty Wilson 1992-95 383
143 Ray Harrison 1996-99 412
- 132 Terrance Woodbury 2006-09 386
- 127 Tyree Crump 2017-19 369
- 126 Turtle Jackson 2016-19 389
- 122 Rashad Wright 2001-04 358
- 121 Sundiata Gaines 2005-08 400
- 116 Michael Chadwick 1996-99 340
- 106 Nemanja Djurisic 2012-15 292
Claxton Joins Season Swatters; approaching Dogs’ career top-10
Nicolas Claxton moved into the Bulldogs’ the top-10 list of single-season blocked shots efforts midway through the season...and he’s closing in on the top-10 career leaders as well.
Claxton passed a familiar name at No. 9 during the South Carolina game, his father Charles. Nicolas is currently No. 7 as outlined below and still chasing his dad, who also owns Georgia’s single-season blocked shots record of 94 in 1995.
Claxton enters the SEC Tournament with 117 blocks in 64 games played for the Bulldogs. That leaves him just two swats shy of joining Georgia’s top-10 career leaders...and only five away from ascending all the way to No. 8.
UGA Season Blocks Leaders
Rk. No. Player Season GP
- 94 Charles Claxton 1995 28
- 91 Richard Corhen 1984 30
- 88 Lavon Mercer 1978 27
- 83 Terrell Bell 1996 31
- 82 Lavon Mercer 1977 27
- 76 Lavon Mercer 1980 27
- 75 Nicolas Claxton 2019 31
- 61 Yante Maten 2016 34
60 Antonio Harvey 1991 29
- 58 Charles Claxton 1994 30
Ogbeide Among Best Boarders
Derek Ogbeide began the season ranked No. 17 among UGA’s career rebounding leaders with 614 boards.
He joined the Bulldogs’ top-10 all-time boarders during the Vandy victory and has since ascended to No. 8 as outlined below.
UGA Career Rebounds Leaders
Rk. No. Player Seasons GP
- 1116 Bob Lienhard 1968-70 75
- 923 Terry Fair 1980-83 123
- 893 Alec Kessler 1987-90 123
- 889 Yante Maten 2015-18 128
- 867 Jerry Waller 1964-66 75
- 840 Charles Claxton 1992-95 116
- 838 Lavon Mercer 1977-80 106
- 789 Derek Ogbeide 2016-19 127
- 763 Chris Daniels 2000-04 119
- 739 Carlos Strong 1993-96 118
Harris’ Production Is Up
During his last 13 games played, Jordan Harris has upped his production considerably over his first 15 contests.
Entering the Florida contest on Jan. 19, Harris was averaging 4.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.3 blocks.
Since then, the junior from Iron City is contributing 10.6 points, 4.7 boards, 2.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.7 blocks.
That stretch actually covers 15 of Georgia’s games. Harris had a two-game hiatus due to concussion-like symptoms following a collision with Nicolas Claxton at LSU on Jan. 23.
In addition, Harris has posted four career-high scoring tallies during the span. He equaled his career-best output with 12 points against LSU before upping that to 13 versus Mississippi State to 15 at Ole Miss and to 18 against Auburn.
Harrison Joins Starting Lineup
Redshirt senior walk-on Christian Harrison started six games late in the season.
Harrison got his first nod against LSU on Feb. 16 and remained their through the March 6 Missouri contest. During the stretch, he produced career highs for points, rebounds, assists, blocks and minutes played.
An Atlanta native and graduate of Woodward Academy, Harrison was a scholarship player for two seasons at Troy before transferring to Georgia as a walk-on.
After sitting out 2016-17, Harrison saw action in two games last season. He started this year on the scout team before beginning to earn meaningful minutes. Harrison was a key defensive contributor at Georgia Tech on Dec. 22 and is now a rotation regular, with action in 19 of the last 22 contests.
Against LSU, Harrison’s linescore featured two points, two boards, two steals, an assist and a block... and he spent a good portion of the second half guarding Tremont Waters.
“I just want to tip my hat off to Christian,“ Nicolas Claxton said after the LSU game, unprompted by the media. “He came here and last year didn‘t play at all. This year, his minutes have been kind of up and down. But, throughout all of that, he has just stayed persistent. He just kept grinding. He comes in every day, and he doesn‘t complain. He just comes in and works hard, and you see the results today.“
Ogbeide Steps Up In SEC Play
Derek Ogbeide averaged 9.8 points and shooting a team-best 56.8 percent from the field in SEC games.
Those efforts were a significant jump from his tallies of 9.2 ppg and 49.0 percent during non-conference play.
An 80 Percent Lefty Lineup
Later in these Game Notes, you could read how Georgia’s roster (more than likely) features the most left-handed players in Division I hoops this season.
In fact, the Bulldogs started four southpaws – Nicolas Claxton, Rayshaun Hammonds, Jordan Harris and Derek Ogbeide – in consecutive outings against Alabama, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
All told, Georgia has used 10 different starting quintets during the regular season, with Claxton being the only Bulldog on the court to begin every outing.
Dogs’ Depth Paying Dividends
Georgia’s bench has outscored its counterparts 20 times...consistently doing so by a significant amount.
The Bulldogs’ reserves have been +10 or more in 13 outings, helping Georgia to a +174 margin on bench points.
Claxton Doing It All For Dogs
Nicolas Claxton is the only player in the SEC this season to twice – in the same game – lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
Claxton did so Nov. 27 against Kennesaw State with 16 points, 15 boards, four assists, two blocks and two steals. The sophomore from Greenville, S.C., repeated the feat Dec. 18 versus Oakland with 17 points, 13 boards, three assists, three blocks and a steal.
The last SEC player to lead his team in all five stats in multiple games was LSU’s Ben Simmons, who did so three times in 2015-16.
Feel Free To Call Him “Ty-3” Crump
More than two-thirds of Tyree Crump’s successful FGs for Georgia have been from at least 20-feet, 9-inches away from the basket.
All told, 68.6 percent (127-of-185) of Crump’s made shots from the floor have been from behind the arc.
In fact, 3-pointers directly account for 64.2 percent (381 of 593) of Crump’s career points with the Bulldogs.
The Deflection Objective
The deflection is an extremely key statistic for Georgia. Head coach Tom Crean regularly discusses the deflection and its significance.
"I was told a long time ago – and I don't think you can say it any better – deflections are barometer of active defense. It's any type of activity on the ball. It's a finger tip, a hand, blocked shots, chargers, a steal. That's what we're aiming for. I want our team at a deflection-to-turnover ratio of 3.5-to-1. To me, that is an optimal number."
"You will hear me talk a lot about it," Crean said in his press session following the Sam Houston State game. "Some of you will get tired of it, and some of you will buy into it."
The quote above gives a definition of the stat. The Bulldogs' season totals to date are below. Nicolas Claxton leads the team, including 18 deflections against Sam Houston State.
"I have only coached four other guys, and all four of them played in the NBA, that ever had more than 18 in a game," Crean said.
Nicolas Claxton 272
Jordan Harris 118
Rayshaun Hammonds 105
Turtle Jackson 91
E’Torrion Wilridge 84
Derek Ogbeide 80
Teshaun Hightower 68
Tyree Crump 65
Tye Fagan 45
Christian Harrison 29
Amanze Ngumezi 18
Ignas Sargiūnas 15
JoJo Toppin 10
Mike Edwards 2
Connor O’Neill 2
A Really Big Family Reunion
Nearly 100 Georgia Basketball letterwinners returned to Stegeman Coliseum for the Feb. 9 Ole Miss game to take part in the Bulldogs’ Lettermen’s Day. That represented the largest turnout in the event’s history.
Hugh Durham, the winningest coach in school history who guided the Bulldogs from 1979-95, headlined the list. Durham‘s teams produced a series of notable firsts in school history – the first postseason appearance with the 1981 NIT; the first SEC Tournament title, first NCAA Tournament bid and first Final Four all in 1983; and the first SEC regular-season Championship in 1990.
Player-wise, Bulldogs spanning the last 74 seasons were represented – from Charlie Burch, UGA’s oldest living letterwinner from the 1944-45 team, to 2017 seniors J.J. Frazier, Kenny Paul Geno and Brandon Young.
Welcome To The League, Coach
Tom Crean’s initiation into the Southeastern Conference would probably be considered hazing by some.
Georgia began league play with back-to-back Saturday trips to the defending league co-champs and six straight outings against teams ranked in the top-50 of the new NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings.
In the Jan. 5 edition of the NET, the Bulldogs’ first half-dozen SEC foes, in succession, were ranked as No. 7 Tennessee, No. 45 Vanderbilt, No. 18 Auburn, No. 10 Kentucky, No. 33 Florida and No. 27 LSU.
On Jan. 27 (when all 14 league teams had played six SEC games), the NET listed UGA’s first six opponents as No. 6 Tennessee, No. 93 Vanderbilt, No. 27 Auburn, No. 7 Kentucky, No. 37 Florida and No. 16 LSU.
The Bulldogs’ opponents over their first six SEC contests averaged a NET ranking of 31.0, far and away the most difficult in the league. The next closest was 42.0 for Alabama.
Dogs Shooting Blistering Percentages Against Longhorns
As outlined below, Georgia’s overall and 3-point field goal percentages against Texas both rank among the top-5 in school history.
For good measure, the Bulldogs connected on 78.6 percent of their trips to the free throw line versus the Longhorns.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever coached a team in my 19 years that’s ever shot that well from all three spots on the floor,” Tom Crean said.
UGA Single-Game FG Percentages
Rk. Pct. Site-Opponent FG-FGA Date
- .762 H-Chattanooga 32-42 12/19/80
- .702 H-Miss. State 40-57 2/28/01
- .692 H-Vanderbilt 45-65 2/12/86
- .667 H-Texas 32-48 1/26/19
.667 H-Winthrop 40-60 12/21/93
.667 H-Tennessee 32-48 3/12/83
UGA Single-Game 3FG Percentages
Rk. Pct. Site-Opponent 3FG-3FGA Date
- .727 H-Alabama 8-11 2/6/88
.727 A-Vanderbilt 8-11 2/14/90
- .706 H-Texas 12-17 1/26/19
- .700 A-Miss. State. 7-10 1/19/89
.700 H-S. Carolina 7-10 1/22/00
Claxton Named SEC POTW
Nicolas Claxton was tabbed the SEC Player of the Week on Dec. 31, a day after his game-high tallies of 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks against UMass.
Claxton recorded his sixth double-double of the season while connecting on 8-of-13 shots from the field and converting on 3-of-3 trips to the line versus the Minutemen. He grabbed 10 defensive rebounds, one less than the UMass entire roster grabbed as a whole on that end of the floor.
Maten Earns G League Honor
Yante Maten, the 2018 AP SEC Player of the Year for Georgia, enjoyed a very productive month of December.
Maten, a two-way player with the Miami Heat and the Sioux Falls Skyforce, was named NBA G League Player of the Month. In nine games, he averaged 29.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 59.0 percent from the field, 47.4 percent from 3-point range and 80.3 percent from the line. Maten’s month was highlighted by a 42-point, 14-rebound performance against Stockton, one of his seven December double-doubles.
“I’m definitely enjoying my time in Sioux Falls,” Maten said. “I’m being used a lot. I’m trying to make the best out of every opportunity and every game. I’m just exited to come out and prove a point every night.”
Perfect Against “The Enemy”
With its 70-59 win over Georgia Tech on Dec. 22 at McCamish Pavilion, Georgia‘s Class of 2019 secured a unique spot in the Bulldogs‘ history.
In the first 113 seasons of Georgia Basketball, only four, four-year Bulldogs finished their careers undefeated against the Yellow Jackets – the tandems of James Banks and Vern Fleming (1980-84) and Richard Corhen and Gerald Crosby (1981-85).
That number more than doubled with this year’s victory as Mike Edwards, Turtle Jackson, Connor O‘Neill, Derek Ogbeide and E‘Torrion Wilridge joined that quartet. Christian Harrison also went undefeated against Tech, but only played two seasons in Athens after transferring from Troy. Those Bulldogs not only won each game, the did so by double figures. The last time Georgia posted four-consecutive double-digit wins over the Jackets was a stretch covering the 1908-09 through 1913-14 seasons
To adhere to “truth in advertising” principles...it should be noted that UGA and GT played at least twice each season from the beginning of the series through 1981-82.
Hammonds Puts Up Rare Stat Line
Rayshaun Hammonds poured in a career-high 31 points while not turning the ball over once versus Illinois State.
Hammonds is the only SEC player this season to put up 30 points with no turnovers. Only two SEC players did so last season – Vanderbilt’s Jeff Roberson and Terence Davis from Ole Miss.
Hammonds, Yante Maten and Jumaine Jones are the only Bulldogs to do so in the last 20 seasons as outlined below.
30 Points, 0 Turnovers
Player Pts. Opponent (date)
- Hammonds 31 Illinois State (11/19/18)
- Maten 30 Charleston Southern (12/17/16)
- Maten 30 Kansas (11/22/16)
- Jones 34 Kentucky (1/26/99)
Career-High Outings Against ISU
Rayshaun Hammonds and Nicolas Claxton exploded for career-high outputs of 31 and 22 points, respectively, against Illinois State.
Hammonds scored 31 points in 31 minutes. He scored 18 first-half points, almost topped his previous best effort of 21 points before intermission. Claxton did much of his damage after the break with 14 second-half points.
Excitement Surrounds Bulldogs
Tom Crean was hired as the Bulldogs’ head coach on March 15 and created an off-season buzz surrounding Georgia Basketball that it hasn’t been seen since Dominique Wilkins’ days in Athens during the early-80s.
Before this season, Georgia had never sold out more than one game before its opener.
This fall, the Bulldogs had three sellouts – Florida, Kentucky and Texas – in October.
In addition, the number of contributors and the amount donated to UGA’s Basketball Enhancement Fund (BEF) set records by considerable margins. The BEF tally topped $1 million for the first time ever and as of Nov. 7 had bettered the previous watermark by just shy of 25 percent.
UGA Loaded With Peach Products
Nearly three-fourths of Georgia’s roster played high school hoops in the Peach State. Eleven of 15 Bulldogs – that’s 73.3 percent to be exact – did so.
The list includes: seniors Christian Harrison (Woodward Academy), William “Turtle” Jackson (Athens Christian School), Connor O’Neill (Blessed Trinity Catholic High) and Derek Ogbeide (Pebblebrook High); juniors Tyree Crump (Bainbridge High) and Jordan Harris (Seminole County High); sophomores Rayshaun Hammonds (Norcross High) and Teshaun Hightower (Collins Hills High); and freshmen Tye Fagan (Upson-Lee High); Amanze Ngumezi (Johnson High) and JoJo Toppin (Norcross High).
Fagan Owns Unique Record
The first recruit to commit to Tom Crean at Georgia certainly brought a winning résumé.
Spring signee Tye Fagan helped Upson-Lee High School to back-to-back state titles and 63 consecutive victories as a junior and senior. The Knights’ effort represents the third-longest winning streak in Georgia boys’ high school hoops history.
“Any time you add a championship-winning player and person to your program, it’s great,” Crean said. “But I can’t recall ever signing anyone that was 63-0. That’s unique.”
Georgia’s loss at Temple on Nov. 13 represented Fagan’s first setback representing his school since an Upson-Lee setback to New Hampstead on Feb. 17, 2016 in the first round of the 2016 state tournament...providing a span of exactly 1000 days between those losses.
Inaugural StegMania A Success
Tom Crean arrived in Athens with a distinct vision. One thing he wanted to create was an preseason event to display the new energy and enthusiasm around Georgia Basketball.
On Friday, Oct. 5, the first-ever StegMania drew a crowd of more than 5,000. It was, by all measures, a significant success.
UGA students lined up around the Coliseum to receive commemorative “StegMania” t-shirts. A lengthy autograph session with a distinct family feel wrapped up the festivities.
StegMania itself was packed with pyrotechnic player intros, a high-flying dunk contest, a dance battle with the Georgia Lady Bulldogs, an impromptu performance of the hit song “Rolex” by hip-hop artists Ayo & Teo and a scrimmage with Crean “mic’d up.”
“When you’re brand new coming into something like this, you really don’t have an expectation,” said Crean after the event. “But if I would’ve had one, it would have exceeded it. When I saw people in line to get into the Coliseum, I got a lump in my throat. It was awesome because you never take it for granted. Hopefully, everyone walks out of here knowing that they matter.”
The Leftiest Lads In The Land
The Bulldogs’ roster features six – count ‘em on two hands – left-handed players. Georgia’s southpaws include Nicolas Claxton, Tye Fagan, Rayshaun Hammonds, Jordan Harris, Derek Ogbeide and JoJo Toppin.
We’re relatively confident that tally is the most any NCAA Division I basketball team will suit up during 2018-19.
During the summer months, J.D. Hamilton of the NCAA sends out a laundry list of questions to the nation’s Division I men’s basketball SIDs. The inquiries can range from statistical – what school has the most 2,000-point scorers – to staff – who has the nation’s most experienced coaching staff – to roster related – who has the most newcomers.
Round 1 of the email on September 5 including the following offering from Athens: “Georgia has six left-handed players. Does any other team in the country have as many or more players who are left-handed?”
Not that SIDs are bound to answer every request, but that question received no replies. So, the ask was modified for a second email correspondence sent out by Hamilton on September 26 to read: “Georgia has six left-handed players. Does any other team in the country have as four or more players who are left-handed?”
That led to Tennessee (D.J. Burns, John Fulkerson, Jalen Johnson and Yves Pons), Washington (David Crisp, Elijah Hardy, Bryan Penn-Johnson and Nate Roberts) and Winthrop (Adam Pickett, Jermaine Ukaegbu, Kyle Zunic and Raivis Scerbinskis) supplying lists of four.
While nothing is official, Georgia will claim the unofficial title of the leftiest team in America until proven otherwise.
And for full effect, the above headline should be read in a voice immitating Dan Magill, the greatest Bulldog of all time. If you’re not familiar with Coach Magill, ask.