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UNG town hall addresses aging amid COVID pandemic

UNG town hall addresses aging amid COVID pandemic

UNG town hall addresses aging amid COVID pandemic

UNG town hall addresses aging amid COVID pandemic

The University of North Georgia tackles the topic of coronavirus and its impact on Georgia’s elderly population. A virtual town hall is set for 2:30 this afternoon. 


From UNG…


The University of North Georgia’s Center for Healthy Aging will host a virtual town hall meeting about COVID-19.


Experts from Georgia’s Division of Aging Services in the Department of Human Services, the Area Agency on Aging and the Georgia Health Care Association will be on hand to answer questions from older adults, their caretakers and health care professionals.


The hour-long session will begin at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 19, at https://ung.edu/healthy-aging.

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Local News

  • Classic City Today’s Tim Bryant is teaming up with Brad Lee from Extra Special People to raise money for kids to go to ESP camps. Donate here! If he hits his goal, he will jump out of a plane on July 18 as a celebrity skydiver in “The Big Jump.”
  • Construction on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Blue Ridge Campus hit a significant benchmark late last month. The roof and exterior walls were finished, allowing construction to move inside and not be affected by inclement weather. 'We call it 'dried in,'' said Todd Bermann, director of capital planning and project management in the facilities department at UNG. 'It is an important phase because we can start putting up interior walls.' This substantial milestone comes eight months after construction began on the more than 12,000-square-foot building. Bermann said despite rain delays, the new standalone Blue Ridge Campus will be ready for occupancy in August 2020. 'We had built in some weather delays, but we exceeded those in December, January and February,' he said. 'Now, we are expediting other areas to make up for that lost time.' The necessity for a standalone Blue Ridge Campus stemmed from its exponential growth since opening in 2015. For the 2015-16 academic year, 20 students were enrolled. That number increased by nearly 800% with 175 students enrolled in the 2019-20 academic year. 'Not only UNG but the community and region needed to have a standalone campus to provide opportunities in education, economic development and workforce development to help grow this region,' said Sandy Ott, director of UNG's Blue Ridge Campus. 'This new campus is a game-changer because of the expanded access to education that it provides and the resulting impact on the region.' The new building, located off Ga. 515 about 3 miles from the current Dunbarton Road facility, will have four classrooms with one that doubles as a computer lab. A full biology lab that can be converted into a chemistry lab will be available as well. Ott explained with more space UNG can offer more courses to students, which will allow them to spend more time at the Blue Ridge Campus. Currently, UNG students spend between a year and a year-and-a-half there taking required core curriculum classes before they transfer to the Gainesville or Dahlonega campus. 'We will have the ability to expand programs and offer the opportunity to complete courses for a specific major,' Ott said. 'For example, this fall we will offer the introductory major courses in the field of education. Those courses have not been offered in Blue Ridge before.' Other areas not offered in abundance at the current 2,800-square-foot building are shared study spaces. Now they are spread throughout the building. A welcoming entry plaza plus a patio at the rear will be available for students to study, gather or relax between classes. Five dual-occupancy offices are designated for faculty while five offices will be for administration staff. Bermann estimates the facility will be ready for new furniture and equipment to be installed in July. Faculty may move into their offices the first of August as fall classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 17. Students, faculty and staff will have 42 parking spaces at the new site. Many will park there on the half-day of orientation scheduled for Aug. 14. The campus also plans to host the public at its annual Tomato Sandwich Supper on Sept. 24. UNG students, faculty and staff as well as visitors will have easier and safer access onto the campus thanks to a Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) from the Georgia Department of Transportation, announced state Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). The $150,000 will help fund modifications to Ga. 515 including a Reduced Conflict U-Turn (RCUT) intersection, which will allow cars traveling north from downtown Blue Ridge to turn left onto campus.  The Georgia General Assembly funded the $5.5 million project in the 2019 fiscal year. Georgia Speaker of the House of Representatives David Ralston, a UNG alumnus who represents Georgia District 7, including Fannin County, in the General Assembly, helped secure the money. 'This building will give our students, faculty and staff a home of their own,' said Ken Crowe, assistant vice president of facilities at UNG. 'And this building is a statement to the community. UNG is driving a stake in the ground to say we are here for the long haul.
  • Within weeks of the appearance of COVID-19, five teams of researchers at the University of Georgia’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center put other research work aside to understand the virus, how it gets into our cells, and the changes that occur inside infected cells. This work could help identify patients most at risk early, identify ways to slow down the disease, understand which drugs provide some hope to fight it, and perhaps, in a more distant future, to even develop vaccines for viruses before a disease spreads in humans. With COVID-19, like other diseases, a key part of understanding the disease is understanding the role played by branching structures of sugars called complex carbohydrates or glycans. “There is no human disease that doesn’t in some way involve carbohydrates,” said Michael Tiemeyer, Distinguished Research Professor and co-director of the CCRC. And no center in the world brings together as many world-renowned carbohydrate researchers as CCRC, which this year is celebrating 35 years of being a leader in glycoscience, or the study of complex carbohydrates. CCRC faculty member and GRA Distinguished Investigator Lance Wells and other UGA collaborators are working to study the virus and its coating of carbohydrates that affect COVID-19’s ability to bind to a host. Rob Woods, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, and his collaborators are applying 3D computational models they had created to study influenza to understand the novel coronavirus. Their models analyze the position of glycans on the virus’s surface that help it evade the host’s immune system. When a virus tries to infect a cell, it first encounters a wall of glycans that covers the cell. Geert-Jan Boons, UGA Foundation Distinguished Professor in Biochemical Sciences, studies how viruses find a way through this carbohydrate forest. His lab creates complex carbohydrates, like the ones that surround human cells, to test whether viruses can bind to them or not. For the COVID-19 research they are focusing on a class of carbohydrate that they already had successfully produced. Carbohydrates also play a role in how the COVID-19 infection progresses. “The problem my team and I are trying to answer is how to know who should go into the hospital and who shouldn’t,” Tiemeyer said. “Just knowing how much virus someone has isn’t enough, because severity doesn’t necessarily correlate with viral load.” His collaborators, respiratory biologists at the University of North Carolina, discovered that COVID-19 targets glands in the airway. It is not only glands that the disease affects. The metabolism of any infected cell will change, too, and traces of these changes can be found in the blood. The starting point for Art Edison’s group (pictured above) is comparing blood samples from ferret models. Edison’s expertise lies in identifying small molecules in the blood called metabolites—basically any small molecule in our bodies, in our food, or produced by our cells, such as cholesterol and vitamins—using CCRC’s specialized facilities. Edison also stressed that, if collaboration and knowledge sharing are a key part of what the CCRC does, they matter now more than ever. “In this project, more than in any other in my career, we want to make measurements that will make a difference and share our data as soon as it is collected and we know it’s any good,” he said. “It is not the time for personal territory or trying to be the first at publishing.”
  • We don’t yet know how many or which ones will choose to do so, but Athens bars and nightclubs can begin reopening Monday: Governor Brian Kemp has lifted restrictions that had been in place since the outbreak of coronavirus in Georgia. Live music venues, of which there are several in Athens, will remain closed.  From Greg Bluestein and Ligaya Figueras, AJC… Gov. Brian Kemp continued to lift economic restrictions he imposed to combat the spread of coronavirus, signing an executive order Thursday that clears the way for larger gatherings and lets bars and nightclubs reopen if they follow guidelines.  The governor detailed his strategy for a “new normal” at a press conference at the state Capitol, even as recent data show an uptick in the number of cases that some public health experts say could indicate a second wave of the disease.  Kemp's order permits gatherings of as many as 25 people starting Monday, and continues to require larger groups to maintain social distancing. It lets school systems start holding summer courses if they follow state criteria. And it allows bars and nightclubs to reopen next week if they meet 39 measures, including screening workers for illness, limiting occupancy and requiring regular sanitation. Amusement parks can follow on June 12 if they abide by other limits.  Those businesses have been closed since an April 3 statewide order took effect. Live performance venues, he said, will remain indefinitely shuttered. A public health emergency declaration was also extended through mid-July.  Kemp has steadily rolled back restrictions since late April, when he allowed close-contact businesses to reopen and restaurants to resume dine-in services, a move that drew swift rebukes from leaders of both political parties.  The Republican said his aggressive approach in lifting coronavirus limits was “reinvigorating” the state’s stalled economy, and asserted that the damage to the state's economy was starting to outweigh the public safety risks.  Saying that “we can't keep fighting the virus from our living room,” Kemp has said he's confident Georgians can stave off another sharp increase if they adhere to safety rules.  “We don't necessarily have to have a second wave. We can keep mitigating and mitigating and mitigating where the risk is so low, it really allows us to continue to open things up even more than we have,” he said.  “That's what I'm asking people to do.” 'A lot of cases' His remarks come as state figures show an increase in week-to-week cases of COVID-19 in Georgia, though it’s unclear whether it’s a statistical blip or whether it represents a marked change.  Pressed on the increase on Thursday, Kemp described it as a “backlog” from 15,000 tests recently added to state databases that date to late April.  “We're not seeing anything that's concerning,” he said, adding that there could be a potential increase in cases as testing ramps up, particularly among nursing home residents.  “We expect that population's percent of positives is going to be higher than the normal population, so it's not unusual that we're seeing a little bit of flattening of our downward trajectory or perhaps a little increase on a certain day.” Experts say that growth in the state's diagnostic testing system and a recent, one-time spike in reporting from a commercial lab are unlikely to be the only reasons why week-to-week counts of confirmed cases of COVID-19 jumped 26 percent.  Infections are likely increasing now that more Georgians are moving around with the partial end of the state's shelter-in-place order, said Dr. Carlos del Rio, chairman of the global health department at Emory University.  'If a lot of people out are there with a lot of contact, we going to see a lot of cases,' del Rio said Thursday.  New confirmed cases rose from nearly 4,170 the week of May 11 to 5,260 the week of May 18, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis shows.  Preliminary figures from the Georgia Department of Public Health show that the seven-day average of new cases began to rise May 11 and continued through at least May 19.  This measure is based on the date when patients first reported symptoms. Data for the most recent 14 days are incomplete because of a lag in testing and reporting.  'How to live with the virus' While most restaurants are relying on the 39 guidelines that Kemp’s administration outlined to reopen their dining rooms, some have gone further.  Dozens of businesses in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood recently signed a pledge to follow additional safety guidelines when they reopen, which includes stricter ventilation and temperature-screening standards and requirements that customers wear face masks. State authorities have cracked down on some businesses that aren’t complying.  Earlier this week, health officials in Paulding County forced Briar Patch Restaurant in Hiram to close after employees were cited for not wearing face coverings. The dining room remains closed, but the restaurant has since reopened for takeout. And over the weekend, the Georgia State Patrol issued a citation to Escobar Lounge, a Castleberry Hill tapas restaurant owned by rapper 2 Chainz, for failure to enforce social distancing with large crowds.  Georgia began easing coronavirus restrictions in late April, drawing bipartisan condemnation and sharp warnings from public health analysts that the state could risk a second wave. Though the rate of coronavirus-related hospitalizations has dropped, experts say it’s too soon to assess Kemp’s strategy. He, too, has not declared victory over the disease, and has stressed a “methodical” approach to contain the outbreak.  But he also expressed confidence Georgia can avoid more large-scale infections if people use “good common sense,” practice social-distancing and wear a mask.  The improving data, he said, led him to also invite professional and amateur sports leagues to resume play in Georgia if they adhere to regulations.  “If the virus comes back, I don’t see us shutting down our economy anymore,” he told reporters in Columbus. “We’ve got to figure out how to live with the virus. There are some very smart people doing that every day.” 
  • Athens-Clarke County Police say they have received several reports of gun thefts in recent days, with firearms said to have been stolen from unlocked cars on Fourth Street, Timothy Road, Atlanta Highway, and Milledge Avenue in Athens.  Two suspects arrested in Cleveland are charged in a reported assault said to have happened in White County: Aleshia Liby is 28 years old, from Cleveland; Jonathan Wills is 29, also from Cleveland. The alleged assault is said to have happened earlier this month.  A man from Tennessee is facing charges in Lumpkin County: Bobby Rush (pictured above) was caught with what drug agents in Dahlonega say was methamphetamine; also cash and firearms. Rush was arrested after a traffic stop in Dahlonega. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Quarterback JT Daniels has what it takes to compete and win in the SEC, according to USC beat writer Ryan Young. Young, who previously covered the Florida Gators SEC Country, followed Daniels' recruitment to the Trojans and brief career leading up to his commitment to transfer to Georgia made on Thursday. RELATED: Details emerge on JT Daniels commitment to Georgia football 'His strength is being decisive, scanning the filled quickly and making competence decisions on where he wants to go with the ball, he's not going to freeze,' Young told DawgNation during Thursday night's Special Presentation. 'I wouldn't say he has the biggest arm in the world. I would say his strength is accuracy, and spearing the ball around and making good decisions.' The question is, will Daniels be in the mix to compete for the starting job this season? Kirby Smart has said enough times over that the quarterback competition is open, even though Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman would seem to have an advantage with his experience. Young said Daniels, a former 5-star prospect and true freshman starter at USC, is fearless when it comes to competition. But when Daniels entered into the transfer portal, on April 16 as reported by Young on the Rivals.com Network, many thought it was because the one-time transfer rule was expected to be passed last week. instead, the measure was shelved, meaning Daniels will need to get the same sort of waiver for immediate eligibility that Justin Fields and Tate Martell received last season. Rivals.com beat writer Ryan Young DawgNation Georgia QB Derby Social media split reaction on JT Daniels commitment to Georgia D'Wan Mathis fully cleared for games, ready for whatever lies ahead Brandon Adams Podcast: Georgia fans should appreciate drama-free recruiting Sentell's Intel: The buzz is real with USC quarterback J.T. Daniels The post WATCH: QB transfer JT Daniels accurate, cerebral,' per USC beat writer Ryan Young appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia redshirt freshman D'Wan Mathis has received clearance to take part in games after undergoing an MRI one year after his emergency brain surgery. A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed the positive results of the MRI on Thursday. Mathis had been cleared to go through practices since last November, and Smart said indicated he would be a full participant in spring football drills before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended all collegiate sports activity on March 12. RELATED: Mind Game, how UGA's D'Wan Mathis is overcoming brain surgery UGA does not typically tackle its quarterbacks to the ground in practices. The Bulldogs go full speed and 'thud,' players wrapped up without being taken to the ground to avoid injuries. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Mathis was rushed to Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital last May after the UGA medical staff, led by director of sports medicine Ron Courson, diagnosed his symptoms as life threatening. 'The honest truth, waking up in a hospital bed, and seeing my parents, and seeing how my head looked and everything, man, it was humbling,' Mathis, whose skull surgery involved a metal plate secured by screws, said following the Sugar Bowl. 'I was like, wow you are so blessed, be thankful that you are still here.' Terence Mathis, D'Wan's father, stated simply that 'Georgia saved my son's life.' The comeback D'Wan was in the ICU unit for days following the surgery and lost more than 20 pounds after his skull was cut open to remove the life-threatening cyst. It took months for him to gain back his weight and strength but Mathis was determined to return to practice. By November and into the bowl season, Mathis was working out with a modified helmet and running the scout team, earning the praise and confidence of Georgia coach Kirby Smart throughout the offseason. 'D'Wan's been scout-team quarterback the last couple of weeks now and has done a tremendous job,' Smart said last November. 'He helped with the Bo Nix scout team stuff. He's able to simulate some of these guys we've played, so that has been a big bonus for us.' Smart indicated during a virtual G-Day Game telecast last month that Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman had not yet clinched the starting job. RELATED: Kirby says we don't really know what we have at QB' ' You evaluate our quarterbacks, and you look at it and you say I've got a guy who had a major surgery, I got a guy that just came out of high school, I've got a guy that's been a No. 2 last year, Stetson, and then I have a transfer from Wake that we don't know a lot about, as far as in our system,' Smart said. 'So we have a lot of unknowns at that position.' QB competition Smart's assessment of the QB competition wasn't much different on Thursday, just hours before USC transfer J.T. Daniels announced his commitment to Georgia. 'W e don't even know the threshold or the capacity of some of our players,' Smart said. 'We did not get to go through spring ball with necessarily some of the positions, especially on offense, of guys to see what they can handle.' RELATED: Smart says there's going to be a good QB competition' More than once source close to the team told DawgNation that Mathis was throwing the ball equally well if not better than Newman in the team's voluntary workouts outside of the supervised winter conditioning. Mathis ran the 100-yard dash in 10.8 seconds in high school and his running skills and athleticism were on display in the 2018 G-Day Game Mathis was 15-of-28 passing for 113 yards in the game and caught a double-reverse pass from Matt Landers for a 39-yard touchdown. D'Wan, he's explosive,' Jake Fromm said of his former understudy. 'I think he converted three or four first downs in a row with his legs. 'The guy can run the ball, he can throw it 70 yards, he's going to be a great player.' Investing in Georgia Mathis made his commitment to Georgia quarterbacking duties clear when he chose to stay in Athens after on-campus activity was suspended. Mathis applied for and was granted a special exemption. It provided insight into the trust he has built with Courson and the UGA medical staff, and his comfort in living in Athens. 'D'Wan came back on spring break and told me he loves where he is from, but that he needed to go back to Georgia,' Terence Mathis said in a March 28 interview. 'Georgia could have given up on my son, but instead, Kirby and his staff have treated D'Wan as though he was their own son. They've used every possible resource to stay behind him and keep him engaged with the team after saving his life.' But now Daniels is in play, and there are suspicious the UGA quarterback room may have reached its tipping point. If Daniels receives a waiver for immediate eligibility its hard to imagine four quarterbacks getting repetitions as Georgia competes for a national championship this season. Freshman Carson Beck is also expected to be in the mix, along with redshirt junior Stetson Bennett. Mathis was Ohio State's quarterback of choice in the 2019 signing class before Justin Fields jolted Georgia by transferring from the Bulldogs' program following his freshman season. RELATED: D'Wan Mathis shares signing day story, Ohio State denied interest in Justin Fields Mathis determined the Buckeyes were not being forthcoming in December of 2018 when they said they were not recruiting Fields, and he chose to trust in Georgia, signing and enrolling in January of 2019. It remains to be seen how Mathis' future will play out, but the Oak Park, Mich., product is once again healthy and ready to compete full-go on the football field. The post Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis fully cleared for game action after MRI appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS USC quarterback JT Daniels announced on his Twitter account on Thursday he has committed to play football at Georgia. THANK YOU USC Excited for the future #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/ewfhBG3ved JT Daniels (@jtdaniels06) May 28, 2020 Daniels, a redshirt sophomore, has been in the transfer portal since April 16 and will need to be granted a waiver if he is to have immediate eligibility with the Bulldogs. Georgia football enters the 2020 season with a championship caliber defense but plenty of questions on offense with the departure of three-year starter Jake Fromm, 1,000-yard rusher D'Andre Swift and three starting offensive linemen. Daniels entered last season as the Trojans starting quarterback before suffering a torn ACL in the opening game against Fresno State after opening the contest 25-of-34 passing for 215 yards with a TD and an interception. In a manner similar to how Fromm replaced Jacob Eason in 2017, freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis replaced him and ran away with the job, earning FWAA Freshman All-American honors. Many felt Daniels might return to USC after the NCAA shelved the one-time transfer proposal last week, but the former 6-foot-3, 210-pounder out of Mater Dei High School has apparent chosen a route that will take him through Athens. Smart indicated on Thursday that he's still not settled on the Georgia offense, even with Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman in the program since January. 'We don't even know the threshold of some of our players,' Smart said on Thursday. 'We didn't get to go through spring ball with some of the positions to see what they can handle.' The Bulldogs figure to find out sooner than later, with players returning to campus to start voluntary workouts on June 8, and football activity expected to start in mid-July. The post BREAKING: Georgia football gets commitment from USC transfer quarterback JT Daniels appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football coach Kirby Smart provided a detailed look into the new normal for college football on Thursday. The Bulldogs' fifth-year head coach explained how things are going to be 'a lot different' for Georgia players from the time they return to campus on account of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put sports on hold dating back to March 12. The Bulldogs will arrive back on campus at the start of June after the SEC approved a June 8 start date for voluntary workouts. RELATED: 3 things to look for, what's next for college football after return 'We're going to bring them back prior to June 8 so they can get a medical workup,' Smart said, referring to the UGA protocol put in place by director of sports medicine Ron Courson. 'They've got to have an extensive physical, they've got to have COVID tests.' Some players, Smart said, could be screened and tested before they arrive back on campus. The big what if?' Smart acknowledged Georgia obviously has to be prepared in the event a player, or players, test positive for COVID-19 after arriving back on the UGA campus. 'Each guy will have the option of if they want to go back home if they test positive, or we have a quarantine policy that we're able to put guys into should they test positive,' Smart said on the Zoom call. 'We've also got the ability if it happens during a workout period that we'll have contact tracing. Guys that have worked out together, those groups will stay the same, and we'll be aware of those guys.' Smart said players will be educated throughout the resocialization period. 'It's not going to be the normal, where I walk in, and I go to my locker, and I can workout, and then I shower it's going to be completely different,' Smart said, referring to state guidelines that mandate social distancing and restrictions on group gatherings. New normal Georgia football players will notice immediately things have changed drastically since their winter workout sessions concluded. 'They will come in and do a light workout initially, because we want to bring them back slowly,' Smart said. 'They will work out in smaller groups. Twentyor so guys to a group. Then, of the 20 that come in, they'll be subdivided into groups of seven. 'So you're looking at a 7-person rotation in a 12,000 square foot weight room and they will be spaced out.' Smart said a cleaning crew come through after each group session of players. The areas from the indoor football facility and into the weight room will be scoured and disinfected. 'There will be one door in, one door out,' Smart said. 'And we won't be using the locker room.' The Georgia coaching staff has been working in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall on a rotational basis the past few weeks. 'There's less time in the office, and we've been alternating how many guys are in the office, with offense and defense separated,' Smart said. 'There's a lot of protocol there that's been instituted from our university for a safety standpoint. There has been cleaning crews after and before we're in here.' Safety trumps finances Smart debunked any notion that student-athletes are being brought back on campus prematurely on account of financial pressures. 'I certainly think that fiscally and financially it's going to benefit if there is a football season, but that has nothing to do with the decisions that go into it medically,' Smart said. RELATED: SEC task force provides blue print for safe return to campus 'A lot of people have said, Well, the SEC has had to come back really strong with comeback dates and return to sports, and they've had this protocol to allow us to play football,' he said. 'But every decision that's made at the SEC level, I can assure you, is made by infectious disease people. It's based on information about the safety and well-being of the student-athletes.' Smart said parents and players feel the workout environments UGA can provide are safer than those in the athletes' hometowns. 'Wherever it is they are working out, at a local local high school or a local gym that has opened back up is that environment is any more safe than one that is professionally cleaned, monitored and taken care of by our staff?' he said. 'Most of the kids we talked to, they are more comfortable saying, If I'm going to workout, than I'm gong to do it there.' Smart made it clear his staff will see to it that the Georgia players come into the workouts with both eyes wide open. 'I promise you there's some of our players don't feel vulnerable, they feel like they're not vulnerable because of what they have heard, or because they think they have super powers,' Smart said. 'So we're going to educate our guys to be safe and make good decisions and we're going to have education sessions even when they get back to give us the best opportunity to have a season.' DawgNation College Football Offseason SEC presidents make it official, looking ahead to June 8 return RELATED: 5 keys, NCAA vote on Wednesday includes pivotal provisions College football return takes turn out West NCAA president Mark Emmert discusses issues with return to campus Les Miles says college football set for return, expert says no fans in stands Return of college football critical to fans' psyche, pocketbooks UGA president Jere Morehead employs 9 research groups for optimal return NCAA advances ball on name, image, likeness player compensation States opening equates to flickering light for college football return Greg Sankey hasn't ruled out a CFB season without all conferences Three keys amid college football return process, from Greg Sankey NCAA board of governors unanimously approves NIL compensation The post Kirby Smart: Georgia football workouts new normal completely different' than pre-COVID19 appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS P.J. Horne wasn't looking for promises from Tom Crean when he spoke with him about transferring into the Georgia basketball program. 'We just talked about me coming in and having an opportunity to compete,' Horne, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, told DawgNation. 'Right now, I just want to play the game and compete.' The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Horne played post for a Hokies' team that went 16-16 last season. RELATED: How Tom Crean is building another winner at Georgia It's likely UGA will look to Horne to help guard the rim and rebound after junior Rayshaun Hammonds opted to declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. Hammonds was Georgia's leading rebounder with 7.4 per game and second-leading scorer with 12.9 points per outing. Hammonds and Horne faced off in a 2017 Georgia High School State Championship Game in addition to playing AAU basketball together. Horne sheepishly said his Tift County team beat Hammonds' Norcross squad, 'but neither of us played real well in that game.' Rome (Ga.) High School principal Eric Holland, who coached Horne at Tift County, explained why Georgia basketball fans should be excited. 'P.J. is a kid of very few words and a lot of action, you'll see that,' Holland said. 'It's the invisible things that make people great. It's his work ethic, his leadership, the way he treats people, the way he communicates, and he's just the consummate teammate 'It seemed like every coach was calling me about him, we had at least 40 calls.' Horne averaged 7.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game for the Hokies last season. He also ranked second on his team with 21 blocked shots. Georgia brings back 6-8, 220-pound sophomore Toumani Camara, who averaged 6.6 points and 4.3 rebounds last season, improving as his freshman season progressed. But the Bulldogs have little else in the way of rebounders or rim protectors at this time. Holland said it doesn't matter where Crean wants Horne to play. 'P.J. is very flexible,' Holland said. 'He's adaptable, he doesn't complain about anything.' Horne, whose transfer was triggered by a desire to be closer to home amid the coronavirus pandemic, said he watched film on Georgia before finalizing his decision to play for the Bulldogs. 'I saw a young team that has room for growth and has a lot of talent,' Horne said. 'It's a team that has a lot of guys that can do different things on the floor.' Crean, entering this third year as the Georgia basketball coach, has explained that is by design. 'We want to get this team to the point where you have to guard all five guys past the 3-point line, and if you're not guarding one of them, it's because you can't guard him inside,' Crean said. 'For us to win in this league, there's a lot of different ways, but you've got to stop people on one end, you can't give up easy baskets with your turnovers, and you have to have the combination of getting layups, getting fouled and getting 3-point shots.' Horne improved his shooting range last season. After making 1-of-4 attempts his sophomore season, Horne was 45-of-129 (.349) last season. That would have ranked second on the UGA team among players that attempted more than 20 threes, Hammonds setting the bar at 35 percent on 36-of-103 shooting beyond the 3-point arc. Georgia ranked 322nd out of 350 Division I teams in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage as a team an even 30 percent. Only Missouri and Texas A&M were worse in the SEC. But with a new batch of players coming in Georgia will sign at least six and maybe seven Crean will surely be hoping his team's fortunes will change. Crean's Indiana teams had the best 3-point shooting percent among major college teams during his 10 years leading the Hoosiers. Horne said he likes what he sees coming back on the team. 'They have competitive players,' Horne said. 'I look at it as a huge opportunity. I feel like we have a good chance of competing in the SEC and getting to the NCAA tournament.' Georgia coach Tom Crean DawgNation Georgia basketball WATCH: Tom Crean opens up, tells all on UGA basketball Bulldogs upset Ole Miss in SEC tourney opener Anthony Edwards takes over final minute, UGA topples Arkansas WATCH: Georgia celebrates like crazy after Vandy win Bulldogs score resounding win over No. 13 Auburn UGA snaps four-game losing streak with Texas A&M win Perplexing loss for Georgia basketball at Missouri Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss The post Transfer center P.J. Horne has NCAA tourney goals for Georgia basketball appeared first on DawgNation.