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Georgia’s Rayshaun Hammonds (20) sprints down the court. The University of Georgia men’s basketball team hosted Florida, losing by a score of 68-54 on March 4, 2020, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

Thirty-five days have passed since the Georgia men’s basketball team defeated Ole Miss 81-63 in the first round of the SEC tournament. Since then, the SEC canceled the men’s basketball tournament, spring sports seasons were canceled and the sports world was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The offseason is still going on as planned despite the unceremonious end to the college basketball season. For the Bulldogs, it’s been quite eventful.

Departures from players and a coach

The first domino fell a little more than a week after the final game when it was reported that center Rodney Howard would enter the transfer portal. The freshman struggled to find his role coming off the Georgia bench, averaging 1.3 points and 7.3 minutes per game in his only season under head coach Tom Crean. Three days later, Howard announced he would be transferring to in-state rival Georgia Tech.

The day after it was reported that Howard would be entering the transfer portal, the inevitable happened. Freshman phenom Anthony Edwards declared for the NBA draft. Edwards is expected to be one the top picks in the draft following an explosive season with Georgia, averaging 19.3 points per game.

The departures didn’t stop at two. Junior forward Raysahun Hammonds announced he would be entering the draft while still maintaining his eligibility on March 27. The decision allows him to hear feedback from NBA teams while still leaving the door open to return for his senior year. He was Georgia’s second-leading scorer behind Edwards at 12.9 points per game.

Lastly, Crean lost a member of his coaching staff. Assistant coach Joe Scott returned to Air Force Academy as head coach after previously coaching the Falcons from 2000-2004. He spent two seasons on the bench alongside Crean and brought a knowledgeable perspective to the bench. In 2013, he was named as one of the country’s top 20 ”X’s & O’s” coaches in a survey of his peers.

Roster turnover

Seniors Tyree Crump, Jordan Harris and Donnell Gresham Jr. will further impact Georgia’s roster turnover heading into the 2020-21 season. Crean could have as many as seven spots to fill if Hammonds remains in the draft. Four of the roster spots have been exhausted by the Bulldogs’ 2020 recruiting class.

Two four-star recruits in K.D. Johnson and Josh Taylor and two three-star junior college transfers in Jonathan Ned and Mikal Starks have signed their letters of intent. Another JUCO player Tyron McMillan committed to Georgia on March 29.

That leaves Crean with at least one more spot to fill heading into next season. He’s been busy trying to find the right fit for his roster. Without Hammonds, the Bulldogs are set to have five players over 6-foot-8-inches, one more than they had heading into SEC play this past season. 

Looking ahead

The main goal of this offseason should be maintaining Hammonds for one more year. The 6-foot-9 forward would bring a steady scoring hand alongside guard Sahvir Wheeler early in the season as the new Bulldogs settle into the style and pace of play.

To plug up the one or two holes in his roster, Crean has been looking to graduate transfers and reclassified recruits. One thing is clear based on who Georgia has shown interest to — Crean is looking for a shooter.

Darius Perry is a 6-foot-2 combo guard from Marietta, Georgia, who has spent the last three seasons with the Louisville Cardinals. Perry shot 38.9% on 3-pointers last season and could be a deep threat for a roster that struggled from behind the arc last season.

UNLV graduate transfer Jonah Antonio and James Madison University graduate transfer Darius Banks could be two other options for Georgia. Antonio shot 31.5 % from behind the arc last season, while Banks averaged 12.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Finally, 2021 four-star center Frank Anselem reclassified to the 2020 class and named Georgia as one of the final three schools on his list next to LSU and Alabama. He could be a potential replacement if Hammonds decides to remain in the draft.

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