Georgia men’s basketball’s Anthony Edwards has likely played his last game in a Bulldog uniform. The SEC tournament was canceled due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19 shortly before the second round of play was slated to begin.
Edwards helped the Bulldogs to a 16-16 season record and a single first-round win at the tournament. Edwards spearheaded the improvement of a Georgia team that finished 11-21 last season.
Georgia played one of the NCAA’s final games on March 11 against Ole Miss. Edwards did not have a particularly strong game but helped the Bulldogs end their virus-shortened season on a high note with a 81-63 victory.
In his freshman year, Edwards held averages of 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He shot 40.2% from the floor this year and 29.4% from the 3-point line in 33 minutes per game.
Edwards was a spectacular scorer for the Bulldogs but fell short when it came to being consistent on that side of the ball.
The freshman had scoring outbursts, with 37 points against Michigan State and 36 in Georgia’s second meeting with South Carolina. There were also four occasions in which Edwards scored only six points this season.
Edwards’ 3-point game winner against Chaminade in the season’s seventh game highlighted a dominant three-game run for Edwards. He averaged 27.3 points per game against Michigan State, Chaminade and NC Central.
Edwards has strengths beyond scoring and displayed them on multiple occasions. He had three double-doubles, two of which were in back-to-back games. Edwards led Georgia in steals with 43 and was tied for the lead in blocked shots with fellow freshman Toumani Camara at 18.
Recruiting is one of the biggest areas Edwards will impact for the Georgia basketball program. The Bulldogs have not been a traditional recruiting hotspot, and Edwards is the highest graded recruit in program history.
Edwards was the second-highest rated recruit in the 2019 class and is just the second five-star recruit to ever play for Georgia. Former SEC Player of the Year and current Los Angeles Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was the other.
Caldwell-Pope was statistically similar to Edwards during his collegiate career. In his second (and final) year with the program, Caldwell-Pope broke out and averaged 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Georgia held a 15-17 overall record in the 2012-13 season.
The legacy Edwards leaves is more complex than many former Bulldog greats. Edwards was more dominant than Caldwell-Pope but was not as statistically great as Dominique Wilkins, who scored 21.6 points per game in his three-year career.
Edwards is consistently ranked in the top 3 range of 2021 NBA mock drafts. He is the No. 1 overall prospect, according to NBADraft.net. For context, Wilkins was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz and was traded to the Atlanta Hawks before the season.
The stature Edwards holds will have a strong impact on head coach Tom Crean’s future recruiting classes. Crean has been known throughout his career as a good recruiting coach.
The 2019 recruiting class, alongside Edwards, brought in four more four-star recruits, three of which played significant roles this season. Point guard Sahvir Wheeler was one of the players that came in with Edwards. He solidified himself as a team leader and looks to be sticking around for next season.
The virus-shortened season prematurely ended the season of Georgia’s highest-rated recruit in program history. Edwards’ season may be done, but his presence will be felt for years to come through boosted recruiting and a thrilling single season.