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Georgia head coach Tom Crean yells down the court. The University of Georgia men’s basketball team fell to no. 8 Alabama for their last regular-season game on March 6, 2021, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

After finishing last season 14-12 overall, the Georgia men’s basketball team is slated to experience significant roster turnover before the 2021-22 season.

Since the end of the season, five players have declared to move on from the program by entering the transfer portal, including top-scorer Sahvir Wheeler, Tye Fagan, Toumani Camara, Christian Brown and Mikal Starks. 

The loss of five key contributors raises the question of what the immediate future looks like for the Bulldogs. Given Georgia’s roster turnover, The Red & Black asked University of Georgia students for their thoughts on the potential in the coming years. 

Jessie Sutko, a junior double major in food science and technology and linguistics, didn’t have high hopes for the program’s future.

“It is going to be pretty hard to imagine it getting any better with all of the talent we have lost,” she said. 

Sutko is optimistic when thinking about the seasons to come, as players rotate in and out of the university, and she looks forward to seeing them develop. However, she is not predicting Georgia to make it to the NCAA Tournament in the 2021-22 season. 

When asked how the outcome of this season is going to affect the recruitment process, Sutko believes that if other players see such a “mass exodus” from one team, it could deter them from seeing that school as a viable option.

Sutko also explained when people see so many players leaving in one year, others are going to assume that it is because of an internal issue. 

Seth Manus, a sophomore sports management major, agreed with Sutko’s view on recruits. 

“If you can’t retain your recruits, then no one is going to want to come [to Georgia],” he said. “If they are leaving, there is a reason they don’t want to stay.” 

Manus also explained that if athletes that are brought in are not trained and developed as competitors, they are going to find a school that is going to give them those opportunities. He said when transfers are treated better, such as getting more playing time, coaches are putting them over the recruits they already have, and that is driving players away.

Jala Norman, a fifth-year senior majoring in journalism with a certificate in sports media, remarked on head coach Tom Crean’s role. 

“The culture that he has created is pretty intense, in terms of he is a strict coach,” she said. “I do think that it is going to take the right types of players to respond to his style of coaching and just his style of communicating.”

Norman said that rebuilding the team and achieving a strong team atmosphere is going to take a great amount of trial and error. 

“In college with the one-and-done rule, kids just really want to have one solid year and then go pro,” Norman said. “It’s going to be harder to build a team where you make it clear to the players that this is going to be a rebuilding season. It’s going to take a lot of effort, a lot of trial and error, [and] I don’t think that culture is very popular in college basketball anymore.”