Georgia Basketball Fans, Patience is Key

Brent Wilson

It's tough to be a Georgia Basketball fan at this point in time, and rightfully so, given the amount of stock, there was put into this season.

That's because Tom Crean, the former college coach of NBA stars, Dwayne Wade and Victor Oladipo, landed 5 of the Top 110 players, according to the 247sports composite rankings, in the 2019 recruiting class, with one of those recruits being the potential #1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Anthony Edwards. Something that has never been done at the University of Georgia. 

After the 2018-2019 season, the Bulldogs lost Nicolas Claxton to the NBA. Still, most believed that there would be more than enough talent on the roster between Rayshaun Hammonds, Jordan Harris, Tyree Crump, and the nation's #11 overall recruiting class. And for the very first part of the season, that prediction seemed to be in line.

But after multiple leads blown of all sizes and a handful of games being lost by 20-30 points, the Bulldogs now sit at a rocky 12-11 record.

Now, even though this record is nowhere near what UGA needs it to be to make a push for the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs have already 1-upped their season total from a season ago, with 8 games remaining in the regular season. And while it's not the vast improvement the fan base desires to see, it is still progress.

It's easy to point fingers in a situation like this. Many fans who praised Tom Crean for his recruiting efforts in the summer are now bringing up his 4-24 record in SEC ball, but right now is not the time to call for Tom Crean's job. Just take a look at Crean's progression at Indiana. 

In his first three seasons (08'-11'), Crean's team had records of 6-25, 10-21, and 12-21. In the 2011-2012 season, Indiana's 27-9 record took them to the NCAA Tournament, and a 29-7 record in 2012-2013 won them the regular-season Big 10 Championship. 

If Georgia fans have to wait a couple of seasons to eventually reach being anywhere near regular-season conference championships and NCAA Tournament bids, they'll gladly wait. Or at least they should. 

Tom Crean has proven that he can flip the demeanor of a program. That change is currently undergoing construction at The University of Georgia, even if it doesn't appear to be.

For starters, check out the development of "Crean recruits" during his short stint at Georgia, outside of Anthony Edwards.

At the top of that list, you have Sahvir Wheeler and Toumani Camara. Wheeler (551 minutes) and Camara (513 minutes) have logged the 3rd and 4th most minutes on the team this year. And as a result of their high minutes, they've engraved themselves as key pieces to this Georgia roster for years to come. 

Wheeler currently leads the team in assists with 4.4 per game and is scoring 8 PPG. But as we saw against Alabama, Wheeler can score at a fast pace, as he scored a career-high of 24 points in the overtime loss.

There's also Camara, who has established himself as one of the better post defenders on the entire team. Leading the team in blocks, Camara puts in the effort on both sides. Once his outside game begins to pick up, you could potentially be looking at a future NBA-er within the next 2-3 years.

And with limited minutes, we've seen flashes of stardom from Tye Fagan, who has led the team in scoring in a couple of games this season, as well as Mike Peake and Christian Brown. These high-effort type of players are guys you need to build up a program, and given that all of these young men are underclassmen, we're not far from the days where Georgia is a household name in the SEC. If patience is provided. 

As for Anthony Edwards, his run in Athens will be short-lived, but his effect on this program will last for years to come, given the benefit in recruiting.

Georgia's 2020 recruiting class has received LOIs from 4-star in-state products, point guard K.D. Johnson (88th overall) and Josh Taylor (117th overall). This class stands at 25th in the nation at the moment, yet the addition of J.T. Thor (50th overall), a teammate of Josh Taylor, could move the Bulldogs up to 10th in the country in recruiting.

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Looking out to 2021, the nation's 6th overall prospect, Mike Foster has previously mentioned UGA as a potential candidate, with Anthony Edwards' development for the NBA Draft being one of the main reasons. Georgia even currently leads for Foster's services. 

It's frustrating to be a Georgia Basketball fan, now. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing your team throw away a season with the potential #1 pick of the NBA Draft. Especially in excruciating fashion, as they have in the last week or so. 

But as Tom Crean continues to add more and more talent to this roster, better days remain ahead. Bulldog Nation just has to be patient.

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