Tom Crean and UGA Share Blame for Georgia Basketball Exodus

Georgia basketball saw another starter enter the transfer portal Thursday night when forward Toumani Camara decided to leave the program.

All defenses of Georgia basketball head coach Tom Crean fell apart Thursday night when starting forward Toumani Camara entered the transfer portal. 

Camara is the fifth Bulldog to enter the portal this year, and the fourth to enter since the 2020-21 season ended. 

Every member of Crean's 2018 class has left the program. Sahvir Wheeler is the only member of the 2019 class who's still on the team, at the time of writing at least. Sources claim star freshmen K.D. Johnson could also soon join the portal.

There's a lot of speculation about why Georgia is experiencing a mass exodus of players, with many fingers pointed towards Crean. But with Camara, Fagan and possibly Johnson entering the portal, the specifics of "why" don't matter. 

When Fagan entered the portal on March 26, he tweeted "Crying in my car thinking about leaving UGA." He didn't want to leave Georgia, yet he did anyway.

North Carolina center Walker Kessler entered the transfer portal recently. He's one of the best big men in the nation, but he's also a UGA legacy player whose father, brother and uncle all played for Georgia. 

Yet, Georgia wasn't on Kessler's radar when he was a high-school senior. Georgia doesn't appear to be on his radar now, even though the team desperately needs a player of Kessler's skillset.

Good basketball players seemingly want nothing to do with the Georgia program and that reflects on Crean.  

It's an indictment of a coach who said, "It’s all on me because I’m the one who decided to keep these guys," when talking about former coach Mark Fox's players after a loss in 2019.

If you had your doubts about Crean when Georgia hired him in 2018, Thursday was your vindication. And if you were still a believer in him through the 2020-21 season, Thursday shook your faith. 

However, it's also an indictment of a program that has fallen behind its SEC rivals over the last 20 years. Georgia's program is one that went all-in on discipline and cleanliness after firing then head coach Jim Harrick in 2003. Harrick was building a real competitor in Athens. 

Not only has Georgia not recovered from its over-correction, in many ways the program has regressed. The Bulldogs have just three NCAA Tournament appearances since firing Harrick. In that time, the Bulldogs have experienced more losing seasons (six) than 20-win seasons (four). 

All eyes are now on new athletics director Josh Brooks. Will the first-year AD stick with Crean for one more year, or does he bite the bullet and pay for Crean's ridiculous year-three buyout? Obviously, the necessary changes merely start with the head coach.