The Georgia Bulldogs will begin official practices for the 2020-21 season on Wednesday when six returning letterwinners and eight newcomers hit the court floor for head coach Tom Crean.
Crean will welcome back starters Sahvir Wheeler and Toumani Camara, as well as junior Tye Fagan and sophomores Christian Brown, Jaykwon Walton and Jaxon Etter. The Bulldogs’ newcomers include a representative in each class – freshmen K.D. Johnson and Josh Taylor, sophomore Tyron McMillan, juniors Jonathan Ned and Mikal Stars and graduate transfers P.J. Horne, Andrew Garcia and Justin Kier.
“We’ve got to merge eight new players into it, and that’s going to take some time,” Crean said. “ I don’t think we’re close to playing the pace we want to play yet. We want to heighten the pace, but we also want to heighten the awareness level of how we play with each other. We want the ball to move even better. We want to come more connected on defense. A lot of things have to come together, and the most important thing is that our skills come together, and we keep getting better with that. We’ve got to determine who can do what and how that compliments each other as we play. The most important thing is that we don’t waste any days and we keep that mindset going forward.”
Four of Georgia’s newcomers – Horne, Garcia, Kier and McMillan – signed with the Bulldogs without even visiting campus.
“When they got to campus, that was the first time we’d personally met them and talked to them not on phone, FaceTime or zoom,” Crean said. “The only guy will a full year of college basketball with us in the program is Tye Fagan. That’s tough. That’s really tough because the kids who are sophomores didn’t get the full spring.”
The Bulldogs returned to campus during the summer with four hours per week of conditioning workouts. That expanded to include four hours per week of on-court work beginning on July 20 and moved to 12 hours total of conditioning and skill instruction from Sept. 21-Oct. 13.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 16-16 campaign that ended with an 81-63 win over Ole Miss in the opening round of the SEC Tournament on March 11. Roughly 16 hours later, the college basketball season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgia won four of its last seven games, headlined by a 65-55 victory over No. 13 Auburn.
The Bulldogs lost their top-two scorers from a year ago, Anthony Edwards and Rayshaun Hammonds, who declared for the NBA Draft. Edwards, the 2020 SEC Freshman of the Year, averaged 19.1 ppg and also led Georgia in steals and blocks. Hammonds averaged 12.9 ppg and collected a team-best 7.4 rpg.
The first day of the 2020-21 college basketball season is set for Wednesday, Nov. 25. Georgia’s schedule will be announced at a later date.