Closer Look: Mike White Named UGA’s Next Head Coach

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Closer Look: Mike White Named UGA’s Next Head Coach

The University of Georgia athletic department announced on Sunday that it would be hiring University of Florida head coach Mike White to fill its head coaching vacancy after Tom Crean was fired last week.

The decision came as quite the surprise to those tuned in to the coaching search, dispelling rumors that speculated Georgia would look to former player and current Xavier assistant coach Jonas Hayes to take the helm.

White comes to Athens with 11 years of head coaching experience, having spent the last 7 with the Dawgs’ archrival. In his 7 seasons at Florida, White made the NCAA tournament 4 times and led the Gators to the Elite 8 in 2017. During his tenure, White posted a win percentage of 61.7% with an overall record of 142-88.





While Mike White’s reign at Florida was certainly not subpar by any stretch of the imagination, Florida fans were underwhelmed at the trajectory of the program following the Billy Donovan dynasty. The Gators went 19-13 during the 2021-2022 campaign, marking their third consecutive season of fewer than 20 wins.

Despite their 9th place finish in the SEC, this year’s Gator squad should encourage Dawg fans, geographically speaking. The 2021 Florida recruiting class included 3 Georgia natives, 2 of which (Phlandrous Fleming Jr. and Myreon Jones) came by way of the transfer portal and the other (Kowacie Reeves) from Westside high school in Macon, GA. Fleming, an Athens native from Cedar Shoals high school, put up 27 points to lead all scorers in Florida’s win in Stegeman Coliseum in February, magnifying Georgia’s persistent inability to recruit in its own backyard. After landing the landmark commitment of the nation’s top player in Anthony Edwards in 2019, Georgia was unable to fabricate any recruiting momentum in the state, only signing one recruit ranked in the top 10 from Georgia in Josh Taylor who was #10 in the 2020 class.

It’s no secret that the recipe for success for UGA basketball calls for ingredients that are running around in high school gymnasiums just an hour’s drive down I-85 in Atlanta. The key for Mike White in his new role will be to convince perhaps the nation’s premier talent hub to stay home and play a part in putting Georgia on the map rather than head west to what is quickly becoming one of college basketball’s premier programs in Auburn. Although White has already had some success in this regard, signing Reeves last year as the state’s #4 ranked player, he inherits a program who is playing catch-up with the SEC’s other 13 teams… and losing. Georgia currently has no commitments in the 2022 class, meaning that White will be afforded the opportunity to shape the program with players that fit his system right away.





In addition to convincing players to come to Athens from high school, convincing them to stay there has become equally if not more important with the emergence of the transfer portal in recent years. Following the 2020-2021 season, Georgia’s roster was decimated by the portal which scattered essentially the entire team around the country and landed two former Bulldogs in starting roles at two SEC programs which ranked in the nation’s top 10 for most of the year in K.D. Johnson (Auburn) and Sahvir Wheeler (Kentucky). After a disastrous season, Georgia runs the same risk this summer, and one of White’s top priorities upon arriving in Athens should be keeping budding star Kario Oquendo in a red and black jersey.

In a press release on Sunday, Georgia Athletic Director Josh Brooks issued the following statement: “We are extremely excited to welcome Mike White and his family to Athens. We have witnessed Coach White to be a leader of men, as well as a proven winner with an impressive postseason body of work. We want to compete for national success in all 21 of our sports, and we believe that he is the coach that can build Georgia Basketball to a consistent winner on the collegiate basketball landscape.” 

White also commented that he was “beyond excited for the opportunity to lead the Men’s Basketball program at the University of Georgia.” He went on to say that “President Jere W. Morehead and Athletics Director Josh Brooks are united in a strong vision for UGA Basketball which resonated with me deeply. They believe, as I do, in developing our young men as students, athletes and leaders, as well as providing them with the support they need to be successful. I believe in the limitless future of Georgia Basketball.”

White concluded the release with an encouraging message to the Bulldog fanbase, saying, “to the Georgia Basketball family, friends, and fans, I’m ready to get to work. Go Dawgs!”

With his work cut out for him, White seems poised to take on the challenge of re-establishing relevance in Georgia Basketball. 





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