Last season: 18-15, 7-11 SEC, declined possible NIT bid.
Coach: Tom Crean.
Conference: Southeastern Conference.
Who’s gone: Coach Mark Fox, F Yante Maten, G Juwan Parker
Who’s back: Forward Derek Ogbeide averaged 6.9 points and 6.2 rebounds and blocked 29 shots. William “Turtle” Jackson is the team’s leading returning scorer at 8.4 points. The team’s third returning starter is Rayshaun Hammonds, who showed promise as a freshman last season while averaging 6.7 points and 4.9 rebounds. Hammonds had 13 points and nine rebounds in Georgia’s 56-54 exhibition win at UAB last week. Guard Tyree Crump averaged 6.5 points last season. An emerging player to watch is 6-foot-11 sophomore Nicolas Claxton, whose skills and overall athleticism immediately caught Crean’s attention. Claxton averaged 3.9 points and 3.9 assists and was second on the team with 42 blocks.
Who’s new: Freshman guard Ignas Sargiunas, from Lithuania, started in the exhibition against UAB, though Crean said he has no set lineup yet. Another freshman guard, JoJo Toppin, won the team’s dunk contest at its “Stegmania” preview event for fans. Freshman forward Amanze Ngumezi (6-9, 245) provides needed size on a front line that will miss the presence of scoring and rebounding leader Maten, who is now on a two-way contract with the Miami Heat and its G-League Sioux Falls affiliate.
The Skinny: Georgia made only two NCAA Tournament appearances in nine years with Fox. Crean, who was 356-231 in 18 seasons at Marquette and Indiana from 1999-2017, was given a six-year, $16 million contract to make the Bulldogs a postseason presence.
Expectations: The Bulldogs were picked 13th of 14 teams in the SEC by media. Las Vegas oddsmakers have Georgia as an extreme long shot to win the NCAA Tournament at 350-1.
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