What had not happened in a long time – so long that you doubted it would happen again – happened on Monday morning in a gym on Northside Drive. The best high school basketball player in Georgia told the world, "I'm going to Georgia."
And wait. If you are a bulldog, it will be better. Anthony Edwards, known as Ant-Man, is not just the best player in the state. It is No. 1 from sea to shining sea. He's not likely to be in Athens for long – NBAdraft.net predicts him as # 1 in the NBA's overall selection for 2020 – but even if he's only six months on campus, those six months will change the dynamics of a program, that has long been disgusting thought
Tom Crean is in his first season as a Georgian coach and it is worse than expected. His bulldogs are 1
"It all changes everything," said Winfred Jordan, who coached Edwards for the AAU Atlanta Xpress. "That puts Georgia (the Bulldogs) back on the map."
D.A. Layne, the Georgia alum who played on Wheeler High, said, "This is the game changer. Even if it is only for a year, the locks are opened after that.
The Mark Fox era should not be rehashed, but the former Georgia coach worked as if the Atlanta AAU was under him. It is not by chance that the flagship school of the state had little luck in signing the best prospects of the state. Asked about the relationship with Fox, Jordan clenched his fists and pressed them together. "So," he said.
Crean was in the world long enough to realize that the great allure of the Georgia job was not the catalyst for the Classic City – Athens or the UGA itself. It was close to one of the nation's most fertile crescents. The reason why his first team is terrible is that Fox, who was in action for nine years, received little attention. Anthony Edwards, a 6-foot-4 guard, is remarkable.
Jordan says, "He could be the best player we've ever had in Georgia."
Someone mentioned Dwight Howard and Kwame Brown, the No. 1 favorites in their respective designs: They played in Georgia. Bill Spivey and Walt Frazier and Dale Ellis and James Banks (the UGA class, not the current tech brand) and Kenny Walker and Terry Fair and Jeff Malone and Cedric Henderson and Pervis Ellison and Brian Oliver and Eric Manuel and Jeff Sheppard and Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Josh Smith and Lou Williams and Javaris Crittenton and Al-Farouq Aminu and Derrick Favors and Jaylen Brown. Wendell Carter of Pace Academy and Collin Sexton of Pebblebrook were lotteries last June. Ashton Hagans of Newton High is the starting point for Kentucky, the nation's number five.
Said Jordan, something of a historian at Peach State Basketball: "Anthony is definitely in the top five."
Edwards can handle and deal with it. He plays at a smaller private school, unlike a wheeler or a Norcross. He was admitted to the recruiting class only in November 2019, when he was reclassified from junior to senior. However, he has dominated his competition you would expect "He visited Kentucky and Duke and Kansas," said Jordan. "He could have gone to a blueblood, but he needed this (his year in Athens) as development."
Does the perception – dammit, the longstanding reality – that Georgia is not under the top crust, make Edwards pause? "I want to be my own man," he said.
Suppose he sticks to his commitment – he can not sign a memorandum until April – Edwards will be more. He will be a pioneer. He will be the man who has long resisted reality to play the much lesser sports on the UGA, and his mere presence will make Georgia basketball as relevant as Jim Harrick has been. (Who would say he had his own problems?) The last NCAA tournament game the Bulldogs won was in March 2002, when Edwards approached his first birthday.
"He is good enough, he would leave his mark everywhere," Anderson said. "He's good enough to shape the sport."
Just to let you know, Anderson is the grandson of Lefty Driesell, the re-stamped Hall of Famer that brought Georgia State to Big Dance and brought Mike Maloy to Davidson Tom McMillen and Len Elmore and Len Bias to Maryland. (Almost also Moses Malone.) Anderson is not a wild buddy who is overwhelmed by the best player he has trained. He sees the floor, so to speak, and what he says is no more than any scouting and recruiting analyst has said: Ant-Man – Edwards himself prefers "Ant," FYI-is the true deal.
You may have a problem with Georgia taking a player who is not in town for long. If you do, you can also watch the next team of Mark Fox. Crean has made it clear that he's in the market for top-end talent, and when that top talent goes the one-and-done way … well, this season people will talk about Georgia basketball, nobody has talked about for 15 years. If Edwards, as both a Collegian and a Draft, is indeed great, he will serve as a beacon to the big timers from this coming state.
"This is HUGE for Georgia," said Anderson, a Georgia Tech alumnus. (He played as Walk-On under Paul Hewitt.) And then: "One of the reasons Anthony wrestled against coach Crean is that he coached two of his favorite players," said Dwyane Wade, who led Marquette to Crean the final Four from 2003 and Victor Oladipo, who helped Creans Indiana Hoosiers with the Sweet 16 in 2012 and 2013.
That's how it works. If players think you could take them to the NBA, they'll play for you, and big-timers will attract more big-timers, and enough big-timers will make you a serial winner. (There is the John Calipari method, which is written in lower case.) For Tom Crean, this is just a start, but it's the best start possible.
Crean's newest recruit, one might say, dreams bigger than the Sweet 16 or even the Final Four. Asked about a prediction for the Georgia basketball in the next season, Edwards said: "National Championship".