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Georgia will need young guards to take pressure off Yante Maten

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Previewing the No. 12 team in the SEC, the Georgia Bulldogs.

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Georgia Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia Preview

#12 Georgia Bulldogs

Last Season: 19 - 15 (9 - 9 in conference) #61 kenpom

My Prediction: 13 - 16 (6 - 12, 12th in conference)

The Masses Prediction: 7.2 - 10.8 (t-9th in conference)

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Georgia Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

HEAD COACH: Mark Fox | ninth season 145-118

It’s hard to believe Fox has been at Georgia for nine seasons now and we’re all still waiting for the breakthrough. Perhaps the breakthrough isn’t going to happen and perhaps UGa will always been good without being great. Fox took over the program from Dennis Felton who had cratered the Bulldogs and Fox has built a program that ebbs and flows a bit. He immediately got them inside the KenPom 100, but what has happened at Athens since has been mostly average for a Power 5 program. Fox is a great tactical coach who’s teams play hard and play with precision, but he’s never quite seemed to have the kind of talent to put them into the upper echelon of the SEC. There were many who questioned whether Fox would hold onto his job last year, and since going 12-6 in SEC play in 2014 the Bulldogs have gone 11-7, 10-8 and 9-9 last year. If that trend continues it’s hard to see Fox holding onto his job for another year.

Seat Temp: WARM

2017 10 year look georgia

Two NCAA’s under Fox, and only 12 in school history. Since making their first NCAA tournament in 1983, Georgia made the tournament about half the time by going 9 times in 20 years, but since 2003 there have just been three appearances which begs the question about commitment to basketball. Since the 2003-04 season the Bulldogs have only been ranked in the top 25 in one season, for one week. That’s almost impossible to pull off and I can’t imagine there are very many programs in the same situation.

SO, WHO’S GONE?

name reason GP %min %pts %ov %poss
name reason GP %min %pts %ov %poss
Yante Maten graduation 33 84.39% 28.30% 21.62% 23.03%
Juwan Parker graduation 33 60.14% 12.19% 10.58% 12.90%
Pape Diatta graduation 15 9.03% 0.80% 0.86% 0.89%
Isaac Kante transfer 24 1.79% 0.45% 0.07% 0.45%
31.07% 41.74% 33.13% 37.27%

If all we talked about here was J.J. Frazier that would probably be enough. No offense to Kenny Paul Geno and Houston Kessler who were good troopers for the Bulldogs but neither ever made a big impact. Geno played nearly 20 mpg as a junior but that fell to nine minutes as a senior. Kessler topped out around 16 mpg last year also before dropping back down to six minutes this past year. But the straw that stirred the drink for the Bulldogs last year was J.J. Frazier, the diminutive combo guard with a penchant for making plays at the right time. Frazier is going to leave a huge hole in the lineup for the Dogs as evident by his 35% OV, which is 20% more than the next most valuable player, and 92% of the value lost since last season.

AND, WHO’S BACK?

player year pos gp %min %pts ts% %ov
player year pos gp %min %pts ts% %ov
William Jackson SR CG 33 72.75% 12.33% 51.06% 23.09%
Derek Ogbeide SR POST 33 53.87% 10.15% 63.95% 7.06%
Rayshaun Hammonds SO CF 33 59.47% 9.84% 54.63% 10.47%
Tyree Crump JR PG 31 34.32% 8.90% 55.00% 9.08%
Nicolas Claxton SO POST 33 36.19% 5.79% 61.75% 2.72%
Teshaun Hightower SO CG 29 24.03% 4.67% 52.83% 7.06%
Jordan Harris JR CG 18 21.27% 2.80% 56.29% 3.00%
Mike Edwards SR POST 29 20.24% 2.31% 48.71% 1.44%
E'Torrion Wilridge SR WING 29 21.56% 1.42% 38.67% 3.04%
Connor O'Neill* SR CF 7 0.52% 0.04% 8.83% 0.00%
Christian Harrison* SR WING 3 0.22% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
68.89% 58.25% 54.77% 66.96%
NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Yante Maten | SENIOR | POST

Last year Maten was my pick for preseason SEC Player of the year, and early on he played like the player of the year. Maten and Frazier were almost single handedly responsible for keeping the Bulldogs afloat for most of the year. Combined they created roughly half of the offensive value for the entire team last year until Maten was forced to miss five and most of a sixth game in the final eight of the season. Maten is a special player and he’ll have a big impact this year and he’s absolutely the most important player on the roster. Maten can do it all and he’s continued to expand his game each year by becoming a threat from three-point range as well. If Maten gets some consistent help he can likely contend for player of the year again, but where the help is gonna come from is the question.

There will be many players tasked with passing the ball to Maten this year. Jordan Harris had a solid season as a freshman and will look to share ball handling duties with both Tyree Crump and William Jackson II. Jackson, entering his junior year has been looking to break out and may finally have his chance. Both Harris and Jackson are the kind of guards we’ve gotten used to at Georgia, bigger, rangy and not especially good at shooting. Ok, that’s being hard on Harris as he actually shot well from three last season. Derek Ogbeide played an important role and could be even more vital this year. He’s a big body who is skilled around the basket and a viable presence defensively. Mike Edwards has been a reliable interior sub with limited offensive output. Crump took on a limited role behind J.J. Frazier, but should see his importance grow this year as the Bulldogs move on to a new primary ball handler. Both Pape Diatta and E’Torrion Wilridge played in limited roles a year ago and probably won’t factor in much this year either.

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Georgia Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Juwan Parker | SENIOR | WING

Picking the second featured player on this wasn’t very easy because there are a lot of guys needed to step up in order to make up for the graduation of J.J. Frazier. Parker heads into his 5th year of eligibility setting career highs in every category, and the Bulldogs will need him to be even better his last year. Parker is a physical player but he’s never shot higher than 40% from the floor and a career 17.9% three point shooter. The odds aren’t high Parker is going to turn around his shooting, but he still managed nearly 10 points a contest last year. Parker is good defensively and will need to provide a stout leadership for the many young guards like Crump, Harris and Jackson as the focus will shift to them.

THEN, WHO’S NEW?

class player ht wt rating ranking pos
class player ht wt rating ranking pos
Fr Amanze Ngumezi 6'9 245 ★★★★ 112 POST
Fr Ignas Sargiunas 6'4 205 ★★★★ 124 WING
Fr Tye Fagan 6'3 185 ★★★ 216 CG
Fr JoJo Toppin 6'6' 190 ★★★ 335 WING

Rayshaun Hammonds is legit. He’s 6’8 and athletic and will probably be the most highly anticipated recruit at Georgia since Kentavius Caldwell-Pope. He can shoot, pass, rebound and he’s likely to be a vital player very early on. After Hammonds the class gets thin, though Nic Claxton could become a pretty good player down the road once he gets adequately acclimated to the college weightroom. Claxton has some skill for his size, and the ability to stretch the floor a bit. Isaac Kante may be more physically ready but he’ll have trouble finding minutes behind both Maten, Ogbeide and Edwards, with Diatta and Hammonds also capable of playing inside.

DEPTH CHART

position starter backup third
position starter backup third
(1) Point Guard Tyree Crump Jordan Harris
(2) Combo Guard Williams Jackson Te'Shaun Hightower Tye Fagan
(3) Wing Rayshaun Hammonds E'Torrion Wilridge Ignas Sargiunas
(4) Combo Forward Derek Ogbeide Amanze Ngumezi JoJo Toppin
(5) Post Nicolas Claxton Mike Edwards

I imagine the most likely scenario is Crump, Harris and Jackson fighting it out for two spots. Maten will start, and Parker is likely to start but the best case scenario may be the younger and fairly talented core of guards the Bulldogs have step up and take ownership of the playing time. Parker’s limited offensive ability could put pressure on some of the younger guys and the Bulldogs are likely to sink or swim with them, even though I don’t think you can still refer to Jackson as a young guy.

SCHEDULE

My Projected Record: 13 - 16 | KenPom Projected Record: 15 - 13

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

NON-CONFERENCE

Date Location Opponent KenPom Proj W/L
Date Location Opponent KenPom Proj W/L
Nov 9 Home Savannah State 345 W
Nov 13 Away Temple 82 W
Nov 16 Home Sam Houston State 292 W
Nov 19 Neutral Illinois State 87 W
Nov 20 Neutral Akron/Clemson 181/14
Nov 21 Neutral - -
Nov 27 Neutral Kennesaw State 329 W
Dec 3 Home Texas Southern 277 W
Dec 15 Home Arizona State 53 L
Dec 18 Home Oakland 231 W
Dec 22 Away Georgia Tech 92 W
Dec 30 Home UMass 142 W
Jan 26 Home Texas 16 L
avg 176.91

This could amount to a tougher non-conference schedule than Georgia has booked up in a while. The last few years Georgia has managed to drop a game or two that they shouldn’t before conference play and this could very easily happen again. I’ve got them dropping four games which would equal their losses from last year. They play three power conference opponents in Marquette, Kansas State and Georgia Tech, with only Tech being in Athens. Plus a road game at UMass which should be a tough win. The Bulldogs also take part in the Wooden Legacy Classic and with a win in the first round their second round matchup would likely be San Diego State. The other side of the bracket is much tougher with Harvard, Saint Marys, St. Josephs, and Washington State. Go 2-1 out west and the season is going to look a lot better.

CONFERENCE

Date Location Opponent KenPom Proj W/L
Date Location Opponent KenPom Proj W/L
Jan 5 Away Tennessee 11 L
Jan 9 Home Vanderbilt 69 W
Jan 12 Away Auburn 17 L
Jan 15 Home Kentucky 7 L
Jan 19 Home Florida 19 W
Jan 23 Away LSU 50 L
Jan 29 Away Arkansas 64 L
Feb 2 Home South Carolina 42 W
Feb 6 Away Alabama 51 L
Feb 9 Home Ole Miss 94 W
Feb 12 Away Texas A&M 48 L
Feb 16 Home LSU 50 W
Feb 20 Home Mississippi State 23 L
Feb 23 Away Ole Miss 94 L
Feb 27 Home Auburn 17 L
Mar 2 Away Florida 19 L
Mar 6 Home Missouri 43 W
Mar 9 Away South Carolina 42 L
avg 42.22

Starting by having four of your home-and-home games against two teams projected below you is a good start. Tennessee is another two games against a team who may or may not be very good, and Auburn is in a little bit of turmoil. Only Florida is a team certain to finish ahead of Georgia in the standings. At Missouri, Mississippi State, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt are all very difficult games. It’s easy to see how this could get away from Georgia quick, but there are also enough holes it wouldn’t surprise me to see them at or above .500.

OVERVIEW

For the last few years I’ve been on the Mark Fox train and what he’s doing at Georgia. I’m hopping off a little bit this year. It’s almost unfortunate because Fox has really done a nice job in building a consistent program. But in building everything up at a program like Georgia you’re bound to hit a dip and it looks like this season could dip.

Losing J.J. Frazier is a very big thing, he was so central to everything they did over the past few years. Essentially there are two ways this can go, Ewing effect, or Frazier leaves a hole the Dawgs just can’t fill.

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Bringing back Yante Maten was obviously a huge key for Mark Fox because at the very least Georgia has someone to rely on. And Maten continues to expand his game and become a more dangerous player by being able to extend the defense with his jumpshot now. The problem I see on the roster becomes: Who’s next?

Not that there aren’t some intriguing options. I very much like Rayshawn Hammonds and think he could be a standout on the roster this year. Hammonds does a lot of very good things on the court, but he’s a freshman who’ll likely need some seasoning. I’m skeptical Juwan Parker can be the guy also, Parker has been a solid role guy for three seasons, there’s no reason to expect he’ll take the next step. I kind of look at two players who need to break out a bit, and that’s William Jackson and Tyree Crump. If Fox can find a solid and reliable point guard in either one of these two guys (or, in the best case both guys) that could go a long way in solidifying the biggest question mark on this team: the back court.

Georgia is probably the team I have the hardest time predicting this level of disappointment. I’m on record, a lot, as loving Yante Maten. I’m also on record as being protective of the job Mark Fox has done in a tough place. I think there’s a chance the young guards are good enough to surprise everyone including myself, and some combo of the experienced interior guys along with Hammonds forms a tough enough post tandem to give Maten the support he needs to make Georgia a contender. I don’t see a top three finish or anything, but it seems possible for this group to go way past this 6-12 prediction and be knocking on the door of an NCAA tournament.


About the preview: a number of respected basketball bloggers were asked to submit one pick the entire league schedule game by game. Because these are game by game picks, they often tend to be a bit of a rosier picture of each teams potential. Each rep’s picks are reflected in the record prediction for the site listed at the top of the page, and within “the Masses” picks as well. Included in “the Masses” are various SEC media members who made picks at my request also.

If you’d like to submit your picks, click here for the Google Form we used.


GLOSSARY

* - an asterisk denotes a walk-on player

GP - Games Played

%min - percentage of total available minutes played, does not account for time missed due to injury

%ov - offensive team value, simple formula of (%points + %rebounds) - %turnovers/*100, similar to Offensive Rating but places more value on performance to the team

%poss - percentage of team possessions the player is responsible for ending a possession, whether by making a shot, missing a shot not rebounded by the offense or committing a turnover.

%pts - percentage of teams points scored

ts% - true shooting percentage, basically points scored divided by 2x fga +0.44*fta.