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WATCH: Georgia basketball look ahead, how Tom Crean’s building another winner
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WATCH: Georgia basketball look ahead, how Tom Crean’s building another winner

WATCH: Georgia basketball look ahead, how Tom Crean’s building another winner

WATCH: Georgia basketball look ahead, how Tom Crean’s building another winner

ATHENS Tom Crean is well known for his Xs and Os and uptempo teams, and Georgia's 2020 basketball recruiting class makes it clear there are no plans to slow down.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 16-16 season that saw the team peak the final night with an 18-point win over Ole Miss in the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament in Nashville.

RELATED: Georgia pounds Ole Miss, aims for Florida in SEC tourney

The next day, March 12, the college sports world shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. Crean and his team were left wondering what might have been.

The Bulldogs have made just one NCAA tournament appearance the last nine years (2015).

Crean, who rebuilt Marquette into a Final Four team and rebuilt Indiana into a two-time Big Ten champion knows UGA remains a work in progress.

Crean inherited a mess two years ago.

A vacuum existed among six returning seniors after star Yante Maten took his leadership and scoring with him to the NBA. Three other players served disciplinary suspensions or have been dismissed from the program.

The sole shining star was Nicolas Claxton, and he improved so much under Crean in one season that he went to the NBA following his sophomore year.

This rebuild is such that just one player remains from that 2018-19 team.

RELATED: Tom Izzo shares insight into his former assistant, Tom Crean

UGA appears to be a refreshed and recharged program moving in the right direction.

Georgia has a solid nucleus to build around with players like freshman assists record holder Sahvir Wheeler, junior guard Tye Fagan and sophomore power forward Toumani Camara returning.

The players are eligible to return to campus as early as June 8 after the SEC presidents voted on Friday to give the green light to players wanting to return to practices for voluntary workouts. The basketball team's plans are currently being evaluated.

Look back

The 2019-20 campaign saw Georgia set a single-season attendance record in Stegman Coliseum that included marquee home wins over Tennessee and Auburn.

On the road, Crean's Bulldogs scored only the second non-conference road victory over a Top 25 team in program history, beating Memphis.

And now, another reload is underway, with projected NBA lottery pick Anthony Edwards moving on.

RELATED: Georgia's "Antman" declares for NBA draft, stock soaring

Junior power forward Rayshaun Hammonds also elected to leave early, though his professional status is considerably less certain.

Crean is looking forward, his roster now void of any players recruited by former coach Mark Fox.

"What I want is a team that can switch, a team that can play multiple ways," Crean told DawgNation during the Ingles On The Beat show last Monday night.

"We don't need to get anyone that will slow us down or clog that lane. We have to get to the basketball, but we have to be able to run."

No doubt, Georgia has scored 90 or more points 11 times in Crean's two seasons. Prior to his arrival, the Bulldogs had scored 90 or more points in 11 times in 11 seasons.

"We were second in the country in transition points, we were third in the country at points at the rim, and yet we shot 30 percent from three," Crean points out.

"You look at some of the games we had, if you had another 3-point make, or two more 3-pointers and I'm not talking about manufacturing threes, I'm talking about making the open threes that we had that's four or five more wins right there."

Georgia could be that close to the bubble again the season, but they'll need to rely on newcomers once again.

Experienced recruits

Once season after reloading with 10 newcomers and the No. 5-ranked signing class in the county, the Bulldogs are poised with seven more new players.

Georgia most recently added Andrew Garcia, a 6-foot-5, 228-pound shooting guard who figures to add scoring punch and muscle to a team that will need to grow up in a hurry.

Garcia is the second graduate transfer in the class, joining George Mason transfer Justin Kier (6-4, 197) on what looks to be another very versatile team.

"(Kier) is gonna be a combination guard that can handle it and that can score," Crean said. "He'll be comfortable bringing the ball up the floor, or be comfortable having the ball thrown ahead to him."

Crean said this Georgia team will need to grow up fast, and that's likely why he's adding two graduate transfers and two junior college transfers, as well.

Jonathan Ned is a 6-9 inside-out forward from Eastern Florida State junior college that shot 48-percent from beyond the 3-point line last season.

"We need Jonathan to come in and make threes," Crean said. "We need him to drive the ball, rebound and defend his position, but we also need him to make open jump shots."

Mikal Starks (6-0 guard) is another Eastern Florida State junior college transfer

"I think he's a highly competitive leadership guy, he's a winner, he competes, he fights, he's quick and he can get to the basket," Crean said. "I think he's going to be a good shooter for us, and I think that's important."

Georgia also has a commitment from Tyron McMillian, a 6-8, 225-pounder from Kilgore, Texas. McMillan is ranked the No. 11 junior college player in the nation.

Incoming freshmen

K.D. Johnson is a 6-1, top 100 signee out of Hargrave Military Academy High School the Crean believes will have an immediate impact.

"K.D. is a high, high level competitor," Crean said. "He's a two-way guy that picks the ball up full court, he'll hawk you, he'll fight you.

"He plays with a high motor, he plays to win, and I love his fearlessness."

Crean said Johnson will take on anybody at the rim, though he expects the talented prospect will quickly adjust to the SEC competition level.

"Sometimes he thinks he's going to go score on the 6-10, 6-11 guy, and I think he's going to have to make the growth of how to get to the other side of the rim and make the kick out (pass)," Crean said. "But he passes the ball well, when he's locked in and stepping into his shot he's making it consistently.

"I love his track mentality, and I love the fact that he loves the game. Anthony Edwards is like that. You want guys that want to be in the gym making themselves better."

Josh Taylor is another incoming freshman, a 6-8, 195-pounder out of Norcross.

"Josh works around the bucket and he's a very good rebounder," Crean said. "He wants to get better as a shooter and driver but he rebounds the ball, he runs both ends and he wants to compete."

Future profile

Crean plans to keep with his uptempo style, and he's hoping to develop more toughness and see leaders step up in tight games.

That was something that was missing at times the past two seasons.

"Some of those games last season, we couldn't stop the runs because we couldn't stop the bleeding," Crean said. "We couldn't go in and get a bucket inside, or we couldn't just say we're going to get an And One.

"'We had some maturity leadership issues with that when it was time to get it settled down."

Crean said it's something he needs to recruit to, and he feels good about what Georgia has in the works with a class currently ranked No. 29.

"You can't put a value on people that can settle your team down and bring them confidence on the floor," Crean said. "And it isn't always the point guard, and it isn't always the oldest guy.

"Anybody can change momentum inside a game, but very few can bring a lot of confidence every day to a team. Your job as s coach is to develop it and recruit it, and it's imperative you find those people."

Tom Crean May 18, 2020

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WATCH: Georgia celebrates like crazy after Vandy win

Bulldogs score resounding win over No. 13 Auburn

Georgia basketball drops close one at Texas A&M, Anthony Edwards ill

Georgia suffers deflating defeat at Florida

UGA snaps four-game losing streak with Texas A&M win

Perplexing loss for Georgia basketball at Missouri

Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky

Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status

Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, "been there a ton of times"

Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss

Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech

Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener

The post WATCH: Georgia basketball look ahead, how Tom Crean's building another winner appeared first on DawgNation.

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Patricia Ripley’s attorney, Nelson Rodriguez-Varela, told reporters outside the courtroom that he would not discuss any evidence in the case but would “leave that for another day.” “There is obviously a great deal of support for her,” Rodriguez-Varela said. “Everybody’s very concerned about her situation. “By all accounts, she has been an excellent mother, an excellent person, a great family as you can see from the people who are here.” The defense attorney said he is amassing a legal team to ensure his client’s rights are protected and she has the “opportunity to vindicate her good name.” Alejandro’s killing has provoked outrage in Florida and across the country, not only because of the circumstances of his death but also because of the nature of Ripley’s initial story to police. She claimed two black men had run her off the road and abducted her son at knifepoint, authorities said. “The only voice in his life that he depended on to get through this world was his mom’s,” Miami-Dade police Director Alfredo Ramirez said Friday during a news conference. “To think that voice would be the one that would harm him the most. “As a parent and as a member of this community, I’m deeply saddened for what happened to that young boy. And then for her to displace blame of her crime on another community, it’s just … well, another crime that was committed. It is very disappointing.” According to an affidavit in the case, Ripley called 911 shortly before 9 p.m. Thursday and reported that she and Alejandro had been traveling near a Home Depot in West Kendall when her vehicle was sideswiped, causing her to crash. She claimed the driver of the other car got out and approached her vehicle with a knife, demanding drugs before opening the front driver’s side door and stealing her cellphone and tablet. “She stated this male then removed her 9-year-old autistic child and fled in an unknown direction,” the affidavit says. Ripley was taken to the police station for questioning, according to the document. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials issued an Amber Alert for Alejandro. The alert described Ripley’s alleged assailants as “two unknown black males driving an unknown light blue four-door sedan.” “One of the abductors may be wearing all black clothing and a black bandanna as a face mask,” the alert said. “He may also have cornrows in his hair.” At the police station, Ripley gave “conflicting statements” to missing persons detectives, the affidavit states. The case was transferred to homicide detectives when Alejandro’s body was found, about 11 hours after he was first reported missing and 4 miles from the scene of the alleged abduction. Ripley was taken from the missing persons bureau to the homicide division for additional questioning. Again, she gave conflicting statements, the affidavit says. “These statements contradicted the statements of witnesses and the video footage obtained from the area of SW 103rd Avenue and Kendall Drive,” the document states. The footage described in the affidavit matches the surveillance video obtained by Univision. The Herald reported that security camera footage from outside the Home Depot near where Ripley claimed Alejandro had been kidnapped showed Ripley sitting alone in her car for 20 minutes before she called 911 to report him missing. Witnesses also told police they’d seen Ripley with her son near the canal where he was eventually found dead, CBS Miami reported. When confronted with the evidence, Ripley admitted she had not been robbed, the affidavit says. “She admitted that she drove to SW 62(nd) Street and SW 138(th) Court at approximately 8:30 p.m. and parked near a canal,” the document states. “She then led the victim to the canal, where he drowned. “She stated he’s going to be in a better place.” The CBS affiliate reported that a law enforcement official said Ripley told detectives she’d been thinking about killing her son for a while because the older he got, the more difficult he was to physically control. According to the Amber Alert, Alejandro weighed 120 pounds and was 4 feet, 11 inches tall. Miami-Dade County Jail records show that Ripley weighs 138 pounds. She is 5 feet, 5 inches tall. Since Alejandro’s death, at least one Miami-area support group for special needs children and their families has seen an uptick in calls from parents whose children are in crisis. Rabbi Yossi Harlig, co-director of Friendship Circle Miami, told the Herald the boy’s killing has rippled through the community as the nation deals with the deadly COVID-19 outbreak, which had killed more than 98,000 Americans as of Tuesday morning. The social distancing required to help stem the spread of the virus has placed already-struggling families in even more tense situations as they shelter in place and parents homeschool their children. “One of the concerns is that when someone acts like that, it could trigger other people. You never know,” Harlig told the Herald. “Typical families are feeling overwhelmed. Imagine if you’re raising a child with special needs.” In a Facebook video posted on the Friendship Circle’s profile, Harlig described the love and caretaking provided by the parents of most special needs children as “something that is like the work of angels.” With that love, however, comes pain, worry and an often overwhelming challenge. He begged those feeling that challenge to reach out for help. Friendship Circle Miami, which held a memorial service for Alejandro on Friday and has an online town hall meeting planned for Wednesday night, is implementing a hotline service for overwhelmed parents, the rabbi told the Herald. The group is also hoping to establish group therapy or child care centers to help families cope. “One thing that people always tell us is that they feel very isolated and alone, and there’s nowhere to turn to,” Harlig said. “One of the big things that people need is a respite, to have a place where they can drop off their child for a few hours and they can take a break.” The Lifeline Project will be launched in the days and weeks ahead, Harlig said on the organization’s Facebook page. “If anyone who cares for a person with special needs feels they are in crisis, they can reach us at 305-234-5654 or rebyossi@friendshipcirclemiami.org,” the page states. In Friday’s news conference outside Fernandez Rundle’s office, the prosecutor said nothing is worse than the death of a child. “The death of a child is tragic; the killing of a child is horrific,” the prosecutor said. Fernandez Rundle praised the work of Miami-Dade County detectives, who she said combed the community for evidence and witnesses and quickly established the truth of the case. “The tragic loss of the life of a 9-year-old boy, and the loss, really, of any young life, leaves all of us grieving,” Fernandez Rundle said. “This boy’s senseless, senseless death will stay with all of us, just as his bright smile that shines out from the photographs we’ve all seen.” Harlig said in a statement that his organization’s leaders are shocked and saddened by Alejandro’s death. “No child should ever be in this position, especially a child with special needs who cannot call out for help,” the rabbi said. “We all grieve for Alejandro and his family.”