Not since Dominique Wilkins in 1979 had Georgia landed as a recruit as highly regarded as Anthony Edwards, who was selected first overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA draft on Wednesday.
As a senior at Atlanta Holy Spirit Prep, the 6-foot-4 guard averaged 25.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.
There was no question Edwards would be a one-and-done player, but that didn't dissuade Tom Crean from pursuing Edwards as the Georgia coach tries to rebuild a program that hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2002.
Crean wanted Edwards to stop the decade-long parade of McDonald’s All-Americans leaving the state to play college basketball elsewhere and make basketball at the University of Georgia matter again.
“We’ve never had a player like that here besides Dominique Wilkins, who can come in as a five-star and change the atmosphere around here,” guard Tyree Crump said after Edwards committed to Georgia. “People don’t expect us to be that good because it’s Georgia. They say it’s a football school.”
Edwards drew more attention to Georgia basketball during the 2019-20 season as the Bulldogs went 16-16 and finished 13th in the Southeastern Conference.
He showed how prolific a scorer he could be with a 37-point effort — 33 points in the second half — against Michigan State and by scoring 36 in an overtime loss at South Carolina.
Georgia guard Anthony Edwards led the nation's freshmen by averaging 19.1 points. (Photo: Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports)
Here are four more things to know about Edwards:
Dwyane Wade endorsed Edwards as top pick
Asked on ESPN's SportsCenter which player he would compare himself to, Edwards once said former NBA star Dwyane Wade, who was coached at Marquette by Edwards' coach at Georgia, Tom Crean.
“I look on the TV and say I can be that guy," Edwards said, "or I can be better than him.”
Wade — who won three NBA titles, was a Finals MVP and made 13 All-Star appearances — agreed, predicting in a tweet that Edwards “can be better” than him.
He can be better. America here is your number 1 pick! Ayo @VicOladipo we’re all built from the same cloth 💪🏾 That Tom Crean cloth! https://t.co/ZTXg9VpZU7
Edwards said he found out about Wade's comment after people sent him screenshots of the tweet.
"It brought a smile to my face to see somebody that great would say something like that," Edwards was quoted by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "So I was happy.”
Edwards told ESPN: “It puts no pressure on me. It just makes me feel like my ceiling is just being higher and higher and it makes me want to go harder every time I get in the gym.”
Michael Jordan attended one of Edwards' pre-draft workouts
Edwards worked out for the teams with the top three picks: the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets.
That included training in front of Hornets owner Michael Jordan.
Edwards said it was the most surreal moment he experienced during his NBA pre-draft process.
“It was crazy that he came into the gym,” Edwards said earlier this month. “It was shocking. It’s crazy. It’s like, ‘That’s Michael Jordan.’ ”
Edwards wears No. 5 to honor his late mother and grandmother
Edwards' mother Yvette and grandmother Shirley both died of cancer within eight months while Edwards was in eighth grade.
He wore No. 5 because both died on the fifth of the month.
“Losing my mom was really tough because I used to sleep with her a lot. So, I lost my sleeping buddy,” Edwards told The Undefeated. “And my grandma, she was like our backbone, she did everything for us.”
Edwards was raised by his older brother and sister after their mother and grandmother died. Having family 90 minutes away was one factor in the Atlanta native choosing Georgia over Florida State, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky.
Edwards was the top freshman in the SEC
Edwards was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Year by the conference’s coaches and the SEC’s Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press. He also was selected as a second-team All-SEC pick by both the AP and coaches.
He was the first Georgia player to be named by the coaches as Freshman of the Year since the honor started in 2001 and the first Georgia player to be named the SEC’s top newcomer by the AP since Jarvis Hayes in 2002.
Edwards led all freshmen in scoring nationally and was third overall in the SEC at 19.1 points per game and hit double figures in scoring in 27 of 32 games.
His 610 total points were the second most ever by a Georgia freshman after the 646 by Jacky Dorsey in 1974-75.
Edwards led the Bulldogs with 43 steals and was second on the team in rebounding at 5.2 per game and assists with 91 total.
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