Anthony Edwards did more for the University of Georgia basketball team in one year than many could accomplish in four. It wasn’t all the individual achievements, but what he did for the culture and future of Georgia hoops.
On Thursday, Edwards earned Georgia’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
He’s the ninth Bulldog to earn this title, and he joins all the greats. Edwards has the natural talent, but at the same time, it took help to get him better, get him more confident in his shots — Tom Crean did that.
He got a freshman to join eight other Bulldogs who won this trophy before. Of those Bulldogs, they’ve claimed the title 11 times, including four of the past five seasons. Edwards joins Vern Fleming who won in 1984, the first year of the award’s existence, Litterial Green in 1992, Jumaine Jones in 1999, Jarvis Hayes in 2002 and 2003, Trey Tompkins in 2011, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2013, J.J. Frazier in 2016 and 2017, and Yante Maten in 2018.
That group is some of the greatest basketball players at the university, and Crean helped Edwards earn the award.
He may have been a one year wonder, but what he did in that short year is far more than just impressive.
This season, Edwards averaged 19.1 points per game and finished the season ranked No. 47 nationally in scoring average — the only freshman in the top-50.
He scored double-digit figures in 27 of 32 games, had 14 20-point games, and had three 30-point outings.
From his first game in the red and black when he dropped 24 points against Western Carolina, everyone knew he was special.
His season-high was 37 points, 33 of which came in the second-half against No.3 Michigan State at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, the most points scored by a Bulldogs freshman in 45 seasons.
Edwards’ scoring average was No. 3 in the SEC. He also finished No. 5 in three-pointers and No. 16 in playing time in the league.
This award isn’t the freshman’s first as he was voted by the SEC coaches as the SEC Freshman of the Year. Edwards was the first Bulldog since 2001 to win the title. The Associated Press voted him as the SEC Newcomer of the Year.
Those accolades are just some of what Edwards has taken home this season. He was a crucial piece to the Bulldogs team this year and all these awards show that.
However, it was who he was as a person that will leave a mark on the program for a long time.
Edwards declared for the NBA Draft, and well that didn’t surprise any of us. He may be leaving, but he’s leaving behind a team of players that got better and one that grew closer together.
Tragically, the basketball season had to end during the middle of the SEC Tournament, but the Georgia hoop fans got to witness one of the greatest players to ever don the red and black.
Instead of groaning and moaning about him leaving along with a couple of others, be grateful to know that Georgia basketball is on the rise.
Edwards brought this team together and helped them buy into what Crean is doing with the program at Georgia.
As the season progressed, fans saw this team go through ups and downs, but most importantly they stayed together as a group. Edwards was one of the leaders and everyone followed by his example.
He showed that great players like himself can choose other schools and still get recognized as one of the best. Maybe his decision to come to Georgia will be the start of having elite players like himself choose the Bulldogs.
Crean is one of the most passionate coaches in the league and through two seasons, Georgia basketball is on the right track.
While it sucks fans won’t get to see this season end properly, they should be excited for next year. After the way the Bulldogs closed out the season, Edwards on the roster or not, next season for Georgia hoops will be a team everyone needs to watch.