Photo Credit Mackenzie Miles/Georgiadogs.com
Back in 2018, the good folks of Georgia had high hopes for Tom Crean. After landing future No. 1 NBA draft pick Anthony Edwards, it looked like Crean may live up to all expectations. A year later half a dozen Bulldogs are transferring out of the program after finishing the season as the No. 10 team in the SEC.
Jabri Abdur-Rahim (UVA)
Noah Baumann (USC)
Braelen Bridges (UIC)
Aaron Cook (Gonzaga)
Jailyn Ingram (FAU)
Kario Oquendo (Florida Southwestern St JC)
Dalen Ridgnal (Cowley JC)
G Aaron Cook, 6’2 Gr.
G Jaxon Etter, 6’4 Jr.
F Jailyn Ingram, 6’7 Gr.
F P.J. Horne, 6’6 Gr.
F Braelen Bridges, 6’11 Rs. Sr.
G Jabri Abdur-Rahim, 6’8 So.
F Jonathan Ned, 6’9 Sr.
G Noah Baumann, 6’6 Rs. Sr.
F Dalen Ridgnal, 6’7 Jr.
G Kario Oquendo, 6’4 So.
Georgia lost nine scholarship players over the summer. There’s no way to bounce back from so many losses in a single season. Worse yet, of the players Tom Crean was able to lure to Athens, none appear to be difference makers.
The best addition to this year’s Bulldog roster is Jabri Abdur-Rahim. But Abdur-Rahim is a project player. The best-case scenario is the rising sophomore takes a big step up before SEC play and earns a spot in the starting lineup. Even in that case it’s unrealistic to expect the Virginia transfer to put up 15-plus points for Georgia on a nightly basis. More likely, Abdur-Rahim will have an up-and-down year off the bench. Georgia’s best hope is not in the former 4-star recruit leading them this year, but in Abdur-Rahim developing into a star down the line.
Two of Georgia’s transfers had decent seasons last year. Jailyn Ingram averaged 12.4 points and 6 rebounds at FAU last season. The 6’7 forward played five seasons with the Owls and his veteran presence will very much be needed in Athens this year. If he can stay consistent, Ingram has a good chance of leading the Bulldogs in scoring. Last season, the sixth-year senior scored 20-or-more points in three out of four consecutive games. If the Bulldogs are going to have any hope of a competitive season, they’ll need Ingram to play at his best all year.
Braelen Bridges is the other transfer whose numbers pop. Bridges played two seasons with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) and will be a redshirt senior for the Bulldogs. Last year Bridges averaged 9.9 points and 4.8 rebounds for the Flames. The 6’11 forward had 11 10-plus point nights last season, all of which he shot at least 50% from the field. Bridges struggles defensively and limiting turnovers, both issues will be on full display in the SEC.
Two years ago, Aaron Cook was Southern Illinois’ go-to player. The St. Louis native averaged 15 points over the first six games of the season but sat out the rest of the year after breaking his hand. Cook spent last year as a member of Gonzaga’s bench. The old pre-injury Cook was rarely on display at Gonzaga. Whether this was due to limited minutes or if the hand injury impacted Cook’s scoring abilities is yet to be seen. If Georgia’s lucky, Cook will be a reliable starting point guard.
Georgia only has two returning players that should see big minutes early. The first is P.J. Horne. The fifth-year senior was the Bulldog’s No. 7 scorer last season with an average of 8.5 points per game. Horne showed flashes of scoring potential several times last season, most notably against Mississippi State. He scored 21-points on 5-of-10 shooting from deep that night.
The other returning Bulldog that should have a large role early is Jaxson Etter. The rising sophomore saw limited action last season, but he showcased his shooting ability in the time given. While on limited shots, Etter shot 63% from the floor and 50% from deep last year. With more minutes and shot attempts this season, those numbers should drop, but expect Etter to be the Bulldogs’ go-to spot-up shooter.
While he won’t start, Jonathan Ned should see the floor with some consistency in his second year in Athens. Ned played in 14 of Georgia’s 26 games last season and averaged 6.6 minutes. He’ll certainly get more than six minutes this year, but unless he takes a step up Georgia won’t get much out of him other than the occasional solid game off the bench.
The fifth and final Bulldogs transfer is Noah Baumann. The 6’6 senior began his college career at San Jose State in 2017. He averaged 10.8 points on 45.5% shooting from deep in his sophomore season before transferring to USC. The old NCAA transfer regulations forced Baumann to sit out the 2019-20 season. Last season was a bit of a dud for Baumann with the Trojans. He averaged just 3.6 points and shot an abysmal 35.2% from the free throw line. Baumann will likely be a second unit guard that Crean looks to for shooting. Expect a handful of solid 10-13 point nights and a lot of 0-4 point nights from him this season.
Georgia picked up two junior college players in Dalen Ridgnal and Kario Oquendo. Ridgnal is a 6’7 forward who stuffed the JuCo stat sheet with an average of 21.1 points and 12.8 rebounds last season. Oquendo is a 6’4 guard who will likely need more time to adjust to SEC basketball than Ridgnal. Oquendo averaged 13.5 points on 40.3% shooting from deep.
This Georgia squad is one big question mark. Jabri Abdur-Rahim was a top 50 recruit last year, but he struggled to even see the floor at Virginia. Will this be the year he proves why scouts were high on him?
Jailyn Ingram and Braelen Bridges had solid seasons with Group of Five programs last season, but are they ready for SEC play?
Returning Bulldogs P.J. Horne, Jaxon Etter and Jonathan Ned had lackluster seasons last year. But, with more than half a dozen scholarship players exiting the program, will they be able to capitalize on the vacant minutes?
Transfers like Aaron Cook and Noah Baumann had success with smaller programs a few years ago but struggled with top programs last year. Can they rekindle the magic they had two years ago?
Dalen Ridgnal and Kario Oquendo saw success at the junior college level, but the NCAA (and not to mention the SEC) is a whole different animal. Can Ridgnal and Oquendo defy the odds and succeed in their first years at the Division I level?
Unless the answer to nearly all of these questions is a hearty “yes,” Georgia is in for a rough year. Spoiler alert: the answers are more likely “no” than “yes.”
PROJECTION: Outside top 50
Ceiling: Inside top 50
Floor: Crean gets fired after losing the exhibition game against Morehouse