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  • Writer's pictureDAWG NEWS DAILY

Bulldogs to Host Valdosta State At Stegeman On Friday

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia Basketball will unofficially open its 2019-20 season on Friday night when the Bulldogs take on Valdosta State at Stegeman Coliseum at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free.

“I think we're excited to play. I know I am,” head coach Tom Crean said. “Your stomach starts to feel a little different, like right now, getting ready for a game. It doesn't matter who it is. I mean, that means that competition with somebody else is here. That's how I feel.”

The Georgia roster will look extremely different from last season as the Bulldogs welcome 10 newcomers.

Georgia’s five returnees – seniors Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris, junior Rayshaun Hammonds and sophomores Tye Fagan and Amanze Ngumezi – combined to score exactly 1,000 points last season.

Nine freshmen and a graduate transfer round out the Bulldogs’ roster. Georgia’s recruiting class has been ranked fifth nationally by ESPN and includes five of the nation’s top-100 prospects from the Class of 2019. Headlining that list is consensus prep All-American Anthony Edwards, an Atlanta native who was rated as the nation’s No. 1 or No. 2 prospect by most recruiting services.

“There's no question it's a huge challenge, you know rebuilding a program, refurbishing, however you want to look at it,” Crean said. “That's a challenge, but we’ve got to take it as an opportunity. That's how I view it. So there's an opportunity to grow a lot of guys. I look at it as a great opportunity, and I'm enjoying it. I think they are, too. But every day is a great learning experience for them and for us.”

Valdosta State was 24-7 last season. The Blazers won the 2019 Gulf South Conference regular-season title and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament before falling to West Alabama in the South Regional. Valdosta State’s roster feature a trio of players who averaged double digits in the scoring column last season – Clay Guillozet (13.1 ppg), Bryce Smith (10.2 ppg) and Darrell Jones (10.1 ppg).

“These guys are efficient,” Crean said. “They were phenomenal at point efficiency last year had a very very good season. They play very fast on offense. They have a myriad of plays inside of their playbook. They lost some really good guards, but they've also added some good guards. Clay (Guillozet) is back, and I think he can really play. They're very good and very adept at drawing fouls, which is scary for such a young team like this, because we're trying to learn how to play hard.”

Junior Rayshaun Hammonds is Georgia leading returning scorer at 12.1 ppg. Hammonds, who reached double figures in 20 of the first 27 games of the season before suffering a foot injury that prematurely ended his season, is excited to return to action.

"We’ve been itching for it for a while,” the Norcross native said. “We’re been going against each other, challenging each other to be competitive, and just pushing each other every day in practice. Everybody’s been doing good, and we’re just ready to play against somebody else now.”

Following Friday’s game, the Bulldogs will play a second exhibition next Friday at Charlotte. Georgia’s regular-season opener is set for Tuesday, Nov. 5, when the Bulldogs will entertain Western Carolina at Stegeman Coliseum at 7:00 p.m.

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