Atlanta Tipoff Club names Georgia’s ‘Ant Man’ player of year

Georgia guard Anthony Edwards reacts to his break away slam dunk after making a steal with Texas A&M guard Wendell Mitchell looking on in the final minutes of a 63-48 Georgia victory on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, in Athens. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Say what you will about Anthony Edwards’ short stint at Georgia, but the basketball player known as “Ant Man” left a lasting impression.

That was underscored again Thursday as Edwards, a 6-foot-5 freshman guard from Holy Spirit Preparatory School, was named the state men's basketball player of the year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Edwards declared for the NBA Draft last week. He is projected as the No. 1 selection.

Edwards led the nation's freshmen in scoring with a 19.1 points per game while starting all 32 games for the Bulldogs (16-16). He ranked third in the SEC and No. 47 nationally in scoring average. He was the only freshman included among the top 50 scorers in Division I and one of only three in the top 100.

Edwards scored in double figures in 27 of 32 games, including 14 20-point performances and three 30-point outputs. He christened his career with 24 points against Western Carolina, the second most by a Georgia freshman in his collegiate debut. Edwards poured in a season-high 37 points – including 33 in the second half – against No. 3 Michigan State at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, which represented the most points by a Bulldogs freshman in 45 seasons.

Edwards finished the season with 610 total points. That tally ranks No. 7 among Georgia’s all-time single-season leaders – the second-most by a UGA freshman – and No. 10 among the best outputs ever by an SEC freshman.

It's the 11th time a UGA player was named the Tipoff Club’s player of the year for the state, which was introduced in 1984. He joins previous winners were Vern Fleming (1984), Litterial Green (1992), Jumaine Jones (1999), Jarvis Hayes (2002, ’03), Trey Thompkins (2011), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2013), J.J. Frazier (2016, ’17) and Yante Maten (2018).

Edwards was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in balloting league coaches, the first Bulldog to win that award since its inception in 2001. He was voted the SEC Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press, the third Bulldog to earn that recognition following Jumaine Jones in 1998 (in the award’s first year) and Jarvis Hayes in 2002.

Additional postseason accolades Edwards have earned include: one of five finalists for the Jerry West National Shooting Guard of the Year award; named second-team All-SEC by league coaches and the AP; selected All-District by both the USBWA and NABC; and tabbed SEC All-Freshman by league coaches.