Georgia’s Rayshaun Hammonds decides to stay in NBA draft

Georgia forward Rayshaun Hammonds (right) collides with Texas A&M center Tyler Davis.    Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Georgia forward Rayshaun Hammonds (right) collides with Texas A&M center Tyler Davis. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Georgia’s Rayshaun Hammonds used his Twitter account Saturday to announce his intention to remain in the NBA draft. And, so, UGA coach Tom Crean has another rebuilding season on his hands.

Hammonds, a 6-foot-8 junior from Norcross, was the Bulldogs' second-leading scorer and rebounder last season. He joins leading scorer and second-leading rebounder Anthony Edwards in the 2020 draft. It represents a loss of 32 points and 12.6 rebounds a game from last year's team.

“Rayshaun let me know the other night of his decision and he is following his heart and dreams,” Crean told the AJC on Saturday. “We will continue to support him in every possible way as he pursues his future and he will always be a part of the Georgia basketball family and the University of Georgia community.”

Hammonds, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward, entered the draft March 27 under an NCAA rule that allows underclassmen to return to college if they're not satisfied with their NBA projections and haven't hired an agent. The draft is scheduled for June 25.

Hammonds showed potential and progress in his three seasons at UGA. He averaged 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds a game as a junior last season, up from 6.7 and 4.9 as a freshman. He was an excellent complement to “Ant Man,” who attempted twice as many shots, and was the Bulldogs’ most consistent inside presence. Edwards, a 6-5 freshman from Atlanta, projects as a possible top pick in the draft.

As a pro, Hammonds will certainly have to do more of his work away from the basket. Last season, he shot 35% from 3-point range and 46% from the floor.

“Rayshaun has made many strides over the past two years and we believe the best is yet to come for him,” Crean said. “I’ll be in his corner 100%.”

Georgia’s 2019-20 season abruptly ended with a 16-16 record after a first-round win over Ole Miss in the SEC tournament.  Including the graduations of seniors Tyree Crump, Jordan Harris and Donnell Gresham and the transfer of freshman Rodney Howard to Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs will have to rebuild around returning starters Sahvir Wheeler and Toumani Camara, six other lettermen and the addition of five new players.

Georgia recently welcomed guard Justin Kier, a graduate transfer from George Mason who averaged 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds as a junior before a foot injury cut short his senior season.

Kier will join four signees as newcomers on next year’s team: Mikal Starks, Jonathan Ned, Josh Taylor and K.D. Johnson. Georgia's 2020 class was ranked 29th in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite, following a 2019 class that was ranked No. 11.

Crean said he will continue to focus on the recruitment of players who are capable of getting to the NBA as quickly as possible.

“We are in the midst of restructuring and remodeling,” said Crean, who will be entering his third season at UGA this fall. “It will be ongoing each year with the landscape of college basketball.”

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