Abdur-Rahim’s uncle, Amir Abdur-Rahim, was an assistant on Crean’s staff before becoming head coach at Kennesaw State. His father is Atlanta native Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who starred at Wheeler High and Cal before his NBA all-star career. Jabri’s family moved to New Jersey from California when his father became president of the G-League.
His father and five of Adbur-Rahim’s uncles played college basketball. Now it’s time for the 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward to write his own script.
That was a wash with the Cavaliers. He played in only eight games, averaging less than a point (0.9) and a total of only 35 minutes of playing time.
Addur-Rahim has gotten off to a better start at Georgia. He headed to New Jersey averaging 4.5 and 3.3 rebounds while starting one the four games. He’s coming off his best game as a Bulldog, scoring 10 points on a perfect shooting night of 3-for-3 from the floor and 2-for-2 from 3-point range against Georgia Tech last Friday night.
“Yeah, we need that. We need Jabri to play well,” Crean said. “I’m glad to see him shoot the ball. He made some good defensive plays. We need him to be able to be an efficient contributor and that’s a very good start for him.”
It wasn’t a great night for the Bulldogs, however. They lost to the Yellow Jackets 88-78, getting outscored 15-5 over the final 3:21.
Still, Abdur-Rahim’s play was one of the bright spots.
“Every night we have to be ready when your number is called; he did that tonight,” senior point guard Aaron Cook said of Adbur-Rahim. “Jabri works day-in and day-out on his shot. He’s in the gym with me every day, so he was just ready when his number was called. His points and contributions definitely helped us.”
The Bulldogs will need every contribution they can get against Virginia. The 2019 national champions were ousted in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season and lost their top three scorers from that team. But Cavaliers still feature top-shelf ACC talent. Led by 6-6- forward Jayden Gardner (13.3 ppg) and 6-4 guard Armaan Franklin (13), they return a combined 43 starts. They’ve brought in four newcomers, including two transfers.
UVA averages just 59.3 points a game. But as always under coach Tony Bennett, it’s all about the defense. The Wahoos (2-2) come to New Jersey seeking improvement on both ends. They already have losses to Navy (66-58) and Houston (67-47).
Georgia (2-2) comes in wanting to improve on fundamentals. The Bulldogs missed half their 24 free throws in the 10-point loss to Tech and committed 14 turnovers to boot.
The winners and losers between Georgia-Virginia and Providence-Northwestern will face off on Tuesday in Newark.
The Bulldogs have been in Newark since Saturday. By tonight, Abdur-Rahim will have had time to visit old friends and reminisce a little.
But his main focus is on the future and building bonds with his new team of 10 newcomers.
“At first when I got, I thought it was going to be more challenging,” Adbur-Rahim said. “But getting to know our staff and everybody has made it like a family atmosphere from the beginning. So, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten with people in such a short amount of time. We’re friends on and off the court.”
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