Exodus continues as Camara becomes latest UGA basketball player in portal

Georgia's Toumani Camara (10) celebrates with his team following 91-78 win over LSU Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)
Georgia's Toumani Camara (10) celebrates with his team following 91-78 win over LSU Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: UGA

Credit: UGA

What started as a concerning trend for Georgia basketball is now morphing into a mass exodus. Forward Toumani Camara, who started every game for the Bulldogs last season, became the fourth player from coach Tom Crean’s latest team to enter the transfer portal.

Camara joins rising senior Tye Fagan, sophomore Christian Brown and junior Mikal Starks in the transfer portal.

Georgia has pulled in one replacement so far. Junior forward Braelen Bridges announced last week that he’s transferring from Illinois-Chicago to Georgia and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

While the previous players could be written off as backup players looking for a bigger role somewhere else, Camara was absolutely central to what the Bulldogs did last season. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound sophomore was Georgia’s leading rebounder and shot blocker last season.

“We truly appreciate Toumani’s contributions to our program,” Crean said in a statement released upon request through a UGA representative Thursday night. “But we all must realize this is how college athletics is played now, and it’s here to stay. We will use the NCAA portal to our advantage and work diligently to recruit young people that want to take full advantage of the tremendous education we have to offer and the incredible opportunity to be a part of our program. Go Dawgs!”

The way things are going heading into Crean’s fourth season, “Go Dawgs” might take on a new connotation. There were unconfirmed reports Thursday evening that freshman guard K.D. Johnson also may be following suit. Crean did not comment when asked about Johnson, and Johnson could not be reached for comment.

The transferring trend is not unique to Georgia. As of Thursday night, the website Verbalcommits.com showed 1,166 basketball players in the NCAA’s portal.

It’s unclear whether Bridges coming in had any bearing on Camara’s decision. People with knowledge of the situation claim he was looking for “a different style of play.”

Camara, a native of Brussels, Belgium, led Bulldogs last season with 7.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game and finished third on the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game. Fagan also played a significant role, starting 25 games and averaging 9.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

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