Georgia Bulldogs land Top 50 recruit, a former Kentucky signee from Atlanta

Somto Cyril has committed to the University of Georgia.

Credit: Mike Lawrence/Overtime Elite

Credit: Mike Lawrence/Overtime Elite

Somto Cyril has committed to the University of Georgia.

ATHENS – The Georgia Bulldogs just landed a very big recruit. Now if they can just keep him.

Somto Cyril, a 6-foot-10, 250-pound center who attends Atlanta’s Overtime Elite Academy, announced Monday night that he has committed to Georgia.

Here’s the catch: Cyril simultaneously declared for the NBA Draft.

Until very recently, Cyril was a 2024 signee for the Kentucky Wildcats. But the Top 50 recruit was released from his national letter of intent after coach John Calipari left Kentucky for Arkansas. Cyril has since been pursued by a number of major programs, including Kentucky and Arkansas but also Georgia Tech, Florida, Georgetown and Cincinnati, before settling on coach Mike White’s Bulldogs.

Cyril made his announcement on social media, but also sent out a media release via Overtime Elite, which is coached by former Georgia Bulldog Damien Wilkins.

“I’m going to play for UGA,” the 19-year-old native Nigerian said in a YouTube video released Monday night. “… I know those guys. I played with Silas (Demary). I played in the same tournament with Asa (Newell)…. I’m officially a ‘Dawg.’”

As for the NBA, Cyril indicated in the interview that he was doing that primarily for the pre-draft experience of working out for teams and learning from pros. Years ago, the NCAA adopted a rule that allows players to declare for the draft and retain their eligibility as long as they withdraw before draft day.

At least on the video, Cyril made it sound unlikely he would turn professional.

“I wish to have the experience and get the information I need from the right people, direct from people I can trust,” Cyril said. “Those are people I’ll be seeing soon, maybe next year or whatever it may be, and see what I need to improve on.”

Cyril ranks No. 44 overall and the ninth-ranked center in the nation in the Class of 2024, according to the rankings composite. He averaged 9.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks a game last season, but played only seven games due to a hand injury.

Cyril’s full name is Somtochukwu. He is 19 years told and is originally from Enugu, Nigeria, He moved the U.S. in 2021 and enrolled at Hamilton Heights High in Chattanooga, Tenn. He played there one season.

For the last two years, Cyril played at Overtime Elite. There he earned a reputation as an extremely athletic defensive player with a penchant for making highlight-reel dunks. As for his offensive skills, coach Damien Wilkins has been quoted as saying Cyril needs to develop more moves in the post.

“I will do anything and everything I can do to help us win,” Cyril said. “You know, my goal is to take the program to the NCAA Tournament next year. Defensively, I want to make a statement for them. We play in the best league in college basketball, the SEC. I want to show that we belong.”

Cyril joins 5-star recruit Asa Newell, a 6-9 forward, as the Bulldogs’ only two high school signees. He is the fifth addition overall along with three transfers: 6-5 guard Dakota Leffew and 6-4 guard DeShane Montgomery, both from Mount Saint Mary’s in Maryland, and 6-9, 235-pound sophomore forward Justin Abson from Appalachian State.

The newcomers will be part of a major rebuild in Year 3 of White’s tenure. The Bulldogs return sophomores Demary, Blue Cain and Dylan James, as well as senior center Frank Anselem-Ibe. But graduates Russel Tchewa, Noah Thomasson and RJ Sunahara had to move on. Six other players have left via the transfer portal, including part-time starters Justin Hill and Jabri Abdur-Rahim and key reserves RJ Melendez and M-A Moncrieffe.

Georgia has room to sign several more players. Meanwhile, Grayson’s Jacob Wilkins -- Damien Wilkins’ cousin and Dominique Wilkins’ son -- is a pledge to the Bulldogs’ 2025 signing class.

Georgia went 20-17 last season (6-12 SEC) and earned a postseason bid for the first time since 2017. The Bulldogs reached the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament before losing to eventual champion Seton Hall to end the season.