Optimism abounds as Georgia basketball gains commitment from guard

Georgia's assistant coach Erik Pastrana, left, and head coach Mike White study the action during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Georgia's assistant coach Erik Pastrana, left, and head coach Mike White study the action during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. — The Georgia Bulldogs landed another basketball player Wednesday, and with that, coach Mike White and his staff are close to being set for the 2024 recruiting cycle.

Jordyn Kee, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound guard from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, held a press conference Wednesday morning to announce he had chosen the Bulldogs over Michigan, Missouri, Florida State and Georgetown. The 3-star prospect will become the eighth player to sign to play for White’s third Georgia team.

Speaking to reporters covering the SEC Spring Meetings on Tuesday, White hinted that some recruiting news would be coming and that the Bulldogs essentially would be looking ahead to future cycles once it did. But there are indications they might not be completely done just yet.

“Hopefully, we’ll have another announcement pretty soon,” White said.

There remains one recruit that the Bulldogs might still be pursuing. Savo Drezgic is an uncommitted 4-star prospect and top-10 point guard out of DME Academy in Daytona Beach. However, a native of Belgrade, Serbia, Drezgic is reported to be competing for his club team in Europe.

As it is, Georgia’s 2024 class was one of very few in the country that ranked in the top 10 both for freshman signees and transfers. And that was before the addition of Kee, who gives the Bulldogs 11 scholarship players for next season. NCAA rules allow 13.

Georgia also could opt to place one of its walk-ons on scholarship. The Bulldogs have three.

Regardless, White expressed confidence that his third team will stand as an improvement over his first two. The Bulldogs went 16-16 his first season and 20-16 last season while reaching the NIT finals.

“Really excited about these guys,” White said. “Veteran guards with ball skills that give us versatility in the backcourt with athleticism and length and defensive and rebounding prowess up front with those (power forwards) and (centers) we signed. A couple of high school kids that athletically bring a lot to the table. … Super excited about this group.”

Kee joins two other Bulldogs in the freshman class. Asa Newell is a 6-10, 215-pound forward from Destin, Florida, and a 5-star prospect. Somto Cyril, is a 6-10, 252-pound center from Atlanta. Cyril is expected to enroll at UGA this week after working out for NBA scouts in the pre-draft process the past few weeks.

They will join three returning starters in sophomores Blue Cain, Silas Demary and Dylan James, and five incoming transfers. Those include guards Tyrin Lawrence from Vanderbilt, Dakota Leffew and De’Shayne Montgomery from Mount Saint Mary’s, a team Georgia played and struggled to beat last season.

“Unique situation,” White said. “What’s funny, and people might not believe this, we didn’t recruit them collectively. There wasn’t one conversation where we all jumped on the phone or jumped on the Zoom and said, ‘hey, if you come can we get DeShayne,’ or, ‘if you come can we get Dakota? Have you guys talked?’ We recruited Dakota for Dakota and DeShayne for DeShayne. DeShayne committed first, and really we didn’t talk to him about Dakota. … Turns out, those guys are pretty close and spend a lot of time together in the gym.”

Inside the paint the Bulldogs added transfers RJ Godfrey (6-8, 228) from Clemson and Justin Abson (6-9, 235 from Appalachian State).

Along with nine lettermen moving on or graduating, that represents a lot of roster change. White’s hoping for less moving forward.

“I do think we’ll go back 20% or 30% less in the portal next year,” he said at the SEC Spring Meetings this week. “I believe that with the COVID year having played out. That said, though, I do believe it’s the new norm. I think some of the outliers are the programs that are established at the point that they want to be. Until we get Georgia consistently going to an NCAA Tournament, we’ll probably have more movement than we’d like to have.”

Once again, White’s assistant Erik Pastrana is credited for helping Georgia land a Florida prospect.

“I’ve known (Pastrana) since the 10th grade,” Kee told UGASports.com. “We reconnected about four weeks ago and, since then, just created a great relationship with the coaches and everything.”

White was hesitant to single out a new player that he believes might a significant impact in his first year. Pressed on the subject, he did laud Godfrey when pressed on the subject.

“RJ Godfrey is a guy who comes to mind,” White said. “He played on a really good team behind a couple of really good front-court players. I think for an outsider looking at our class, I think he might be considered a sleeper.”

Georgia definitely should be improved. Then again, the league is only getting tougher with the additions of Oklahoma and Texas.