The Georgia Bulldogs basketball program has been hit with a streak of bad luck this week. Assistant coach Jonas Hayes declined an offer to remain on head coach Tom Crean’s staff and will now be an assistant coach at Xavier. Georgia also missed out on landing an elite recruit as 5-star point guard Ashton Hagans from Covington, Georgia, decided to commit to Kentucky.
None of this is to say the future for Georgia basketball is not bright. Crean has won over the support from the fan base and the administration during his short time in Athens. However, it’s important to provide some context as to why these two events will be impactful.
The loss of Jonas Hayes, is more significant losing out on a recruit . There was some speculation for some time as to whether Hayes would remain on Crean’s staff at UGA. By all accounts, Crean desperately wanted for Hayes to stay because of his long history at Georgia and his ability as a recruiter.
Assistant coaches move on all the time. What made this move somewhat shocking is that Hayes is a UGA alumni who played basketball for the program. However, it’s easy to understand why he would take the position he took with Xavier. Xavier is an elite program and Hayes could very well use his work there to land a prime head coaching position later in his career. Crean’s staff is not in shambles, though. Crean recently made a hire by adding former Southern Florida assistant Chad Dollar to his staff. Hayes was also a favorite among the players and fans. It will be up to Crean to ensure Hayes’ influence and abilities as an assistant coach won’t set the program back any while they move forward.
Hagans was once committed to Georgia but de-committed after Mark Fox was eventually hired as Georgia’s head coach. He also had a formidable relationship with Hayes during the recruiting process. Now, Hagans is committed to John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.
While losing out on one recruit is not the end of the world, the loss of Hagans still stings. If Crean had been able to keep Hagans committed to Georgia, that would have given the program an elite, in-state player that could provide a solid foundation to take the program to the next level. Hagans simply makes plays and his playing style can be compared to the likes of Rajon Rondo or Chris Paul. Crean and his staff will have to bounce back from this loss on the recruiting trail quickly if the program is going to progress to the next level.
Again, none of this is to say Crean will not take Georgia in the right direction. These things happen. Assistant coaches move on and recruits move around from school to school all the time. But if the Dawgs were able to keep Hayes or Hagans (or both), that would have provided Tom Crean with some much needed momentum during his first offseason with the team.
While the Georgia basketball team is now without two key contributors from last season in Yante Maten and Juwan Parker, there is certainly a lot to look forward to with next year’s team. Seeing Nicolas Claxton, Teshaun Hightower and Rayshaun Hammonds make the leap from freshmen to sophomores will certainly be interesting to watch. Additionally, Tyree Crump and Jordan Harris, both great players, will be entering their junior seasons and will certainly be relied upon more heavily to be major factors on this team.
Losing both Hayes and Hagans definitely hurts, but the Dawgs can recover from it. The team is working hard this offseason to get better. In the words of Kirby Smart, the Hoop Dawgs just need to continue to do one thing: “Keep Chopping.”