The Georgia basketball team is in the process of replacing the lost production of former star player Yante Maten now that he’s left the program to pursue his NBA dreams. Despite the loss, there’s one player on Georgia’s roster who may be on the verge of having a breakout 2018-2019 season to become Georgia basketball’s next star: Nicolas Claxton.
Claxton, a rising sophomore from Greenville, South Carolina, is a towering presence for the Dawgs in the paint standing at 6’11”. Head coach Tom Crean has praised Claxton’s versatility during the offseason, particularly his ability to shoot inside and outside of the paint. Claxton’s skill set is rare for somebody of his size. He showed in his freshman season that he can handle the ball and shoot three pointers in addition to playing in the post. His height and length also make him a threat to block a shot in the paint at any given moment.
Claxton appeared in every single game this past season for the Dawgs, including starting in several games. Some of those starts came during SEC play. His opportunities were limited, however, because he had to share minutes with Yante Maten and Derek Ogbeide. This experience for Claxton was very similar to Maten’s freshman season. Maten saw limited action as a freshman behind seasoned veterans Nemanja Djurisic and Marcus Thornton. After that, his career at Georgia took off.
Claxton could be set up for a similar opportunity during his sophomore season. Yante Maten led the Dawgs in scoring and rebounding last season. That production will need to be replaced if the Dawgs want to be competitive in the SEC. Claxton’s dynamic skill set and his progression during this offseason could set him up to be the next star for Georgia basketball.