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Georgia basketball star Nicolas Claxton yet to decide on return - Mar 14, 2019

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Georgia has the No. 1 shooting guard in the nation headed to Athens in Anthony Edwards, but the Bulldogs have yet to ensure the No. 1 player from the 2018-19 team is returning.

Georgia sophomore star Nicolas Claxton (211-SF-99) was noncommittal when asked if he would return for his junior season.

'I'll talk about it with my family,' Claxton said following Wednesday night's 71-61 loss to Missouri in the Bulldogs' season-ending SEC tournament loss to Missouri at Bridgestone Arena.

Player have until April 21 to declare for the NBA draft this year. Early entry players can attend NBA pre-draft camps and individual workouts to get feedback. Players with remaining eligibility can withdraw until May 29 this year.

The 6-foot-11, 220-pound Claxton was a second-team All-SEC pick, leading UGA in scoring (13 points per game), rebounding (8.6), blocks (81) and steals (34), also finishing second in assists (58).

Claxton said he knows he has areas to improve.

'Definitely making sure I'm getting stronger,' Claxton said. 'That's something that's going to come with time. Just making sure that I'm focusing on shooting, a lot of catch-and-shoot, finishing around the rim.'

Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin indicated he believes Claxton will return and become a dominant player in the SEC.

'He's long, athletic, (and) as talented as he is, I think when it's all said and done, whenever he decides to leave college, he's a guy that plays at the NBA level,' Martin said. 'But I'm not sure he's a guy that comes down and scores 30 points a night. I don't think he impacts the game that way. He's long, athletic, gets to the free-throw line, makes shots, passes the ball.

'As he continues to get stronger, he'll be a dominant player in this league.'

Georgia coach Tom Crean, who completed his first season in Athens with an 11-21 record, said having a talented player with options like Claxton is a good problem.

'I'm in a great place with Nic, so we'll just ride all of that out,' Crean said. 'I've been down this road so many times with guys, and you want that. You want guys that aspire, and you want guys that have potential. It works itself out.

'Whatever ends up being the absolute best for him is what's going to happen, and there's a lot of improvement left in him, and he's got a lot of basketball in his future, and he made a lot of strides this year.'

Crean does anticipate some attrition beyond the six departing seniors.

'I think attrition is part of the game,' Crean said. 'From college football, college baseball, coulee basketball, women's basketball.

'The bottom line for me is everybody gets coached, every day. There's opportunities you take advantage of, or you don't. There are decisions that have to be made as you go through it, and that becomes part of it.'

Sophomore guard Teshaun Hightower, who started 17 games this season, did not play for the third time in the past four games.

Freshman guard JoJo Toppin was also held out of action for the 14th time in the final 19 games of the season.

'I really don't know, my mind can't wander there right now,' Toppin said, asked of his future in the program. 'This is a big loss, it hurts. Really not thinking about that right now, we just lost six seniors. I can't think about the future right now.'

Crean has signed 6-foot-6 swingmen Jaykwon Walton (No. 67 in the ESPN's 2019 top 100) and Toumani Camara (No. 96) in the 2019 class.

Mike Griffith   

Pan American Games Draw LIMA, PERU - 1 day ago
FIBA held the draw for groups for men's basketball of the Pan American Games in Lima 2019, leaving the Virgin Islands in group A with Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the United States. A select team of men's basketball standouts from the BIG EAST Conference will represent the United States at the 2019 Pan American Game while Puerto Rico will be sending their B team as their A team is set to play in the World Games. While Group B consists of Dominican Republic, Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico. Pa...   [read more]

Claxton: I would love to play with UGA's incoming class - 3 days ago
By CHANCE LINTON Georgia forward Nicolas Claxton (211-SF-99) was on hand in Chicago last week for the 2019 NBA Draft Combine, but he's facing a major decision in the coming week. Claxton declared for the NBA Draft following a breakout sophomore season, but he still hasn't made a final decision on whether to return to Georgia for his junior year. The deadline for him to withdraw from the draft and retain his college eligibility is May 29. Ahead of the NBA Combine, he sat down with Draft...   [read more]

NBA Draft Combine Notebook: Nicolas Claxton Displays Versatility - 6 days ago
CHICAGO - The on-court portion of the draft combine wrapped up on Friday, with two more scrimmages giving prospects a chance to perform in front of the entire league. As a whole, five-on-five play was heavily watered down this year as a vast majority of potential first-round picks opted not to play, aiming to protect their draft stock. Regardless, there were a number of intriguing players who benefited this week. There were also some guys who struggled. Some of the more noteworthy perform...   [read more]

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