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Georgia Basketball

Nicolas Claxton to Stay in NBA Draft

May 28, 2019

ATHENS - It's been in question for more than a month. Now, the decision has been made. Nicolas Claxton will not be apart of the 2019 Georgia basketball team. 


In the fading hours till the NCAA’s early entry entrant withdrawal deadline at midnight on May 29, Claxton and his camp opted to keep his name in the NBA Draft after declaring on April 19. 


Head coach Tom Crean knew those cards were on the table and had been preparing for the possibility since Claxton entered the draft.


“No matter what happens,” Crean said at the SEC Spring Meetings, “You support it, and you move forward.”


The decision doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Claxton built up his draft stock significantly after leading the 2018-19 Bulldogs in points, rebounds, blocks and steals while finishing second in assists in route to being named a second-team All-SEC member. 


At 6-foot-11, NBA executives like the mismatch potential Claxton has. After serving as Georgia’s primary ball handler for much of the season, Claxton has shown the ability to give NBA big men a difficult time defending him on the perimeter. His shooting (28.1 percent from three) holds his value back a bit but still gives NBA teams hope that it can be improved upon. 


That mismatch potential is there defensively for Claxton as well. Tall and lengthy, he has the ability to switch on to multiple positions and guard players both inside and out. Claxton can shuffle his feet on the outside well for a big man and is a proficient rim protector as well. 


Georgia would’ve loved to have Claxton return for the 2019-20 season, but it wasn’t a necessity for the Bulldogs. They still have Rayshaun Hammonds, who averaged 12.1 points and 6.1 rebounds last season, coming back for his junior season. Crean has also assembled the nation’s ninth-best recruiting class, compiled of five top-100 players. 


One of those players being five-star shooting guard Anthony Edwards. As the second-highest rated player in the country, Edwards is being touted as one of the top prospects in the 2020 NBA draft class. While he doesn’t bring the size and length that Claxton had, Edwards has the ability to pick up that lost production and take over as Georgia’s primary ball handler this upcoming season.

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