Don't remember seeing Georgia's Rashad Wright on any highlight
reels last season? That may be because the junior point guard's
value is best measured by what happens when he's not on the
floor. Case in point: With the Bulldogs up 30-11 in Georgia's
second-round NCAA game against Southern Illinois last March,
Wright took a breather. The Dawgs promptly gave up seven points
of their lead, as well as the game's momentum, and eventually
lost 77-75. "Rashad is the glue of this team; he is what holds
it all together," says Georgia swingman and 2001-02 SEC scoring
leader Jarvis Hayes. "He knows all of us so well, he doesn't even
have to look to see if I'm at the wing on a fast break. He just
bounces the ball behind him knowing that I'll be ready for it."
Wright's assistto-turnover ratio was a sparkling 2.3 to 1 last
season, best in the conference. This season Wright, who's also
the team's best defender, has added a long-range shot that may
get him more attention from defenses and from highlight shows.
"For now no one knows him, and that's fine with us," says coach
Opponents are all too familiar with Hayes and senior guard Ezra
Williams--whose combined 35.1 points per game made them the
highest-scoring Bulldogs tandem in a dozen years--and also with
rugged 6'7" power forward Chris Daniels. The only starter from
last year who won't be returning immediately is forward Steve
Thomas, who is academically ineligible until mid-December.
Filling in for him will be either Hayes's twin brother, Jonas, or
6'7" N.C. State transfer Damien Wilkins, who can play any
position except center. Because only one of Harrick's recruits,
6'4" freshman guard Wayne Arnold, gained academic eligibility,
Wilkins will be one of the few new faces on the squad.
Jarvis Hayes says experience will get the Bulldogs to a third
straight NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
"We're not the underdogs anymore," he says, "but if we go into
the season playing with the same underdog passion and intensity
we played with last year, who knows how far we can go."
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER TRIPLE THREAT Already Georgia's orchestrator and best defender, Wright has added the trey to his repertoire.
POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT
SF Jarvis Hayes 6'7" Jr. 18.6 ppg
PF Chris Daniels 6'7" Jr. 8.0 rpg
C Jonas Hayes 6'8" Jr. 5.1 rpg
SG Ezra Williams 6'4" Sr. 16.5 ppg
PG Rashad Wright 6'3" Jr. 4.8 apg
2001-02 RECORD: 22-10 (10--6, T1 in SEC East)
TOURNAMENT: Lost to S. Illinois in 2nd round
Division I conferences, the SEC and the Southern, in which Jarvis
Hayes (with Western Carolina, 1999--2000) has won scoring
An opposing coach's view
Bulldogs on the boards, Georgia may be beaten by inside scorers
"Jarvis Hayes is the best pro prospect in the SEC. He's big for
his position, he's very athletic, and he can create his own
shot.... Hayes is a better shooter than his percentage [45.1]
would indicate. You want to make him put it on the floor, but the
best way to defend him is to keep him from getting the ball. Of
course, that's easier said than done.... They don't make many
guards as big and strong as Ezra Williams. You want to drive him
away from the basket as far as you can, but it's important to box
him out, because his size makes him an effective rebounder....
Their inside guys are small, but they're athletic and tough....
You want to get the ball inside and make them guard you,
especially if you have someone who can score over the top of
them.... They've had a lot of turmoil, but I think coach Jim
Harrick absorbs most of it."