'Just scratching the surface': Anthony Edwards still learning after breakout at Maui Invitational

Kathryn Skeean | The Red & BlackGeorgia head coach Tom Crean discusses penalties with freshman Anthony Edwards (5) after he comes off of the court. The University of Georgia men’s basketball team opened its regular season with a win by 91-72 against Western Carolina University on Nov. 5 in Athens.

Anthony Edwards was praised on Twitter by the likes of future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade and current NBA star Donovan Mitchell after a 33-point second half against Michigan State and a game-winning 3-pointer against Chaminade. The freshman didn’t relish too much in the compliments. In fact, he didn’t even see them.

The Atlanta native doesn’t have a Twitter account. He got calls and texts from plenty of people after Georgia’s three-game stint at the Maui Invitational but didn’t get ahead of himself.

“It’s been fun,” Edwards said. “It’s been cool hearing from certain people, but other than that I just came back and got back in the gym. I’m not really worried about that.”

He was quick to shift the praise from himself to Rodney Howard. Howard played the majority of the second half against Michigan State and was crucial in setting screens for Edwards and playing defense that helped cut a 28-point deficit down to two points. But Edwards’ outing was the main show, despite the Bulldogs’ disappointing results.

Edwards pulled off a few highlight-reel plays and scored at will in multiple ways. He added to his elite scoring ability with solid defense on Cassius Winston, one of the best guards in the country. He had 14 deflections against the Spartans, a stat head coach Tom Crean was very pleased with because it shows Edwards’ activity on defense. For his efforts, Edwards was named to the Maui All-Tournament Team and earned SEC Freshman of the Week.

His most impressive skill during the tournament was his space creation and deep range. Those two skills translate well to the NBA with ball-dominant players like James Harden taking over. For Edwards, it’s been a part of his game.

“I always feel like once I hit one shot, the rim gets big,” he said. “I just start taking them as much as I can, no matter what.”

Edwards didn’t have a perfect tournament, however. He struggled to assert himself in the first half in all three games.

While making an effort to get his teammates involved early in games, Edwards said he has been too passive. He plans on getting quicker at reading the defense — something he partly attributes to his stagnant starts.

The different defensive looks have obstructed him, but he’s starting to learn. Edwards knows teams will try to take away his ability to drive to the lane and force him to shoot.

Crean reiterated Edwards’ points and said the freshman is starting to find ways to score when teams are basing defensive game plans around him. There’s still room for improvement in Georgia’s offense and the star freshman is at the center of it.

“I know he had a big-time game, but he’s scratching the surface,” Crean said. “There’s so many things he’s learning about the game.”

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