For the second time in three seasons, junior wing Juwan Parker gutted out a torn achilles down the stretch of a season in hopes of helping push Georgia toward an NCAA Tournament appearance. Unfortunately this time, it didn’t end in the dance.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma native had his best season in red and black going from just under 5 pts and 3 rebounds per game as a freshman and sophomore to almost 10 pts and over 5 rebounds a night while starting 32 games this year. The injury caused him to sit out the season ending NIT opening round loss to Belmont, and considering the nature of achilles’ injuries casts doubts on his ability to return for a fifth and final season on the hardwood. Parker will already have a master’s degree from UGA even if he is unable to continue playing.
This opens up a significant need in the backcourt for Mark Fox when the spring signing period opens early next month. Even if Parker is willing and able to come back next year, the recovery makes it difficult to rely on him filling a similar role for a similar amount of games. E’Torrion Wilridge, Pape Diatta, and Jordan Harris return as options at small forward, but Parker also helped ball handling duties.
For the guard spots, there would be little more than Turtle Jackson (who has struggled to make an impact in two years so far), Tyree Crump (who looked much more a scorer than a PG in his freshman season), and incoming freshman TeShaun Hightower left behind without the rising senior in the mix. On a team with a frontcourt that should be more than capable of carrying a team to the tournament in Yante Maten, Derek Ogbeide, and Mike Edwards, while adding a top 50 national recruit in Rayshaun Hammonds, the perimeter options will need to be able to hold their own to avoid the disappointments of the previous two seasons.