Georgia’s deep tournament run was the crowning accomplishment for the career of a successful senior class. The group played in four NCAA Tournaments, reached three Sweet 16s, and of course played in last night’s regional final. But as this class moves on, the program will be hit hard by graduation. In all, seven seniors will leave the program including three starters and reserve forward Tameka Willis. Only eight scholarship players return, and there will only be one senior.
The frontcourt will take the biggest hit. Merritt Hempe will be the only returning post player with significant experience. Kaelyn Causwell, a 6’4″ freshman, played sparingly this season but will get a chance to contribute more next year.
The situation in the backcourt will be a little better. Tiaria Griffin should continue to develop into one of the SEC’s better scoring guards. Shacobia Barbee is already a force as a wing, though the lack of depth up front next year might force her to play more as a forward. Krista Donald could also help in the frontcourt, but her chronic knee issues will limit the ceiling for an otherwise very talented player. Reserves Erika Ford and Khaalidah Miller will step into larger roles next year. Marjorie Butler is poised to take over at point guard, though Miller can help there too.
Georgia has signed three players so far including two top-100 prospects. There are two post players in the class, and Halle Washington especially will get an opportunity to become the replacement for Hassell. Point guard Sydnei McCaskill could be brought along behind Butler. It’s possible that Georgia could add someone else during the spring signing period, but Andy Landers has gone into a season with fewer than 11 players before.
It will still be a very young team next year. With five sophomores and three incoming freshmen, there will only be three upperclassmen (Ford, Donald, and Miller). We’ve heard a lot over the past week about the effort Landers made to impress upon the outgoing seniors the tradition that had been built at Georgia and the standard that had been set. The biggest challenge heading into next season will be passing that understanding on to this next group of underclassmen. Landers commended Barbee and Griffin for their willingness to buy in from the outset, and they’ll need a similar response from the incoming class for Georgia to avoid a rough rebuilding year.