By Bryce Mandala
Georgia basketball finished its first season under Mike White on March 8 with a loss to LSU in the SEC tournament, but the future looks bright after much improvement under the new regime.
The University of Georgia’s Athletic Director Josh Brooks, officially announced that Mike White as the new head coach of the Georgia men’s basketball team on March 13, 2022. “We want to compete for national success in all 21 of our sports, and we believe that he is the coach that can build Georgia basketball to a consistent winner on the collegiate basketball landscape” Brooks said.
This was high praise for the former Florida men’s basketball coach. Mike White is experienced in the NCAA Tournament, competing in the postseason event eight times in his career. He went dancing from 1997-99 as a point guard for Ole Miss, and from 2017-21 as the head coach for Florida. White decided to step down as the head coach of the Gators, and take over the helm of a Georgia program who haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2015.
Mike White got right to work by picking up several players out of the transfer portal. Terry Roberts (Bradley), Jusaun Holt (Alabama), Frank Anselem (Syracuse), Justin Hill (Longwood), Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (Oklahoma State), and Mardrez McBride (North Texas) were all newcomers to the 2022-23 roster. The vision was extremely clear for Mike White and his transfer targets; bring in veteran players with March Madness experience.
Every transfer player except Terry Roberts has been to the big dance, while Justin Hill and Mardrez McBride played vital roles for their respective teams. To add more fuel to the fire, Georgia also returned three starters from the 2021-22 roster; Kario Oquendo, Braelen Bridges, and Jaxon Etter.
Things were shaping up for Georgia basketball entering the season, and a newfound era of success with Mike White as head coach.
Nine games into the 2022-23 season, Georgia had already surpassed their win total from the previous season after a 68-46 win against Florida A&M. The Bulldogs wrapped up non-confernce play with a 10-3 record and appeared to be a completely revamped team, especially in terms of defensive efficiency.
Three games into SEC play, Georgia had doubled their conference win total from the 2021-22 season (1), which included a huge home win against Auburn, who was ranked No. 25 at the time.
The team improved to 13-4 (3-1 SEC) after a 62-58 win at Ole Miss, which was their first true road win since the 2020-21 season. Terry Roberts had established himself as one of the best guards in the conference, Kario Oquendo was scoring in bunches, Braelen Bridges was efficient on both ends of the floor, and Jabri Abdur-Rahim was providing a spark off the bench.
Georgia would go on to lose six of its next seven games, all against SEC opponents. To add insult to injury, Terry Roberts would be sidlined for two games due to a concussion and his impact was missed tremendously.
Evidently, Roberts never returned to his former playstyle and his production decreased dramatically after his injury.
The Bulldogs would finish 16-16 (6-12 SEC) following a 67-72 loss to LSU in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
The 2022-23 season did not end how Georgia had hoped during the midpoint of SEC play, but if there’s one thing that was evident, it’s the immediate impact that White has had on this program.
Georgia is projected to return all but four players for the 2023-24 season (Braelen Bridges, Mardrez McBride, Jailyn Ingram, Jaxon Etter). With two ESPN Top-100 recruits coming in, Lamariyon Jordan, No. 72, and Dylan James, No.83. Georgia men’s basketball should make another drastic improvement next season.
Students, fans and the school as a whole hope to finally take the court with a men’s basketball program that can match the rest of the success the university is having.
Needless to say, the culture of Georgia basketball has changed, and the outlook on the basketball program has changed a lot in a years time.
The Mike White era is in full effect.