Tom Crean adds more strength, versatility, and experience to the 2020-21 Roster.
It is Spring Creaning during the most unusual and tumultuous offseason of College Basketball. Record numbers of transfers, virtual tours, and uncertainty have been the story of this offseason. Very few coaching changes have been made this offseason as Athletic Directors are being conservative with their spending during this uncertain time. Many coaches are looking to the transfer portal to improve their rosters and Tom Crean is one of them. Enter Virginia Tech graduate transfer Preston ‘P.J.’ Horne from Tifton, Georgia who entered the transfer portal three days ago and was immediately snagged by Georgia to continue his basketball career and studies. What does the addition of Horne mean for Georgia and how did this happen so quickly?
COVID-19 played a role in Horne deciding to attend UGA
Horne has experienced tragedy as his great aunt passed away from COVID-19 and his aunt contracted the illness as well. Horne’s mother works as health care worker at a local hospital. During this time, Horne has been in Tifton completing online classes at Virginia Tech while having an unfortunate figurative front-row seat to the horrors. Horne made the decision to finish his education at Virginia Tech and attend graduate school at a school closer to home and the University of Georgia fit his needs.
Tom Crean was looking for an experienced frontcourt player and P.J. Horne was looking to attend graduate school closer to home. Everything came together rather quickly.
How does Horne fit in with this UGA roster?
P.J. Horne is going to be able to provide Georgia with a little bit of everything. What Georgia lacked last season was not height or length, but rather strength and experience in the interior on defense.
P.J. Horne is Efficient in the Restricted Arc
Georgia was a very efficient team in the restricted arc despite their “lack of size”. Georgia made 68.3% of their shots from within the restricted arc last season, which was good enough to be 8th in the country in this metric. 38.2% of Georgia’s shots were in the restricted arc (115th highest in the country) and this figure would have been higher if Anthony Edwards was not frequently put into isolation offense situations.
P.J. Horne does not create his own shot, he relies on his teammates to give him opportunities to score. He is extremely efficient in the restricted arc, 73.8%. While he took most of his shots from three point range, he was an efficient scorer at the rim. Any bit of efficiency at the rim makes up for the loss of Rayshaun Hammonds in some way.
Horne’s Ability to Shoot Three Point Shots
Horne was a 34.9% three point shooter in Mike Young’s three point shooting happy offense. The downside is that he was not as good of a three point shooter against ACC competition, 30.8%. However, he is a versatile option who can in some way offset the skill set loss of Rayshaun Hammonds.
Horne as an Offensive Rebounder
Horne’s role on Buzz Williams’ teams was a bit different than it was with Mike Young. Horne played less minutes with Williams and he was more of an interior player than with Mike Young. Horne, in his limited minutes, proved himself to be a strong offensive rebounder. He had an offensive rebounding rate of 11.2% in his Sophomore season and 12.3% as a Freshman.
Horne will likely be asked to both be an interior and exterior threat on offense, which means that he will be more impactful on the offensive glass. Georgia is a team that thrives on second chance scoring opportunities, it is much like a transition possession as the defense breaks down. More offensive rebounds also means more opportunities to draw fouls and put strong Free Throw shooters like Justin Kier and Andrew Garcia on the Free Throw Line.
Horne as an Interior Defender
Horne is 6’6″ 230 pounds, which makes him shorter than a typical post player, but he has more strength than the returning members of the UGA frontcourt. Horne’s addition helps the team not get pushed around by stronger posts. Horne may seem undersized, but LSU’s Emmitt Williams made things tough for the Georgia Bulldogs last season in Baton Rouge and he is the same size.
Horne’s teammates next season will be better defensive rebounders than he is, but he may be the team’s best shot blocker (2.9% blocked shot rate last season and 3.2% blocked shot rate in 2018-19) and that does not say much.
Horne is not expected to be a featured star on this team, but he is going to give this team more versatility, experience, and toughness. Do not dismiss the blessings of depth and greater stability.
Who is on the way out?
Georgia is one scholarship over the limit with the addition of Horne. Georgia is also aggressively pursuing 2020 reclassifier Moussa Cisse, a 6’9″ 205 pound player from Middle Village, New York. Tom Crean is not expected to land Cisse, but what does it say that Georgia remains in the chase for the talented recruit? It says that Georgia can make room and there were two players since Rodney Howard’s exit who were considering a transfer out of the program (one has been quite a bit more public about their uncertainty than the other). There is also a signee from the Recruiting Class of 2020 who may not be able to qualify.
Attrition must happen because of the scholarship limit.
The names speculatively floated on message boards are not exactly the names that match sources, but given that there are 13 scholarship players on the UGA roster, eventually someone would produce matching names with ease.
The Transfer Portal is Undefeated.