Tyree Crump hustled down the court hoping to make a shot-saving play.
A Fort Valley State opponent grabbed the basketball following a turnover from Juwan Parker during Georgia’s preseason scrimmage last week and hoped to score an easy bucket. But Crump, a freshman guard, got back down the court and stripped the ball from his hands.
The ball bounced off of the Fort Valley State player and out of bounds, which returned possession to the Bulldogs. It was a good sign for Crump, who came to Georgia heralded for his offensive game.
His defense, as he noted previously, however, needed work.
Getting back down the court in transition to make a play like this showed the effort Crump’s put into his defensive improvement before the start of the season. It's something Crump said he's spent a lot of time working on.
“Should I stop? Or should I keep going?” Crump said about the play. “I knew if I kept running I could foul him and get a stop. I ended up stripping the ball and it hit off his leg.”
As Crump works on his defense, his offense, albeit in a scrimmage, appeared ready for Division I action. But Fox didn’t rush him into the scrimmage. Crump was held from taking the court over the first 10 minutes of last week’s scrimmage, with fellow freshman Jordan Harris and junior college transfer Pape Diatta seeing the floor before him.
After missing his first two 3-pointers, Crump hit one and didn’t look back. Throughout the rest of the scrimmage, Crump hit four 3s in a row in a blowout win. He finished with 11 points and displayed a no-fear demeanor.
“That’s what he does,” head coach Mark Fox said. “It’s one of his great strengths. He’s a great shooter. We weren’t surprised by it. He’s an outstanding shooter. He’s learning a lot about playing at this level.”
Crump said it hasn’t been easy as a freshman. Fox has been on him hard to improve his defense and appeared to send a message that nothing is guaranteed by waiting over 10 minutes to send him into a scrimmage.
If Crump is to be one of the first players off the bench, or even start, during Friday’s game against Clemson, he will have to earn those minutes.
“(Fox’s) on him like he is on every freshman,” senior guard J.J. Frazier said. “That comes with the territory. They have to understand what we want to do. They have to understand how we want to play. It’s not just Tyree, he’s on everybody.”
Crump stated he’s never nervous and is ready for his official college debut at Clemson. His long-range shooting will be needed, considering the Bulldogs are replacing Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann – two of the top four scorers from last year’s team.
But having hit four 3-pointers in last week’s scrimmage has Crump feeling pretty good heading into the season opener.
“Seeing some shots go in made my confidence even higher,” Crump said. “But I’m looking forward to the next game.”