UGA Basketball

Tom Crean discusses status of popular Georgia assistant basketball coach

Georgia assistant coach Jonas Hayes.
Georgia assistant coach Jonas Hayes. Georgia Sports Communications

Tom Crean is interested in Jonas Hayes as a potential assistant on his staff.

The newly-hired Georgia men's basketball coach said that while he has contacted Hayes, the two have yet to meet in person yet. That should change shortly as Hayes was present for Crean's introductory news conference, which lasted a little less than an hour Friday afternoon.

“I’ve spoken with him. I haven’t met him yet, but I’ve spoken with him,” Crean said. “I know who he is but we did speak (Thursday) night. He’s definitely someone I want to get to know. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. We spoke late last night.”

Hayes has coached at Georgia since 2013, which is when former head coach Mark Fox hired him. Hayes was also a player for the Bulldogs from 2000-04 after transferring to the program from Western Carolina with twin brother Jarvis Hayes.

Hayes has played an important part on Georgia’s staff in recruiting. He was seen as one of the main reasons why the Bulldogs landed Yante Maten from Pontiac, Michigan back in 2014. Hayes also helped develop the former three-star prospect into the 2017-18 AP SEC Player of the Year.

Hayes also developed strong relationships with 2019 recruits Ashton Hagans and Elias King. Hagans, the nation’s No. 1 point guard, decommitted a week before Fox was fired due to the uncertain status of the head coach who was recruiting him. King decommitted a few days after Fox was let go due to the move.

Both prospects publicly stated that if Hayes was retained, Georgia would get another look.

“It’s very important that (Hayes) comes back,” King told The Telegraph shortly after he decommitted. “Me and him are very close.”

When it comes to recruiting, Crean said he wants someone on his staff to have Southeastern connections, particularly with the city of Atlanta. That would certainly seem to bode well for Hayes.

“I think knowing the area is going to be important," Crean said. “I don’t profess to have that. That’s where I think the staffing and really looking at what’s going to happen, certainly when you come to Georgia, the geographical footprint of really knowing the landscape is really, really important.”

If he stays at Georgia, Hayes would be seen as someone who can help bridge the gap from one coach to the next. Many of the current players are fond of Hayes and were hopeful he would be kept by Fox’s successor.

“He’s just a great person, a great person to have on your side,” outgoing senior forward Pape Diatta said a day before Georgia’s senior night against Texas A&M. “You can always walk to his office and get some advice.”