Georgia’s annual pro day was wrapping up when Tom Crean started walking across the field inside the indoor practice facility.
Crean decided to visit a few reporters for what was likely going to be a brief chat. The next thing anyone knew, it turned into a full-blown interview, with Georgia’s new men’s basketball coach holding court to answer some questions about the team he is taking over.
Among the questions he received was one about guard Jordan Harris, who was suspended during the 2017-18 season for a violation of team rules. While Harris was away from the team during the latter part of the year, Crean has allowed him to return, although his overall status is still yet to be determined.
“I’m going to evaluate every part of it,” Crean said of Harris’ status. “I’m not going to assume. I’m not going to judge. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pay attention. I think anybody who says, ‘We’re walking in with a clean slate’ – that’s partially true. I’m walking in but what’s been done is done. Now I want to see it with my own eyes. I want to see what things looks like. We brought him back, he’s been in the meeting, he was in the workouts. And as is everyone else in there.”
This week, the program held two on-court workouts and a team meeting. Harris was present for those.
As a sophomore, Harris averaged 3.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in 15.8 minutes. His season-best game was against Mississippi, when he scored 12 points.
Crean was also asked about the status of his coaching staff, which he has yet to assemble. Crean said he wants to be deliberate when hiring his assistants. Part of that has to do with the fact Georgia returns some players Crean said has “upside.”
Therefore, Crean doesn’t want to rush the process and regret a hire after the fact.
“I’m behind for a reason. I need to formulate this,” Crean said. “I have a lot of ideas but I also have to see where we’re at. There really hasn’t been a lot of time to say, ‘I’m going to bring so-and-so in for a meeting.’ I’m going to go recruiting now. As soon as I leave here we’ll be in Atlanta, and I’ll be there in the morning, and things of that nature. But I’ll get that. I want to be right. I really want to be right. I don’t want to get into it and say, ‘I should’ve waited.’ It would be different if we were sitting with a ton of scholarships right now. I think it would be different if the foundation wasn’t solid. But I need to know what’s going to work best for me to help them.”
Crean was hired last Friday and has only been Georgia’s head coach for six days.
He noted that he came away with a favorable first impression of his players after meeting with them for the first time earlier this week.
“I’m impressed with their hunger. Very attentive,” Crean said. “They’ve got energy, they’re excited. I told them it’s going to be hard. But the hard will always be better, never be easier, when you know you’re going through it together. That’s what they got to learn. I can’t assume I know how close they are. You just got to build that. I’m going to really try to stay with that for a long time. Let’s see what it is day by day. But the eye test is good.”