Georgia's Anthony Edwards thrills NBA scouts, chills Michigan State with 37-point Maui outburst

Sporting News

There are 212 days between now and the commencement of the 2020 NBA Draft, and Georgia guard Anthony Edwards is scheduled to play a college basketball game on at least 26 of them. After what we witnessed Tuesday afternoon, it might be wise to hold off declaring anyone, anywhere, to be the leading candidate to be selected first overall.

Midway through Georgia and Michigan State's Maui Invitational consolation-round game, the assembled NBA scouts — including Larry Harris of the Golden State Warriors and Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics — had to be wondering if they’d blundered by getting to the gym at 9:30 a.m. Then, Edwards decided to join them.

And entertain them.

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MORE: Should Memphis' James Wiseman go No. 1 in draft?

With his team trailing by 27 points early in the second half and his contribution at that juncture a meager four points, Edwards accepted a pass from Tyree Cupp and connected on a layup. Edwards scored 31 more points in the remaining 16 minutes, including seven 3-pointers. With nearly 5 minutes remaining, Michigan State’s once-enormous lead was cut to just a single basket.

The Spartans survived Edwards’ onslaught — and their own defensive issues — to leave the game with a 93-85 victory, but those 37 points from Edwards suggested the Bulldogs might find a way to impose on the SEC, and that Edwards might be as good as any player who’ll be scouted by the NBA during the next seven months.

Sporting News draft analyst Chris Stone had Edwards at No. 2, behind North Carolina freshman Cole Anthony, in his most recent mock draft for Sporting News. ESPN’s team of analysts has been talking up LaMelo Ball, who is playing professionally in Australia’s NBL and averaging 16.3 points, 6.7 assists and shooting 38 percent from the floor.

Memphis center James Wiseman is a common choice for the top pick, but he has been absent from the Tigers’ games as he serves a 12-game NCAA suspension. No one is going to make a pick that important off a single game. But if they did, those three players — and everyone else thinking about becoming the first overall pick — would have a tough time matchup what Edwards did against the Spartans.

MORE: Sporting News NBA mock draft

The question now is whether Georgia can ride Edwards to a better season than the first 60 minutes of basketball in Maui suggested. The Bulldogs

were blown out by Dayton in the first round at Maui, 80-61, and were down by 21 points at halftime against MSU. That’s a minus-40 points in a fairly brief stretch, and Edwards scored just 10 points in that time frame.

After he took over the game against MSU, the Bulldogs were a plus-19.

There might be more to the Bulldogs if they get more of this from Edwards in SEC play.

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