Who joins Dominique Wilkins in Georgia's all-time starting 5?
Editor’s note: SDS is selecting an all-time starting 5 for every SEC program, all part of our expanded coverage of March Madness.
While Georgia men’s basketball is beginning a new era with Tom Crean, the program has no shortage of star players, including one who shines brighter than all the rest — Dominique Wilkins, commonly called the “Human Highlight Reel.”
As the Bulldogs have shown flashes of excellence in recent years, they’ve also turned out some all-time players. Namely Sundiata Gaines, an all-around talent who is a top 10 all-time scorer with 1,469 points from 2004-08.
Another key guard was J.J. Frazier, the pint-sized guard who provided an inspirational burst of energy, especially late in his career that spanned from 2014-17. Frazier is seventh in program history with 1,628 points.
Another player under consideration was Wilkins’ sidekick, Vern Fleming, who started 124 of 125 games in a four-year span in the early 1980s. When Fleming left Georgia, he was the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,777. His name runs throughout the program record book, including as the third-highest single-game scoring output with 44.
But those players fall just outside the all-time starting lineup.
Here is Georgia’s all-time starting 5:
C Alec Kessler (1987-90)
The late Kessler has one of the best off-the-court stories as a magna cum laude graduate, who went on to medical school and later became an orthopedic surgeon. But he also left Georgia as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,788 points (a record broken by Litterial Green). The 6-foot-11 Roswell, Ga. native averaged 21 points and 10.4 rebounds as a senior in 1990, as he led Georgia to its only regular-season SEC championship. That season he was named to his second straight all-SEC first-team, was named SEC Player of the Year and second-team All-America.
F Yante Maten (2015-18)
A silver lining to root for in a forgettable season for the Bulldogs, Maten this season was the only player in the SEC ranked in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and minutes played. Maten was a model of consistency with double figure scoring in nearly every game this season, and throughout his career. He was named the AP SEC Player of the Year after he Maten led the SEC in scoring (19.4) and second in the league in rebounding (8.8). Though Georgia tied for 11th place in the league standings, it was the first time an AP SEC player of the year came from a team that ended the regular season below .500 in conference play since 1971. His consistent career helped Maten become the program’s second all-time leading scorer.
PG Litterial Green (1989-92)
The program’s all-time leading scorer (2,111) and third in all-time assists (466), Green averaged at least 15 points per game in each season in Athens to average 18.1 points in his career. His high-water mark was 20.6 points in the midst of a three-year run as an All-SEC pick. He’s commonly regarded as one of the best high school players in the state of Mississippi history.
SF Jarvis Hayes (2002-03)
Only outshined by Wilkins among Georgia greats, Hayes joined Wilkins as the second Bulldog to earn consensus first-team All-SEC honors two times. As a sophomore transfer from Western Carolina, Hayes was named SEC Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press after he averaged a league-high 18.6 points per game in 2001-02. Hayes again led the Bulldogs offensively in 2002-03 while averaging 18.3 points per game and reached 1,000 career points in just 55 games.
SF Dominique Wilkins (1980-82)
The undisputed legend of Georgia basketball, Wilkins averaged 21.6 points per game in four years, and was the SEC Player of the Year in 1980-81. Paired with coach Hugh Durham, Wilkins surprisingly chose Georgia over a host of top-shelf programs, including all four in-state ACC teams in North Carolina.
The Parade Magazine All-American from Washington, N.C., went on to became an All-American as a sophomore and junior. He led the Bulldogs to the first post-season appearances in school history, playing in the National Invitation Tournament in both 1981 and 1982. He finished with 1,688 career points.