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Wrong red and black uniform
Injured Anyaorah sitting on sideline

ATHENS - Ebuka Anyaorah wears his red and black to Georgia men's basketball games. Unfortunately for the freshman and his team, it's a red tie and a black dress suit.

Georgia was hoping that the former North Gwinnett standout would help make up for the offensive loss of Billy Humphrey, who was dismissed from school and transferred to Tulane.

Anyaorah, however, has spent each Bulldog game in street clothes as he recovers from a stress fracture in his left leg that has wiped out his season and dampened Georgia's hopes.

The 6-foot-4 guard looks stylish on game days, but he'd much rather be in uniform and out on the court.

Georgia could definitely use someone with Anyaorah's scoring ability as it struggles to recapture some of last season's magic that led to an SEC tournament title and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

"It's been disappointing," Anyaorah said. "I was really looking forward to this season and seeing what I could do in the SEC."

Although Anyaorah is back to practicing with the Bulldogs, he's still not close to 100 percent. "Maybe in a few weeks, but not now," he said.

Even if Anyaorah was almost ready to play, he has missed too much time to give up a year of eligibility for just a few games - no matter how much Georgia could use him.

"It's hard having to delay getting started, but I'll still have my four years," Anyaorah said.

Anyaorah chose Georgia over offers from schools like Colorado, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Oklahoma and Texas A&M after a breakthrough senior season for North Gwinnett. He originally made a verbal commitment to Colorado after visiting Boulder, but backed off and decided to stay close to home.

It was a "crazy time" for Anyaorah, who had gone from a marginal college prospect to a big-time one in just a few months.

While Howard "Trey" Thompkins was the headliner in the Bulldogs' recruiting class, Anyaorah was almost as prolific a high school scorer. He averaged 26.3 points for North Gwinnett, while Thompkins averaged 27.5 for Class AA state champion Wesleyan.

"We're good friends and I was looking forward to playing with him," Anyaorah said.

"Now I'll just have to wait until next season."

Thompkins also had health issues before the season and ended up missing the first four games. But Anyaorah's problem turned out to be more serious.

"I started feeling it in the summer," said Anyaorah of the pain in his lower left leg. "At first, they thought it was shin splints.

"But it wasn't getting any better, not with rest, not with a brace. I had a boot for awhile, but nothing really helped. So I finally had to have the surgery."

The diagnosis was tough to take. The surgery itself was even worse. A rod was inserted to stabilize his left leg.

"The rod goes from my ankle to my knee, but they put it in through my knee," Anyaorah said.

That sounds painful and Anyaorah says that it definitely was.

"It was awful," Anyaorah said. "I was in the hospital for three or four days afterwards and the next two weeks were the worst days of my life.

"I was glad to get off crutches and now I'm at least back to walking with no pain."

Georgia, though, is still feeling the pain of his absence.

Thompkins is Georgia's leading scorer, and freshmen Travis Leslie and Dustin Ware are in the playing rotation. But the Bulldogs miss the scoring of the fourth member of their highly regarded in-state recruiting class.

Before the surgery, Georgia coach Dennis Felton had been full of praise for Anyaorah's potential and talked about his impact this season.

"Ebuka is very athletic and is an outstanding deep shooter," Felton said. "He'll be a terrific addition to our perimeter offense."

Now, Georgia will have to wait until next season to get that offensive boost.

"I wish he was playing," Thompkins said. "He could really help us."

SideBar: THE ANYAORAH FILE

Name: Ebuka Anyaorah

College: Georgia

High school: North Gwinnett

Position: Guard

Size: 6-foot-4, 194 pounds

Year: Freshman

Major: Undecided

Hobby: Playing pool

High school highlight: Averaged 26.3 points as a senior and was named to the Class AAAAA all-state team

Best high school game: 43 points

Family affair: Brother Eloka is a freshman football player at Portland State

Did you know? His parents are from Nigeria, but he was born in Innsbruck, Austria