Nov. 30: Lady Bulldogs adding newcomer as mid-year enrollee
Tineya Hylton joined the Lady Bulldogs' program in early January, and played against Alabama.
ATHENS, Ga. — A few weeks back, much of the conversation around Georgia women's basketball's 2022 signing class centered around a pair of headliners.
Janiah Barker and Sydney Bowles are nationally-acclaimed prospects. Barker signed her national letter-of-intent as the No. 3 prospect nationally, according to ESPN HoopGurlz. Her close friend, Bowles didn't fall too far behind in those rankings. The package of those recruits put the most-recent class in the discussion as the best of Joni Taylor's tenure.
Lost in it all is a prospect who hails north of the border. She doesn't find herself in the rankings, but a simple leaderboard of recruits doesn't hinder Georgia from its character-based recruiting process that results in plenty of gems. The hope of Taylor and her three assistants who are heavily-involved in recruiting is that Tineya Hylton fits the mold of the classic sports cliché of "diamond in the rough."
Hylton, a 5-foot-7 guard from Toronto, Ontario, helped lead her team to a 25-1 record and a championship title in 2020. She played on the Become One AAU team and earned MVP honors at the Ballin Across Borders Games.
Turns out, she will be the earliest newcomer to join the Lady Bulldogs' roster. Hylton will be a mid-year enrollee and plans to begin classes for the spring semester, according to a team spokesperson.
“She is a very capable scorer at all three levels. She is shifty with the ball in her hands, attacks the rim and puts pressure on the defense," Taylor said in a mid-November press release. "I know our staff and players are so happy she will be joining us soon and we are all looking forward to seeing the impact she will have on our program.”
Hylton will be Georgia's 15th player on the team roster. Fourteen will be active at the time of her arrival with junior Maori Davenport's status unknown. Hylton will be the fifth freshman on the 2021-22 team.
According to the school's academic calendar, the university begins its spring semester on Jan. 10. It is unknown exactly when Hylton is unable to join, but the Lady Bulldogs begin conference play on Dec. 30 against LSU.
Hylton's role isn't known. Georgia uses a deep bench to its advantage. It has propelled the Lady Bulldogs to their 6-0 start as the bench has outscored the opponents' reserves by a margin of 192-61, an average of 22 points per game. With that said, Georgia goes about 12-deep with Zoesha Smith in the back of the mix and freshmen Kimmie Jenkins and Alina Sendar mainly receiving end-of-game action.
Even if Hylton isn't a major contributor to Georgia, there's massive benefit to joining the program during the middle of a season. Along with the summer workouts and a series of preseason practices in 2022, Hylton gets an extra two-plus months of development. She can also witness Georgia's potential run through conference play and the postseason to get an idea of what's to come when in a role to play significant minutes.
Based on listed eligibility, Georgia would lose four players ahead of the 2022-23 season. Jenna Staiti and Que Morrison exhausted their extra season of eligibility granted with the Covid-19 pandemic, but it gets murky with the statuses of Mikayla Coombs and Malury Bates and if they choose to return.
The Lady Bulldogs are adding another to the squad, and soon. Hylton could contribute in some ways, but development holds plenty of weight when arriving at a program with high standards.
"It is going to be a process and you're relearning basketball all over again," said junior forward Javyn Nicholson, recalling the first-year learning curve. "There will be down moments, because that's just how it goes. You have to push through that and keep working hard."