Bulldogs sign RJ Melendez
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Bulldogs sign RJ Melendez

RJ Melendez
Photo: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

ATHENS, Ga. — RJ Melendez will join Georgia Basketball as a transfer, head coach Mike White announced on Friday. A native of Puerto Rico and former four-star prospect, Melendez played the last two seasons at Illinois.

A 6-7, 205-pound guard, Melendez played in 54 games at Illinois and helped the Illini earn bids to each of the past two NCAA Tournaments. He compiled 276 points (5.1 ppg) and 149 rebounds (2.8 rpg), with 10 double-digit scoring performances, one double-figure rebound count and one double-double.

Last season, Melendez started 18 of 32 games played, including seven of the season’s final eight outings. He averaged 6.0 points and 3.5 boards, with eight double-digit scoring tallies. He posted career highs of 17 points against Lindenwood and 11 rebounds versus Minnesota. Melendez saw action in 22 games, including one start, as a freshman and averaged 3.8 points and 1.7 rebounds while shooting 56.9 percent from the field, 60.0 percent from 3-point range and 85.0 percent from the line.

Melendez, a native of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, played high school basketball at Central Pointe Christian Academy (CPCA) in Kissimmee, Florida. He was a consensus four-star recruit who was ranked as the nation’s No. 56 overall prospect, No. 11 small forward and No. 4 player in Florida by ESPN.com. Melendez scored a school-record 2,006 points at CPCA and led the White Tigers to the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association (SIAA) state title as a junior. As a senior, he averaged 24.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.3 blocks and 2.2 steals en route to earning SIAA Player of the Year honors.

Melendez also helped Puerto Rico earn a silver medal at the 2019 U17 Centrobasket Championships in the Dominican Republic. He averaged 9.2 points, including a 21-point outburst against El Salvador, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals in five contests.

Melendez is the third newcomer to sign with the Bulldogs for the 2023-24 season. Last November, Georgia inked a pair of ESPN.com top-100 high school prospects – No. 83 Lamariyon “Mari” Jordan, a small forward from Norcross High School, and No. 90 Dylan James, a power forward from Winter Haven (Fla.) High School.

Georgia finished the 2022-23 campaign 16-16 overall during White’s first season in Athens. The Bulldogs upped their win total by 10 victories over the previous season, the second-largest regular-season increase among Power 5 teams.


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