2016-2017 Season Review
Last year when I wrote the ACC Preview in November (which were very basic, this year’s previews should be much better!) I had Georgia Tech 14th out of 15 teams in the ACC. Most people agreed with this assessment and had Georgia Tech at or near the bottom of the league as well. Instead, in Josh Pastner’s first season at the helm, the Yellow Jackets went 21-16 (8-10) and were in the NCAA Tournament conversation. They beat VCU, North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame. Had it not been for some bad losses early in the year (Penn State, Tennessee, Ohio) GT may have danced. Instead they earned a #6 seed in the NIT where they beat Indiana, Belmont, Ole Miss and Cal State Bakersfield before losing in the NIT Final to TCU. The Yellow Jackets were without a doubt the biggest surprise in college basketball last season.
Quinton Stephens was a 6’9 forward that graduated after averaging 10.4/7.6/2.2 last season. He hit a team high 60 three pointers and started all 37 games for the Yellow Jackets. Guard Josh Heath graduated following a season that saw him average 5.3/2.6/4.4 while starting in 24 games. Guard Corey Heyward also graduated after starting in 24 games and averaging 1.9/1.8/1.0 in 16.8 MPG. 6’7 Christian Matthews decided to transfer to Indian Hills CC after a freshman season in which he averaged 3.4 PPG in 15 games. Kellen McCormick, Rand Rowland and Jordan Price all graduated after seeing limited action.
6’4 sophomore Josh Okogie is back after a freshman season in which he averaged 16.1/5.4/1.6 in addition to averaging 1.3 SPG. Okogie was an All-ACC Freshman Team selection. UPDATE 11/7: Okogie was suspended indefinitely for accepting improper benefits. 6’10 senior Ben Lammers had a huge junior year, averaging 14.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 3.4 blocks per game (third in nation). He was named to the All-ACC Second Team and was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Tadric Jackson is a 6’2 senior that averaged 12.1/2.2/1.8 and hit 40 threes, which was second on the team. UPDATE 11/7: Jackson was suspended indefinitely for accepting improper benefits. Justin Moore, a 6’4 sophomore guard, started 18 games, played 18.8 MPG and averaged 4.4/1.8/2.4. 6’10 sophomore Sylvester Ogbonda played 5.2 MPG in 23 games, averaging 1.6 points and 1.0 boards per game. Abdoulave Gueye is a 6’9 junior that played 10.1 MPG in 20 games and averaged 1.2 PPG and 2.5 RPG.
Pastner brings in the #11 rated recruiting class in the ACC. Jose Alvarado is a 6 foot, three to four star PG. He is an efficient playmaker that makes good decisions. He has a behest chance to be the starting PG right away. Curtis Haywood II is a three star SG. Standing 6’4, Haywood is a versatile player that can defend, handle the ball, rebound and score. 6’8 Evan Cole is a three star forward that originally intended to go to UNC Wilmington. Rounding out the 2017 class is Moses Wright, a late blooming 6’9 forward with a 7’2 wingspan. Georgia Tech also brings in Brandon Alston, a graduate transfer from Lehigh who has two years of eligibility remaining. At 6’5, Alston averaged 6.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per game last season.
Last season’s success came as a shock to the college basketball world, so now the question is whether last season was a step in the right direction for Georgia Tech or a fluke. Josh Okogie and Ben Lammers are a great 1-2 punch to work around and they have some nice complementary pieces, though the front court depth is a concern. So many times we’ve seen teams like Georgia Tech use a deep NIT run to help vault them into the Big Dance next season. They’ll probably be a bubble team and will have to maneuver through the treacherous ACC, but they definitely have a chance to hear their name called on Selection Sunday for the first time since 2010. That chance, though, definitely took a hit with Okogie and Jackson’s suspensions, as they could miss most of the non-conference slate.