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ACC Preview #9 - Georgia Tech

It could be a tough season in Atlanta, and if it is, it might the last for Josh Pastner

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 05 Clemson at Georgia Tech
This could be a tough season for Josh Pastner and his Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What to make of Georgia Tech?

The Yellow Jackets came into last season as defending ACC champions after winning the title during the Covid year.

One the one hand, you want to say, well, yeah...Covid...but on the other, you remember how magnificent point guard Jose Alvarado and big man Moses Wright were. And what they had in common was neither was expected to be all that great. Wright was essentially a no-star recruit. He had potential, but he started late and at Tech he became a very good player.

And Alvarado, despite his small size and limited athleticism, has turned himself into an NBA player, something we never thought he could do. We thought that he’d be a solid player for Tech, a four year guy, but pro ball? No way.

But he showed us there, and now in the NBA, just how capable he really is. And it’s mostly just hard work and effort. He’s a paragon for those things. Anyone who wants to maximize their talent should look to him.

But they both left after last year, and Josh Pastner didn't have replacements ready to go. So the Yellow Jackets finished 5-15 in the ACC and 12-20 overall.

They’ve lost their best players from last year, seniors Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher, and they won’t be easy to replace.

They also had four transfers: Khalid Moore is off to Fordham, Saba Gigiberia is at San Francisco, Bubba Parham chose Samford and we can’t find where Jehloni James ended up, assuming he found a landing place. No one talks about the musical chairs when players can’t find a new school, but it happens. It’s an unfortunate downside to the new transfer situation.

None of the returnees had especially great years. Kyle Sturdivant, a 6-3 senior, averaged 25.2 mpg, 7.6 ppg, 2.5 boards and 2.3 apg.

Rodney Howard, a 6-11/265 lb. senior, got 24.8 mpg, 6.5 points and 5.1 boards. He’s probably about as good as he’ll get.

Deebo Coleman, a 6-6 sophomore, could develop. He was well-regarded in high school and his father is a coach. He’s not a bad three point shooter. He has a chance to be really good.

Deivon Smith is a 6-1 junior. He got 19.7 minutes and 5.7 ppg. Impressively, he averaged 3.4 boards and also two assists.

Junior Tristan Maxwell is 6-3 and he got 15.6 minutes an outing, hitting for 6.4 ppg. He hit 40 percent on threes, but then again only played in five games and most of those threes came against BC.

Miles Kelly got 14.6 minutes and played in 30 of 31 games but didn’t have a huge statistical impact.

Junior Jordan Meeka and sophomore Jason Moore played in about half the games.

Pastner won over two transfers: Javon Franklin, a 6-7 senior from South Alabama, and Lance Terry, a 6-2 senior from Gardner-Webb.

Franklin got starter minutes at South Alabama (28 per game) and rebounded well with 7.8 boards. He was a double figure scorer as well with 12.2 ppg. He took no threes and he’s not likely to anytime soon. He also played two seasons at Auburn. He’s said to be a versatile defender as well, which Pastner will appreciate.

Terry put up 14 ppg, three rebounds, and one assist for Gardner-Webb. He hit just under 46 percent overall and 35 percent on threes. He could be a starter.

Tech brings in four freshmen - 6-6 Jermontae Hill, 7-0 Cyril Martynov, 6-8 Freds Bagatskis, and 6-6 Emmer Nichols.

Hill is a redshirt freshman who turned down several significant scholarship offers to walk on at Tech. What to expect? Who knows. At a minimum, he’ll provide depth and be a useful practice player.

Martynov, who weighs a still-slim 229, reclassified. He’s from Barrie, Ontario and interestingly, his mother played ball back in Russia. Here’s what Pastner said about his young big man: “We’re excited that we were able to add a player with Cyril’s capabilities so late in the process. He has the potential to be a very good player in our program. Cyril is a very skilled player and will be a great fit in our system. We look forward to having him join us in the fall.”

Coachspeak, blah, blah, blah, but Tech only has two bigs and if he can step up, that would be (no pun intended) huge for Tech.

Bagatskis is offensively skilled. He may need some time in the weight room though. He’s someone to keep an eye on.

Nichols is a walk-on but he was ranked 42nd in California so you can’t just ignore that in a state with nearly 4,000 high schools. But he’s a walk-on so he would really have to prove a lot.

Tech is really hard to figure. Look at it this way: how many of the returnees can you remember from last year?

Then ask yourself: who will play center? And who’s the point guard?

Pastner might be able to finesse the bigs if he can put out a fast, versatile team which we think he could. If he started, say, Meka, Franklin, Coleman, Hill and Terry, that team might win some games.

Whatever he works out, Pastner is in his seventh year. He’s 94-96 overall at Tech, which is distinctly mediocre.

His ACC championship won’t amount to much if he has another poor season and really, there’s no reason for Tech to be bad at basketball.

It’s in a basketball conference in a state with tons of talent, and in a major city where a lot of that talent is located. If Pastner can’t get it done, there are a lot of coaches who would love that job.