Georgia Tech Basketball Preview: #26
Overall Rank: #26
Conference Rank: #5 Atlantic Coast Conference
2008-09: 12-19, 2-14
2008-09 postseason: none
Coach: Paul Hewitt (154-131 at Georgia Tech, 220-158 overall)
Not often does a team go 2-14 in conference play, lose two of their top three scorers and then expect to make it to the NCAA Tournament. But that is what is happening at Georgia Tech. Coach Paul Hewitt is bringing in a superb recruiting class and his young team is growing up and finally has some experienced upperclassmen to go along with the talented youth. Now the team just needs to learn to win again.
Key Losses: F Alade Aminu, G Lewis Clinch
All six incoming freshmen are highly touted, but none as much as Derrick Favors. The 6-10, 246 pound forward will make an immediate impact in the frontcourt and should be starting, and possibly even dominating, from day one. With Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey, who both would be the top player in most recruiting classes, joining him in the frontcourt, depth will not be an issue. The future star of the perimeter is point guard Mfon Udofia. He may have to spend some time learning the ropes, but he is too talented to leave on the bench for too long. Wings Glen Rice Jr. and Brian Oliver will push some returning players for minutes.
This team has its leader in Iman Shumpert. As a freshman the 6-5 guard averaged 10.6 points per game and a team high 5.0 assists and 2.1 steals. Like the rest of the team, his turnover numbers were high, but that will come with experience. In the meantime, Shumpert will put his mark on the game by finishing around the basket. Moe Miller can handle the ball too and ended the 2008-2009 campaign averaging 4.3 assists. He is not much of a scorer, but he is capable of shooting much better than 20.3 percent from long range. And what this team really needs is a shooter and Lance Storrs is the best returning shooter after knocking down one per contest. If Shumpert, Miller or Storrs can start being more consistent from long range, the Georgia Tech offense will be much more consistent than it was a season ago.
Zachery Peacock spent some time at the small forward position last year and that is one reason why the Yellow Jackets were so strong on the glass. Peacock will spend some time on the perimeter and is certainly capable of hitting the three-pointer, but at 6-8 he has the size to help out on the glass as well. Gani Lawal may have been the most pleasant surprise of the 2008-2009 season. He blossomed into a consistent scorer and rebounder during his sophomore campaign, tallying 15.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest. He does not give up on the defensive end of the floor either. Seven-foot center Brad Sheehan averaged less than ten minutes per game last year, and may again this year with the talent coming in, but he will give the team yet another big body.
Who to Watch:
Two years ago D’Andre Bell started 22 games for the Yellow Jackets. He averaged 6.6 points per game, but it was his perimeter defense that Georgia Tech really missed last season. Bell is now healthy and cleared to play for his senior season. He might not be able to work his way back into the starting lineup, but Bell should give this team some experience and be a shutdown defender when Coach Paul Hewitt needs him.
With this much talent Georgia Tech could be a top ten team and make a big run in the NCAA Tournament. However, this is still a pretty young team that has not proven that they can win big games. The Atlantic Coast Conference is not going to be easy and this team has to grow up fast if they want to live up to those lofty expectations.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Iman Shumpert, Sophomore, Guard, 10.6 points per game
Maurice Miller, Junior, Guard, 5.8 points per game
Zach Peacock, Senior, Forward, 9.2 points per game
Gani Lawal, Junior, Forward, 15.1 points per game
Derrick Favors, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
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