THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s basketball team began its third preseason practice under head coach Josh Pastner Tuesday afternoon, conducting the first of 30 practices the Yellow Jackets are allowed over the next 45 days leading up to the team’s Nov. 9 season opener against Lamar at McCamish Pavilion.
Pastner welcomes back six of the Yellow Jackets’ top nine players from last season, centered around a promising sophomore group that includes point guard Jose Alvarado (Brooklyn, N.Y.), wing guard Curtis Haywood II (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and forwards Evan Cole (Cumming, Ga.) and Moses Wright (Raleigh, N.C.), as well as veteran seniors Brandon Alston (Vienna, Va.) and Abdoulaye Gueye (Dakar, Senegal), and transfer guard Shembari Phillips (Atlanta, Ga.). Tech also welcomes a freshman class ranked No. 46 in the nation and includes four-star guard Michael Devoe (Orlando, Fla.) and three-star forwards Khalid Moore (New York, N.Y.) and Kristian Sjolund (Katy, Texas).
Season tickets remain available for the 2018-19 men’s home schedule, starting at $290, which is less than $15 per game. Other great benefits of purchasing season tickets include participating in an exclusive season ticket holder event with Coach Pastner and the team, priority access to purchase single-game and postseason tickets, season parking options and more.
Public events scheduled during the preseason include “Live at the Thrillerdome” on Oct. 19 at McCamish Pavilion, where both the men’s and the women’s teams will meet and greet with students and season ticket holders and officially unveil their new adidas uniforms for 2018-19. The Yellow Jackets will host Florida Tech in an exhibition game on Saturday, Nov. 3.
- Friday, October 19 – Live at the Thrillerdome (McCamish Pavilion), 8-10 p.m.
- Wednesday, October 24 – ACC Operation Basketball (Charlotte, N.C.)
- Saturday, Nov. 3 – exhibition game vs. Florida Tech (McCamish Pavilion), 6 p.m.
- Friday, Nov. 9 – season opener vs. Lamar (McCamish Pavilion), 7:30 p.m.
- The upward progress of the program is evident in the development of its 2017-18 freshman class, each of whom received significant playing time last season and made significant contributions on the ACC level. Though not highly-rated in terms of rankings, the four-man class has a wide range of skills and is ripe for development into consistent conference-level performers over the next couple of years. Point guard Jose Alvarado started every game and showed durability and toughness by averaging more than 38 minutes in ACC games until suffering a dislocated elbow Feb. 11. Off-guard Curtis Haywood II was developing into a significant shooting threat and excellent defender before suffering stress reaction in his shin and missing the final month. Forwards Evan Cole and Moses Wright, both under-the-radar signees, exceeded expectations for their first year when forced into action due to injuries over the final month of the season. With added strength and development this off-season, they can be counted on to be in the frontcourt rotation and make significant contributions at both ends of the floor.
- Tech has added a three-man recruiting class ranked No. 46 in the country according to 247Sports, including consensus four-star guard Michael Devoe and three-star forwards Khalid Moore and Kristian Sjolund, and true to staff’s objectives, the class has varied skill sets and are expected to develop into significant contributors next season and beyond (building through multiple quality recruiting classes).
- Another addition to the roster for next season – 6-3 guard Shembari Phillips, a high-major conference player who sat out the 2017-18 season as a transfer from Tennessee. He has the size and varied skill set necessary to compete in the ACC (6.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 37.5 pct. 3s in 2016-17). He has two years of eligibility.
- Tech returns six players who received significant playing time in 2017-18 – 15 or more minutes per ACC game – and combined to start 91 games overall. They accounted for more than 53 percent of total minutes played and 43 percent of Tech’s scoring. Five of those players have two or more years of eligibility remaining.
- Tech will still be young this season – three freshmen, four sophomores, two juniors and two seniors among scholarship players returning or incoming – but the process of getting old and staying old and building a sustainable winning program is ongoing.
- Player development successes over the past two seasons include Josh Okogie, Ben Lammers and Tadric Jackson, who maximized their skill sets under the current coaching staff, doubling their scoring and rebounding averages over their first two seasons. Okogie went from being ranked the 11th in the state as a HS senior to a first-round NBA draft pick. Last season, 6-9 forward Abdoulaye Gueye developed into an ACC-level contributor, making a similar leap from the non-conference season to conference play. Graduate transfer Brandon Alston, who has a year of eligibility remaining, had similar statistical numbers on the ACC level last season as he compiled in two seasons at Lehigh and was fundamentally sound in his ballhandling and defense.
- With the addition of Phillips and the arrival of Devoe and Moore, as well as the return of Alston and sophomores Alvarado and Haywood, and Tech will be deep and talented across the perimeter. Tech has Gueye, Cole, Wright and rising junior Sylvester Ogbonda to rotate through the frontcourt.
- Georgia Tech accepted transfer James Banks, a 6-8, 240-pound frontcourt player from Decatur, Ga., ranked as high as No. 49 among high school seniors in the class of 2016. He will sit out the 2018-19 season after playing two seasons at Texas, and will have two seasons of eligibility at Tech.
- Tech has won 34 games overall and 14 ACC games in the last two seasons, on par or better than the first two years of each of Josh Pastner’s predecessors in the ACC era. For comparison, Buzz Williams won 12 ACC games in his first two years at Virginia Tech, same with Tony Bennett at Virginia. Leonard Hamilton and Mike Krzyzewski each won 10. Pastner has won 14.
- Head coach Josh Pastner’s Georgia Tech teams are 5-8 against top-25 teams (5-4 at home), including a 2-5 mark this season (2-3 at home). The Jackets knocked off No. 15 Miami and No. 25 Notre Dame in January as part of a 3-1 ACC start.
- Tech has sold out eight games at McCamish Pavilion over the past two seasons, including a facility-record five games in 2017-18. Tech’s 29 homecourt wins over the past two seasons are more than any two-year period in the Jackets’ ACC era except the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons combined (31). That’s 43 home wins over the past three seasons, more than 14 per season.