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Georgia Tech #ProJackets Basketball Report

THE FLATS Derrick Favors and Josh Okogie are both in the starting lineup on opening night for the Thunder and the Timberwolves … With opener in Utah, Favors receives the tribute he missed in 2019-20 when NBA played in a bubble … Iman Shumpert goes with Viennese Waltz on “Grease Night” … more in this week’s #ProJackets Report.



The OKC Thunder have shuffled their starting center position throughout the preseason slate, as each of the possible candidates’ Derrick Favors, Isaiah Roby, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl all earned starts with the first five. Mark Daigneault earlier in the week was not yet ready to name a starting center chalking it up to how well each of the bigs has played throughout the preseason camp.

The Oklahoma City Thunder head ball coach has made it known that Derrick Favors has earned the starting center role, at least for game one. He will start alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Josh Giddey, and Darius Bazley.

When asked why Mark Daigneault elected Favors over Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Isaiah Roby, the Oklahoma City Thunder bench boss attributed it to the “stability” the veteran brings to the Thunder roster loaded with young and inexperienced players. You saw that ability from Favors in the third preseason game as the OKC Thunder not only came away with their lone win but also played more under control than the other three games.

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After being traded again this past offseason to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Jazz creative team along with the PR staff wanted to make sure that Favors’ first night back at Vivint was a special one.

The new video tribute played during the break between the first and second quarter of the 2021-22 season opening game between the Jazz and Thunder. Favors watched from near the OKC bench and then put his hand on his chest and waved to the crowd multiple times.

The video included footage of Favors playing and making big shots, but also included more subdued moments, like Favors’ introductory press conference with the Jazz when he was just 19 years old and shots of him with his children and sitting against a wall during practice with his teammates.

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Derrick Favors was in the visiting locker room once. It was in his rookie season. He was a New Jersey Net then, so it seems like a lifetime ago. He doesn’t remember anything about it. The dimensions, the color of the walls or the lockers. Nothing.

This will be a new experience for him when he steps into the hallway at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Wednesday night. He’s used to the long walk to the home locker room. He’s used to his customary spot, close to the entry. He’s used to sitting in his reclining chair before games, iPod rocking out to Young Thug, nodding at the sporadic passers-by, as he focuses on the job of the night.

But, on Wednesday night, it will be different for Derrick Favors. Like, 180 degrees different.

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Josh Okogie was full-go in practice Monday and started Wednesday’s opener against Houston, scoring six points with five rebounds in 21 minutes in the Timberwolves’ 124-106 victory over the Rockets. Both Okogie (ankle) and Jordan McLaughlin (groin) missed the Wolves’ final two preseason games. Both practiced Monday. “Josh is full-go,” Finch said. “J-Mac is still working his way back. It’s not clear … we hope to have [McLaughlin] on Wednesday. But he needs another day of live action to figure it out.”

The NBA’s deadline for extension for players on rookie-level contracts came and went Monday without a new deal for Okogie, who was eligible for an extension. Okogie is set to become a restricted free agent after the season.

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Josh Okogie and the Timberwolves didn’t come to an extension agreement ahead of Monday’s deadline for rookies from the 2018 NBA Draft class to reach a deal. There was never much noise around a potential agreement, either.

The guard said there was no disappointment at the lack of a deal. He’s stated his desire to play in Minnesota for the foreseeable future. For some players and teams in certain situations, waiting to strike a deal just makes sense.

So Okogie will play his fourth NBA season before entering restricted free agency next offseason. That makes the 2021-22 campaign Okogie’s biggest to date — a contract is on the line.

“I’m always going to try and play as hard as I can, but obviously this year is probably the most …” Okogie stopped himself. “Every year is going to be the most important year for me — but since this is like the most current year, it’s the most important.”

Okogie got the start in the team’s season opener Wednesday against the Rockets. Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch has lauded Okogie’s play throughout the preseason.

More from the St. Paul Pioneer Press


Iman Shumpert said his wife, Teyana Taylor, gives him “little pointers” on how to perfect his “Dancing With the Stars” routines.

The former Brooklyn Nets shooting guard has been showing off his ballroom moves on season 30 of the long-running competition alongside partner Daniella Karagach with Taylor sometimes cheering him on from the studio audience.

Reflecting on his “DWTS” journey so far, Shumpert told Insider earlier in October that Taylor gives “a lot of pointers and small adjustments” to make to his dance routines “on the fly,” while also reminding Shumpert that the singer-choreographer doesn’t have any ballroom dance experience herself.

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On this week’s “Grease Night” program, he and Karagach danced a Viennese waltz to the movie’s Hopelessly Devoted to You.”


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Eurobasket Yellow Jacket Report

Experienced Gani Lawal (6’9”-F/C-88, graduated ’10, plays pro in France) led Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket to an easy victory against the closely-ranked Le Portel (0-4) crushing them 106-73 in the French Betclic ELITE ProA in Friday night’s game. He recorded 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in 22 minutes. Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket (3-1) is placed fifth in the Betclic ELITE ProA. But this is still an early stage of the season and everything may happen. It’s Lawal’s first year with the team. Lawal has relatively good stats this season 11.8ppg, 7.0rpg and 2.0bpg in four games he played so far. He is a naturalized Nigerian.

Avi Schafer (6’8”-C-98, graduated ’19, plays in Japan) was the major contributor in a 2-point SeaHorses Mikawa’s victory against the ninth-ranked Gunma CT (2-4) 98-96 in the Japanese B1 League last Sunday. He recorded a double-double by scoring 19 points and getting 10 rebounds. Schafer also added 3 assists and 3 blocks; quite an impressive performance considering it’s only his third season in pro basketball. SeaHorses Mikawa (4-2) is placed third in West group. It was his team’s third consecutive victory in a row. But the season just started, so everything may happen. This year Schafer averages 6.8ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.2apg and 1.2bpg. He is a naturalized Japanese.

Josh Okogie (6’4”-G-98, graduated ’18, currently in the NBA) contributed to an easy victory against the Houston Rockets (0-1) 124-106 in the NBA on Wednesday night. He scored 6 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and made 2 blocks in 21 minutes. It was his first game for Minnesota Timberwolves this season. His team have 1-0 record this season. But the season is still in its first stage and everything can happen. It’s Okogie’s fourth year with the team. Okogie is a naturalized Nigerian.

Derrick Favors (6’10”-F-91, graduated ’10, plays pro in the NBA). Favors could not help the Oklahoma City Thunder (0-1) to beat the Utah Jazz (1-0) in the NBA. He scored only 4 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. It was his first game for Oklahoma City Thunder this season. The Oklahoma City Thunder (0-1) was crushed107-86on the road by the Utah Jazz. But the season is still in its first stage and everything can happen. It’s Favors’ first year with the team.

Joshua Heath (6’1”-PG-94, graduated ’17, plays in Belgium) managed to help Stella Artois Leuven Bears in a victory against the closely-ranked Antwerp Giants (3-2) 84-67 in the BNXT League last Sunday. Heath scored only 4 points and added 10 passes in 32 minutes. It was the game of the round between two top 4 ranked teams. Stella Artois Leuven Bears (3-2) is placed third in the BNXT League. It was his team’s third consecutive victory in a row. But the season is still in its first stage and everything can happen. This year Heath averages 9.4ppg, 2.2rpg, 6.2apg and 1.6spg in five games.

Anthony McHenry (6’8”-SF-83, graduated ’05, currently in Japan), who plays in the Japanese B1 League was not able to help Shinshu BW (2-4) in their last game on Saturday. Despite McHenry’s very good performance the tenth-placed Shinshu BW was defeated65-58in Tokyo by the second-ranked Alvark in the West group. He recorded a double-double by scoring 18 points and getting 13 rebounds. McHenry has relatively good stats this season 10.5ppg, 9.8rpg, 4.7apg and 2.7spg.

Adam Smith (6’1”-PG-92, graduated ’16, plays pro in Turkey) was not able to secure a victory for Merkezefendi Belediyesi Denizli Basket in their game against Yalova in the Turkish BSL. Smith recorded 6 points and added 6 passes in 29 minutes. His team lost 73-87. Smith has relatively good stats this year 13.5ppg, 3.3rpg and 4.5apg in four games.

Brandon Alston (6’5”-G-95, graduated ’19, plays in Czech Republic) contributed to an easy victory against one of league’s weakest teams Olomoucko crushing them 92-59 in the Czech Republic NBL last Sunday. Alston scored 5 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. This season Alston averages 5.5ppg, 4.5rpg and 1.5spg.

Charles Mitchell (6’8”-F/C-93, graduated ’16, currently in Mexico), who plays in the Mexican LNBP (second division) couldn’t help Dorados de Chihuahua (11-1) in their last game. Despite Mitchell’s very good performance the first-placed Dorados de Chihuahua lost78-73in Xalapa to the lower-ranked (#4) Halcones UV in the East group. He had a double-double by scoring 15 points and getting 10 rebounds in 24 minutes. Mitchell has relatively good stats this year 10.8ppg, 6.9rpg and 1.9apg in 16 games.

Robert Sampson (6’8”-F-92, graduated ’15, plays pro in Japan) couldn’t help Yamaguchi (1-5) in their last game on Saturday. Despite his very good performance Yamaguchi were crushed102-76on the opponent’s court by the leading Iwate. Sampson was the top scorer with 25 points. He also added 6 rebounds. Sampson has individually a very good season with high stats. He averages 16.7ppg and 9.0rpg. Worth to mention Sampson played also at Eurobasket Summer League, which helped him get the job in pro basketball.

Other former Georgia Institute of Technology players, who play in pro basketball:

  • Ben Lammers (6’10”-C-95) plays for ALBA Berlin in German BBL
  • Zachery Peacock (6’8”-F/C-87) signed for Le Mans Sarthe Basket in French Betclic ELITE ProA
  • Thaddeus Young (6’8”-F-88) signed for San Antonio Spurs in the NBA
  • Moses Wright (6’9”-F-98) played for Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA
  • Jose Alvarado (6’0”-PG-98) signed for New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA
  • James Banks (6’10”-F/C-98) played for New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA
  • Alade Aminu (6’10”-F/C-87) plays for Atleticos de San German in Puerto Rican BSN
  • Daniel Miller (6’11”-C-91) signed for Levanga Hokkaido Sapporo in Japanese B1 League
  • Glen Rice Jr. (6’6”-F-91) plays for Real Esteli in Nicaraguan LSB
  • James White (6’9”-F-93) plays for Mauricio Baez in Dominican Rep. TBS
  • Abdoulaye Gueye (6’9”-F-94) signed for Konyaspor in Turkish TBL
  • Shembari Phillips (6’3”-G-97) signed for EPG Baskets Koblenz in German ProB
  • Evan Jester (6’7”-F-99) plays for Team Miami in the Eurobasket S.League
  • Jarrett Jack (6’3”-G-83) plays for Trilogy in the Big3

Notice: The list above includes only some of alumni playing currently in pro basketball. Check complete list of Georgia Tech basketball alumni.


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