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Georgia Tech #ProJackets Basketball Report

THE FLATSJosh Okogie remains in the conversation as a possible fifth starter in Phoenix … Okogie makes major contributions in small ways … Derrick Favors reportedly working out for NBA teams … Who was Damon Stoudamire’s top competition for NBA Rookie of the Year? … more in this week’s #ProJackets Report.

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OKOGIE REMAINS IN PRESEASON CONVO FOR SUNS FIFTH STARTER

After the 2023 trade deadline, Josh Okogie started every regular-season game for the Phoenix Suns. He was their best point-of-attack defender, their fastest player in transition and he wasn’t going to take touches away from Kevin DurantDevin BookerChris Paul and Deandre Ayton.

In Phoenix’s first playoff game, though, Torrey Craig was the fifth starter, as he had the size to match up with the Los Angeles Clippers‘ Kawhi Leonard. Okogie played just seven minutes in the opener, earned more playing time as the series went on and returned to the starting lineup in the second round against the Denver Nuggets, so he could match up with Jamal Murray. Okogie started Games 1 through 5, but his minutes were erratic because he only attempted a total of five 3s and missed all of them, with Denver ignoring him on the perimeter. In Game 6, with the season on the line, Landry Shamet got the start and Okogie got a DNP-CD.

Next season’s Suns will be different. Coach Frank Vogel has replaced Monty Williams, Bradley Beal has replaced Paul and, while Okogie will return, the other role players are almost all new. What hasn’t changed, though, is the uncertainty about the fifth spot in the starting lineup.

Okogie: Easily the best at defending small, quick guards. Will attack in transition, bring energy, hit the glass, fill in the blanks for a lineup featuring three high-usage stars. Doesn’t have gravity behind the 3-point line, though, and, although he’ll fight when matched up against big wings, isn’t as sturdy as you’d like in those matchups.

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REPORT: FAVORS WORKING TOWARD RETURN TO NBA COURT

When looking back to the 2010s era of Utah Jazz basketball, one of the many prominent names that might stand out among the crowd is F Derrick Favors. The Georgia Tech alum was a staple for the franchise across an entire decade, starting in over 400 total games through his tenure.

The 3rd-overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft quickly found his way to Salt Lake City after 56 games in his rookie season with the New Jersey Nets, dealt for All-Star G Deron Williams. He then established himself as a key piece of Utah’s frontcourt for years, slotting next to eventual three-time Defensive Player of the Year C Rudy Gobert.

Favors is now in his age-32 season attempting to return to the league after not playing on an NBA roster last year. According to HoopsHype, the 12-year vet has recently had workouts with the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers.

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SALT LAKE CITY STARS ACQUIRE RIGHTS TO MICHAEL DEVOE

The Salt Lake City Stars, the official NBA G League affiliate of the Utah Jazz, announced today the acquisition of the returning player rights of guard Michael Devoe from the expansion Rip City Remix (Portland Trail Blazers affiliate) in exchange for a 2024 first round NBA G League draft pick.

Devoe (6-4, 183, Georgia Tech) appeared in 29 games with 12 starts for the Ontario Clippers, the NBA G League affiliate of the LA Clippers, last season where he averaged 6.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 20.9 minutes a game. Devoe was selected by Rip City in the 2023-24 NBA G League Expansion draft held in June of 2023.

During the 2023 NBA Summer League held in Las Vegas, Devoe was among the top performers, leading the Portland Trail Blazers with 18.8 points on 53.2 percent shooting. The guard recorded a game-high 29 points in Portland’s 85-80 win against the San Antonio Spurs on July 9.

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OKOGIE MAKES MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS IN SMALL WAYS

The Phoenix Suns‘ three-headed beast of G Devin Booker, G Bradley Beal and F Kevin Durant will be the headliners this year. But what might surprise not only Suns fans – but fans around the league – is some of the remaining Suns contributors that will be an underrated element to this teams success this season.

Josh Okogie returns to the Suns after playing in 72 games for Phoenix last year where the 25-year-old showed promise as an elite defender. Okogie’s role for the Suns this season will be similar to last season, just in more volume and higher importance.

In order for Okogie to stay on the floor for this Suns team, he will need to defend at an above average rate, which he is known to do. Okogie had a defensive rating of 112.6 last season as his minutes were limited. Expect to see his defense and make a more noticeable difference this season with more playing time.

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THAT WAS A LONG TIME AGO

Arvydas Sabonis didn’t come to the NBA until a decade after he was drafted. The Lithuanian basketball legend was selected 24th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1986 NBA Draft, but he did not play in the NBA until the 1995-1996 season.

Statistically, Sabonis had a great rookie year while helping the Blazers make the playoffs in the same season. Because of that, Portland coach P.J Carlesimo made a case for his 30-year-old freshman to win the league’s top rookie honors.

But when it was time to vote, it was Damon Stoudamire who won Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 19.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 2.9 steals per game for the 21-61 Toronto Raptors. Aside from playing for a losing team, Stoudamire also averaged 40.9 minutes of playing time per game.

Stoudamire was the runaway winner with 76 out of 113 votes, while Sabonis only had 17. Not only did Sabonis finish as runner-up in the Rookie of the Year contest, but he also finished second behind Toni Kukoc in the Sixth Man of the Year voting. Arvy put up better numbers than Kukoc, but “The Spider of Split” played for the NBA champions Bulls.

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Eurobasket #ProJackets Report

Courtesy of Eurobasket LLC

Robert Sampson (6’8”-F-1992, played in 2013-13, plays pro in Vietnam) was the major contributor in a Nhatrang Dolphins’ victory against the closely-ranked Buffaloes (13-5) crushing them 85-61 in the Vietnamese VBA on Friday night. Sampson recorded a double-double by scoring 21 points and getting 16 rebounds. He also added 5 blocks in 38 minutes. It was the game of the round between two top 4 ranked teams. Nhatrang Dolphins (12-6) is placed third in the VBA. It was his team’s fifth consecutive victory in a row. It’s Sampson’s first season with the team. Sampson has individually a very good year with high stats. He averages 22.4ppg, 15.0rpg, 2.2apg, 2.4bpg and 1.8spg. He is a former Eurobasket Summer League player, which is considered top summer league for players who want to play basketball overseas.

Experienced Gani Lawal (6’9”-F/C-1988, played in 2007-10, plays in Mexico) could not help Plateros de Fresnillo (3-6) in their last game. Despite his very good performance the fifth-placed Plateros de Fresnillo (3-6) lost 72-87 on the road to the leading Fuerza Regia in the West group. Lawal had a double-double by scoring 15 points and getting 14 rebounds. He also added 2 blocks. It’s Lawal’s first season with the team. Lawal has relatively good stats this year 11.7ppg and 7.6rpg in nine games he played so far. He is a naturalized Nigerian.

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

  • Jose Alvarado (6’0”-PG-1998, played in 2017-16) plays for New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA
  • Thaddeus Young (6’8”-F-1988, played in 2006-07) plays for Toronto Raptors in the NBA
  • Josh Okogie (6’4”-G-1998, played in 2016-18) plays for Phoenix Suns in the NBA
  • Ben Lammers (6’10”-C-1995, played in 2014-18) signed for Gran Canaria in Spanish Liga Endesa
  • Jordan Usher (6’7”-SF-1998, played in 2019-22) signed for Perth Wildcats in Australian NBL
  • Adam Smith (6’1”-PG-1992, played in 2015-16) plays for Bilbao in Spanish Liga Endesa
  • Khalid Moore (6’7”-F-2000, played in 2018-22) signed for Lavrio in Greek GBL
  • Ja’von Franklin (6’7”-F, played in 2023-23) signed for Borac CA in Serbian KLS
  • Josh Heath (6’1”-PG-1994, played in 2014-17) signed for Spirou Basket Charleroi in Belgian Pro Basketball League
  • Charles Mitchell (6’8”-F/C-1993, played in 2014-16) signed for Obera in Argentinian La Liga
  • Glen Rice Jr. (6’6”-F-1991, played in 2009-12) plays for Power in the Big3
  • Michael Devoe (6’5”-G-1999, played in 2018-22) plays for Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA Summer League
  • Moses Wright (6’9”-F-1998, played in 2017-21) plays for Toronto Raptors in the NBA Summer League
  • Abdoulaye Gueye (6’9”-C-1994, played in 2014-15) signed for Sigortam.net in Turkish TBL

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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