Oct. 1, 2015
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s basketball team begins its official pre-season practice Friday afternoon, 43 days before its season opener on Friday, Nov. 13 against Cornell at McCamish Pavilion. Head coach Brian Gregory begins putting 10 returning letterwinners, three transfers and one freshman through the paces in preparation for his fifth season on the Flats.
With 10 summer practices and an excursion to the Bahamas in which they played three games already behind them, the Yellow Jackets return three starters, including 6-5 senior guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, the seventh-leading returning scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference and promising 6-2 sophomore scoring guard Tadric Jackson, as well as one of the top double-double practitioners in the ACC in 6-8 senior forward Charles Mitchell. All told, six of the team’s top nine scorers from last year are back.
The Jackets also welcome to their ranks the ACC’s top three-point shooter from last season, 6-1 Adam Smith, who transferred from Virginia Tech, and high-scoring 6-8 forward Nick Jacobs, a transfer from Alabama who sat out the 2014-15 season, both of whom are expected to significantly impact the Yellow Jackets offensively.
• Georgia Tech returns three starters – Marcus Georges-Hunt, G/F; Tadric Jackson, G; Travis Jorgenson, G.
• Six of Tech’s top eight scorers from last season return – Georges-Hunt, Jackson, Jorgenson, plus Charles Mitchell, F; Quinton Stephens, F; Josh Heath G, all perimeter players except Mitchell.
• Tech immediately replaced its two seniors (post players Demarco Cox and Robert Sampson) as transfer Nick Jacobs (6-9, three years at Alabama), a proven scorer in the post, becomes eligible and 6-10 Sylvester Ogbonda joined the team as a freshman.
• Tech filled its other two open scholarships after the season with Adam Smith, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, who is from Jonesboro, Ga., and led the ACC in three-point percentage last season while averaging 13.4 points per game, and 6-8 forward James White, a graduate transfer from Arkansas-Little Rock (also from Jonesboro, Ga.) who averaged more than 11 points a game last season.
• In Marcus Georges-Hunt (13.6 ppg) and Adam Smith (13.4), Georgia Tech has the No. 7 and 8 individuals in scoring average among returning players in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
• Ten of Tech’s 13 scholarship players have significant Division I starting experience. Eight of the Jackets’ returning players started at least three games in 2014-15, and those players have combined for 178 starts in a Tech uniform. Transfers Nick Jacobs (29), Adam Smith (59) and James White (51) combined for 129 starts at their former schools.
• Tech’s non-conference schedule includes home games against Tennessee, VCU and Wofford and a road game at Georgia. VCU, Wofford and Georgia played in the NCAA Tournament a year ago. The Jackets also will face Arkansas and either Stanford or Villanova in the NIT Season Tip-Off. Arkansas and Villanova were in last year’s NCAA field, while Stanford won the NIT.
BAHAMAS TRIP OFFERS EARLY LOOK
Georgia Tech took its first summer trip out of the United States since 1991 when the Yellow Jackets traveled to the Bahamas for a six-day, three-game excursion in early August.
The Jackets won all three games, the first two easily – 101-60 over the Atlantis All Stars and 115-70 over the Providence Storm – before overcoming a 20-8 deficit and holding off the CTG Knights, 77-69, as Nick Jacobs scored 31 points in 22 minutes.
The trip allowed the Jackets to practice 10 times as a team in addition to the NCAA allowance of individual instruction and strength and conditioning time during the summer term. They also got their first taste of the shorter shot clock (30 seconds in 2015-16), working with a 24-second shot clock in the practices as well as the three games, which were played under FIBA rules.
The 6-foot-8, 262-pound Jacobs played in two games, scoring 47 points in about 40 minutes. Fellow big man Charles Mitchell was also prolific, averaging 17 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Tadric Jackson averaged 14 points, and junior guard Corey Heyward 10.0.
Sophomore point guard Travis Jorgenson was good for 9.3 points and 5.3 assists per game with 16 assists and just three turnovers. Sophomore center Ben Lammers led Tech with 25 rebounds in 53 minutes and averaged 7.3 points.
Some of the pre-season prognosticators offer from very positive outlooks on the Yellow Jackets heading into the 2015-16 season. Here is one sample just this week from Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com in a story offering five teams, including Georgia Tech, who could overachieve this season. Solomon writes:
“Don’t be shocked if the Yellow Jackets are a bubble team. Seriously.
Georgia Tech lost 13 ACC games last season by seven points or less and if it goes 7-6 during that span this year it could be on the cusp of the NCAA Tournament.
Brian Gregory brings in several reinforcements in a trio of transfers — Nick Jacobs (Georgia Tech), Adam Smith (Virginia Tech), and James White (Arkansas-Little Rock) — who should all see major minutes. The burly Jacobs should give this team another post option aside from Charles Mitchell while Smith will take immense pressure off Marcus Georges-Hunt on the perimeter.
The 6-1 guard led Virginia Tech in scoring last season and brings something to the table that the Yellow Jackets lacked last season — outside shooting. Smith made 81 shots from long distance last year while Georgia Tech averaged 4.2 triples made per game as a team.
If Smith and Jacobs can score close to double figures and role players like Tadric Jackson, Ben Lammers, Travis Jorgenson, and Quinton Stephens gradually improve, a middle of the pack finish in the ACC is very much within reason.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I do think that there’s a little greater bond with this team, you know. Usually, those strongest bonds are usually forged through adversity and coming together and understanding that what we’re trying to get done is going to take the full unit, and I think our guys are buying into that. But as you know, that’s something that you have to work on every single day, every single day. You know, they always talk about an old line in coaching, you know, ‘one man doesn’t make a team, but one man can break a team,’ so it’s really important that that’s talked about, worked on, and it’s in our mindset every single day.” – Head coach Brian Gregory
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is beginning its fifth year under head coach Brian Gregory. The Yellow Jackets have been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won three ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993), played in the NCAA Tournament 16 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBK).