May 12, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
Summer’s nearly here, believe it or not, and that means basketball is back at Georgia Tech – sort of – although these Yellow Jackets won’t christen McCamish Pavilion for another five-plus months.
The first of two six-week summer academic sessions begins Monday, and one of four incoming freshmen basketball players – point guard Corey Heyward – will be on campus and he’ll join returning players at informal workouts. More serious workouts, with coaching supervision, will begin four weeks later.
Fellow freshmen Robert Carter, Marcus Hunt and Chris Bolden cannot – by NCAA stipulation – report to campus until the second session begins on June 25. The only reason Heyward can is because he’s coming from a preparatory school, Hargrave Military Academy, rather than a standard high school.
“We want to use this as a continuation of our spring workouts. One of our points of emphasis in the spring was the returners taking greater ownership [in the program],” said head coach Brian Gregory. “It doesn’t have to be coach-directed; it needs to be player-directed. Our returners have a pretty good feel for where we want our standards to be.”
New NCAA guidelines will allow basketball coaching staffs more official access to their teams in the summer. For eight weeks in the summer, they’re allowed to run players through up to two hours of individual on-court practice time and six hours of strength and conditioning.
“It can be any eight weeks that you choose,” Gregory said. “We’re going to do that the last two weeks of the first session and the full six weeks of the second session.”
Even with Glen Rice Jr. and Nate Hicks transferring out of the program, Tech may find itself with more options next season as all four incoming freshmen are expected to challenge for playing time.
“We’ll have greater depth than last year. I think with greater depth comes increased daily competitiveness in the weight room, and individual workouts, and hopefully in games as well,” Gregory said. “The old debate is: are leaders made or born. I think you can increase the collective leadership within the team.
“In the purest form of the word, leadership is putting others first. It’s the greatest challenge in coaching . . . when you think of others first, and put the team first, you perform better and achieve more. It’s probably the greatest challenge in coaching to get guys to buy into that. I’m seeing that happen.”