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STINGDAILY: Pulling Their Weight

Oct. 30, 2013

Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Brian Gregory cracked wise the other day about the prospect of Quinton Stephens and Travis Jorgenson pulling their weight on the defensive end of the floor as freshmen, and he did it in BG-esque fashion.

“I’ve had freshman before where I had to tour campus to find somebody that they could guard,” the coach said.

Good news: the Georgia Tech basketball coach wasn’t talking about Tech’s freshmen.

Stephens, the swing man from Marist, and Jorgenson, a guard who played last season at the New Hampton School (N.H.), are a few steps ahead. That’s partly because of their pasts, and where they’ve played.

“Travis has been well coached. Quinton has been well coached as well,” Gregory said. “They both played in high school/prep school programs that were coached by college-type coaches. Same thing . . . both those guys were coached in summer ball by former college coaches.”

This means plenty. Offense is rarely the greater issue for players transitioning from the high school to college. It’s at the other end of the floor where problems typically crop up. So, Stephens, a 6-foot-8 ½ forward, is quick to credit Marist coach Greg McClaire and his summer coach, Winfred Jordan, for their attention to details.

“Greg McClare has been one of the most helpful guys in my life. On and off the court he’s really influenced me as far as working hard, being driven, being tough. Same with coach Winfred,” Stephens said. “The things that I’ve learned from both those coaches defensively . . .

“You’d be surprised at some of the guys around the country who have no clue as to positioning on the defensive side and the importance of communication on and off court.”

Gregory looks at coaches when recruiting kids. The better they’re coached before arriving on The Flats, the greater the likelihood they’ll integrate quickly once in Tech uniforms.

“In three years now of recruiting in this state, I’ve been impressed. We see a lot of games, but I like to go to practices,” the coach said. “If I go to a practice and it’s not a well-run practice or not a lot of teaching is being done or the guy isn’t working very hard I’m not sure he’s going to fit in very well with what’s important.

“If it’s . . . between two players then a lot of the times we go with who’s been better coached, who’s more coachable, who’s been placed in a situation that will make that transition better.”

Jorgenson – who played for coach Peter Hutchins at New Hampton and former Ole Miss and Wichita State player L.J. Goolsby in summer ball in Kansas – transferred from high school in Missouri in part for coaching.

Hutchins previously coached at Division III Williams University. Goolsby was a coach at the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team training camp, and will be an assistant for the 2013-’14 USA Basketball Developmental National Team.

“I think I can tell in how quickly I can pick things up. I learned how to listen to coaches,” Jorgenson said. “I think my on-ball defense is pretty good because I have quick feet.

“As far as off-ball principles, I can pick them up although we have different ones here. I’m still trying to learn them, but I think I’ll be fine.”

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