Aug. 1, 2013
By Jon Cooper
The willingness to go the extra mile is part of what separates the winner from the average player.
Travis Jorgenson has proved he’s a winner and is willing to go the extra mile. It’s something he’s already done plenty in his career.
Over his last two years alone, Georgia Tech’s incoming freshman point guard has logged miles in traveling from his home in Columbia, Missouri, following his junior year of high school, to New Hampton, New Hampshire, some 1,300 miles east, so as to play his senior year at basketball power New Hampton High School.
New Hampton has served as a springboard into D-I hoops for such past ACC greats as North Carolina’s Rashad McCants and Wake Forest’s Darius Songalia and last year’s ACC Rookie of the Year, Olivier Hanlan of Boston College. Enough said for Jorgenson.
“I just wanted to get ready for college ball,” he said. “They prep you for college, classes, workouts and competition. You see successful people, you want to emulate what they do. You have to respect it. That was huge for me.”
Playing huge has been a constant throughout the 6-0, 177-pound point guard’s high school career. He was all-state his sophomore and junior years at Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, as the Bruins won nearly 80 percent of their games (78-11) and twice finished in the top eight in the state.
At New Hampton, he averaged 13.2 points, 5.0 assists, 4.1 rebounds, while shooting 32 percent from three — helping the team to a 17-12 season.
When it was time to choose a college Jorgenson once again went on the move, this time leaving Missouri and traveling nearly 700 miles southeast to play in Atlanta. The goal is the same — to advance his career.
“I just like the direction the program is moving and I like my opportunity to help the team out,” he said. “I like everything about it.”
Jorgenson especially liked the comfort level at Georgia Tech, where he signed a letter of intent on April 17. He didn’t get that feeling from the University of Missouri, which contributed to his de-committing from it.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable,” he said. “After I de-committed was when I first started talking to the coaches and I really loved the coach and his staff and I loved my visit, so that’s why I decided to come here.”
That decision made Georgia Tech Head Coach Brian Gregory very happy.
“He was heavily recruited at the end of the spring. So we were happy,” Gregory recalled. “He fits the mold of the first recruiting class. He’s a high-quality player, a good student and just a really good guy. A good person. When you’re rebuilding, those character values, that foundation based on character is every bit as important.”
Jorgenson’s ability to distribute put him at the top of Gregory’s list and should help the Yellow Jackets improve on their 12.7 assists per game (sixth in the ACC) and 0.99 assists-to-turnovers ratio, (seventh in the conference).
He also can score, although he insists that’s not his first priority.
“I’m a pass-first point guard and I think that helps me get open shots,” he said. “If I can push the pace and get the defense on its heels, I can get open shots in transition or off ball-screens. I’m someone who likes to get it in transition or off a pick-and-roll even and pick my pace and find cutters or find guys kicking back and just try to get people the ball in the right spots. That’s something that I talked about with Coach when he was recruiting me.”
That was what Gregory wanted to hear.
“We want to play much faster than we have played, so to do that you need guards that can play with that pace,” said Gregory. “I always say in this league you need high-quality guards and you need to be able to put out there on the court multiple guards that can handle pressure, can create shots for others and can score themselves. I think it’s really important that with us playing more in the open court you have guys that can make great decisions and that’s what Travis does.
Gregory has discovered other facets of Jorgenson’s game that he believes will pleasantly surprise.
“He has much more athletic probably than people will think,” Gregory said. “He’s very quick, knows the game, is a very, very good passer and he can score in a variety of ways. He’s a good perimeter shooter but because of his athletic ability and explosiveness he finishes around the basket well, too. We’ve been really pleased and really like the progress that he’s made. He’s put on 10 pounds and, physically, he needs to keep getting stronger, but he’s in a good position as a freshman.”
Jorgenson’s role is developing as well, as he and sophomore Solomon Poole both could see time at the point and even see the floor at the same time. That’s fine with Jorgenson, who is just excited to go through workouts and learn Gregory’s system, knowing that ACC play awaits.
“I think about it every day,” he said. “It’s what I dreamed about when I was a kid so it pushes me to work harder every day. It’s really exciting.”
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