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Tech Basketball Signees Finish Prep Careers Strong

THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s three-man fall signing class, highly regarded in early November, looks even better today after each of the three prospects – 7-1 post player Saba Gigiberia, 6-2 guard Tristan Maxwell and 6-9 forward Jordan Meka – enjoyed strong senior years and will enroll on The Flats with even higher marks.

Gigiberia, a native of the Republic of Georgia who played two years of high school ball in the United States, was the highest-rated of the trio after succeeding on a strong team at Prolific Prep Academy in Napa, Calif. Maxwell, from suburban Charlotte, N.C., was named that state’s player of the year after leading the state in three-point shooting and breaking school career scoring records. Meka, a native of Cameroon who played his entire high school career at Mount Bethel Christian Academy in Marietta, Ga., overcame early injuries to lead his team to the state playoffs once again.

“As a group they’re going to really helps us. I’m excited about them,” said head coach Josh Pastner, whose class comes in at No. 55 nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings. “They’re better today than when we initially signed them. They’ll have some veteran guys they can grow with and who will help them understand the culture here. They’re all three good players.”

Saba Gigiberia | Center | 7-1 | Tbilisi, Georgia by way of California

Rated a four-star post prospect in some services, Gigiberia played his junior year of high school at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, Nevada and his senior year at Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif. He has excellent basketball IQ who can play with his back to the basket or facing the basket, with skills as a passer and ability to step out on the perimeter, and has a 7-foot-4 wingspan. Gigiberia grew up playing rugby, but said his grandfather encouraged him to switch to basketball at 12 because of his height. He developed and earned a spot with a club in Spain at 14 years old, where he played for two years before leaving for the U.S. at age 16. He played for his home country of Georgia in the FIBA U16 European Division B Championship in 2017, and in the FIBA U18 European Division B Championship in 2019.

Ranked as high as No. 72 nationally (247Sports) and No. 14 at his position, Gigiberia averaged 8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots in 2019-20 at Prolific Prep.

Prolific Prep head coach Joey Fuca told 247Sports, “He’s an immediate factor on the glass. He learned how to stay out of foul trouble. He has shot blocking ability due to his size. He was probably our best ball screen defender either in hedging coverage or blitz. He did a really good job on defense. Offensively, he’s a prototypical European kid who can face up,” said Fuca. “He got better at scoring around the rim to balance out his ability to score with his jumper. He’s very good with his back to the basket when he wants to be.”

Coach Pastner says: “Saba is a legitimate 7-1 with a 7-4 wingspan, and he’s very skilled. He just turned 18 years old, so he still can get better in a lot of areas and has a chance to be a very good player. He’s skilled around the high post, has a high IQ and can pass the ball very well. He’ll fit well with how we play.”

Saba Gigiberia highlights

Tristan Maxwell | Guard | 6-2 | Huntersville, N.C.

This high-scoring and record-setting guard was named the North Carolina state player of the year by the Charlotte Observer and MaxPreps following his senior year. A consensus three-star prospect ranked as high as No. 198 nationally, and No. 37 at his position. Maxwell worked to get stronger and expand his game and improved incrementally each year in high school, according to his coach, Duane Lewis, He is the son of Vernon Maxwell, a former University of Florida All-American and longtime NBA veteran and champion with the Houston Rockets.

A double-figure scorer for North Mecklenburg High School since his freshman year, Maxwel earned all-conference honors four years, all-region honors three years and all-state honors as a junior and senior. He became the school’s all-time leading scorer his senior year (finished with 2,253 points) and set the school mark for three-point field goals by the end of his junior year (finished with 331). North Mecklenburg compiled a record of 104-12 in his four years on the team, winning its conference and reaching the sectional finals each year. Maxwell averaged 24 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists and paced the state class 4A in three-point shooting as a senior, leading North Mecklenburg to a 30-1 record and its first North Carolina’s first 4A state championship berth since 2006 (championship game was cancelled in wake of coronavirus pandemic).

Said North Meck coach Duane Lewis to the Charlotte Observer: “Tristan is more than a scorer. He can rebound. He can defend. … He was a little skinny ninth-grader. As a 10th-grader, he was emotional. … He understands it’s about the team. And he’s so strong and thick he can really defend.”

Coach Pastner says: “Tristan is a high-level scorer. I’ve always believed you either know how to put the ball in the basket, or you don’t, and Tristan knows how to put the ball in the basket. He can really shoot it. He’s the son of a veteran NBA player who played 13 years, so he just has that ability, and will give us a great addition on the perimeter.”

Tristan Maxwell chats with Charlotte Observer writer Langston Wertz, Jr.

Jordan Meka | Forward | 6-9 | Yaoundé, Cameroon via Marietta, Ga.

A multiple all-state and all-Atlanta Metro performer with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Meka was ranked as high as No. 129 nationally and No. 26 at his position by 247Sports (power forward). He enjoyed a record-breaking career at Mount Bethel Christian Academy, setting school records for points, rebounds and blocked shots. A true presence on the defensive end of the court, Meka is quick off the floor with great timing in blocking or altering shots in the paint. He improved markedly in his last couple of years, becoming both a better rebounder but also a more reliable offensive player as a catch-and-finish big. A high-level student academically, he and his family moved to the United States in 2016 after growing up in Cameroon.

Meka earned all-state honors in Mount Bethel’s classification (A-private) every year since his freshman year, including player of the year honors as a sophomore, for coach Cal Boyd. He led the Eagles to a pair of state Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association (GICAA) titles in 2017 and 2018, and to the Class A semifinals as a junior in 2019. Mount Bethel reached the A-private state playoffs in 2020, beating the No. 4, No. 9 and 15 teams along the way, and posted a four-year record of 87-36 with Meka on the team. Before his senior year even began, he had already set career school records for points (finished with 1,670, surpassing current Tech guard Coleman Boyd), rebounds (920) and blocked shots (>400). As a senior, he averaged 15.9 points, nine rebounds, three blocks as a senior despite being sidelined by injury the first half of the season.

Coach Pastner says: “He’s a high-level student and athlete. We lose James Banks as a shot-blocker, and with Jordan’s timing and shot-blocking ability, hopefully we won’t miss a beat on the defensive end of the floor. He’s fantastic young man.”

Jordan Meka highlights

Alexander-Tharpe Fund

The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the A-T Fund’s Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes, and Athletics Initiative 2020, Georgia Tech athletics’ ongoing $125 million initiative to allow Tech to recruit the nation’s most elite student-athletes, build a better student-athlete once they arrive on The Flats and, ultimately, win! To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.   

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL

Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its fourth year under head coach Josh Pastner. Tech has 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 (@GTMBB) and Instagram. For more information on Tech basketball, visit Ramblinwreck.com.

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