Nov. 1, 2011
Follow Georgia Tech basketball on Twitter – @GTMBK
By Matt Winkeljohn
If most things are bigger in Texas, then Georgia Tech’s Texas twosome is defying stereotype. Derek Craig and Nick Foreman are guards, after all, and neither is over-sized. Really, though, their paths have been atypical for a few years.
Foreman and Craig are about to begin their final seasons as Yellow Jackets, but only since mid-summer have they been on scholarship. Each young man had chances to play college basketball closer to home, on scholarship even, but both passed.
The Tech lure hooked `em.
You might say the payoff – or a big part of it — came when coach Brian Gregory let them know they were going on scholarship for their senior seasons. A big chunk of the reward for all the sweat equity Craig and Foreman have invested is intrinsic.
The quantifiable prize that came the day when coach delivered the decision wasn’t/isn’t so bad, either. The news went over well in Craig’s hometown of Spring, Texas, and in Bellaire, Texas, as well.
“I was just ecstatic,” said the 6-foot-4 Craig, who has played 12 minutes for the Jackets while making 3-of-8 shots and grabbing three rebounds. “It felt like a real accomplishment to be a scholarship athlete, a basketball player in the ACC.
“It was a very big deal to me. I called my dad, and he was probably more excited than me because he didn’t have to pay any more.”
Foreman is better known to Tech fans, chiefly because in his freshman season of 2008-09 he played in all 31 games, starting two, as fellow guards Moe Miller, Lewis Clinch and D’Andre Bell were injured or ineligible.
Defense became his calling card. Although he played less in his sophomore and junior seasons, it is a very good bet that Foreman will be a triple-digit scorer by the time his college career ends. He has scored 98 points for the Jackets.
He remembers the early days, when he was a young and over-amped lad playing as if his uniform was on fire. He’s a graybeard now, as he and Craig are Georgia Tech’s only seniors.
“It gets you excited. I know at first I was over-anxious at times, caught up in the moment,” the 6-3 combo guard said of his first few playing appearances as a freshman. “You try to do everything a little too fast. It’s not as big now as it was then.”
Although both players have often been referred to in the past as “walk-ons,” that’s not quite their reality. Although they were not on scholarship until June, they were recruited non-scholarship players who just so happened to pitch themselves to varying degrees to former coach Paul Hewitt and his staff.
They did not have to try out; once at Tech, they were on the team.
“I met with [former assistant] Pete Zaharis, and they sent [former assistant] Charlton Young to see me play,” Foreman said. “I just felt like I had to get in where I fit in . . . work my way up. I know if the best way to help out the team is to play defense, and that gets me on the court, I’ll do that.”
There’s no telling yet what roles Craig and Foreman will play as seniors on a team whose roster is somewhat thin relative to many seasons.
Their futures are just slightly more clear.
Foreman plans to graduate with a degree in history, science and technology next summer, when Craig ought to graduate with paper in management.
Neither knows where they’ll go from there, although Craig favors Denver in part because that’s where his girlfriend lives.
They both know this: when considering college options, there was something – or things – about Tech that simply felt right.
“I took a visit and really fell in love,” Craig said. “I decided this is where I wanted to be academically and athletically.”