ATLANTA (Oct. 11) – With one pre-season magazine already ranking the Yellow Jackets 14th nationally, Georgia Tech’s basketball team swings into pre-season practice Saturday morning led by the twin towers of 7-0 senior forward Jason Collier (Springfield, Ohio) and 6-11 junior center Alvin Jones (Lakeland, Fla.).
Head coach Bobby Cremins, entering his 19th season at Georgia Tech with a record of 341-220, welcomes back 10 lettermen from last year’s 15-16 squad which lost in the first round of the NIT. Tech has been to the NIT each of the past two years, but Cremins has solid hopes of guiding the Jackets back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996.
“That is our goal,” said Cremins, who also has two new coaches on his staff in former Tech players Mark Price and Willie Reese. “We have a pretty good nucleus of players coming back, especially with Collier and Jones and Jason Floyd (Hampton, Ga.) as leaders, and we’ve added some depth.”
Collier, a second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference choice last season, was Tech’s leading scorer with an average of 17.2 points per game while also contributing 7.3 rebounds. Jones, Tech’s all-time leading shot-blocker with 248, led the Jackets in rebounding at 9.7 and scored 12.7 points per game.
Also returning are 6-6 senior swingman Floyd, a solid three-year starter and reserve who scored 13.5 points per game last season; 6-7 junior forward Jon Babul (North Attleboro, Mass.), who averaged 5.3 points and 6.3 rebounds; 5-11 sophomore point guard Tony Akins (Lilburn, Ga.), 11.3 points, 4.8 assists; and 5-10 reserve point guard T.J. Vines (Woodstock, Ga.), 6.6 points, 2.0 assists. Those four players started 99 games combined last season, while another returning reserve, 6-3 junior Darryl LaBarrie (Decatur, Ga.), averaged 3.5 points.
Two transfers who sat out last season with the Jackets, 6-3 junior Shaun Fein (Stonehill College) of Centreville, Mass., and 6-8 forward Michael Isenhour (Air Force) of Lawrenceville, Ga., are both expected to contribute.
Cremins recruited three freshmen, led by 6-4 forward Clarence Moore, the class 5A Player of the Year from Norco, La., who averaged 23.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in leading South LaFourche High School to the state title game. Also joining the Jackets are Moore’s teammate, 5-11 Ross Chouest from Galliano, La., 16.2 points per game, and 6-8 forward Alex Luyk, who hails from Madrid, Spain but averaged 10 points per game in his senior year at McGill-Toolen High School in Mobile, Ala.
Tech’s first public scrimmage occurs at 5 p.m. Oct. 23 in the annual Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (formerly Scottish Rite) Intrasquad Game at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Two exhibition games are scheduled – Nov. 2 vs. Athletes in Action and Nov. 9 vs. All-Star California, both 7:30 p.m. – before the Jackets open the regular season at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 against Mercer.
DATES TO REMEMBER
Oct. 16 First official practice 11 a.m.Oct. 18 Media Day 2 p.m.Oct. 23 Georgia Tech Hoopfest 5 p.m.Oct. 24 ACC Operation Basketball, Greensboro, N.C.Nov. 2 Exhibition vs. Athletes in Action 7:30 p.m.Nov. 9 Exhibition vs. All-Star California 7:30 p.m.Nov. 19 Opener vs. Mercer 7:30 p.m.
All events at Alexander Memorial Coliseum except where noted.