The only freshman on the team came in with the reputation of being talented but raw. With four big men, maybe five if you count Gueye in front of him, he should get a year to work on his game without burning any eligibility. Barring several injuries I expect Ogbonda to spend the year on the bench.
Barring multiple injuries, I don't expect much playing time out of any of these guys. Heyward played significant minutes his freshman year, but is now stuck firmly in the third point guard spot with Adam Smith being able to point if need be. He is a strong perimeter defender but a point guard in the modern game has to bring something to the table offensively and Heyward does not do that.
Gueye came in as very raw but talented player who rarely saw the floor last year. I was actually surprised that he was not redshirted. Gueye likely will be a mop up player as he is behind too many players. He will be an important player next year as GT will be starved for experience, but this year he should not play in any close games.
Quinton Stephens just made the cut to this list. He played nearly twenty minutes a game last year but unless he has made some serious improvements, increased competition will likely see his play time decrease to maybe half that. He needs to either improve his three point shooting or play defense like somebody his size should.
Tadric was a heralded recruit and showed flashes of that last year in between spurts of wildly inefficient play. He shot an atrocious 27.4% from the field last year. Hopefully Jackson can start putting together long stretches of good plays this year and not force up shots when things aren't going well. He had a rough first year, but with some pressure off this year due to more offensive threats I think he will calm down and be a positive contributor offensively.
Josh Heath is a solid backup point guard. He plays decent defense and passes well and seems like an exemplary teammate. There is not a whole lot flashy to his game and I expect like last year about 18 or so minutes of solid basketball from Heath.
I have high hopes for Nick Jacobs. He could absolutely be a starter for this team, especially if Gregory sticks to his two post player philosophy. Expect him to replace Demarco Cox and more. He provides another big body down low but has been a better player than Cox over his career. He sat out last year and did not play significant his Junior year either so rust could be an issue early in the season.
Ben Lammers is a true center. He did not play a ton last year, but should factor in much more this year as part of a four man big rotation. He is the only true center expected to play so hopefully he shows some rim protection. He should be an important player for the next three years so keep an eye on him.
Jorgensen started last year as a true freshman point guard and played admirably. He is an excellent passer and a decent perimeter defender. His major struggles last year were all about creating shots. With no three point threats on last years team, defenses sagged off and clogged passing lanes daring Jorgensen to beat them. He got better as the year went on of taking easy points when his defender sagged off too much but still did not create enough. He is lightning quick on the first step so he has creating potential and with an increased three point threat this year I am looking for Jorgensen to really take charge of this offense.
Adam Smith is here for one thing and one thing only; that sweet 42.4% three point shooting. GT was near dead last in the country in 3pt% last year so his shot will be much welcomed. I have not seen him play much, but he can create a little bit too though his height at 6'1 is a hindrance on defense.
MGH was our best player last year by a mile. He should be our best again this year. He will drive the offense again, he will play solid defense again, but if he has to carry the offense single handedly like he had to do for long stretches last year, this team is in big trouble. Tech brought in a lot of offensive help for MGH so hopefully some of the defensive heat is taken off of him.
James White is a stretch four from Arkansas-Little Rock who should play a big role in our offense. While Gregory traditionally has liked two keep two post players on the floor, he has talked about opening the offense up and letting someone like White loose. He is the most intriguing player as I really am not sure how he will be used.
Charles Mitchell is a fan favorite. He hustles like crazy and seems to have that huge smile painted on his face. He is a fantastic rebounder and solid post defender who is not going to make too many offensive plays, but can still contribute. I expect much the same from him this year.
Under Gregory, the offense has really struggled. The three point shooting and free throw shooting have ranged from bad to atrocious. He has a lot more weapons than he has had previously at his disposal this year. We have probably 8 players who will be at least competent offensively and no major contributor looks to be a total drain on that end of the floor. Gregory has talked about allowing the rebounder to take the ball up the floor to speed up the transition and maybe get some easy fast break points that have been few and far in between the last couple of years. The defense and post play has been solid every year Gregory has been here. With a lot of emphasis going on offensive improvement, the defense may take a step back but probably not too far. That has been the bread and butter for every Gregory team at Tech and I expect it to remain that way this year. Gregory likes to run a deep bench, and this team finally has the talent to do that. That should help the wearing out of players like MGH or Mitchell as the season goes on.
Out of Conference Schedule:
As usual, the OOC schedule is pretty light. The Georgia game (which GT has won 4 years in a row) has been moved from the beginning of the season to mid-December. Home games against Tennessee and VCU are the best home games, but Tennessee looks pretty bad and VCU is under a new coach so who knows if they'll be as good as in the previous couple of years. Once again GT is playing in a four team tournament in Brooklyn. We will play Arkansas and then either Stanford or Villanova. Between VCU, Georgia, Arkansas, and the second tourney game GT has some chances at quality wins but they can't slip up against a poor OOC opponent like they did last year.
Oh Boy. The ACC looks REALLY good this year. GT gets Clemson, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Louisville twice this year. That sounds daunting, but it really could have been much worse with this conference. The home schedule has lots of good teams and interesting names: Virginia, Duke, Miami, Wake Forest, and VT in addition to the four listed above. Lots of chances at big wins but if the season starts to go sour we could see lots of blowouts.
Solid post play and defense once again lead the team, but new offensive weapons and somewhat improved shooting give GT its best season under Gregory. There were lots of close losses last year, and with plenty of seniors on this team, the luck changes and they turn some of those close games into wins. Despite that, GT finishes only 9th or 10th in the brutally difficult ACC and plays in the NIT. GT makes some big upsets in the ACC, but lose games they shouldn't against the lower portion of the conference. They once again beat Georgia, but the shear number of losses due to a difficult conference schedule, a lack of quality OOC wins, and a quick ACC tournament exit doom Tech to miss the tournament once again. This team can put it all together but with so many transfers needing to mesh and Gregory's lack of a track record with competent offenses some pessimism is warranted, but this is the best the team has looked in years.