As we continue to near closer to the season, we continue again with our countdown to tipoff, this time previewing the Tech roster and what the rotation may look like.
The Jackets have five true guards on the roster, all with varying levels of experience. True freshmen Justin Moore and Josh Okogie are the newcomers to the group, contrasted by Corey Heyward, who enters his fifth season on the flats. Josh Heath and Tadric Jackson are both beginning their third seasons at Georgia Tech, but Heath, who played at South Florida before transferring to Atlanta, is in his final season of eligibility. Jackson has two years remaining.
Tech fans have been waiting for Jackson to have a breakout season ever since he came to the flats as a 4-star recruit and Georgia’s Mr. Basketball. Over his career, he has shown flashes of talent, but inconsistency, poor decision making, and questionable shot selection has prevented him from breaking out and frankly prevented him from seeing the floor as much as a player of his talent should. With such a massive roster overhaul, Jackson is in a perfect spot to finally be an impact player if he is able to turn the corner.
Throughout his career, Heath hasn’t been flashy, but he has taken care of the ball. He started at point guard for the first 15 games last season, before Marcus Georges-Hunt took over the role. He has shown an ability to attack the basket at times, but often plays too safe and appears unwilling to attack the defense. That said, until someone can unseat him, the point guard position will be his this season, largely due to his leadership and ball security.
Corey Heyward enters this season as the most experienced player on the roster. Unforunately, that experience is largely unrepresented on the stat sheet because he has had minimal playing time throughout his career. An excellent defender, he has struggled on offense, shooting just 30% from the field over his career. Extremely tough and competitive, his role this season will most likely be as a mentor to the younger players and one of the leaders of the team.
Check out the preview of freshmen Justin Moore and Josh Okogie in the incoming player preview.
Heath, Jackson, and Okogie were the presumed opening day starters, but a four game suspension for Heath has thrown the rotation into flux. Josh Pastner essentially has two options: he can move Jackson or Okogie to point guard or he can start Moore or Heyward. If Pastner feels comfortable with Jackson or Okogie taking care of the ball, I would guess he would prefer to go with the former. Either way, expect Heath, and his career 2.5 assist/turnover ratio, to get his spot back running point when he returns.
On the wing, the Jackets have some pretty versatile players. Graduate transfer Jodan Price is technically classified as a guard, but at 6-7, he has the ability to play multiple positions on the floor. Like Price, senior Quinton Stephens can play a couple positions, splitting time between the wing and post throughout his career. At 6-9, he has the size to play down low, but has struggled to put on weight throughout his career, leaving him vulnerable on defense. With Pastner looking to employ a one-in, four-out style of offense, Stephens should perfectly fit that stretch four role. Christian Matthews, a former high school teammate of big man Sylvester Ogbonda, comes to the flats as one of three freshman on the roster. Known as someone who can score in bunches, he could get significant playing time if he can adapt to ACC play.
As a senior and Georgia Tech representative at ACC media day (along with Josh Heath), Stephens is seen as one of the leaders of the team. The highest returning scorer from last year, Stephens has started 26 games over the last two seasons and at times has shown flashes of brilliance. Tech fans will remember his opening day performance two years ago against georgia, where he shot 6-8 from behind the arc on the way to 22 points. Last season, he may have outdone the previous years performance when he led the Jackets to an upset win over #4 Virginia. In that game, Stephens went 4-4 on threes, leading to a team-high 16 points. The excellent three point shooter will be called upon heavily this season to hit big shots and grab boards.
Check out the preview of freshman Christian Matthews and graduate transfer Jodan Price in the incoming player preview.
Out of the three wing players, Stephens is the only one projected to start. Price, who came off the bench at Eastern Michigan will most likely be a role player, but it will be interesting to see how Matthews develops as the season goes on. He has the potential to provide what the Tech roster lacks the most, scoring.
The post is another area where the Jackets have a good mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen. Sylvester Ogbonda and Abdoulaye Gueye both redshirted last season and enter their second and third seasons with the program respectively. Junior Ben Lammers is also entering his third season, but received significant minutes over the last two years. His continuous growth has him on track to be one of the teams better players this season and he is locked into a starting role. The final big man is graduate transfer Kellen McCormick, who comes to Atlanta from Western Michigan.
As mentioned above, Lammers is expected to be one of the impact players for the Jackets this season. A dominating force on defense, he terrorized opponents last year, racking up 47 blocks in just under 15 minutes per game. Ben continues to develop his offensive game and over last season alone, Tech fans saw huge progress in his midrange jumper and post moves. He will no question have a massive presence on defense once again, but this season he will be the go to player down low on offense.
Sylvester Ogbonda and Abdoulaye Gueye might be the two biggest question marks on the team due to their redshirts last season. As a freshman, Ogbonda has yet to play a minute in a Tech uniform, but did suit up during the teams 2015-2016 preseason trip to the Bahamas, where he averaged 6 ppg and 5.3 rpg. Gueye played in just eight games during his freshman year, scoring four points. These two players are battling with Kellen McCormick for minutes behind Ben Lammers and it will be interesting to see if one of them can pull away from the other.
Check out the preview of graduate transfer Kellen McCormick in the incoming player preview.
PG Josh Heath
SG Tadric Jackson
SF Josh Okogie
PF Quinton Stephens
C Ben Lammers
Impact Bench Players