Today we continue our discussion about the Jackets group of returning players. Who will take on a bigger role? Who will be called upon in crunch time?
Countdown to tipoff: 31 days
Abdoulaye “AD” Gueye
One of the biggest question marks entering the season for the Jackets is RS junior Abdoulaye Gueye. Entering his fourth season with the program, Gueye has yet to average more than 10 minutes per game, but has never lacked athleticism or energy. Showing strong moments here and there, Tech fans have constantly gotten the sense he could break out at any moment, however it has yet to happen.
Originally from Dakar, Senegal, AD chose to join the Jackets 2014 class over Texas Tech, Mississippi State, and Minnesota. When he came into the program, Gueye was still quite raw and as a freshman, he played in just eight games. The season after, he took a redshirt year in order to further develop his game.
Despite limited experience, Gueye was immediately offered a chance at a big role by new head coach Josh Pastner last season. He started the first three games of the year, but scored just 8 points in those three games before his role was reduced. His playing time going forward could best be described as sporadic, playing as many as 18 minutes against Louisville, but not even entering the game against Duke. Part of the reason for this was his reliance on how many minutes were given to Ben Lammers. With Josh Pastner generally playing just one big man, minutes were often hard to come by for both Gueye and fellow backup big man Sylvester Ogbonda. Unfortunately, as Gueye was just starting to look more comfortable on the court, he suffered a season ending wrist injury against Clemson on February 1.
After one of Tech’s games last season, Josh Pastner was quoted as saying “Basketball is a game of energy, it’s about emotion. [Gueye] is an energy-giver.” AD’s energy and athleticism was perhaps best exhibited against Penn State when he grabbed six rebounds in just four minutes of playing time. Pastner has consistently said the players who rebound will be the ones who play and rebounding is certainly one of AD’s biggest strengths. “Energy giver, not taker” is one of the head coaches favorite sayings and if Gueye is able to consistently provide energy when on the court, it could directly result in an uptick in floor time.
Gueye’s length (7’3” wingspan) and athleticism gives him the ability to defend both in the post and on the perimeter, similar to Quinton Stephens last year. The departure of Stephens leaves plenty of available minutes in his role as a stretch four. Before getting injured last season, Gueye was getting more playing time than fellow backup Sylvester Ogbonda, however Ogbonda has already been highlighted by his teammates as one of Tech’s most improved players this season. It’s anyone’s guess at this point which player will end up playing the bigger role, but Pastner has already said he is going to play the best players, regardless of position, meaning it will likely be directly up to Gueye whether the available minutes go to him, Ogbonda or someone else entirely.
What role do you think AD Gueye will have this season?