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Georgia Tech Basketball: Senior Appreciation

The seniors put in years of hard work and went away with a strong senior season

NCAA Basketball: NIT Semifinals-Georgia Tech vs Cal State Bakersfield Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

I was heartbroken that the seniors were not able to go out with a victory and a trophy. These guys truly deserved it. Only two of the five spent all four years at Tech. Quinton Stephens and Corey Heyward came in in 2013 as freshman and saw immediate playing time on a struggling Jackets team. Josh Heath joined the next season after transferring in from South Florida. The three of them were a part of Tech’s best team of the Brian Gregory era when the 2015-2016 team won two games in the NIT. This year, Kellen McCormick, a transfer from Western Michigan, and Jodan Price, a transfer from Eastern Michigan, joined the squad for their final season. All five got to enjoy and contribute to Tech’s most successful season in many years. So thank you seniors for your contributions to Georgia Tech over the last several years.

Quinton Stephens

Stephens came into Tech with some promise to be an athletic sharpshooter who could guard up and down the lineup. While that did not totally pan out, Quinton was a contributor for all four of his seasons at Georgia Tech and was instrumental to the success of this year’s Yellow Jacket team.

For a long time, Quinton Stephen’s game had two main issues. First, he was a three point specialist who wasn’t that good at hitting threes, and he lacked aggression in all facets of the game. He struggled to rebound and defend despite his height and athletic advantage, and he rarely stepped foot inside the arc on offense. Late in the 2015-16 season it almost seemed like something clicked for Stephens. He was being more aggressive with the ball, his defense stepped it up a notch, and he started rebounding like crazy. His hustle meant loose balls kept coming back to Tech. He truly became a different a player.

This season he continued right where he left off. His shot never quite got there, although he hit some big threes this year, but every other part of his game was where Tech needed it to be to succeed. He brought the hustle and the very strong defense. With only one big man on the floor this year, the Jackets needed Quinton to rebound well, and he did.

Favorite Quinton Stephens Moment

Stephens certainly has some options to choose from. His 23 points against Belmont in the NIT and his first half explosion against Virginia last season were both in the mix. However, I’m going to take you back to the first game of Quinton’s sophomore season when he dominated the Georgia Bulldogs to the tune of 22 points on 6-8 shooting from deep to lead the Jackets to their fourth straight victory over their rivals.

Josh Heath

Josh Heath came to the Yellow Jackets after his dad got fired as head coach at USF. When he came in, he was billed as a traditional pass-first point guard. He certainly lived up to that reputation. He was part of several backcourts that struggled to score on some anemic Brian Gregory offenses. He split time as a junior with Travis Jorgenson and Marcus Georges-Hunt. That Tech team needed as many scorers on the floor as possible, and while Heath’s game had merits he was never a dangerous scorer.

This season Heath spent most of his time on the floor once he came back from his suspension. He started nearly every game, and was an important player for Josh Pastner all season. Heath played rock solid defense in a variety of defensive formations and showed great leadership on offense. He still was not a top notch scorer, but he was a very good distributor and always seemed to make the smart play.

Favorite Josh Heath Moment

My favorite Josh Heath memory is him turning in a Jason Kidd impression against NC State at home this season. That was the game that really made everyone believers and that win does not happen without fantastic play from Heath. He nearly pulled out the triple-double with 10 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds.

Corey Heyward

Corey came into a backcourt hurt by lack of depth and injuries. This forced him onto the court much earlier than he was ready for. He struggled mightily as a freshman and then as a sophomore, especially on the offensive side of the ball. He was a solid perimeter defender, but that could not carry his offense. He spent most of his junior season on the bench, but found his way into the starting lineup and quite a bit of playtime for his final season. Pastner knew that the defense was what held the team together and Heyward certainly advanced on that side of the ball. Corey had improved enough on offense that Pastner could trust him not to make mistakes. He was an important piece to this Georgia Tech team.

Favorite Corey Heyward Moment

Easily my favorite Corey Heyward moment was his pre-halftime three-quarter court shot against VCU. The Jackets eventually won in overtime and that win was a major reason why Tech was on the bubble for so long. That win probably doesn’t happen without the improbable shot from Heyward.

Kellen McCormick

Kellen came in as a transfer this season from Western Michigan and he seemed like he would provide a much needed deep threat off of the bench. He struggled defensively, and found himself getting squeezed out of Pastner’s tightening rotations. He kept fighting and played hard in the minutes that he did get. McCormick was not a four year Yellow Jacket, but he did choose to come into the program during a time that looked bleak and many others in his position would have chosen to avoid Tech entirely.

Favorite Kellen McCormick Moment

Kellen came up big when the team needed him. One game before taking down the national champions, UNC, the Jackets found themselves in trouble late against the third worst team in the country (according to KenPom). Almost nobody on the team could score, so in came McCormick for some instant offense. He went 4-5 from deep and saved the Yellow Jackets from what would have been a disastrous upset.

Jodan Price

Like McCormick, Jodan transferred in from a Michigan school, this time Eastern Michigan, and looked to add depth to what looked like a razor thin roster. Also like McCormick, Price was squeezed out of the rotation as Pastner preferred a small group of guys to play. Like McCormick, he transferred at a time when the future in Atlanta looked bleak, and I greatly appreciate that.

Favorite Jodan Price Moment

Price got a chance to put in some minutes against Tusculum and put in some really good minutes for the team. He had 5 points and 3 rebounds and looked pretty darn good on the floor during that game.