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Countdown to Tipoff: Brandon Alston, Curtis Haywood, and Shembari Phillips

Previewing the rest of the Georgia Tech backcourt.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve already previewed the expected Georgia Tech starting backcourt of Michael Devoe and Jose Alvarado. However, Devoe and Alvarado won’t be the only contributors in the Yellow Jacket backcourt this season. Senior Brandon Alston represented Georgia Tech at ACC Media Day and has identified himself as one of the leaders of the team. Sophomore Curtis Haywood will be looking to bounce back from an injury plagued freshman season and make a big impact, while transfer Shembari Phillips will look to make his name known to Tech fans.

Curtis Haywood II

Curtis Haywood will be hoping that his sophomore season looks differently from his freshman campaign, where he missed over half the season due to multiple injuries. Haywood came to Georgia Tech with high expectations as an elite defender and three point shooter. Due to his injuries, he never was able to get into a rhythm and his shot was clearly impacted. Despite all that, he managed to still shoot 37% on threes, including a 5-7 game against North Texas. With a 6’11” wingspan, Haywood is able to use his high energy style of play and get in passing lines, ending up fourth on the team in steals a season ago. Haywood also showed the ability to contribute in other areas of the game when needed. He led the team in assists per 40 minutes and added three rebounds per game. After Haywood’s season ended in January, he had surgery to insert a rod in his leg and was back fully healthy for summer practices. If he is able to stay healthy for the whole season, Haywood will be called upon to play significant minutes in the backcourt and provide a much needed scoring boost and shooting threat for the Jackets.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Shembari Phillips

While some fans may not know much about Shembari Phillips, he will have the opportunity to be one of the most important players for the Jackets this season. A transfer from Tennessee, Phillips was forced to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. After another year of development, Phillips will be ready to handle a heavy role for the Jackets. Over two seasons at Tennessee, Shembari made 24 starts and saw his role increase the more games he played. In his sophomore season, he averaged a hair over six points per game and stepped up as a strong defender. He should add another shooting threat for the Jackets, as he knocked down 37% of his attempts from behind the arc in his time at Tennessee. Shembari’s transfer to Atlanta was a homecoming for him since he was originally from Marietta, GA and played for local powerhouse Wheeler high school. Now entering his fourth season in a college basketball program, head coach Josh Pastner has noted that he wants Phillips to fall into his “get old, stay old” mentality and step up as a leader for Georgia Tech this season and next.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Alston

Brandon Alston came to the Flats as a transfer from Lehigh a season ago. He appeared in every game last season and provided valuable minutes off the bench. Alston has shown no fear of shooting behind the arc when needed, hitting 36% of his attempts. He’s shown the ability to play solid defense and take care of the ball, with the lowest turnover rate among all Tech guards last season. As a senior, he will be looked upon as leader and his leadership will be critical for the development of the younger guards.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Operation Basketball Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports