Following a blockbuster combine performance that has everybody talking and him rising up draft boards, Josh Okogie officially took the dive and signed an agent earlier today which leaves him ineligible to return. Josh Pastner and the Yellow Jackets have known about this possibility for a while, but there was always a slim bit of hope that he’d be dissatisfied with his draft grade and return. So now what?
This is obviously a massive hit to the Yellow Jackets. Okogie followed up a great freshman year with a dynamite sophomore campaign and would have been Tech’s undisputed leader this year. He leaves behind a team bereft of experience, scoring, offensive creation, and leadership. He also leaves a massive hole in the middle of Tech’s lineup. Before Tech was actually looking pretty decent on the perimeter, but now things are a lot more shaky.
Jose Alvarado is probably secure as the starting point guard. He wasn’t perfect as a freshman, but he more than held his own in the ACC before breaking his arm. He has the attitude and skill to be a leader on this team. We need him to be. It’s less clear who will be starting next to him. My best guess is that incoming freshman point guard Mike Devoe will start at shooting guard next to Alvarado. He is one of Tech’s best recruits in a long time and has the size (6’4”) to play up a position. He is going to get thrown right into the fire. My best guess is that Tech will run a 3-guard formation and start Shembari Phillips. The transfer from Tennessee sat out last year, but he has the talent and the energy to be a solid starter for this team and the defensive chops to guard above his 6’4”.
Behind the starters, Tech has a few familiar faces. Curtis Haywood II played plenty of minutes his freshman year before also succumbing to injury. He’s got a solid shot and has some experience in the ACC. I like his chances to be a contributor this year, although probably still best off the bench. Joining him will be Brandon Alston. Alston was up and down his first year at Tech. He isn’t as talented as most of the rest of the perimeter players, but he has much needed experience.
Tech does have some freshmen who could be in the mix for playtime, but both of them seem like they’d need some more time before they play big minutes unless one surprises. Kristian Sjolund and Khalid Moore are two incoming small forwards. At 6’9” and 6’6” respectively they would both solve the size issue, but both are fairly raw. If they are playing significant minutes, then either one of them was farther in development than expected, or things will have gone really wrong.
I wish Josh Okogie the best in the NBA, but his departure leaves an enormous hole. There is little chance of truly replacing him, but this is what the team looks like now on the perimeter.