Countdown to Tipoff: 5 days
It is no secret that the Jackets struggled offensively a year ago, and really have struggled for the greater portion of a decade now. A season ago, Tech was the 228th best offense in the country according to Kenpom, their 8th season outside the top 175 since 2011. Brian Gregory’s final season in 2016 was the lone season Tech ranked inside the top 175, finishing 38th. Turnovers, poor shooting, and poor ball movement have almost been ingrained in fans heads at this point. However, there is reason to expect things may be different this season.
This season, transfer Bubba Parham will be the sharpshooter the Jackets have been craving since Adam Smith graduated in 2016. Despite his 5’10” height, his lights out shot allows him to wreak havoc on defenses. A season ago, Bubba led the Southern Conference in scoring at 21.4 points per game. He was third in the conference in three pointers per game, including ten games with five or more three pointers. Tech ranked 330th in the nation last season in three point percentage and Bubba will certainly help Tech improve that mark this season. Not only is he a good shooter, but he also has the ability to find his teammates after he draws the defense towards him. A season ago, he ranked sixth in the SoCon in assists per game due to his great vision. Simply put, Bubba will be one of the best offensive weapons for the Jackets this season and a huge boost from last year.
Unfortunately, the Jackets will be missing Usher for the first six games of the season, but when he does return, he will provide a boost in almost every aspect of the game for Tech. I already picked Jordan as my pick for most important player for the Jackets this season and did so for a reason. The USC transfer is extremely athletic and plays with a high motor. In 12 games for USC last season, Usher averaged 8.6 points in 24.5 minutes per game. He should have no problem handling ACC defenses due to his physical style of play and he can contribute at the rim, on the boards, behind the arc, or with his passing, making him an extremely valuable weapon. He has an uncanny ability to drive past his defender and into the lane, causing the defense to collapse, before dishing the ball off to his teammate for an easy basket. A season ago, Tech had a strong backcourt with Jose Alvarado and Mike Devoe. The Jackets had an obvious monster manning the paint in James Banks. However, production on the wing was lacking slightly and Usher should fill this role beautifully.
Breakout of Mike Devoe
As my pick to lead the Jackets in scoring, I expect a big uptick in production from sophomore Mike Devoe. Devoe came to Atlanta as a highly touted four star freshman and was the highest rated recruit since Brian Gregory recruited Robert Carter Jr. in 2012. Last year, Devoe missed six weeks of pre-season practice due to an injury, obviously not ideal for a freshman trying to learn a completely new system and get adjusted to the college game. Therefore, Devoe naturally continued to improve as the season went on and his confidence visibly increased by the time conference play rolled around, where he played over 35 minutes per game for the Jackets. With another offseason of development, I think that Devoe has the opportunity to flourish into one of the conference’s top scoring threats.
Continued Development of Moses Wright
It may seem like we are beating a dead horse at this point, but the development of Moses Wright at the end of last season was incredible to watch. A remarkable athlete, but an extremely raw basketball player for the first season and a half of his college basketball career, Wright sometimes made your head spin with his turnovers and poor shot selection. Something changed however down the stretch last season and Wright became a completely different player, averaging 16 points and 6 rebounds per game on 62% shooting over the final 5 games of the season, culminating in a 25 point effort against Notre Dame in the ACC tournament. According to the team, Wright has added another 30 pounds to his frame while maintaining the same body fat percentage, which means we could see an even more dominant player for Georgia Tech this season.
Three Point Shooting
As I already mentioned, the Jackets ranked 330th in the nation last season in three point shooting. That is....not ideal. When you are that poor at shooting, it makes it very hard to win basketball games. Why will things be different this season? See Parham, Bubba. The addition of Bubba alone will instantly make this team a threat from behind the arc. Last season, he made 116 three pointers. As a team, the Jackets had 176 three pointers. Needless to say, Bubba’s shooting will be a welcome sight. But Bubba will not be the only one scoring from the three point line. Mike Devoe had a very solid shooting season as a freshman, shooting 39% on three pointers. With the development expected from him, I would not be surprised to see both his three point volume and three point percentage increase this year. Having threats from beyond the arc not only provides obvious three point scoring options, but also spreads the defense out of the paint, allowing more space for the rest of the team to work. It is not a coincidence that the best three point shooting teams in the country, often end up with the best overall offenses.