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Countdown to Tipoff: Kyle Sturdivant and Rodney Howard

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Incoming Transfers Look To Make Big Impact

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rodney Howard and Kyle Sturdivant in similar some ways. They both played high school ball in Atlanta and considered going to Georgia Tech before signing further afield (Sturdivant went to USC (California version) and Howard all the way to Athens to play for UGA). After a disappointing freshman season they both decided to transfer back to Atlanta to play for Tech.

There are some differences. Kyle Sturdivant was a highly touted recruit who was having a limited season in LA before his dad tragically passed away in early February. He took leave from the team to head back to Georgia before rejoining them for the end of the season (although he didn’t play anymore). Rodney Howard on the other hand just didn’t fit into the team at Georgia and was looking for a new start.

Sturdivant came into college as a 4-star point guard. He had very good size for a guard at 6’3. He was similar to Devoe in that he could play point guard, but he’s at his best playing shooting guard. He was a very good scorer in high school who projected into a solid scorer at the college level. That potential didn’t convert to reality in his freshman season at USC. He ended up spending most of his time there as the backup point guard where he struggled offensively. He turned over the ball A LOT and never got into a scoring groove finishing the season with just a 34.8% FG%.

There are reasons to believe that things could be different this year. First of all he’s clearly a very talented player. Now that he’s got experience with the speed and talent at the college level we could see him settle down and start producing. Additionally with Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe ahead of him at point guard (and maybe even Bubba Parham) he’ll have more opportunity off-ball so he won’t have to focus on distribution so much and can focus on scoring. He’s got the body and skills to be a very good defensive guard and in with Josh Pastner’s history of defense at Tech I’m sure he’ll be a solid contributor on that side of the ball.

Rodney Howard also had a disappointing freshman season. Coming into college he was similar to Moses Wright. Like Moses, Howard had only been playing high level basketball for a few years before heading into college. He’s big and very athletic, but still raw with his skill on the offensive side of the ball. At Georgia last season Howard only took 9% of the shots while he was on the floor. All in all he was pretty much invisible on offense. At Georgia though he looked pretty good as a defender. He’s got the size and athleticism to be a shot blocker inside, the heir to James Banks and Ben Lammers.

The key for him this year will be his defense. If he keeps making strides then he’ll see the floor no matter how his offensive game progresses. If he becomes even somewhat of a factor on offense then he will have a major role on this team. Howard is working with Eric Reveno who has worked wonders with Tech big men before so hopefully Rodney comes into the season with some new post skills and the confidence to use them.

Howard and Sturdivant both could play a significant role on the team this year or could get buried on the bench. Sturdivant is clearly behind Alvarado and Devoe for a starting guard role. However, he could beat out Parham for the third guard spot or still get play time as the fourth guard. Additionally both him and Devoe have the size to make a three guard “small ball” lineup work. They could even play that a significant amount of the game depending on how the wing players shape up. Howard is a contender for the starting center. Moses Wright will certainly be starting, but he could play either the 4 or 5 so there’s a chance for Howard to start if he looks good enough in practice. He’s competing mainly with Wright and freshman Saba Gigiberia for minutes at center. Ideally Pastner probably wants Wright playing power forward so if Howard has the skill he will play.