This is the first piece in a set of posts to introduce each member of the 2014-15 Yellow Jacket basketball team individually. The order will go roughly from point guard to center, in order of seniority for each position.
The point guard spot has been a position of flux for the Yellow Jackets recently. Two years ago, the Jackets were led by two seniors, Mfon Udofia and Pierre Jordan. Last season, the only season-long contributor at point guard was the phenomenal senior transfer Trae Golden. Now, Corey Heyward is the point guard with the most experience under Brian Gregory in just his sophomore year. Heyward and others have large shoes to fill after Golden's graduation.
Measurables and background:
Heyward is a redshirt sophomore who stands in at 6'1", 214 lb. He hails from nearby Duluth, GA., graduating from Peachtree Ridge High School in 2011. He spent the next year at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia.
A member of Brian Gregory's first recruiting class in 2012 with Robert Carter Jr., Marcus Georges-Hunt and Chris Bolden, Heyward's freshman season was put on hold for a season because of an ACL tear, his second tear in the same knee of the 2012 calendar year.
Last year, senior Tennessee transfer Trae Golden had a brilliant season leading the Jackets in scoring and assists with 13.3 and 3.1 per game respectively. Travis Jorgenson was lost to a season-ending injury early and Solomon Poole ran into off court issues leading to his dismissal. As a result, in his redshirt freshman year, Corey Heyward was the primary backup point guard by the second half of the season.
He even found his way into the starting lineup in place of the struggling Chris Bolden for 15 games last season.
Heyward only averaged 1.0 points per game and 1.4 assists per game in 16.5 minutes of action but now that he is a season removed from his knee injury, that production should rise.
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Role on this year's team:
Heyward may actually be a more natural fit at the shooting guard spot rather than the point guard spot. But with Travis Jorgenson still recovering from the ACL he tore in his right knee, Heyward will most likely see the bulk of his minutes at the 1. In addition, his 6'1" height and the presence of shooting guards Chris Bolden and Tadric Jackson will force him into the role of running the offense.
Heyward has a strong build for a smaller guard, much like Udofia who came before him. He's a tough, broad-shouldered guy with a knack for getting into the paint. He's also a stiff perimeter defender, often taking on the top opponent guard defensively. He doesn't turn the ball over much, finishing last year with a 45/26 (1.73:1) assist to turnover ratio in 527 minutes of play.
Despite all this, he won't ever shoulder the offensive load during a game. If he becomes a real three point threat, it will go a long way toward stretching out opposing defenses to allow the bigs to work inside. He went 6-14 from that range last season, and I'd like to see him expand his attempts from there. At minimum, he needs to be a sure-handed player with the ball in his hands and continue playing tough defense for the team to be successful. He may never light up the scoreboard, but whether starting or off the bench, you know you're gonna get 100% effort from Heyward game in and game out.