The biggest change for Georgia Tech comes at the top where Brian Gregory arrives from Dayton to take over for Paul Hewitt, who was fired after 11 seasons with the Yellow Jackets. The past few seasons with Hewitt in charge, Georgia Tech underachieved despite seemingly having a talented roster. This year, Gregory has some skilled players to work with, but only nine scholarship players.
Iman Shumpert led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals a year ago but chose to declare for the NBA Draft after his junior season. Third-leading scorer Brian Oliver decided to transfer to Seton Hall, leaving Glenn Rice Jr. as the only returning player who averaged more than seven points per game last season.
The Yellow Jackets should get a sorely needed boost from combo guard Brandon Reed. Reed sat out last after transferring from Arkansas State where he was Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year averaging 15.1 points per game. He could step into the starting backcourt alongside point guard Mfon Udofia, who has failed to live up to expectations in his first two seasons. Sophomore Jason Morris will be the primary option off the bench on the wing and is Tech's top three-point threat. Seldom-used senior Nick Foreman is the only other guard under scholarship.
The Yellow Jackets have some size, but not a whole lot of skill inside. Daniel Miller (6-11) was the most productive post player a year ago but only averaged 4.4 points and five rebounds per game. Nate Hicks (6-10) will back up Miller at center. Kammeon Holsey and freshman Julian Royal will likely compete for the starting power forward spot although Gregory could go with a smaller lineup and start four guards.
Off the court, the NCAA placed the Georgia Tech basketball program on four years probation stemming from previous violations. The Yellow Jackets were also limited to 10 official visits for the next two seasons which will hurt their recruiting.
With a thin roster, the Yellow Jackets cannot afford any injuries or other issues that might deplete their depth even more. There are several other ACC teams also going through a transition period which will benefit the Yellow Jackets, but they will still struggle mightily this season.
Player to Watch: Mfon Udofia, PG
Udofia was highly recruited coming out of high school, but has been stuck in the shadow of Shumpert the past two seasons. The Stone Mountain, Ga. native (the same hometown as Jake "the Snake" Roberts) began the past two seasons in the starting lineup only to end the year coming off the bench. A true floor general is needed especially coming off a season in which the team averaged more turnovers than assists per game. If Udofia again fails to live up the hype he received coming out of high school, it could be a long season for Tech.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/17-20 vs. VCU, LSU, Seton Hall, Northwestern, St. Joseph's, Tulsa, Western Kentucky (Charleston Classic)
Out of sheer boredom and the upcoming NBA draft has gotten me itching to make a new mock draft. Of course the NFL draft is a whole lot less predictable than the NBA draft, but also provides more success stories than the NBA draft. Again, I used schedules to determine each team's records and if you get upset with me just remember it's June and a whole lot can change by next April.