Busting Brackets

Georgia Tech Basketball: What is the next step for Josh Okogie?


Georgia Tech basketball was a surprising success story last season, thanks in large part to freshman phenom Josh Okogie. Where does he go from here?

Out of high school, Josh Okogie was not one of the highest rated players in his class. In fact, he was listed as just a three-star recruit and ranked 190th in the class of 2016 according to 247Sports. Nonetheless, after committing to Georgia Tech basketball, Okogie exploded onto the scene as a freshman last season.

At 6’4″ and 207 pounds, Okogie was built ready to take on the physical play of the ACC. In the first year of new head coach Josh Pastner at Georgia Tech, Okogie started all 37 games of the season, playing 30.8 minutes per night. The young freshman gave Pastner an incredible return on the investment of minutes during last season. He put up 16.1 points and snagged 5.4 rebounds per game as the leading scorer on the team.

But scoring and statistics aren’t everything. With Okogie as the lead guard on the floor, Georgia Tech experienced a breakout season compared to what was expected. Many media outlets expected the Yellow Jackets to finish at the absolute bottom of the ACC, but these expectations were far outperformed. Although the team did not receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament, Georgia Tech finished the season at 21-16 (8-10 ACC). This put them in 11th place (out of 15) in the conference. They also went on to be the runner-up in the NIT.

Coach Pastner was awarded the ACC Coach of the Year Award while Okogie was named to the All-Freshman team. Of course, a lot of credit should also go to Ben Lammers as well, who was named the Defensive Player of the Year in the conference while receiving All-Conference Second Team honors.

Entering this season, Georgia Tech has a major opportunity on their hands. Not only is Okogie returning, but so will Lammers. Both of these players are going to be looked at to lead the Yellow Jackets to the NCAA Tournament this season. They are extremely talented players, but the major difference between the two is their expectations of improvement.

Lammers might be the best player on the team entering the season, but Okogie is the most important for the future. This is Lammers’ fourth and final season with the program and because of that, his improvement is not as important to the program. He experienced a major breakout season a year ago, and he will be expected to produce just as well this year.

For Okogie, though, his expectation of improvement is much higher. Last season was certainly spectacular, but it is important that he takes that next step for Georgia Tech. This year, he will have the talents of Lammers to rely on as a crutch, but he will need to start becoming more of a leader on the floor this season both for their success in 2017-18 and for the future.

Okogie really is the future of Georgia Tech basketball and showing improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 will be important for him and for the coaching staff.

As a lead guard, the biggest part of Okogie’s game that can improve is his playmaking. A season ago, he dished out just 1.6 assists per game while turning the ball over 2.1 times in each contest. Taking care of the ball is definitely a skill that gets better as a player progresses in their college career and hopefully Okogie follows that trend.

While taking better care of the ball, Okogie will limit transition opportunities for Georgia Tech’s opponents while also making sure that the Yellow Jackets get the most out of each possession. On the whole, Okogie is an efficient player (45.3 FG%, 38.4 3P%) but turning the ball over is definitely something he can work on.

If he able to do this, special things are going to happen for the Yellow Jackets.

Next: Preseason 2017-18 ACC predictions

Okogie exceeded expectations throughout all of this last season and it will be hard to replicate that production. Will the young star take a step back and enter a sophomore slump this season or will he build on that year and become an All-Conference player? If the latter occurs, then Georgia Tech will definitely be in contention for a NCAA Tournament bid and Okogie could be competing for the scoring title in the ACC.