Busting Brackets

Georgia Tech Basketball: 2019 offseason needs for Yellow Jackets

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 07: Head coach Josh Pastner of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets coaches his team during a time out during the Yellow Jackets' game against the Louisville Cardinals at Hank McCamish Pavilion on January 7, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 07: Head coach Josh Pastner of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets coaches his team during a time out during the Yellow Jackets' game against the Louisville Cardinals at Hank McCamish Pavilion on January 7, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) /

With some big weaknesses, what should we expect this offseason from Georgia Tech Basketball?

It is never a bad time to talk about college basketball. That is my motto. Over the past few years it has been difficult to talk Georgia Tech Basketball though. Here’s hoping that the 2019-20 season bears sweeter fruit.

In what will be year four for head coach Josh Pastner, the Yellow Jackets will look to end a nine-year NCAA Tournament drought. Since 2009-10, Tech has had just two winning seasons, both of which landed them in the postseason NIT.

It may just be the fan in me, but next season looks like it could be the year. The Jackets only significant losses were reserve centers Abdoulaye Gueye (6.6 points, 3.7 rebounds) little used Sylvester Ogbonda (grad transfer) and reserve guard Brandon Alston (7.0 ppg) to graduation. Sophomore wing Curtis Haywood II (5.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.0 apg and 1.2 spg) did elect to transfer, but Georgia Tech has depth on the wing so the impact will be negligible.

The incoming recruiting class has been a heavily scrutinized one for Pastner, who had often exuded confidence when discussing the 2019 haul’s potential. However, it is starting to come together and one possible mistake looks to have been rectified.

Asanti Price is currently the only prep player to have signed a LOI. The late blooming, 6’5 South Carolina native is described as having NBA range, but needs work in other areas. It is believed that he may be a candidate to redshirt during the 2019-20 campaign.

Much of the aforementioned scrutiny of this class came from Pastner’s decision to sign JUCO forward David Didenko. Didenko, who received minimal minutes and provided little production at Palm Beach State JC, appears to be exploring professional opportunities overseas.

The transfers are where the immediate impact is found for Jacket’s fans. USC transfer Jordan Usher looks to be the replacement for Haywood. A versatile forward, Usher will be relied upon to give minutes at the four spot as well as on the wing.

Related Story. Early look at GT 2019 recruiting class. light

Perhaps the most glaring weakness of the Pastner era has been Tech’s inability to score the basketball. In his three seasons the Jackets have never ranked higher than 296th in ppg, 197th in Kenpom’s adjusted offensive efficiency or 169th in Haslam’s offensive efficiency. Coach Josh Pastner addressed that issue last week, securing the commitment of high scoring VMI (and Snellville, GA native) transfer Donald “Bubba” Parham. Parham played at Shiloh H.S., which also produced former Yellow Jackets star Josh Okogie.

Parham averaged 21.4 points per game last season for the Keydets and shot 40% from deep, something the Jackets also desperately need.

It is expected that both Usher and Parham will petition for immediate eligibility and since both are from the Atlanta area, chances of approval seem likely.

Tech’s current roster sits at eleven scholarship players. So what do they need now? Having addressed the scoring need in the back court the most glaring weakness is depth in the front court. While Usher and sophomores Kristian Sjolund and Khalid Moore are bigger forwards, all are of the stretchy type. Moses Wright really came on strong towards the end of the season, averaging 15.6 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 62% from the field in his final five games, but struggled with turnovers and shot making ability during the season.

As mentioned by Jerran last week, Josaphat Bilau out of Spire Academy (yes, that other guy’s kid plays there as well) is Georgia Tech’s primary target after they missed out on Derrik Smits, who recently committed to Butler and Jesse Edwards who committed to Syracuse. According to an article from a couple weeks ago, Bilau is working on a visit to Atlanta.

I believe that Wright is going to receive a large chunk of minutes at the five spot when senior James Banks either needs a blow or finds himself in foul trouble. Wright is far more suited to be a help side rim protector than a rotate and recover wing defender in that crazy zone Pastner loves to play.

I would expect a scholarship to go to Bilau if he is interested, but I also would not be shocked to see Georgia Tech put those last two ‘ships in their pocket. Pastner has said in the past he will not sign guys “just to fill spots.”

One other possibility that is still lingering, while also very quiet, is Oton Jankovic. Jankovic is a 6’9 forward at Montverde Academy in Florida. He visited Georgia Tech way back in November and very little has been mentioned since. Wisconsin was taking a look at the Croatian big man in February and he took an unofficial visit to Stetson recently. In an article back in February Oton confirms that he has only taken officials to St. Louis and Georgia Tech. There is also a comment there that makes it seem as if he is simply waiting for Pastner to make the offer.

Next. Early ACC Power rankings for 2019-20. dark

To answer the original question, the needs of this team vary depending on who you ask. Currently, I am happy with the roster and its construction, but I am also fine with Wright as the reserve center and Evan Cole behind him. It will be interesting to see what Georgia Tech does to fill out the roster, if anything.