Georgia Tech Basketball: Yellow Jackets reportedly cleared for 2021 postseason

The NCAA has reportedly cleared Georgia Tech Basketball to participate in next season’s conference and end-of-year tournaments. The Yellow Jackets were sitting out the 2020 postseason to serve a one-year ban before both the ACC and NCAA tournaments were canceled.

The NCAA informed Georgia Tech Basketball last month that its team successfully served its postseason ban in 2019-20, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Yellow Jackets had taken on a one-year postseason ban as part of sanctions handed down by the NCAA’s infractions committee in September. That kept them from competing in the 2020 ACC Tournament, which was canceled after two rounds due to concerns about the coronavirus. It also made them ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, which was similarly canceled before a bracket was ever revealed.

But the NCAA reportedly told Georgia Tech that it had effectively completed its one-year ban, eliminating concerns that the penalty would have to carry over into the 2020-21 season to make up for the tournament cancellations.

Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury told reporters earlier in March that he believed the program had satisfied the requirements of the ban.

“There is some type of formality, a box that needs to be checked, and so right now our attorneys are in the process of getting that done with the NCAA,” Stansbury said at the time. “But I definitely feel like we’ve fulfilled our obligation based on us not playing in the ACC tournament this year.”

Other penalties handed down by the NCAA in September — including scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions — will remain in place pending the university’s appeals, according to the Journal-Constitution.

The NCAA’s determination regarding postseason eligibility means that Georgia Tech, which finished fifth in the ACC with an 11-9 conference record in 2019-20, will get a shot next year at making its first NCAA Tournament since 2010.

The Yellow Jackets should come back to higher-than-usual expectations. Coach Josh Pastner’s team returns the bulk of its roster, including star guards Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe, who were named to the All-ACC third team and honorable mention list, respectively. The Yellow Jackets’ only major loss is the departure of big man James Banks III, who made the ACC’s All-Defensive team as a senior.

Even without Banks, the Yellow Jackets should remain one of the country’s top defensive units. According to Kenpom, they were No. 16 in adjusted defensive efficiency a season ago, when they held opponents to 28.5% shooting from deep.

Forward Moses Wright is a capable rim protector who should be able to take over the role Banks played last year, and the Alvarado-Devoe backcourt should anchor the same lockdown perimeter defense that made Georgia Tech tough to score against.

Those three players will also bring back some offensive firepower. Led by Devoe’s 16 points per game, all three were double-digit scorers in 2019-20.  Returning guard Jordan Usher, also a starter, added another 8.2 points per contest.

New to the team in 2020-21 are transfers Rodney Howard, a center, and Kyle Sturdivant, a guard. Georgia Tech will also enroll 7-foot center Saba Gigiberia, 6-foot-9-inch forward Jordan Meka and 6-foot-2-inch guard Tristan Maxwell — all three-star recruits, according to 247Sports.

Next: Early power rankings for 2020-21

The new talent and expected return of four starters should make the Yellow Jackets poised for another successful ACC season. And with the NCAA Tournament now back in the picture, they could also find themselves dancing in March.