Greetings! It is time for another season of college basketball, and with that, Brian Gregory and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are set to tip things off on Friday night against Presbyterian. Today, we’ll be taking a look at what’s in store for the 2013-2014 edition of the Jackets, and without further ado, let’s go.
Georgia Tech is much, much more talented than their 6-12 conference record from last season would indicate, and that begins with Tennessee transfer point guard Trae Golden. Golden arrived from Tennessee in the off-season and while there was considerable skepticism surrounding his eligibility, he was reinstated in October with a waiver that granted him the immediate ability to play. The 6-foot-2 senior from Powder Springs has averaged over 12 points per game in each of the past two seasons in Knoxville, and he brings the most experience of anyone on the roster immediately.
Next to Golden in the backcourt will (eventually) be sophomore Chris Bolden. The 6-foot-3 guard is currently serving a 3-game suspension for the always-entertaining “undisclosed violation of team rules” (later reported to be as a result of an off-season DUI), but given the schedule, the only game of consequence that he will miss is the road trip to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. Bolden averaged just 7.3 points per game (on 36% shooting) last year as a freshman, but he did step up in a couple of big spots, and it will certainly help him to have Golden (instead of the less-than-stellar effort of Mfon Udofia) next to him.
On the wing, Tech has a pair of quality sophomores that should be able to contribute in a big way. Marcus Georges-Hunt is the leading returning scorer on the team (10.8 points per game as a freshman) and the 6-foot-5 swingman has a penchant for getting to the rim. Alongside him, I’m expecting big things from Robert Carter in year #2, and he was a top-50 recruit just a year ago. At 6-foot-8, he’s probably the best pure athlete on the team, and Carter should build on his averages of 9.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game (in 26.4 minutes) from last season.
Manning the middle will be senior center Daniel Miller… and not a whole lot else. Miller is a pure rim protector at 6-foot-11 and 275 pounds, but he did average 8.4 points and 6.6 rebounds to go along with 2.1 blocks as a junior. His primary contribution will be on defense (2+ blocks per game in each of his 3 seasons), and no one should expect much in the way of creative offense. With that said, Tech head coach Brian Gregory has indicated (in various forms) that Miller will likely be the only pure “big” that gets minutes, and we could be in line for a lot of small ball.
Outside of the starters, Solomon Poole, Jason Morris, and Kammeon Holsey should all see time. Poole will be the backup to Trae Golden at the point, and sophomore averaged 9 minutes a game behind the aforementioned Udofia last season. I’d expect him to be much, much more efficient in his playing time, but the uptick in minutes likely won’t come unless Golden goes down. As far as Morris is concerned, the senior underwent foot surgery that came with a 4-to-6 week recovery time (as of mid-October) and we’ll know more about his prospects in a few more weeks. As for Holsey, he is a senior who has contributed in all 3 of his seasons on campus, but at 6-foot-8, he can rebound and play with energy, making him a quality bench option.
After a semi-disastrous 6-12 campaign last season in the ACC (16-15 overall), I firmly believe this team is significant improved. The addition of Golden (and the subtraction of Udofia) can’t be overstated, but the bigger factor for me is that it is always better when freshman turn into sophomores, and that is certainly the case here. With a gun to my head, I’ll predict an 9-9 finish in the ACC (placing them in the 7-8 range in the conference) and an 18-13 overall mark.