Perimeter issues illustrate the fall of Georgia Tech basketball


Less than 12 months ago, we highlighted the growing point guard problem for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets basketball program in this same space. Trae Golden was on his way out the door after a one-year stint as a veteran transfer, and behind him, the cupboard was utterly bare for Brian Gregory and his crew.

Little did we know that a point guard issue would turn into a full-fledged perimeter crisis.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have begun their ACC schedule with an unthinkable seven consecutive losses, and with the five (yes, five) most prolific players on the roster all playing in the frontcourt, that should no surprise. Gregory and his staff managed to address severe holes around the rim by acquiring Charles Mitchell (via Maryland) and DeMarco Cox (via Ole Miss) as immediately-eligible transfers prior to the season, and frankly, he should be commended for that. Sadly, he couldn’t bring in any guard options of the same caliber.

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At the time of this post, Georgia Tech’s leading scorer from a perimeter position is 6-foot-3 junior Chris Bolden, who is averaging 5.8 points per game in 18.5 minutes. When removing the sticker shock of that statistic, that is even more jarring when considering that Bolden has struggled mightily to make shots, converting only 39% of his field goal attempts and 29.5% of his shots from beyond the arc.

As recently as the embarrassing loss against Virginia, Brian Gregory elected to deploy both Travis Jorgenson (2.9 points per game, 26.3% FG, 29.4% 3-PT) and Corey Heyward (1.3 ppg, 27.3% FG, 20.0% 3-PT) as a unit in the starting lineup. Aside from the fact that there are serious concerns about whether either player should be seeing any court time at the ACC level, regardless of position, that starting duo was simply a microcosm of the talent issues in Atlanta, and after 40 minutes of pain in Charlottesville, the Tech staff bailed on that experiment.

The “ray of light” for this season on the perimeter was supposed to be freshman Tadric Jackson, but whether by his own talent level or inability to fit into the system for the Jackets, Jackson has been unable to integrate himself. For the season, the highly-touted guard from Tifton is shooting just 25.2% from the field, and he has been unceremoniously buried in the rotation, which is a tall task given what is in front of him on the depth chart.

College sports are funny in that it is difficult to evaluate without being too severe on individuals. It isn’t the fault of a player like Corey Heyward that he is being asked to play real minutes in the ACC, simply because doesn’t have the talent required to be a real contributor against some of the best teams in the country. The failures of the coaching staff, led by Brian Gregory himself, are purely at fault for the deployment of Heyward, Jorgenson and others, and with no signs of turning around, there is little to be excited about as a Georgia Tech basketball supporter.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will almost certainly win an ACC game in the coming weeks, but it won’t be because of stellar perimeter play. For an institution with rich history of NBA-level guards dating back to Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury or even Jarrett Jack, that is simply unacceptable, and in the end, it may cost Brian Gregory his job.