The Yellow Jackets were incredibly reliant on the talented post tandem of Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors last season. Their guard play was extremely inconsistent and repeatedly made terrible decisions on the perimeter rather that constantly feeding the post. With Lawal and Favors leaving school early for the NBA (and the loss of their physical backup Zacharay Peacock), Georgia Tech now only has three players who stand taller than 6-6, and none of them have played a single minute of college basketball. Yikes.
The success of the Yellow Jackets will rest on the shoulders of expected starting guards Iman Shumpert and Mfon Udofia. Both players were highly recruited coming out of high school but have yet to show the ability to become floor leaders at the college level, making poor decisions with basketball and often having awful shot selection. Maurice Miller does provide a veteran option behind Shumpert and Udofia in case they once again fail to reach their potential. Wing players Glen Rice Jr. and Brian Oliver should see more minutes and progress after respectable freshmen seasons.
Where will the inside presence come from? Daniel Miller is a big body who redshirted last season, but is not much of an athlete. Nate Hicks is lengthy and athletic, but needs to add a lot of muscle before he can be a factor in the ACC. Kammeron Holsey is also coming off a redshirt year due to a torn ACL and might be the most capable, but shortest of the three bigs.
Whatever the case may be up front, Paul Hewitt's seat is getting awfully warm at Georgia Tech. His resume is not all that impressive in his decade as the Yellow Jackets head coach, only once leading the team to a winning conference record (the 2003-04 season in which were runner-up in the NCAA Tournament.) Barring an incredible transformation and increased maturity in the backcourt, Georgia Tech will likely struggle this season... and you heard it here first; Hewitt will be fired at the end of the season.
Player to Watch: Iman Shumpert, G
The Oak Park, Ill. native definitely has league potential. He has a somewhat unique skill set having a point guard's ability in a shooting guard's body which NBA executives find attractive. However, his inconsistency drives people nuts. Maybe it was the arrival of Udofia and Favors, but Shumpert's numbers decreased last season compared to his freshman year and he was actually held scoreless in back-to-back game which is completely unacceptable for someone with Shumpert's potential. Georgia Tech needs Shumpert to become this team's leader and go-to player on a regular basis. To be frank, he needs to become that as well if he hopes to have a future in the NBA. He cannot show up one night and then disappear the next.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/26 vs. UTEP (Legends Classic)
11/27 vs. Michigan State/Syracuse (Legends Classic)