Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
2020-21 record: 17-9, 11-6 in the ACC
Head coach: Josh Pastner
Tenure at Georgia Tech: 6th season
Career coaching record: 249-148
Home court: McCamish Pavilion
Starters: G Bubba Parham, G Michael Devoe, G Jordan Usher, F Khalid Moore, C Rodney Howard
Bench: G Kyle Sturdivant, G Deivon Smith, G Dallan Coleman, G Miles Kelly, F Jalon Moore, F Jordan Meka, C Saga Gigiberia
Overview: The reigning ACC tournament champions enter the 2021-22 campaign with some serious questions. The departures of guard Jose Alvarado and ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright leave the dynamic Yellow Jackets offense with a large hole to fill, but head coach Josh Pastner has a deep rotation of experienced players to help defend the trophy. Still just two years removed from an NCAA-imposed postseason ban, the program is still finding its footing in the conference since its best years of the early 2000s and will use this season to prove that last year’s 17-9 campaign—which earned the Yellow Jackets a nine seed in the NCAA tournament—was no fluke.
Recovering from losing 32.6 points per game—nearly 44% of their scoring—is no easy task, but senior guard Michael Devoe will be there to take on a larger role as a leader of the offense. A preseason All-ACC second-team selection, Devoe already has excellent basketball IQ and a silky left-handed jumper, making him one of the more potent and high-volume outside shooters in the conference. Alongside Devoe at the guard spots are Bubba Parham and Jordan Usher, who combine for a solid backcourt with average shooting ability but tons of college experience—Parham and Usher transferred at the end of the 2018-19 season from Virginia Military Institute and Southern California, respectively, and are each entering their fifth year of college basketball. Without Wright at the four spot, senior Khalid Moore will take on a larger role after starting 11 games last year. At the center spot will likely be the 6-foot-10 Rodney Howard, who only averaged 7.7 minutes per game last season.
The newcomers to the lineup also include guard Deivon Smith, a transfer from Mississippi State, freshmen guards Dallan “Deebo” Coleman and Miles Kelly and forward Jalon Moore. The 28th-ranked class in the nation brings in some solid talent to fill in the depth spots for Pastner’s squad. These players can provide a bit of explosiveness to the rest of the lineup, which will likely be in flux depending on how well Smith and the first-years adapt to Georgia Tech’s style. It will be interesting to see what Pastner brings to Cameron Indoor Stadium when the Blue Devils meet Georgia Tech Jan. 4.
Team ceiling: Though certainly a different team from last season, it is still possible for the good scoring abilities of the Yellow Jacket backcourt to power them to a few good non-conference wins against Georgia, Southern California and Wisconsin before heading into a weakened ACC slate. Picked to finish 10th in the conference’s preseason poll, it is entirely possible for a Georgia Tech team clicking on all cylinders to make it into the NCAA tournament as an at-large. It is unlikely this team does much damage in the tournament, but the 10-to-11-seed range seems appropriate if the ACC overperforms and Georgia Tech finds itself in the middle of the pack or makes it far in the conference tournament.
Team floor: Without the senior leadership of Alvarado and Wright, the team may have some trouble finding a true identity on both offense and defense. Devoe may end up being the Yellow Jackets’ lone reliable scorer as the rest of the lineup morphs around him as the season progresses. Georgia Tech, though tournament aspirations are not unreasonable, could also find itself back in the cellar of the ACC and miss the NCAA tournament for the ninth time in the last 10 years the Jackets were eligible for postseason play.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity junior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.