When I ask what you think of ACC basketball, what comes to mind? Obviously Duke and UNC, and maybe you’ll say Notre Dame or Louisville or any number of teams that are at the top of the ACC year after year.
Usually one of the last teams to be mentioned, especially before this year, is Georgia Tech. People may not know a lot about Georgia Tech basketball except that they are in the ACC and they are good for an upset or two every year. But really, the Yellow Jackets have a rich history and the program is looking up after a successful 2016-17 season.
They have seven Sweet 16 appearances, four Elite Eight appearances, two Final Fours and one national championship game in 2004 against the University of Connecticut in which they lost 73-82.
Georgia Tech is often overlooked because of the ever-powerful programs in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets have struggled the past few years, as they hadn’t had a 20-win season since 2010, until this year, which was also the last time Georgia Tech made the NCAA tournament.
Even though they didn’t make the NCAA tournament this year, they finished runner up in the NIT tournament to Texas Christian University officially reigning in the Josh Pastner era.
It seems somewhat theatrical that Josh Pastner, who was awarded ACC Coach of the Year in what many believe to be the best conference in the country, was basically paid to leave his last job as head coach at Memphis.
Coach Pastner was paid $1.25 million to leave Memphis in order to avoid the $9.3 million Memphis would have owed him if he was fired. So Pastner landed in Atlanta in Georgia Tech and the two seem to fit.
The Yellow Jackets finished 21-16 overall and 8-10 in the ACC, just missing out on a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Georgia Tech does not necessarily have names that will jump out at you. They don’t have the Josh Jackson’s or the Jayson Tatum’s, but they do have a group of guys that can get things done.
The Yellow Jackets are led by Ben Lammers, who was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He returns next year for his senior season after averaging 14.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 blocks and 1.2 steals per game last season. He was second to Wake Forest’s John Collins as the most improved player in the ACC.
Also returning for his senior season is Tadric Jackson. Jackson averaged 12.1 points per game and finished second in voting to Virginia Tech’s Seth Allen for Sixth Man of the Year.
But the brightest spot from the Yellow Jacket roster might be Josh Okogie, who just finished up his freshman year this past season. Okogie, who came out of nowhere after not even being in ESPN’s top 100 recruits, averaged 16.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He could turn out to be a key contributor for the Yellow Jackets and an all ACC performer.
On top of a solid core, Pastner will be adding two four-star prospects in Curtis Haywood II and Jose Alvarado. Georgia Tech also has landed 6 foot 9 power forward, Moses Wright who can also contribute immensely to the Yellow Jackets potential success next season.
Coming off of a season where the Yellow Jackets won 17 games at home, coach Pastner and crew look to build off of the momentum. Anyone involved in Georgia Tech whether as part of the team of as a fan should be excited about the future of the program and where they’re headed.
“From Our Haus to Yours”