Brian Gregory's first season on the bench for the Yellow Jackets figures to be a tough one but the debut of Julian Royal combined with the return of Glen Rice Jr. provide hope for the future.
Brian Gregory takes over a Georgia Tech program that has been on the decline of late under former coach Paul Hewitt. Gregory is approaching the rebuild with a blue collar attitude and is saying and doing all of the right things thus far. The Yellow Jackets face what could be a tough season due to player departures and an unbalanced roster. They will also play the season without a true home court as they split their home games between Gwinnett and Philips Arena while Alexander Memorial Coliseum is remodeled and turned into McCamish Pavilion.
Gregory's first task will be trying to replace the production put up by 2011 first round NBA pick Iman Shumpert who led the Yellow Jackets in points, assists, and rebounds last season. Mfon Udofia returns to the team after starting 11 games last season as a sophomore. Glen Rice Jr. is the team's leading returning scorer having averaged 12.8 points per game. Rice battled some maturity issues last season and Gregory will need him to exhibit much more leadership this season.
An intriguing name to keep an eye on in Tech's backcourt picture is Brandon Reed who sat out last season after transferring from Arkansas State. Reed averaged over 15 points a game as a freshman and was the Sun Belt's Freshman of the Year.
Tech's frontcourt was a major problem last season and figures to be a major area of concern this season. Gone from the team is Brian Oliver who transferred to Seton Hall during the offseason. Olliver averaged 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season while playing out of position most of the season. Daniel Miller, Nate Hicks, and Kammeon Holsey return but combined to average just 9.4 points and 9.8 rebounds last season. Freshman Julian Royal figures to step into a lot of playing time as Tech's top recruit.
Depth will be a major concern for the Yellow Jackets as they have only eight scholarship players available. If he doesn't win a starting job, Jason Morris promises to provide the Jackets with some punch off the bench. Morris is a highly athletic swing man that can play either in the backcourt or at the small forward position. Morris started five games last season and averaged six points a game while hitting 40 percent of his three-point attempts.
Gregory enters the season with an all-time record of 172-94 but has his work cut out for him this season. His most important work won't occur on the court but rather on the recruiting trail this season. With its lack of talent up front, Gregory figures to go with a smaller lineup but look for Royal to challenge for a starting spot early in the season.
Georgia Tech's non conference schedule is highlighted by a trip to the Charleston Classic in the middle of November where they will play Saint Joseph and either Seton Hall or VCU. The Yellow Jackets will host Northwestern in the Big Ten/ACC challenge at Philips Arena and will host Alabama before opening conference play.
There will be little to no expectations for Gregory in his first season on the bench for the Yellow Jackets. The arrival of Royal and the debut of Reed combined with Rice Jr could provide enough of a reason to watch. The Yellow Jackets will be prepared and will play hard under Gregory but until he can recruit some frontcourt help, Tech is going to be looking up at the rest of the ACC.
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