Georgia Tech Basketball won 23 games last season while advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Evan Turner and Ohio State. Despite just finishing 7-9 in conference play, the Jackets advanced to the ACC Tournament Final where they lost to eventual National Champion Duke. Yet even with that success, the team enters this season with a certain cloud of uncertainty hanging over.
Coach Paul Hewitt was courted by St John's during the off season but ultimately chose to Atlanta. Junior Gani Lawal and freshman Derrick Favors both declared for the NBA Draft. Favors was selected by the New Jersey Nets with the 3rd overall pick. Lawal was selected 46th overall by the Phoenix Suns. The unsung and dependable Zachery Peacock graduated.
The strength of this Tech team will come from it's back court, where it has an abundance of returners. Iman Shumpert will be looked upon to lead this Tech team for Paul Hewitt while getting support from Brian Oliver and Glen Rice Jr. Their challenge will be to keep Tech competitive despite the depleted ranks of the front court. Coming into the season the expected top two players in the front court will be former Georgia recruit Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey. The problem is that neither has played a minute in college. Miller red shirted last season and Holsey sat out with a torn ACL in his knee.
Hewitt has been the target of some criticism in Atlanta due to Tech's up and down results throughout his tenure. When you look at just the last seven years, the Yellow Jackets have 3 seasons with 20+ wins but also have 4 seasons with less than 15 wins. When they have been good they have been really good, but they have had trouble building consistency under Hewitt. Since the 2000-01 season Tech is just 67-93 in the ACC, with only one winning season (9-7) coming in 2003-04 when they just happened to advance to the NCAA championship game. Hewitt was a hot coaching name then but the pressure clearly is on now.
Still with a veteran back court returning and a shift to a new guard-oriented motion attack, Tech has a chance to at least keep it's head above water, especially if Miller and Holsey can hold their own in the front court. Consistency is the biggest goal for the Jackets going forward. A return to the NCAA Tournament is possible due to the experience returning in the back court. However, the shortage of big bodies could be enough for this season to once again be labeled a rebuilding year for Paul Hewitt and company.