“I just want to do what’s best for me,” said Cole, from South Forsyth High. “It’s really nothing against Georgia Tech. I’ve loved my time there for the past three years. I just want to see if there’s other options.”
Cole said that when he met with coach Josh Pastner Monday morning, Pastner told him that he wanted him to stay.
“I want him back,” Pastner told the AJC. “However, I support him 100 percent and he’s done everything. He’s graduating in three years and he’s represented Georgia Tech the right way and he’s played his tail off for me, so I support him 100 percent. But I want to be clear that I want him back and he knows I want him back. We’ll just see how it shakes itself out.”
However, given that he is exploring his options, Pastner will seek to fill Cole’s slot, looking at possibilities among high-school prospects and transfers. Pastner has no scholarships available for the 2020-21 season except for Cole’s.
“He said he wants me back, but there’s no guarantee, because he’s going to look for a replacement, which I completely understand,” Cole said.
This past season, Cole played in 27 of 31 games, starting two. He missed two games with an ankle injury and did not play in two others.
He averaged 12.6 minutes per game, although his playing time had considerable range. In 27 games, he played 20 minutes or more seven times and in another seven games, he played six minutes or fewer.
“I’m just looking for more consistent minutes and a bigger role,” Cole said.
Distinguished by his consistent effort, Cole averaged 4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 12.6 minutes per game. His rebound/minute rate was the highest among scholarship players. Often crashing the glass for putbacks and cutting to the basket for backdoor layups and dunks, his two-point field-goal percentage (57.5%) was the second highest on the team after guard Asanti Price among scholarship players.
For Tech, the loss of senior center James Banks and Cole’s expected departure leaves the frontcourt thin, with only forward Moses Wright back. Pastner might have to look more to forwards Khalid Moore or David Didenko, both more suited to play on the perimeter, for help in the post. It’s likely that as Pastner looks to the transfer market, he’ll focus on a post player.
Cole said Monday afternoon that he was already hearing from coaches eager to communicate with him.
Looking back on his three seasons at Tech, he spoke of ups and downs, trips to China, Spain and Hawaii, competition against the likes of Duke and North Carolina and the opportunity to play near home. Cole was part of Pastner’s first signing class. He had originally signed with UNC-Wilmington, but was released from his letter of intent when coach Kevin Keatts left to become coach at N.C. State.
“I like all the coaches,” Cole said. “I have nothing against the coaches. I love all the guys I’ve played with.”