Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner gives forward James Banks III five during Tech's 81-78 overtime victory over Boston College Sunday, March 3, 2019, in Atlanta.
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Georgia Tech not giving up on search for post player

After he was spurned in recent weeks by three prospects, Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner will continue the search for a backup for center James Banks. But, if he has to lead his team into the 2019-20 season with only one post player, Pastner isn’t despairing.

“We’ve got this core group for the next two years,” Pastner told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The key is, we’re going to have to get a big, whether it’s now or in the fall (in recruiting for the 2020 class).”

Pastner said that Tech is considering options for international players and still looking at the grad-transfer market. Nearly all of the top options among grad transfers have signed, but a handful remain, notably Kelvin Jones, a 6-foot-11 center from Idaho State who averaged 9.9 points and 5.6 rebounds in 20 minutes per game last season.

“We’re involved with some guys,” Pastner said. “We’re trying to see if they’re good enough or not and can they meet the academic requirements, as well.”

Without a backup to Banks, Tech would have to consider switching offensive schemes whenever Banks is out, whether that’s when he is on the bench resting or out with an injury. Not having a post player on the roster who is a freshman compounds the matter, as Banks is going into his senior season.

In recent weeks, Tech had two international possibilities, French forward Yvan Ouedraogo and Dutch center Quinten Post, but they chose Nebraska and Mississippi State, respectively. Also, Rodney Howard, a center from Roswell who spent this past year at a high school in Greenville, S.C., chose Georgia over Tech.

“We’re looking under every rock there is,” Pastner said.

Ever optimistic, Pastner was not distressed about the possibility of having only one post player on the roster. He has said that he believes the Jackets, who finished the season 14-18, can make the NCAA tournament next season, which would be their first appearance since 2010.

“I mean, look – the Golden State Warriors put (6-foot-7) Draymond Green at the ‘5,’” he said, using the basketball parlance for center. “Virginia Tech played Kerry Blackshear and four guards (last season), and when Blackshear went out, they put a 6-6 guy at center. James has got to stay healthy next year. That’s the big thing. (But) the way the game has evolved, you’ve got to have great guard play. The game has evolved. It’s becoming position-less basketball.”

That said, Pastner acknowledged that one potential benefit of not landing a post player to enroll as a freshman for this year is that there will be vast opportunity for a center in the 2020 recruiting class to take over Banks’ spot in the lineup.

Further, he likes the group that he figures to have for the next two seasons, including Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe at guard and Evan Cole, Khalid Moore, Kristian Sjolund and Moses Wright at forward. Transfers Jordan Usher and Bubba Parham also have two seasons of eligibility remaining. The team returns 74% of its minutes played and 73% of its scoring.

“Even if we don’t sign anybody, I still like our team,” he said.

It is characteristic optimism from Pastner, who also stated his hopes, perhaps against evidence, that the recent rule change moving the 3-point arc from 20 feet, 9 inches, to 22 feet, 1-3/4 inches (the international distance) will be good for the team. The Jackets made 30.7% of their 3-pointers last season, 331st of 351 Division I teams.

Anticipating the change, Tech has been working with the new arc since the spring.

“The old college-level line, we weren’t making enough 3’s,” he said. “Maybe moving back the line will be better for us.”

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