November 11, 2019 Atlanta: Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner coaches up guard Bubba Parham during the second half against Elon in a NCAA college basketball game on Monday, November 11, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Georgia Tech basketball secures three in early signing period

With three letters of intent received Wednesday, Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner was able to complete recruiting for the 2020 signing class.

Joining the fold were four-star center Saba Gigiberia from Tbilisi, Georgia, and two three-star prospects, power forward Jordan Meka of Mt. Bethel Christian Academy in Cobb County and shooting guard Tristan Maxwell of Huntersville, N.C. All three are ranked in the top 250 nationally (247 Sports Composite). Gigiberia is the second four-star prospect to sign with Pastner, following guard Michael Devoe in 2018.

The class is rated 39th nationally and 11th in the ACC. By the accounting of 247 Sports Composite, it’s the highest national ranking for any of Pastner’s four signing classes. Pastner’s 2018 class of Devoe, Kristian Sjolund and Khalid Moore was ranked lower nationally (47th) but higher in the ACC (eighth).

At 7-foot-1 and 235 pounds, Gigiberia is Pastner’s tallest signee since his hire in 2016. Gigiberia has a 7-foot-4 wingspan, has good footwork and is said to pass the ball well, all traits that make him a suitable candidate to replace center James Banks in the high post. He chose Tech over TCU, Vanderbilt and others.

Meka, 6-9 and 210 pounds, has good speed, a long wingspan and has shown a relentless effort. He could be a menacing shot blocker at the bottom of Tech’s 1-3-1 defense. Rated No. 201 nationally and No. 12 in the state of Georgia, Meka had offers from Georgia and Mississippi State.

Maxwell, 6-2 and 190 pounds, can play either point or shooting guard and was prized for his scoring ability, both at the rim and from the perimeter. He’s the son of former NBA veteran Vernon Maxwell. Rated the No. 233 prospect nationally, Maxwell had offers from N.C. State, Texas A&M and Gonzaga, among others.

In his freshman season, Tech guards Jose Alvarado, Bubba Parham and Jordan Usher will all be seniors.

With the three players filling the only available slots that Pastner had for the 2020-21 academic year, Pastner and his staff will not need to work spring recruiting for April signees or transfers, barring a player of his own transferring out and opening up room. That can free up time and resources to develop future classes.

Having 13 scholarships allotted for the 2020-21 academic year could require some navigation in light of the NCAA’s scholarship-reduction sanction for Tech’s recruiting violations. The NCAA penalized Tech with a one-scholarship reduction for four years beginning with the 2019-20 academic year, but Tech has appealed that penalty and others, notably the one-year postseason ban.

The penalties, however, are not enforced until the appeal is concluded. Should Tech lose its appeal on the scholarship ban and Pastner does have the full 13 scholarship players on the 2020-21 team, the team will have to carry only 11 scholarship players in a following year.

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