Josh Pastner: All ACC coaches hoping for return to courts in July

Here are five things to know about Georgia Tech basketball coach Josh Pastner.

As the college athletics world pushes to a return to competition, Georgia Tech basketball coach Josh Pastner is eager to add his weight to the campaign.

On a videoconference call with media Tuesday, Pastner urged for coaches to be allowed to conduct on-court training with players as soon as July 1. Thus far, the only measure approved by the NCAA regarding on-campus training has been for athletes to return to campus to take part in voluntary workouts under the supervision of strength-and-conditioning coaches (as opposed to sport-specific coaches), which went into effect June 1.

“Every Wednesday, we’ve had an ACC coaches (conference) call, and we’re all hoping the NCAA in July allows the coaches to work with players,” he said. “Because our feeling is, why have the guys back if the guys can’t be able to work with the coaches in the gym?”

Tech athletes residing in metro Atlanta will be able to begin on-campus workouts beginning Monday. The workouts are the first on-campus training sessions for Tech since the NCAA suspended all athletic activities in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NCAA Division I Council will discuss summer training activities for football and men’s and women’s basketball at its June 17 meeting, an NCAA spokeswoman said. According to multiple reports, the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee has developed a six-week preseason practice plan that it is expected to approve and recommend to the Division I Council.

The concept that the ACC men’s basketball coaches are supporting, Pastner said, would allow coaches to work with small groups of players in July and then broaden it to full team work in August.

Normally in the summer, basketball coaches can require up to eight hours per week of weight training, conditioning and skill-related instruction, with up to four hours permitted for on-court work with coaches.

There also was discussion among ACC coaches, Pastner said, to push for an increase in weekly hours from eight to 12, with eight hours designated for the court, to make up for time lost in the spring because of the pandemic.

“And in return, the student-athletes want to get on the floor with the coaches,” Pastner said. “So it’s a two-way street.”

While the eight-hour rule governs required training in the summer, Pastner said that the rule could be conceivably altered this summer to make the practices and weight training voluntary in light of athletes’ possible concerns about the coronavirus.

Pastner also said that he is hopeful that in-person recruiting, which also has been on pause since mid-March, could return as early as the first of August. That topic also will be discussed at the Division I Council meeting June 17, and a vote is possible. Pastner said he believed that it will be approved, although possibly not in June.

While obviously a decision made with safety in mind, the suspension of in-person recruiting has had a meaningful impact on both college coaches and prospects, as it has prevented high-school prospects from touring campuses and meeting coaches face-to-face and also put on hold the tournaments and camps where prospects can be spotted and evaluated. As an example, Tech coaches became convinced that they needed to recruit guard Tristan Maxwell after watching him play in multiple events last summer. Maxwell, from North Carolina, signed with Tech in November and then went on to become the state high school player of the year.

“Obviously, recruiting is recruiting, but you’ve still got to evaluate,” Pastner said. “And there’s some kids we don’t need to evaluate – we’ve seen enough – but (evaluating) is going to be kind of the thing that we miss on.”

Pastner also spoke with confidence about the likelihood of the basketball season being played in full. Pastner said that NCAA officials told the ACC coaches on a conference call that the 2021 tournament will be played.

“They said we are having an NCAA tournament,” he said. “There will be a tournament. So that’s going to happen. As of right now, everything is moving forward to having a full slate of games.”

Regarding the extended layoff that all teams have experienced, Pastner looked at it with typical optimism.

“If there’s ever a time to have a team that’s older, this is the year to have it,” he said. “We are obviously a more experienced team.

Tech’s core – guards Jose Alvarado, Michael Devoe, Bubba Parham and Jordan Usher and forward Moses Wright – are all juniors and seniors with significant playing experience. After finishing with a record of 17-14 and placing fifth in the ACC – its highest finish since the 2004-05 season – Tech is bent on making the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010.

“I’m really excited about our group,” Pastner said. “I think we have a chance to have a great year. Obviously, things are going to have to fall into place, meaning we’ve got to stay healthy.”