Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner speaks with media February 8, 2019 at the Zelnak Basketball Center.

Josh Pastner: ‘We’re just a stud away’

On the day that Georgia received a commitment from Anthony Edwards, the Holy Spirit High guard and top-five prospect in the country, Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner was left to reiterate his recruiting plan. Some of it depends on fortune.

“You’ve got to get a little lucky,” Pastner said Monday. “You’ve got to get someone to pull the trigger for us. We’re just a stud away. I really believe that.”

To Pastner, that luck could be manifested in two ways – either a blue-chip prospect (like Edwards) picking Tech over powerhouses such as Duke, North Carolina or Kentucky – or a lower-rated prospect turning out to be better than expected. Former Tech guard Josh Okogie, recruited and signed by former coach Brian Gregory, was such a prospect.

“We’ve got a great culture,” he said. “We’ve got great guys right there. We need one more piece, that one stud, one or two guys that can really change it and really get us over the top.”

Tech has had close calls. Most notably, Tech was among the first power-conference schools to make a scholarship offer to Nassir Little, but he blew up from a prospect rated No. 51 as a high-school junior into a top-10 prospect as a senior. His play in the summer between his junior and senior year caught the attention of the likes of North Carolina and Duke – he picked UNC – and he is now a one-and-done candidate.

Playing 18.7 minutes for the Tar Heels (it’s reasonable to assume he would be playing a lot more for the Yellow Jackets), he is averaging 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

“We’ve gone after some great players,” Pastner said. “We’ve missed on some. We’ve had a couple bad-luck (cases) in a sense when we’ve evaluated some great players we thought were a little under the radar and all of the sudden, a blueblood comes in and offers them at the last second and they get swept up and go there. That’s hurt us a little bit.”

For the 2019 signing class, which Pastner said needs to be great, Tech has one player signed, junior college freshman David Didenko. Pastner has room for one more signee, which could be a high school senior or a transfer. Tech already received Jordan Usher, a Wheeler High grad who transferred from USC between the fall and spring semesters and will be eligible beginning after the 2019 fall semester and possibly earlier.

It’s conceivable that Tech could have another spot, pending a departure.

“We’re just a stud away,” Pastner said. “I really believe that. And we’ve got to get some guys in the spring. There’s no doubt about that.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.