Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner has landed his big man of the future.
Saba Gigiberia, a four-star center from Tbilisi, Georgia, announced his commitment to Tech on Monday. He cited his relationship with Pastner and his staff and their plans to develop him into an NBA player. The 7-foot-1 prospect chose Tech over TCU and Vanderbilt. USC and Illinois were among other schools who had made scholarship offers.
“They had a really, really good plan for me to improve and to get better and to be ready for the next level,” Gigiberia told the AJC. “That really helped me.”
Gigiberia plans to sign his letter of intent on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period. He’ll join Mt. Bethel Christian Academy forward Jordan Meka and guard Tristan Maxwell of Huntersville, N.C., filling up the three slots that Pastner has available for the 2020-21 academic year.
Tech has been recruiting Gigiberia for the past two years. Gigiberia said he was first spotted by assistant coach Eric Reveno in 2017 when Gigiberia was playing for the Georgia U16 national team at the European Division B championship. The relationship continued as Gigiberia moved to the Las Vegas area in 2018 to train at a basketball academy partnered with a local private school. He is now at Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., another basketball academy. He took his official visit to Tech the weekend of October 30.
Gigiberia is ranked the No. 127 prospect in the 2020 class (247 Sports Composite), the highest-rated of the three players committed to Tech’s class and the second highest among all of the players who have enrolled at Tech out of high school in Pastner’s tenure. Only sophomore guard Michael Devoe had a higher rating, at No. 51 in the 2018 class.
Highlight videos indicate that Gigiberia has good agility and footwork for a player his size, shot-blocking skill (he has a wingspan of 7’4”) and a willingness to get on the floor for loose balls. He will have the opportunity to play immediately, as center James Banks will complete his eligibility after the season and there are no other post players on the roster.
“They’re searching for a big man who could shoot and who could play as a post and outside, too, so it was a great opportunity for me,” Gigiberia said.
Gigiberia also has the opportunity to train with Reveno, whose reputation for developing big men has been enhanced by the work he has done at Tech with Ben Lammers (2017 ACC defensive player of the year) and Banks (2019 ACC all-defensive team).
“I’ve known him for two years and I have a really good relationship with him,” Gigiberia said of Reveno.
Gigiberia grew up playing rugby, but said his grandfather encouraged him to switch to basketball at 12 because of his height. As he developed, he earned a spot with a club in Spain at 14 years old. He played there for two years before leaving for the U.S. He counts as a mentor former Hawks center Zaza Pachulia, who is Georgian. Gigiberia got to know him through his aunt, who lives in the Atlanta area and met Pachulia when he played for the Hawks. (Pachulia is now working for the Golden State Warriors as a consultant.)
It was on the advice of family and Pachulia that he left Spain for the U.S. in search of better opportunities. At 17 — he turns 18 in December — the newest opportunity has opened for him as well as for Tech.
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