UGA transfer Rodney Howard commits to Georgia Tech

Rodney Howard played in 24 of UGA’s 32 games last season.

Credit: Tony Walsh

Credit: Tony Walsh

Rodney Howard played in 24 of UGA’s 32 games last season.

Georgia Tech has a post player to fit into its puzzle. Georgia's Rodney Howard, who entered the transfer portal Friday following his freshman season, gave Tech coach Josh Pastner his commitment Monday, Howard told the AJC on Monday evening.

“I just thought I’d be a great fit,” Howard said. “There’s a lot of good guys returning, and I think I could be the missing piece. That’s what Georgia Tech thinks, too.”

Howard, from Alpharetta, was the recipient of a heavy recruiting push from Tech after he submitted his name into the transfer database. Tech had been one of his two finalists when he chose Georgia last May coming out of Early College High in Greenville, S.C. Pastner had a dire need for help in the post after center James Banks finished his senior season and forward Evan Cole decided to transfer. That left Moses Wright as the only returning big man, joined by incoming freshmen Saba Gigiberia and Jordan Meka.

» ALSO: Tech targets Duke transfer Alex O'Connell

After going into the portal, Howard talked to Pastner multiple times and by Sunday had heard what he needed to hear. After sleeping on it and talking with his family, he informed Pastner on Monday morning of his decision, Howard said.

“They want me to have an elite motor,” Howard said of Tech’s pitch. “They told me how they can help my conditioning. They want me to rim run a lot. They want to max my potential.”

Howard, who played at Centennial High before transferring for his final season, played in 24 of UGA’s 32 games last season, averaging 7.3 minutes per game. He averaged 1.3 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. Howard has to continue to develop – he only played three years of organized basketball before college – but he has size (6-foot-11 and 245 pounds), good hands and can move his feet well.

At Tech, he’ll be able to work with Yellow Jackets assistant coach Eric Reveno, who helped mold Ben Lammers into the ACC defensive player of the year and a second-team All-ACC pick as a junior and James Banks into a two-time selection to the ACC’s all-defensive team. Howard said he likened his situation to that of Banks, who also did not have significant playing experience before he played sparingly at Texas for two seasons and then finished his career at Tech as a starter and integral player.

“I feel really excited,” Howard said. “It’s going to be my home for the next three years now.”

Howard continues the flow of metro Atlanta players that Pastner has recruited to Tech as transfers after signing elsewhere out of high school, following Shembari Phillips (Tennessee), Banks, Jordan Usher (USC) and Bubba Parham (VMI). With two more scholarship slots available, it’s possible there might be more. (Duke guard and Milton High grad Alex O’Connell, in the transfer portal, would seem a possibility.)

Howard had other schools interested — Cincinnati and College of Charleston were two — but he was ready to make his decision. Not being able to make recruiting visits due to the NCAA’s suspension of in-person recruiting in response to the spread of COVID-19 was a factor.

“I did (have other choices), but with this virus thing, I just don’t know,” Howard said. “I feel like it was in my best interest to stay at home.”

As NCAA rules stand, Howard will have to sit out a season, unless he were to receive a hardship waiver, and have three seasons of eligibility remaining. However, it’s expected that the NCAA will approve a new rule permitting all Division I athletes to transfer once without having to sit out a season. Should it pass, Howard will be able to play immediately.

Howard said he will complete the spring semester at UGA — he is at home in Alpharetta as the university will complete the semester in an online-instruction format — and can enroll at Tech in the summer.

With the transition, Howard joins a small circle of athletes who have transferred between Tech and Georgia, most notably John Dewberry, who played quarterback at UGA before transferring and leading the Jackets to wins over the Bulldogs in 1984-85.