Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner’s search for a big man may end with a familiar name. Georgia’s Rodney Howard, who picked the Bulldogs over the Yellow Jackets last May coming out of high school, has received strong interest from Pastner since he entered the transfer portal Friday.
“I’ve talked to coach Pastner every day since I’ve been in the portal,” Howard told the AJC on Sunday evening.
The Jackets are in particular need for a post player with center James Banks completing his Tech career this past season and forward Evan Cole deciding to transfer out. Tech has forward Moses Wright returning and big men Saba Gigiberia and Jordan Meka arriving as freshmen. Pastner has three open scholarships.
Howard, from Alpharetta, played in 24 of the Bulldogs’ 32 games, averaging 7.3 minutes per game. He averaged 1.3 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. Howard, who is 6-foot-11 and 245 pounds, also averaged 11.7 minutes per block, a rate similar to Banks’ this past season.
“I needed a better situation for me and my future,” Howard said.
Howard said that he has heard from about 15-20 schools. Besides Tech, Cincinnati and College of Charleston are two that he has been in contact with. He said that he was to talk with Louisville in the coming days.
Wherever Howard goes, he has three seasons of eligibility remaining. Should the NCAA go ahead and approve a rule permitting all Division I athletes to transfer once without having to sit out a season, as is expected, Howard would be eligible immediately. Were he to land at Tech, he would join the small group of athletes who have transferred from one side of the heated Tech-Georgia rivalry to the other.
Tech has Howard’s interest. He called assistant coach Eric Reveno, in charge of Tech’s post players, “one of the best big-man coaches in the country.” His familiarity with Tech is another plus. He also likes the level of involvement for its post players in the offense.
“They’ve got a pretty good plan for me if I decide to go,” he said. “They feel like they can help me improve my game in a lot of areas.”
Howard takes encouragement from the way that Tech coaches developed Banks, who transferred from Texas after playing limited minutes there for two seasons. Also like Banks, Howard did not play have significant organized basketball before college.
“I feel like me and James, I wouldn’t say we’re the same player, but the same development stage,” he said.
In college, Banks went from playing a total of 95 minutes as a sophomore for Texas to starting for the Jackets, averaging 30 minutes and twice earning a spot on the ACC’s all-defensive team.
Howard’s search process is hindered by the cessation of campus visits and in-person recruiting because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19. That could play to Tech’s favor given his familiarity with the campus and coaches from his recruitment last spring.
This is the third recruiting process that Howard has gone through. Howard committed to Ole Miss in May 2018, when he was a junior at Centennial High, but withdrew his commitment a year later, then picked Georgia over Tech in May 2019. (Howard finished his high-school career at Legacy Early College High in Greenville, S.C.) He’s back in the fish bowl less than a year later.
“I’ve been through this process more than one time,” he said. “You can’t sell me on facilities. You can’t sell me on any of that. It’s what you can do for me to make me a better player, a better version of me.”
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