Georgia Tech freshman point guard Nait George continues to impress

Georgia guard Noah Thomasson (3) holds onto the ball after he grabbed a loose ball away from Georgia Tech guard Kowacie Reeves Jr. (14) and Georgia Tech guard Naithan George (2) during the second half at Stegeman Coliseum, Tuesday, December. 5, 2023, in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 76-62. (Jason Getz /



Georgia guard Noah Thomasson (3) holds onto the ball after he grabbed a loose ball away from Georgia Tech guard Kowacie Reeves Jr. (14) and Georgia Tech guard Naithan George (2) during the second half at Stegeman Coliseum, Tuesday, December. 5, 2023, in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 76-62. (Jason Getz /

In August, when Nait George announced he had decided to play college basketball at Georgia Tech, there very likely wasn’t anyone in the nation, anyone among the ACC or even anyone inside McCamish Pavilion who could have envisioned that the former unheralded, virtually unheard of, Canadian guard would be a budding star less than three months into his college career.

But after 14 games in a white-and-gold uniform, George has been a godsend for the Yellow Jackets (9-8, 2-4 ACC) who broke a five-game losing streak Tuesday with a 93-90, double-overtime win at Clemson thanks, in part, to the poised play of the young point guard. George had a game-high 20 points – six of which came in the final 12 seconds of regulation and four in the first overtime – in a much-needed victory for Tech.

“(George) is gonna be a really good player,” Tech first-year coach Damon Stoudamire said. “The crazy thing about it is I don’t think that he’s even tapped into a lot of the things that he can do. He’s still getting his body together, he’s still figuring out college. A lot of things have been thrust at him in a short period of time.

“But the one thing that I have taken from him in this short period of time, he plays big when those lights are bright. Proud of him. He’s only gonna get better.”

George wasn’t ranked on most recruiting-service websites earlier this summer when he pledged to Tech. The 6-foot-3 guard was planning to play another season of prep ball before speaking with Stoudamire, deciding to reclassify and enrolling at Tech, all within a few days’ time. George had a scholarship offer from Sam Houston State and had taken a recruiting visit to Seattle University before Tech came calling.

Three games into this season, however, George had yet to take off his warmup suit, and it appeared he may be slated to redshirt while growing more mature physically and mentally as an underaged freshman. Instead, in a Nov. 22 loss at Cincinnati, George came off the bench to play 15 minutes and score eight points.

Six days later he entered the starting lineup against a ranked Mississippi State squad and hasn’t looked back since.

“I got a lot of people in my corner telling me I’m built for this, I can do this,” George said Friday. “Just having those people around me – and having them telling me when I mess up, too, because you can’t really get too comfortable. Just having those people around me really helps me build my confidence ahead of these games.”

While George’s biggest asset has been his ability to run Tech’s offense and facilitate scoring for others, his own offense has awoken over the past week. He scored 17 points Saturday in a loss at No. 11 Duke and nearly had a late 3-point shot drop that would have given the Jackets the lead. At Clemson on Tuesday he hit a 3 with 12 seconds to go to give Tech a prayer and then splashed a 3 with two seconds on the clock to tie the score at 71-71 to force overtime.

George’s unflappability in pressure situations has caught the eyes of coaches around the ACC.

“We pressured him pretty good. At times it looks like it’s getting to him, but it never translated to anything,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said Monday. “He didn’t turn the ball over. He just took great care of it. He didn’t shoot the ball well going in, and he hit some of the biggest shots of the game.”

Said Clemson coach Brad Brownell ahead of Tuesday’s game: “For George to play the way that he did in Cameron? As a freshman? In that environment in a game that, like, was heated and close and they had every chance to win? Incredibly impressive. That’s extremely rare for a freshman to show that kind of poise.”

George played the 2022-23 season at Dream City Christian International School in Glendale, Arizona. He had moved there after attending Bishop Reding Catholic Secondary School in Milton, Ontario, outside of his hometown of Scarborough, Ontario, near Toronto. Stoudamire began his NBA career playing for the Toronto Raptors – but that was well before George was born.

George now is making plays like Stoudamire once did in the NBA and as a college star at Arizona. George, however, said he models his game after a different former NBA legend: Steve Nash, who also is from Canada. George also said he wouldn’t be having the success he’s having without teammates like Kyle Sturdivant, Tech’s veteran point guard now playing a backup role to the emerging George.

“I feel like I birthed my son,” Sturdivant said with a smile after Tuesday’s win at Clemson. “(George) can take and make big shots and just being so confident I’m so proud of him. It’s only gonna get scary because he has so much room to grow and I just want to see him reach that.”

George goes into Saturday’s game against Virginia (6 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion) averaging 8.9 points and 4.7 assists per game. Over his past three contests, George is scoring 15.3 points per night to go with 7.3 assists per game.

With six assists at Clemson, five at Duke and 11 on Jan. 9 in a loss to Notre Dame, George now has 66 assists for the season. He ranks second among ACC players in assists per game and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio.

Not bad for a kid who hardly was on anyone’s radar less than six months ago.

“Once we got into practice settings, for me, he just kept standing out,” Stoudamire said on his weekly radio show Monday. “I know our team, and we gotta be together. We don’t have as many one-on-one players. It’s trying to keep the game simple and make the right play, and I thought he just did that. I’d seen him coming and I’d seen him growing as a player each and every day.

“When I decided to go with him, I just thought it was best for the program at the time. I took myself out of the equation. Everything I do right now, it’s program-driven. I just thought moving forward if you got a (George), you got a (center Baye Ndongo), that’s a good place to start in terms of freshmen.”