Georgia Tech’s signing class could be landmark for Josh Pastner

A forward from Alabama who long had Georgia Tech pegged as his dream school, a guard from Florida whom coach Josh Pastner has known since middle school and Pastner’s highest-ranked in-state recruit form the Yellow Jackets' 2021 signing class.

The trio – forward Jalon Moore from Gardendale, Ala., guard Dallan “Deebo” Coleman from Callahan, Fla., and guard Miles Kelly from Lilburn – signed their letters of intent Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period, forming Pastner’s highest-rated class in his tenure.

The group was ranked 17th in the country and third in the ACC by 247Sports Composite, both easily surpassing the previous highs of Pastner’s first four classes. The 2018 class, headlined by guard Michael Devoe, was 47th nationally and eighth in the ACC.

It has the makings of a landmark class for Pastner, who often has been the bridesmaid in the pursuit of significant recruits, but in this cycle netted sought-after recruits. It builds on the progress made by the Jackets this past season, as they finished 17-14 overall and 11-9 in the ACC, the team’s first winning record in conference play since the 2003-04 season, when Tech reached the national championship game.

“I think he’s going in the right direction,” Ran Coleman, father of Dallan Coleman, told the AJC. “Hopefully this recruiting class that they’ve got with the 2021 kids, it’ll definitely be the push that he needs.”

As the No. 48 prospect in the class, Coleman is the highest-rated prospect that Pastner has signed. Kelly, who played his first three high-school seasons at Parkview High and now is at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, is No. 107, making him the highest-ranked prospect and first four-star recruit that Pastner has signed from the state of Georgia out of high school, surpassing freshman forward Jordan Meka from Mount Bethel Christian Academy in Cobb County, who was No. 236 in the 2020 class.

A three-star prospect, Moore is ranked No. 131 and was one of the most sought-after recruits in the country this past summer. Moore was on an AAU team with a five-star prospect (J.D. Davison) and another three-star talent (KeShawn Murphy), Alabama Fusion coach Chris Whittle said. College coaches were drawn to Moore’s ability to defend multiple positions, run the floor and score at the basket and shoot from the perimeter.

“I got more calls about Jalon Moore than anybody, and it’s not even close,” Whittle said. “At times, he was the best player we had on the floor.”

Coleman stands 6-foot-6, Kelly is 6-5 and Moore is 6-6. Coleman and Moore particularly have stood out with their shooting range. Coleman’s father, also his high-school coach, said that he made 45% of his 3-point shots at West Nassau High and many were well beyond the high-school 3-point arc.

The three could be eventual answers to Pastner’s search for more scoring threats for Tech teams that have defended well but often struggled at the other end.

“The way the game has evolved, you’ve got to be able to put the ball in the basket, and all three of them can do that,” Pastner said in a statement. “This class allows us to stay in the right direction, develop these players and continue to get old and stay old.”

Coleman was something of a fortunate stroke. He grew up in Memphis, Tenn., when Pastner was coach at Memphis, and attended a few of the coach’s “power hour” skill-development sessions.

“They kept their eye on him and stuck to him,” Ran Coleman said.

Similar serendipity attended Tech’s recruitment of Moore when his recruitment skyrocketed over the summer. For reasons Moore can’t fully explain, as he grew up he set his hopes on attending Tech. His plans crystallized as he grew older and developed as a basketball player, recognizing its strengths – proximity to home, a strong engineering program (Moore is taking two advanced-placement classes this semester and is an aspiring mechanical-engineering major) and a style of play that he felt suited him.

Pastner must be delighted with Moore’s observation, as it actually was not the offensive scheme that appealed to him.

“They’re really defense-based, and that really just fits my game, because I play hard on both ends of the floor,” Moore said.

As Moore’s profile rose this summer, Tech moved to the front of the line when Pastner made a scholarship offer in September. As other schools reached out to Whittle, his AAU coach, “I’d level with them: ‘You’re late to the party.’”

In a statement, Pastner called Moore an elite athlete who was under the radar.

“He has a chance to be really good down the road,” he said. “He’s 6-6, 6-7 and long, and he’s still growing while blossoming into his game. He’ll thrive under our player development program.”

Kelly was the first player to commit to Tech, in late September. Like Moore, his recruiting star rose this summer off his play in AAU tournaments. He picked Tech over offers from Miami, Texas A&M and Wake Forest, among others.

“It was close to home,” Kelly told the AJC in September. “I can stay close to my family and, on top of that, my relationship with the coaching staff and Josh Pastner, that’s what really made my decision.”