Josh Pastner’s gives assessments of Georgia Tech newcomers

Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner confers with guard Jose Alvarado in a tight contest with Duke on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, in Atlanta.  Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner confers with guard Jose Alvarado in a tight contest with Duke on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Including offseason workouts and the start of preseason practice Saturday, Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner has had an extended look at all of his newcomers with the exception of freshman guard Tristan Maxwell, out with a foot injury.

He shared observations on each with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Forward/center Saba Gigiberia is very skilled, Pastner said, and the 7-foot-1 freshman’s shooting touch extends to 3-point range.

“I’ve told fans, ‘Don’t yell at me when you see him on the perimeter, because he can shoot it,’” Pastner said. “He can do different things.”

Gigiberia, who is from the nation of Georgia, has a 7-4 wingspan and a standing reach of 9-7, according to Pastner.

“He’s going to have ups and downs (this season),” Pastner said. “There’s going to be times he shows his ability, other times it’s going to be hard for him, depending on how we play. By the time he gets to 21, 22 (he turns 19 in December) – not looking past this year – he’s going to be really good.”

Freshman forward Jordan Meka, who is 6-8 with a 7-1 wingspan, has the potential to be a great shot blocker, Pastner said.

“He’s just got to learn everything,” he said. “For him in basketball, this game has all got to be about motor, second effort and third effort. When he does that, he’s a good player. He’s been a good surprise, a pleasant surprise, this fall.”

Meka, who is from Cameroon but attended high school at Mount Bethel Christian Academy in Cobb County, has “a lot of work to do on (his offensive game),” Pastner said, “but he makes a lot of winning plays, so that’s the big thing.”

Forward Rodney Howard, who transferred to Tech from Georgia, has “done a nice job,” Pastner said. “He’s continued to improve the way he’s running the floor.”

Howard, who is 6-10, played in 24 games for the Bulldogs, averaging 1.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 7.3 minutes. Howard, from Alpharetta, received an immediate-eligibility waiver and is a sophomore. Pastner said that he has been receptive to coaching and shown a desire to improve.

“He’s a big guy, and he’s strong,” Pastner said. “He’s got a lot of strength. He’s got to rely on his motor. His motor has got to be running at all times, and he’s got to be a high-level rebounder for us.”

Guard Kyle Sturdivant, a Norcross High grad and a transfer from USC, has improved over the course of the summer and preseason. In his lone season with the Trojans, Sturdivant averaged 2.0 points and 1.1 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game.

“The more he gets reps and opportunities, the better he’s going to be,” Pastner said. “He’s got really good speed, he’s very coachable, he wants to be good.”

The 6-2 Sturdivant has also received a waiver to play this season and has sophomore standing.

“He’s got to continue to use his size to his advantage,” Pastner said.

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