Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner has four scholarships available, but he won’t give them away just for the sake of it.
That especially holds true as he tries to build depth with post players, where returning starter Rodney Howard and backup Jordan Meka are the Yellow Jackets’ only options.
“What I’m looking for in a big is, he’s got to be something different than what we have,” Pastner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s got to be good enough to help us move the needle or, if he’s neither one of those to fit that bill, then we’ve got to look at guys who can play multiple positions both on the perimeter and possibly when you have to size down and play small.”
In short, Pastner really wants a post player who would be an upgrade on Howard, who made progress over the course of last season (10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in his final nine games) but has a lot of room for improvement. Meka is athletic and has shot-blocking skill, but his offensive game is limited. (The development of both, as well as the recruitment of a new post player, is now under some uncertainty with the departure of associate head coach Eric Reveno – who oversaw the post players – for Oregon State.)
“I’m not just going to sign someone just to sign someone,” Pastner said earlier in the offseason. “I don’t believe in that.”
The past season, when Pastner sometimes used forwards Jordan Usher and Khalid Moore as post players and the hub of the team’s Princeton offense, the Jackets demonstrated that they could score effectively with a smaller lineup, although defense often was sacrificed in the process. Even in Tech’s ACC championship season, Moses Wright, standing 6-foot-8, was not in the same mold of post player as predecessors James Banks and Ben Lammers (both are 6-10), but he and the Jackets obviously thrived with that lineup.
Tech is recruiting a number of transfer-portal prospects who could fill that spot. A leading candidate is forward Hayden Brown from The Citadel, who has a visit scheduled for Tech next week. Brown, who has one season of eligibility remaining, also named Loyola Chicago and South Carolina among his top three. Brown can score at the basket and from outside and handles the ball and passes well. While he’s 6-5, it’s not difficult to imagine him excelling as a high-post distributor.
Another transfer being recruited by Tech is Johni Broome, a 6-10 forward from Morehead State who averaged 16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds this past season (his second at the college level) and was named the Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He also blocked 3.9 shots per game last season, third in Division I. While he would be a great fit at the bottom of the Jackets’ 1-3-1 zone as a shot-blocking threat, Broome is among the most sought-after players in the portal.
Alabama forward Juwan Gary, a part-time starter for the Crimson Tide last season, is a 6-6 perimeter player but would seem to have the size, strength and skill to fill a multi-position role similar to Usher. Tech is recruiting Gary, who has three seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a Crimson Tide teammate of his, Alex Tchikou. A 6-11 forward from Paris, Tchikou was a four-star prospect out of high school but missed the 2020-21 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and then played three games this past season.
Tech also reached out to a recent portal entry, Morris Udeze of Wichita State. Udeze, a 6-8 forward, averaged 10.2 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Shockers this past season and has a season remaining.
Pastner has not given up on a late high-school signing. One possibility is five-star power forward Julian Phillips from South Carolina. Phillips, who is 6-8, had signed with LSU but received his release from his letter of intent after the school fired coach Will Wade.
Another high school senior who Tech is pursuing is four-star prospect Devin Ree, a 6-8 small forward from Mississippi. Like Phillips, Ree signed with LSU but was released.
A third is Fredrick King, a 6-10 center from the Bahamas who received his release from his letter of intent from Louisville after its coaching change.
Pastner and his staff also continue to look in the transfer market for guards. Among the targets are Georgia’s Kario Oquendo (the Bulldogs’ leading scorer at 15.2 points per game) and Wichita State’s Dexter Dennis (8.4 points, 5.0 rebounds per game).
One transfer whom Tech was recruiting and had planned to bring in for a visit, Belmont guard and Woodward Academy grad Will Richard, committed to Florida on Saturday.
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