Josh Pastner is out and Damon Stoudamire is in for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, as they look to rebuild.
As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets finished 13th in the ACC with a 15-18 overall record and 6-14 ACC mark, which ultimately wasn’t enough for head coach Josh Pastner to keep his job. The coaching search ended when Damon Stoudamire was announced as Georgia Tech’s 15th men’s basketball coach. The former NBA rookie of the year was most recently an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics, but also has coached at Pacific, where he was the 2020 Ben Jobe award winner.
Stoudamire has done an excellent job of keeping the roster intact, especially for a program in the midst of a coaching change. 4 of last year’s top 5 scorers return, which bodes well for the Jackets’ fortunes. Stoudamire brought in a solid transfer class as well, with Kowacie Reeves from Florida, Amaree Abram from Mississippi, Tyzhaun Claude from Western Carolina, Tafara Gapare from UMass, and Ebenezer Dowuona from NC State all joining the team ahead of the 2022-23 season.
With the combination of returning talent and transfer portal additions, it’s not a stretch to suggest Georgia Tech will improve on last season’s record. The ACC isn’t what it used to be, and Stoudamire will bring some life into the program that, no offense Josh Pastner, was stagnant for the past two years. Anywhere between a 9 seed in the NCAA tournament and a .500 record wouldn’t be surprising.
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Head coach: Damon Stoudamire (6th season, 1st at Georgia Tech)
2022-23 record: 15-18 (6-14)
2023 postseason finish: Missed postseason
Notable departures: Javon Franklin (Professional), Jalon Moore (Transferred to Oklahoma), Deivon Smith (Transferred to Utah), Rodney Howard (Transferred to Western Kentucky)
Notable non-conference games: vs. UMass Lowell (Nov. 14), vs. Mississippi State (Nov. 28), vs. UMass (Dec. 23, Honolulu)
PG: Kyle Sturdivant (6-3, 196, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 8.6 PPG, 3.3 APG, 2.3 RPG
SG: Miles Kelly (6-4, 200, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 14.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, 89.8 FT%
SF: Kowacie Reeves (6-6, 192, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 8.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.5 APG (Florida)
PF: Tyzhaun Claude (6-8, 236, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 15.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 0.5 APG, 52.3 FG% (Western Carolina)
C: Tafara Gapare (6-9, 205, So.)
2022-23 stats: 3.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.3 APG, 12.3 MPG (UMass)
6: Lance Terry (6-2, 200, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 10.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 38.8 3PT%
7: Dallan Coleman (6-6, 218, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 9.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.3 APG
8: Amaree Abram (6-4, 190, So.)
2022-23 stats: 8.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 36.7 3PT% (Ole Miss)
9: Ebenezer Dowuona (6-11, 225, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 1.7 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.9 BPG, 10.9 MPG (NC State)
10: Baye Ndongo (6-9, 220, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 168 rated recruit
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets MVP: Miles Kelly
Kelly, a 6-4 shooting guard, made a huge jump from freshman year to this past season, and Damon Stoudamire deserves a lot of credit for keeping Kelly out of the portal waters. After averaging just 4.5 PPG on 14.6 MPG as a freshman, Kelly started his sophomore season as a rotational scorer for the first six games before getting his first start as a sophomore (he did get one start as a freshman and scored 19 points) and didn’t look back from there. Over the next 27 starts, Kelly averaged 15.6 PPG with games of 30, 24, and 21. For the season, he shot 41% from the field and 37.9% from behind the arc.
One of the most productive players in the conference, Kelly ranked 4th in the ACC in 3PM with 89. He was careful with the ball, too, with just a 10.1 turnover percentage. In the first season of Damon Stoudamire as coach, Kelly should serve as the heartbeat of the roster, but he’ll also have less of the offensive burden to carry now that Stoudamire brought over Claude, Reeves, and Abram. That should mean less double-teams and more open shots, although Kelly is more than capable of creating his own separation. While it’s ludicrous to suggest Kelly will increase his PPG average by 10 again this season, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could average over 16-18 PPG for the Yellow Jackets this year.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets make-or-break player: Kowacie Reeves
The Florida transfer never quite broke out in Gainesville, despite a four-star designation and the 247Sports composite #31 rank in the class of 2021. As a freshman, Reeves averaged 5.5 PPG on 15.5 MPG, while shooting 37.9% from the field and 33.3% from behind the arc. His usage increased slightly as a sophomore, averaging 19.3 MPG and 8.5 PPG. His shooting rates remained stagnant, and his 37.7% from the field was almost identical to the previous year, his 3PT% dipped to 26.2%.
Reeves has shown flashes of being the recruit he was promised to be, including a 21-point, 6-rebound against Texas A&M in the 2022 SEC Tournament and 20 points his freshman year against Ohio in 18 minutes of action. The 0:42 mark of the above video has a great example of Reeves getting to the rim despite picking his dribble up at the key, but the transition bucket at 2:49 against LSU might be the best indicator of what Reeves can be. When another Gator grabs a steal at the LSU end, Reeves has three Tigers between him and the basket, then proceeds to run past all three for an electric transition dunk. On a guard-heavy roster, Reeves should start at the wing. With the right development at Georgia Tech (Damon Stoudamire just hired Bonzi Wells), Reeves could average double-digit PPG his next two seasons starting as a Yellow Jacket.
Key analytic: Free throw attempt rate
Georgia Tech struggled with getting to the line last season. It’s unfortunate, because they had two really good free throw shooters on the team. Guards Miles Kelly and Lance Terry shot 89.8% and 81.4% from the line, respectively. As a team, they shot 69.5% from the line, a not-great mark that had them ranked 274th among the 363 D1 programs. The two most frequent free-throw shooters were Jalon Moore and Ja’Von Franklin, and while both shot under 69% from the line, they are no longer with the program.
The stat in question, however, is free throw attempt rate, the number of free throw attempts per shot attempt. While the average rate was around .31, the Yellow Jackets’ mark was far below, sitting at just .236, almost 25% less than average. Their rank of 353rd of the 363 D1 teams placed them in the bottom 3% of programs. A low percentage would make sense if the team was making shots and not needing to add extra at the line, but Georgia Tech ranked 300th in the country with a 42.3 FG%. The Jackets weren’t good on the defensive end, either, giving up over 70 PPG. It’s a miracle they came close to a .500 record, honestly.
This year, however, Kelly and Terry return, and transfers Tyzhaun Claude and Kowacie Reeves both hit over 70% on free throws last season. In more good news for people who love bad news, however, those are the only players on the roster that hit 70% from the line last season. Sturdivant and Coleman were in the high 60s, as was Amaree Abram, and both Dowuona and Gapare had rates in the 50s. Abram is a good shooter, and it’s safe to assume his average will climb. If Abram plus the aforementioned 4 players with a >70FT% can get to the line more often, the Georgia Tech offense will average more than it did last year, a 69.7 PPG effort. Anything over 72.0 PPG would be a sign of positive progress, and a few extra trips to the line would get the Jackets to that average.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 2023-24 projections
Projected conference finish: 12th in ACC
Projected postseason ceiling: NIT Bid