ATLANTA, GA - Sophomore wing Curtis Haywood told Georgia Tech sports reporters that, "Georgia Tech will run and could be one of the fastest teams in the country."

As many well know, this has been Coach Josh Pastner's intent since he took the reigns in Atlanta, recruiting guards that would thrive in the up tempo world such as Jose Alvarado and Mike Devoe as well as bigger wings that can shoot. This comes as no surprise since that's how Pastner primarily built his teams at Memphis.

Personally, I would not mind seeing an uptick in tempo when it comes to Georgia Tech basketball. For far too long the program has wallowed in the depths of what can only be described as a boring type of basketball. My main questions about this approach is: Are the Jackets ready? Why not last year? The obvious answer there is that center Ben Lammers would have suffered in that style, but does Pastner have the horses this year to run?

Last season the Yellow Jackets ranked 277th in adjusted tempo (possessions per 40 minutes) and 197th in adjusted offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) according to Kenpom. In fact, the last time a Georgia Tech team finished better than 142nd in adjusted tempo was 2011 when the Jackets finished 55th. That year they were also 191st in adjusted offensive efficiency and finished the season at 13-18.

In a recent press conference Coach Pastner did acknowledge that he wants to pick up the pace but also said that, "we'll see if I stick with it."

While I am unsure if the Jackets currently have the horses, I am sure that the current roster is made to run. Outside of redshirt senior center AD Gueye, there aren't any bigs on the roster that are traditional post players. Sophomores Moses Wright and Evan Cole both project as big fours who would thrive in a running game as opposed to back-to-the-basket, on the block big men. I also believe that transfer Shembari Phillips and true freshman Khalid Moore will benefit from the court opening up in front of them.

One concern I admit to having is defense. Last season the Jackets ranked 61st in adjusted defensive efficiency (points surrendered per 100 possessions), a ranking we should expect to suffer when coupled with giving the opposition more possessions this season. Add in the departures of perimeter defender Josh Okogie and rim protector Ben Lammers, and it becomes more difficult to project a top 100 finish in that metric.

The catch-22 here is that if Pastner does not kick up the tempo soon, recruiting may continue to be a struggle. Of course, if he goes up tempo and doesn't win basketball games, his seat may heat up around year 4 and then...recruiting will be a struggle.

This storyline may be the most interesting going into the 2018-19 season. If Jose Alvarado and Curt Gone Bad (Haywood's nickname via Twitter) both return completely healthy this season that would be a tremendous start. Stylistically, a run and gun offense makes a player like Alvarado a terror for opposing teams. Let's see how it plays out.

Video courtesy of ACC Digital Network

ATLANTA, GA – For media and fans alike, Georgia Tech's annual football media day provides the first opportunity to meet the newest version of the Yellow Jackets. GTSwarm was fortunate to attend for our fifth year running. Just like last year, we asked 8 student-athletes the same four questions, and the following are the results of the poll.

For reference, here are the results from last year's poll: https://gtswarm.com/news/player-pol...-expectations-uniforms-and-team-leaders-2017/

Question 1: What are the team's expectations and goals for the 2018 season?

  • Finish big games and execute better on offense. -Redshirt senior A-Back Qua Searcy
  • Our #1 goal is to win that first game. -Senior wide receiver Brad Stewart
  • Win each week. -Junior offensive lineman Parker Braun
  • Get better on all sides every day and try to build back to the storied tradition Georgia Tech has always had over the years. -Sophomore punter Pressley Harvin III
  • Win a National Championship, an ACC Championship, and win every home game. -Redshirt junior B-Back KirVonte Benson
  • Win the ACC Championship. -Senior defensive lineman Anree Saint-Amour
  • Win the ACC Championship and get to the Playoffs. -Senior linebacker Brant Mitchell
  • Improve as much as possible on both sides of the ball and come out on top of the ACC. -Senior linebacker Victor Alexander

Team Theme: The Jackets are working week in and week out to compete for the ACC Championship.

Question 2: Which players have emerged as leaders of this year's team?

  • Clinton Lynch has always been a leader, but this year he's stepping up more vocally. Nathan Cottrell boosts us also. We have a good core of seniors and good leadership. -Qua Searcy
  • Our senior class as a whole is really good. TaQuon Marshall is definitely a leader. I think I have stepped up more vocally than in the past. Brant Mitchell on defense and Kyle Cerge-Henderson have also stepped up as leaders. -Brad Stewart
  • Brant Mitchell and TaQuon Marshall, both on and off the field. -Parker Braun
  • TaQuon Marshall especially. He started playing last year, but took control of the offense really quickly. Brant Mitchell has always been a leader in my eyes, just because of the way he talks, but he's really stepped his game up for his last season. I would also probably say Parker Braun. He's a really good guy. I talk to him every now and then, on and off the field, and he always has something motivating to say. -Pressley Harvin III
  • TaQuon Marshall, especially vocally. Ajani Kerr is someone else that has emerged as a leader. Jerry Howard is always pushing me, too. Parker Braun and Will Bryan on the offensive line lead the unit. -KirVonte Benson
  • Definitely Brant Mitchell and TaQuon Marshall. They're great leaders and they're always pushing us. -Anree Saint-Amour
  • Everybody has. This senior class has a lot of experience and we've got a good group of guys. -Brant Mitchell
  • TaQuon Marshall and Kyle Cerge-Henderson are leaders. On the defense, JaQuez Jackson is showing what he can do. David Curry has been injured a lot but he's got a great attitude and lifts us all. Brant Mitchell is another guy that is definitely a leader. -Victor Alexander

Team theme: TaQuon Marshall on offense, Brant Mitchell on defense, and the entire senior class as a whole are stepping up both on and off the field.

Question 3: Which team/game are you most looking forward to playing?

  • We've got a tough schedule, but we're going to treat each team as if they were ranked in the top 5. We don't want to underestimate anyone and we want to prepare for each team as much as we can as if they were the most important, week in and week out. -Qua Searcy
  • Obviously, you have to say UGA because of the rivalry, but we're really just taking it in one week at a time, preparing for what's ahead, so I'd also say Alcorn State. -Brad Stewart
  • We're really just taking it one at a time. -Parker Braun
  • I think it's the same as last year - Clemson. I was born and raised a Carolina fan, so Clemson is that game I get to show Dabo and his team that I'm a South Carolina native and you missed out on me. -Pressley Harvin III
  • Alcorn State right now. -Anree Saint-Amour
  • Tennessee didn't go so well last year. I guess this year it's UGA. -Brant Mitchell
  • It's my senior year, so I'm looking forward to every single last one of them. Hopefully we can play more than the 12 we've got. -Victor Alexander

Team theme: Eyes are focused on taking it one week at a time. Alcorn State is first up, even though there's a slight eye towards that last regular season game.

Question 4: What is your pregame routine? Does it vary by opponent? Do you have any special superstitions?

  • Nothing special. I go to one endzone, look around, jog down, take in the other endzone, take in the environment and atmosphere, and after that no more looking around and I'm just ready to go. -Qua Searcy
  • I know baseball players have a lot of superstitions. I just go out, run around, get warmed up, and familiarize myself with the field, which is something Coach Buzz always tells us to do. I just get into a zone, but also relax and stay talkative with my teammates until we're ready to go. -Brad Stewart
  • I'm not superstitious. I just treat every game the same. -Parker Braun
  • I really just do that same thing: go out, stretch, listen to music, start to get into a groove. I don't really have a traditional thing. I just warm up with my guys, make them feel comfortable, just go out and do my thing. -Pressley Harvin III
  • I'm usually the first person to go out there. I like to imagine the atmosphere, and just relax and be by myself for a little bit. -KirVonte Benson
  • I don't know that I have any superstitions. I like to get a prayer in right before the game to keep me at peace and beyond that, just get my mind right. -Anree Saint-Amour
  • I just listen to some music. -Brant Mitchell
  • I eat Twizzlers. It's something I've been doing since high school. I think it helps me do better. You'll know when I didn't eat my Twizzlers because that's when I won't do as well. -Victor Alexander

Team theme: For a bunch of helluva engineers, there's not a lot of method to the Yellows Jackets' pregame madness. Most just try to relax , take in the atmosphere, get into a zone and get ready to go. But one question needs to be asked: Can AD Todd Stansbury please get a designated Twizzlers guy on staff?

Multiple staff members contributed to this article.

Mickey Pearson Official Senior Highlights

Mickey Pearson, a 6’7” forward out of John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, was at one time a Saint Louis Billikens commit in their 2018 recruiting class. On June 19th, he decommitted to reassess his options.

Pearson is an athletic wing with a variety of moves that make him look dominant on the court. From throwing down vicious two-hand alley-oops to pulling up for 25-footers, Pearson has a plethora of moves to pull out of his bag.

While Pearson continues to play well and averaged 25.5 points per game last year, he is still not getting the same national recognition as others with similar stats in his class. “I would say my high school competition and where I play high school at is affecting that the most,” states Pearson.

Georgia Tech has been linked to Pearson in reports since the re-opening of his recruitment, and Pearson confirmed. “I have been in contact with all the coaches at Georgia Tech,” says Pearson. He has since visited Ole Miss and Louisville but tells me those visits will be the last for this year’s recruiting cycle, “No more visits,” said Pearson. “I plan on going the postgraduate route but I’m just not sure which one as of right now.” Doing so will make Pearson a 2019 recruit.

As we have seen in many cases, doing a postgraduate year is very beneficial, and it is something Georgia Tech is familiar with. Sophomore guard Curtis Haywood did a postgraduate year, and it is one of the reasons he wears number 13. Provided that Pearson continues to showcase his ability against higher competition, he should continue to be on Georgia Tech’s and the Power 5 radar.

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Robbie Beran with the swat.

(photo courtesy of Mark Gormus, Times-Dispatch)

Standing 6 feet 9 inches tall and weighing in at 210 pounds out of Richmond, Virginia is versatile combo forward, Robbie Beran. Beran, a sharpshooter from Virginia, plays high school ball at the Collegiate School while running with Team Richmond Garner Road during the AAU season.

Who is Beran to Georgia Tech? A prospect squarely on Yellow Jackets coaching staff's radar following his performance on the adidas circuit this summer. On July 14th he was offered by Georgia Tech and Beran is happy to see the work he is putting in being rewarded. “I’m always excited for each offer. Georgia Tech has a tradition of excellence, not only on the court but also off the court with their academics,” says Beran.

Beran has heard consistently from Georgia Tech and is listening to what they have to offer. “Coach Swartz is leading my recruitment and I’m just learning more and more about their program and Georgia Tech as a school each day,” says Beran.

With the ability to put the ball on the deck and create his own shot, Beran has the capability to be uniquely utilized in mismatches with his guard skillset, all while standing 6’9”. “In talking with the coaches I don’t think they want me at an exact position. I try to play positionless and impact the game in as many ways as I can,” states Beran.

He has not been on the Georgia Tech campus yet, however the idea is on his mind. “I would like to [visit]. I don’t have any dates set but I would like to this fall.”

With reported offers from multiple prestigious academic schools including the likes of Georgia Tech, Boston College, Bucknell, Richmond and Columbia, it is safe to say Beran is getting it done in the classroom. As a matter of fact, he has crisp 4.0 GPA.

For Beran, academics will be a factor in his decision, though a decision is not likely coming soon. “I don’t want to set a timetable for my recruitment. I’m just enjoying this process day in, day out," says Beran. "I just want to take time and find the right fit. The main things I’m looking for in a school are whatever fits me best academically, socially, and obviously hoops.”

Not only is Beran a baller on the court, he is ballin’ in the off the court in the classroom. Sounds like a great match for the ACC's Georgia Institute of Technology.

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Calvin Felder with the flush

Coming out of Sumter, South Carolina, which has recently become a hotbed of basketball talent, and standing 6 feet 6 inches, 220 pounds is Calvin “CJ” Felder. From playing alongside Ashton Hagans to Christian Brown, one might think it’s easy to get overlooked. Not Felder, who has continued working hard and is starting to see his efforts come to fruition. Felder was offered by Georgia Tech this week and already holds offers from Virginia Tech, UNLV, Clemson, Memphis, and Auburn among others.

“My initial reaction from receiving an offer from Georgia Tech was excitement because I know how big of a program Georgia Tech is, along with how many big-time players have come through there,” said Felder.

As Georgia Tech fans have seen many times this recruiting cycle, Coach Swartz has been hitting the road hard. “Coach Swartz has been talking to me a lot, and Coach Pastner,” said Felder. “They have been telling me about the past few years and what has been going on within the program. We haven’t really talked about what my role would be yet.”

When it comes down to what he is looking for in a school, Felder is keeping it simple. “I’m really just looking for the best fit.”

Felder has been to Atlanta multiple times for AAU events and is ready to make it to Georgia Tech. “I have not been on campus, but I want to set up a visit really soon.” Felder already has ties to the state of Georgia and Atlanta with his go-to post-game meal being Zaxby’s. He also has Gucci Mane and 21 Savage on the pregame playlist, with Kodak leading the way.

On the floor Felder is very athletic, physical, and has the ability to play above the rim. He alters shots at rim and hits the glass hard. He also goes all out every single play like an Atlanta native that Georgia Tech pursued last year. “I try to sprinkle in a little of Collin Sexton in my game when it comes to passion,” stated Felder. He also tries to emulate Sexton’s off the dribble pull-up and Chris Paul when it comes to basketball IQ, with LeBron James being his ultimate model athlete.

Felder continues to work on all aspects of his game but is zooming in a few areas. “I feel I could do everything in my game a little better, but mainly my speed, ball handling and jump shot.”

Felder wants to major in meteorology. He wants fans to know he has a lot of passion for the game of basketball and will give 110% every time he steps on the floor. In my opinion, despite the Power 5 offers, Felder is a sleeper prospect. He has a great motor and is that hard working player every coach could use on their team.