This happens every single year. The basketball season will start and a freshman who was barely recruited starts tearing it up on the court. Then everyone is left wondering, “How in the world did this guy not have more offers?” Georgia Tech might be onto their diamond in the rough with a 6’5” shooting guard out of W.J. High School in Columbia, South Carolina, Asanti Price.
Just one glance at his highlight tape and you can see Asanti takes the “shooting” portion of “shooting guard” to heart. Price has one of the smoothest, purest jump shots in the ’19 class and has now put himself on the map with big Power 5 schools. When asked who he tries to emulate his game after, he offered a list of shooters led by Ray Allen. He also included a cool little nugget that his high school coach actually coached Ray Allen. If Price can continue doing what he is doing and follow the guidance of his coaches, there is no telling how high the ceiling is for him.
Price recently took an unofficial to Georgia Tech for the FSU game and enjoyed himself. “The game was good and I loved the atmosphere,” said Price. Coach Anthony Wilkins is leading the recruitment of Asanti along with the head man, Coach Pastner. Price has been hearing from them a lot but is still waiting on the official offer. “They said they were going to come to my championship game, so hopefully they offer me after that.”
Price has also been hearing from Xavier, Kansas State, St. Mary’s, and Maryland and says he is looking for a school that is, “the best for me on the court, can offer a good education, along with a good environment.” Price let it be known he wants to major in either Sports Medicine or Psychology. He told me if Tech does offer he will set up an official visit and let me know when it would be.
Asanti is targeting a decision by the end of April and is very determined and focused to get the right fit. After talking with him, I get the feeling that the ball is in Georgia Tech’s court. All they have to do is offer and pass the ball to Price….because if they do, you know he is going to turn it into points.
Georgia Tech is flirting with dipping under .500 for the first time this season on Wednesday night
This league is such a gauntlet. Only in the Atlantic Coast Conference is it a relief to play the 45th ranked team in KenPom. A team that still ranks just about middle of the pack in the ACC in every defensive category. A team that just blitzed you a mere three weeks ago.
Clemson comes to town on Wednesday sporting a modest two game winning streak (Pittsburgh and Wake). Both games were played at Littlejohn where the Tigers generally take care of business. The Tigers are a less impressive 1-4 in true road games this season though and have yet to put one in the left hand column on the road since before Christmas.
Marcquise Reed continues to put up numbers for the Tigers, averaging a career best 19.1 points per game, but he is not receiving a ton of support. Through eight league games this year, only Elijah Thomas is averaging double figures (13.5) alongside Reed, who leads the Tigers at 17.8 points per game in ACC play.
Shelton Mitchell's senior season has continued to go unexpectedly. The typically solid southpaw is averaging a pedestrian 7.3 points and 3.3 assists in over 30 minutes per game. His historic reliability from behind the arc has also fallen off. Mitchell shot 45.3% two seasons ago and 36.8% last year. This season, he has fallen all the way to 28.4% and even further in conference play to 25.9%. In fact, on the season, Clemson ranks 271st in three point field goal percentage. They are, however, one of the best rebounding teams in the country, so defensive rebounding could be a pivotal part of this contest.
Whether it be the competition or simply the performance, Haslam has Clemson's two most recent games as two of their three best performances on the season.
KenPom predicts the game at 63-62 in favor of Clemson, while Haslam has it at 62-58 in favor of the kitties as well.
It's difficult to get too confident as a Georgia Tech fan right now. The Yellow Jackets have not scored more than 61 points in any of their last six games and suffered defeat in five of those six. The solutions aren't exactly rocket science as we just played a heck of a schedule the last few weeks. That said, James Banks and Curtis Haywood II simply need to play better. In his last three games Banks is averaging 5.3 points and 4.o rebounds along with 4 fouls in 25 minutes. He has also blocked only two shots.
Haywood is just too deep in his own head right now. In his last five games he is shooting 4% from behind the arc. He is obviously a much better shooter than that and a lot of the looks have been clean. He just needs to shoot his way out of it. Something else that could be happening is that he could be hitting the wall. Don't forget that he only appeared in 15 games last season before undergoing surgery on his leg. Recovery from that surgery affected his conditioning from what we heard out of preseason practice. We are now 21 games into the season and he may be hitting that freshman wall a year late.
I honestly don't have any idea what to expect, folks. At a minimum I'm looking for continued development from our young guys and continued health from our leaders. Hopefully we get to pick up the win.
Georgia Tech wraps up a tough 8 game run against Florida State Saturday at Noon
The ACC is a treacherous beast at times. For instance, a young Notre Dame squad just had a Saturday-Monday turn around. While both games were at home, they were against arguably the two best teams in the nation, Duke and Virginia. The Irish lost both games by more than 20 points.
The Yellow Jackets aren't in the middle of a quick turn around such as that, but they are set to wrap up a tough 8 game stretch on Saturday with a trip to Tallahassee. Since January 9th, the Jackets have played four games against top 15 Kenpom teams, while 3 of the other 4 are top 45 teams. Notre Dame was the outlier at #94.
Saturday's opponent, Florida State, has the reputation as an underachiever halfway through the ACC slate while ranking #26 by Pomeroy's metrics. The Seminoles have seemingly righted the ship lately with wins at home against Clemson and on the road in Coral Gables after a three game losing streak. They sit at 15-5 (3-4) and just ahead of the Jackets in the ACC standings.
Florida State is led by longtime ACC head coach Leonard Hamilton who is in his 17th season as the Seminoles' head man. He also led Miami for 10 seasons in the 90's when the 'Canes were part of the Big East. His record at FSU is 342-213 (138-137), but in the past four seasons is 84-40 (32-27) with three postseason births, including an elite eight run last season with almost the exact same roster as this year. Since 2008-09 he has only finished outside the top 6 in the league four times. While he may be the epitome of mediocrity in the ACC, there is something to be said for being consistently competitive in the toughest basketball league in the country.
Unlike most teams in the league, FSU is a "sum of its parts" team instead of being led by one particular star. If I were to choose a player most important to their success, it would be their sixth man Fi Kabengele. The nephew of NBA Hall of Fame Center Dikembe Mutombo has been the lighthouse for FSU during league play, averaging 15.3 points and and 6.4 rebounds off the bench in just 21.3 minutes per game. While Phil Cofer has dealt with a lingering foot injury, Kabengele has seemingly taken over as the leader of this team on the court.
Terance Mann (17 ppg in 3 games against GT) and Trent Forrest make up Hamilton's starting back court and while both are talented, neither is a true point guard. On the season FSU is 244th in the nation in turnover percentage at 19.8%. They have tightened it up in league play a bit, bringing that number down to 17.6%, but that is still just middle of the pack in the ACC. Their turnover problems were somewhat acceptable during the out of conference because they were turning their opponents over at nearly 23%, but in league play that number has also fallen to mirror their own number at 17.6%.
Florida State's biggest assets are their length and athleticism combined with their depth. As mentioned before, their leading scorer comes off the bench. That is mostly due to Kabengele's inability to stay out of foul trouble (5.9 fouls per 40) as well as having a 7'4" behemoth at starting center, JM Christ Koumadje. JMCK, now a senior, only plays 16 minutes per game but has an incredible impact in the paint while on the court. His per 40 stats are 15-12-4 blocks.
Depth on the wing is not a concern for Hamilton, who has a plethora of capable players, some excelling offensively and others locking down on defense. Former McDonald's All American MJ Walker is still trying to figure it out in his sophomore season that was impacted early on by a leg injury, but the 6'5" scorer is coming off of his best game of the season, scoring 22 points (6-7 from deep) against Miami on the road. PJ Savoy is also still in Tallahassee and still hunting his shot like Adam Greentree hunts Elk.
Defensively, David Nichols, a transfer from Albany, is relentless on the ball and gives maximum effort. 6'5" Devin Vassell also gives quality defensive minutes off the bench as one of the best freshman defenders in a league this year.
Cofer, who led the team in scoring last season, missed most of the out of conference slate with a foot injury. Since his return in late December he has not been as effective, averaging just 8.4 points and 3 rebounds and notching double figures only twice in 8 games. He sat a couple of recent games due to the injury before returning for the Miami game where he scored 4 points in 19 minutes.
Perhaps the most concerning statistic for this game is Florida State's ability to rebound the ball on the offensive glass. The Seminoles are 20th in the nation at 35.6% in offensive rebounding, while Georgia Tech ranks 283rd in the nation and 13th in the ACC in giving up second chances. The interesting thing here is that Georgia Tech just held the fourth best team in the league in offensive rebounding (UNC) to just 5 OR's for the game on Tuesday. Yet another feast or famine statistic when it comes to the Yellow Jackets.
During the Josh Pastner era the Jackets have split the series with FSU 1-1, with each home team collecting a win. Dating back to the 2010-11 season however, Georgia Tech is 2-6 against the 'Noles with a 1-3 record in Tallahassee. That singular win came in February 2016. The Seminoles are also an impressive 51-7 in home games dating back to the 2015-16 season.
All in all, it doesn't look great for the good guys in this one, but after the first 25 minutes of the Duke game, who knows? FSU has not looked great since Cam Reddish hit that triple in Tallahassee, and their wins over Miami and Clemson don't look as good as the losses to Pitt and Boston College look bad. Kenpom has the game at 71-61 FSU, while Haslam has it at 71-58 FSU. I think it is too many points in both instances. I like the Jackets to cover, but Tallahassee is a tough place to play. I think this will be a squeaker.