Not only did Georgia Tech’s first-year head coach Josh Pastner earn ACC Coach of the Year honors last season, his Yellow Jackets dropped towering opponent after towering opponent on the way to a 21-win season and an NIT championship game appearance.
The sky was the limit for Tech during the offseason as it approached Year 2 under Pastner.
At least expectations were high up until last week when Georgia Tech reached out to the NCAA to self-impose violations regarding impermissible benefits to Yellow Jacket players by long-time friend to Pastner, Ron Bell.
Later, Bell dropped a bomb on Pastner, and the Yellow Jackets hoops program, when he went public to Gary Parrish, of CBS Sports. Bell told the story on his involvement with the program and dished out history on his relationship with Pastner.
Two of the players mentions in that CBS article were Tadric Jackson and Josh Okogie. That duo poured in a collective 28.2 points per game last season.
Jackson and Okogie were suspended indefinitely and did not make the trip with Georgia Tech to China to tip off its season versus UCLA.
How long Jackson and Okogie miss time hasn’t yet been determined. But as daunting as finding ways to replace their on-the-court output seems, there are far worse repercussions from this scandal off the court.
After Pastner’s breakout season, it was easy to imagine fruitful seasons ahead on the recruiting trail and a break from the cycle of commitment denial from some of the best prospects within the state of Georgia, an area that has produced a plethora of undeniably elite talent.
Tate’s Take: Recruiting is where Georgia Tech will likely take the biggest hit if the chips fall from Bell’s allegations against the Jackets. If Jackson and Okogie remain suspended, and if Pastner is found culpable, instead of fertile recruiting grounds bearing fruit for the Yellow Jackets, it could become harder to cultivate talent and get them to sign and play in Atlanta.
Then there’s the optimism surrounding Tech’s second year. The Jackets should have been in a situation to take advantage legal issues in Louisville and Miami an down, or rebuilding seasons in Tallahassee and Syracuse. Notre Dame seems vulnerable too.
I can’t imagine how any of this is going to help the program land the elite recruits needed to win in such a competitive conference that is often labeled the nation’s best.