ATLANTA -- One of the bright spots that has come from Georgia Techs roster depletion has been the development of guard Corey Heyward.
The 6-foot-1 redshirt freshman from Duluth has fought through two knee injuries to earn a place in the lineup. Heyward has started the past three games and should be in the starting lineup again Saturday when the Yellow Jackets travel to Wake Forest.
Heyward has had to step up because of injuries and illnesses. Travis Jorgenson was lost for the season with a knee injury, Solomon Poole has missed the past six games with migraines and other physical issues, and Chris Bolden has lost his shooting touch.
It all added up to open the door for Heyward and the product of Peachtree Ridge was ready to take advantage of the opportunity. He began taking on a larger role against Notre Dame and has averaged 19.2 minutes in the past six games.
Hes been doing a good job for us, Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. When hes in there, he helps us a lot. He has a defensive mentality. He defends well, and he did a really good job on (North Caroliinas Marcus) Paige in the first half. He rebounds the ball because he has some physicality and toughness.
Heyward isnt a scoring threat right now. The rust that came from enduring surgery to his left ACL on June 2012 and again in December 2012 is still there. He doesnt really look to shoot the ball. His career high is only three points against N.C. State and Boston College, and he has not taken more than three shots in a game. He averages 0.9 points and has taken only 16 shots in 20 games.
Heyward is more focused on giving a good defensive effort and learning to distribute the ball. He averages 1.1 rebound and 1.0 assist and has a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio.
Every minute he gets this year he is going to help us down the road, Gregory said. I still dont think we will see this year what Corey will be able to do for us down the road. There were a couple drives (against UNC) where we saw him get a bit of his athletic ability back, and I think hes getting there.
Georgia Tech (11-10, 2-6 ACC) is coming off a 78-65 loss to North Carolina on Wednesday night. Wake Forest (14-7, 4-4) was defeated 67-57 by No. 2 Syracuse on Wednesday, a loss that broke the Demon Deacons 13-game home winning streak. The Demon Deacons are led by 6-foot-7 senior forward Travis McKie, who was last weeks ACC Co-Player of the Week. McKie broke out of a slump by totalling 38 points against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Hes averaging 10.3 points.
The Demon Deacons top scorers have been sophomores Codi Miller-McIntyre, who averages 14.6 points, and 6-9 forward Devin Thomas, who averages 11.5 points and a team-high 8.3 rebounds. Thomas combined for 25 rebounds in two games against Georgia Tech last season.
Georgia Tech has won the past three meetings against Wake Forest and has won nine of the past 12. Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 38-37. This is the first time since Georgia Tech joined the ACC that the Yellow Jackets and Demon Deacons wont meet twice in a season.