ATLANTA — Paul Hewitt remains.
After days of rumors circulated about whether he was set to leave Georgia Tech for New York, the Yellow Jackets head coach Thursday released a statement through Tech indicating he was here to stay.
“My family and I have developed deep ties to Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta,” Hewitt said. “I strongly believe in what Georgia Tech can do for young people, and I am committed to returning the Tech basketball program to the level of success our fans have come to expect. We took a step in that direction this past season, and I fully intend to continue on that path.”
The statement ends speculation that he was strongly considering leaving the Flats for St. John’s. A Big East program that once had a storied past, St. John’s tried to woo Hewitt back to his native state before he withdrew his name earlier Thursday.
He is expected to meet with media at 9:30 p.m. today once he returns from a recruiting visit.
The news of the withdrawal came just hours after published reports in New York indicated a deal might have been close, bringing the 46-year-old to Manhattan.
Quoting an anonymous source with apparent close ties to Hewitt, the New York Post was informed Thursday morning that the deal “will be done Friday. He just needs to get his wife completely on board.”
Moments after wrapping up his 10th season at Georgia Tech last Sunday with a second-round NCAA tournament loss to Ohio State in Milwaukee, Hewitt told New York-area reporters that he believed the right coach could bring a level of excitement back to St. John’s that has not been seen in some time.
He did not indicate he was that person, and he went on record saying earlier this week that he was comfortable at Georgia Tech and in Atlanta — where he moved his parents and brother from New York not long ago.
The Yellow Jackets finished the year 23-13 with a 7-9 ACC record. After a rocky regular season that saw Hewitt criticized publicly by both media and fans, the head coach was able to will his team to three straight wins in the ACC tournament, vaulting it into the NCAA tournament.
With Hewitt’s future now certain, only one real question remains: Will this be enough to prevent forwards Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors from going to the NBA early? A junior and freshman, respectively, the two are among an elite list of potential lottery picks in next year’s draft.
Their decisions will not be known likely until next week, once students return from spring break.
Come back to macon.com and check out tomorrow’s Telegraph for more on this story.