Georgia Tech

Pastner has high hopes for Okogie

Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner’s Yellow Jackets won their season opener Friday.
Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner’s Yellow Jackets won their season opener Friday. AP

Josh Okogie is one of the three high-level recruits signed by Brian Gregory last year who are still a part of the Georgia Tech program. From first impressions of his college debut at McCamish Pavilion, it’s a good thing he stayed.

Okogie, a 6-foot-4 guard from Shiloh, was in the starting lineup for the Yellow Jackets’ opening game and scored 18 points in a 70-55 win over Tennessee Tech. He was 7-for-9 shooting, including 1-for-2 on 3-pointers, with five rebounds, one assist and one steal.

“I think Josh Okogie has got a chance down the road to be an All-ACC player,” first-year Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner said. “He’s really good. He can even play way better.”

Okogie will likely be in the starting lineup at 7:30 p.m. on Monday when Georgia Tech hosts Southern.

“He’s got a chance to be an excellent, high-level, big-time Georgia Tech basketball player,” Pastner said. “He’s got that ability.”

Pastner said Okogie needs to work on being more disciplined with little details. Pastner pointed out that two of Okogie’s three fouls came 94 feet from the basket.

“They were silly fouls,” he said. “Those are just little things that he has to get better at.”

The other four starters in the opener were forwards Quinton Stephens and Abdoulaye Gueye, center Ben Lammers and point guard Justin Moore. Ten players saw action, and eight scored.

Lammers was another bright spot with a career-high 15 points, eight rebounds and five blocks, also a career high, but Pastner expects more.

“Ben had 15 and eight, and he should have had about 25 and 16,” Pastner said. “He’s got to be more aggressive, even though he had five blocks.”

Moore, another true freshman, played 32 minutes and had six points, four assists and only one turnover.

Georgia Tech played the first game without guard Tadric Jackson, who is nursing a sore hamstring and spent the whole game riding the stationary bike. Jackson scored 28 points in an exhibition win over Shorter the previous week. Jackson’s status is uncertain for the Southern game.

The Yellow Jackets certainly will be without point guard Josh Heath, who still has three games of his suspension to serve for violating team rules.

Southern lost its season opener 77-67 at Ohio on Saturday. The Jaguars featured a balanced attack, with four players scoring in double figures. Chris Thomas came off the bench to produce 15 points and six rebounds. Southern was 22-13 last year and returns Trelun Banks, son of coach Roman Banks, who was the MVP of the 2016 SWAC Tournament, which the Jaguars won.

Georgia Tech has played Southern only one time, in the first round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament, and Southern won that game 93-78.