The Georgia Tech basketball team will make its season debut at McCamish Pavilion on Sunday without two of its starters.
Guards Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson will miss the game as part of the suspensions handed down this week by the NCAA. The two players were dinged for accepting gifts (travel and apparel) in an incident that was self-reported by the school. The two were not allowed to make the trip to China for the season opener against UCLA.
The Yellow Jackets (0-1) host Bethune-Cookman at 2 p.m., the first of 19 regular-season games scheduled at McCamish Pavilion this season. Georgia Tech won a school-record 17 home games last season.
Jackson was given a three-game suspension and will be able to return for the North Texas game on Nov. 25. Okogie must serve a six-game suspension and can return for the Tennessee game on Dec. 3, although his dislocated left index finger may keep him out longer.
The absence of those two puts more of the burden on center Ben Lammers, who this week was named to the watchlist for the John Wooden Award for player of the year. Lammers, a 6-10 senior from San Antonio, had 24 points and 10 rebounds against UCLA.
Georgia Tech got some offensive help against the Bruins from freshman point guard Jose Alvarado and graduate transfer Brandon Alston. The 6-foot Alvarado played with boundless energy and finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Alston, who was injured in the first exhibition game, returned to tally 10 points and four rebounds.
But the two other starters against UCLA, Abdoulaye Gueye and Moses Wright, combined to produce two points. Coach Josh Pastner used only eight players in the opener, with freshmen Curtis Haywood and Evan Cole and sophomore Justin Moore each playing at least 17 minutes.
“These freshmen are going to have to produce,” Pastner said. “By (Jackson and Okogie) not being here, it expedites their process. You don’t have time to kind of stroll them along.”
Bethune-Cookman (1-2) is coming off a 10-22 season and has a new coach in Ryan Ridder, who went 95-28 in four seasons at Daytona State. Ridder inherited a team that returns its top scorers and rebounders. Brandon Tabb led the team in scoring last season (17.8 points) and Isaiah Bailey scored 21 points against Texas-Rio Grande.
Georgia Tech has played Bethune-Cookman only one time, winning 73-46 in 2005. It is the first of three games the Yellow Jackets have against teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference this season.
It’s been nine days since the Yellow Jackets played their opener. That is about to change; they have five games over the next nine days.
Jacket sign three: Georgia Tech signed a guard and two forwards to letters of intent this week.
Michael Devoe is a 6-foot-3 guard at Montverde Academy. He averaged 25 points and seven assists last year in leading Oak Ridge to the state quarterfinals. He’s known for his ability as a playmaker who can also shoot from the perimeter.
Khalid Moore is a 6-7 forward from Archbishop Malloy in New York, the same school that produced Kenny Anderson. Moore has a long athletic body and likes to go to the basket, but also has a nice jump shot. He is the former teammate of Georgia Tech freshman Jose Alvarado.
Kristian Sjolund is a 6-9 forward from Tompkins High in Katy, Texas. He was born in Washington, but grew up in Norway and has lived in the United States since 2014. He has played on the under-16 and under-18 teams from Norway that played in international competition. Sjolund is said to have a smooth shot and good range with his jumper.