Georgia Tech’s top basketball recruit said the Yellow Jackets are still his No. 1 choice after Saturday’s firing of coach Paul Hewitt.
Milton High power forward Julian Royal signed with Tech over rival Georgia last November. Royal said he will wait at a week and maybe longer before considering other options, including a scholarship release.
“I still want to go to Georgia Tech; it’s a great school and it has always been the place I’ve wanted to go to since I was a little kid,” Royal said.
“However, you never know about the new coach and if you’re the type of player that will fit into his system. I hope it works out, but I guess I will have to wait to see how everything unfolds.”
Royal’s father was contacted by both Hewitt and Tech athletics director Dan Radakovich in separate phone calls on early Saturday morning.
“Paul was apologetic that we have to go through this situation because he feels like we’re really good people, we strongly supported him, and we wanted him to be our son’s coach,” said Charles Royal.
“During the recruiting process, I asked Paul about his future with the program and I was satisfied with his answers at the time. I’m saddened by Saturday’s news. But we have to move forward and that’s pretty much it.”
Radakovich called to explain the firing and to request some short-term patience with Tech’s coaching search before Royal begins to look elsewhere.
“Dan said he wishes things could be different, but that he had to do what he felt was in the best interests of the program,” the elder Royal said.
“Dan said they were going to aggressively look for a new coach. As it was put to me, the protocol is to wait 10-12 days while they are looking for a suitable replacement before considering other possibilities. If that’s what they need, we feel like we owe them that much, so we’ll do that.”
Last week, the 6-foot-8 Royal said he would re-open his recruiting if Hewitt was not retained. On Saturday, he confirmed that remains an option.
“Right now, we’re going to see how things go over the next week,” his father said. “[Tech] is a good school. That will never change. Would I like for my son to go there? Sure I would. But it would have to be under the right situation.
“Let’s be clear: A lot of basketball coaches think Julian is a great fit for their system, but not everybody does. We’d be crazy to force Julian on a new coach if he’s not a good fit. I know that’s a worst-case scenario but that’s a reality in college basketball.
“We want to have an open and honest conversation with the new coach about how he feels about Julian with what he’s trying to do with the overall program.”
When asked if switching to co-finalist Georgia would be a future possibility, the younger Royal replied, “I haven’t thought about anything past Georgia Tech at this point. I’m waiting to see how it goes there.”
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