I haven’t been able to get to this because of football, but men’s basketball coach Brian Gregory spoke with reporters July 30 about the state of the team as its summer workouts concluded. For the first time, the NCAA permitted coaches to work with players on-campus on a limited basis, which Gregory was, naturally ecstatic about. Some notes.
1. Sophomore forward Julian Royal may be the most improved player. You may remember Royal made tremendous progress over the course of the season, showing more effort and willingness to play physically at the end of the season. He also displayed pretty good shooting touch for someone his (6-foot-7) size, to the point that Gregory began calling out-of-bounds plays designed to get him perimeter shots.
Royal has done good work with strength and conditioning coach Mike Bewley in the spring and summer, and the difference in his build is evident.
“You know, one of the biggest things that happens when a guy gets stronger and better conditioned and sees some of the results transferring onto the court, they just gain greater confidence,” Gregory said. “There’s no greater area to build toughness and confidence than in the weight room. I think he’s the perfect example of that and, again, this is just the end of his first year. Next week will mark 12 months and that’s it. So there’s still growth that needs to be done, but he definitely took it to a much greater level this spring and summer.”
2. Freshman point guard Corey Heyward was probably not going to play heavy minutes for Tech, but his torn ACL will impact the Jackets nonetheless.
“Anytime you eliminate depth in your backcourt, toughness and the ability to play multiple positions, it hurts you some, so I think that will hurt us a little bit in our ability to play at a faster pace,” Gregory said. “But I still want to play faster than we did last year. The old John Wooden, ‘Fast, but don’t hurry.’”
Gregory’s preference is up-tempo, but he didn’t have the depth he wanted on the roster to implement that style last season.
“I think we’re still better scorers in the open court when we take quality shots and (involve) our post guys,” he said. “All four of them can really run.”
3. After Moe Miller and Lance Storrs graduated last summer, Derek Craig and Nick Foreman graduated earlier this month, along with former players Zach Peacock and B.J. Elder. Jarrett Jack is two classes shy of his diploma, Gregory said. Gregory loves having former players around the Zelnak Basketball Center and also finishing up their studies for the influence it can have on his team.
Peacock has played two years in Germany. Elder has played in the NBDL and more recently in Greece and Italy.
“That’s what great programs have – those former guys that are still playing,” Gregory said. “Theyre’ still around, using their facilities to work out, and it’s always an opportunity for the young guys to look and say, ‘That’s exactly where I want to go,’ where you have a degree in your hand and you’re also making a living playing.”
Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog