Sold-out crowd set for McCamish opener

Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory has made the case all along that the development of his team has mirrored the construction of McCamish Pavilion.

So why would opening night be any different?

Tech will open its shiny new arena Friday night against Tulane in front of a sold-out crowd, celebrating a mix of the past and the present.

Underneath the old “Thrillerdome” roof and its support beams is a new arena. And playing in front of more than 125 former Tech players — including the starting lineup of the 1990 Final Four team — will be three freshmen.

Forward Robert Carter and wings Chris Bolden and Marcus Georges-Hunt will play in their first college game Friday night, and a fourth, point guard Corey Heyward, will watch from the sideline with a torn ACL.

Together they make up the Yellow Jackets’ most highly anticipated freshman class since Derrick Favors arrived in 2009 with Brian Oliver, Glen Rice Jr., Daniel Miller Mfon Udofia and Kammeon Holsey. They also make up Gregory’s first recruiting class.

“It’s going to be a smooth transition with those guys because they’re willing to work, they’re willing to learn,” said Udofia, who along with Miller and Holsey are the only remaining members of that ’09 class. “These guys can play.”

Gregory isn’t saying yet exactly how much. He has five starters returning, although one of them — Holsey — is nursing a high ankle sprain. Gregory hopes Holsey can return Friday, but it likely would be in limited duty.

But all three freshmen will compete for playing time and get it.

“They’re all in the mix right now,” Gregory said. “No question about it.”

All four freshmen went to high school in metro Atlanta and started going to Tech’s campus every afternoon after their high school seasons ended last spring to work out together. While getting to know each other and the lay of the land at the Zelnak practice facility, Bolden gained some 25 pounds, mostly muscle, and both Carter and Georges-Hunt dropped 15 pounds of baby fat.

They’ve proved to all of their teammates, as well as Gregory, they’re physically ready to play at the college level. It’s everything else that matters now.

But so far, Gregory has liked what he’s seen from all three.

About Bolden, the 6-3 sharp shooter from North Gwinnett, Gregory said: “Bolden is a high basketball IQ player, understands the game. He’s much more than just a perimeter shooter, which is probably the asset he’s best known for. He’s show the ability to handle the ball and make pretty good decisions with the ball. Because of his physical strength, I think he can turn into a very good defender for us.”

About Georges-Hunt, the 6-5 swingman from North Clayton: “Marcus comes in physically ready to compete. He’s got a toughness about him that I’ve seen a lot of great players have at this stage. He can do a little bit of everything. He has shot the ball well in the pre-season. He can score in the post. He can score off the dribble. He’s picked up things very fast.”

And about Carter, the 6-8 post player from Shiloh and most highly touted member of this class: “Robert is that versatile big guy who can make jump shots all the way out to the 3 (point line) and score in the post. He’s a wonderful passer.”

They all endured their share of “welcome to college” moments, getting used to the faster pace in practices, much less games. They lost to the starters four short scrimmages in a row one day this summer.

But they’ve also impressed Tech’s upperclassmen by their willingness to learn and even, as junior guard Jason Morris said, stop practice to ask a question, if they’re confused.

They already feel like members of the team, which might explain the Yellow Jacket tattoo Georges-Hunt already has on his right shoulder.

“It doesn’t feel like we’re freshmen. We feel like we’re a part of the team,” Bolden said. “We’ve been here. Everything is relatively new (to upperclassmen), too because of coach Gregory’s new system. He recruited us. We’re just here trying to do what he recruited us to do.”

– Carroll Rogers of the AJC staff

38 comments Add your comment

5150 UOAD

November 8th, 2012
5:44 pm

It will be great and what a beautiful new place.

5150 UOAD

November 8th, 2012
5:50 pm

Sorry….but Thrillerdome was never the name I used……It was AMC or the Uni-B.o.o.b.
It will be a tough year but I hope the team stays focused and want to work through the Growing Pains.
I hope also we are PAST the 1 or 2 and DONE players.

But, they...

November 8th, 2012
5:50 pm

…are still freshmen…

And all freshmen...

November 8th, 2012
5:52 pm

..think/hope they can be 1 or 2 and done…

Lee

November 8th, 2012
6:25 pm

I hope that Coach Gregory can put the “thrill” back in the Thrillerdome. Go Jackets!

Go Jackets

November 8th, 2012
6:33 pm

We will see after Friday night if they pass the “smell” test. Good Luck youngbloods.

uafuneman

November 8th, 2012
6:53 pm

hope whoever gets the pre madona out of Grayson High knows what their getting. What a bunch of crap.

fuzzybee78

November 8th, 2012
7:01 pm

I was not going to miss this Friday night—
New building — Thanks McCamish Family!
Exciting new team with some talented frosh coming in!
Cant wait to see Coach Cremins and his “memory makers” at halftime— what a fabulous way to break in the new arena!
GO JACKETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jacket Detective

November 8th, 2012
7:25 pm

I was a little bit bummed from the football season but am glad I relented and bought the Tulane/Uga package.
I can always add to it.
I was a season ticket holder in 2009 and 2010.
I was lucky to land such a good seat.
Excited about tomorrow and about our future.

Jacket Detective

November 8th, 2012
7:46 pm

@uafuneman.
That’s what coaching is for.
Not need for you to knock someone before he has played his first college game.

Tokyo jacket

November 8th, 2012
8:05 pm

Can’t wait to see it! Go coach Gregory!

ToeMeetsLeather

November 8th, 2012
8:09 pm

Looking forward to seeing a healthy Morris and what the three freshmen bring to the team. I think Hunt is going to be something special. If Udofia concentrates on distributing the ball and CBG finds a good rotation with Miller, Holsey, Carter and Royal down low, this team could finish .500 in conference and grab an at large bid to the NCAA dance.

The perimeter shooting has to improve though. I hope the guys have shot about a million jump shots during the offseason. We really need Reed, Morris, Royal and Bolden to keep the defense honest by filling it up from outside.

New building, new team, new era for Yellow Jacket basketball!

GTBob

November 8th, 2012
8:38 pm

Hope it’s better than football!

Veteran Fan

November 8th, 2012
8:54 pm

This coach stresses defense, rebounding, and passing the ball! This season ticket holder thinks they will challenge for the conference title and will be a top 15 team! Very talented with senior leadership! Look out Duke, FSU, NC State, and NC the Jackets are getting after it!

Supersize that order, mutt

November 8th, 2012
9:10 pm

Looking forward to tomorrow night. I’ll be there and hope to run into others of you who are there too.

GT65

November 8th, 2012
9:47 pm

Great day for GT Basketball..Go Jackets!

GTGirl

November 8th, 2012
9:53 pm

We’ll see you there Super! Also, Robert Carter is from south GA, played his last year of HS ball in ATL area though. GO Jackets!

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

November 9th, 2012
5:48 am

Can’t wait ’til tonight! Clyde Fore, a guy who’s worked for me for the last six years, will be among the former players recognized at halftime. Clyde was a 6′8″ forward in the early 70’s, playing alongside celebrated All-American Rich Yunkus, and earning bids to both the NIT and NCAA tournaments. I am so proud that DRad and CBG called on Coach Cremins to honor all the former players, coaches, and staff. What a wonderful and fitting way to dedicate the new facility!

Bored in Newnan

November 9th, 2012
7:04 am

Coach Gregory is doing and saying the right things as he rebuilds a program that was gutted by Hewitt. I wish him all the luck in the world to go along with his hard work.

hoops guru

November 9th, 2012
7:54 am

I was there when Scott hit the 3 pointer to beat Carolina. I was there when Scott hit the half court shot to beat Temple at the buzzer. I use to love to see Coach Cremins come down the tunnel and go to the opposing bench and shake every coach’s hand. It’s no longer Coach Cremins….It’s coach Gregory now and I feel he is the shot in the arm for this Program and Atlanta. Go Coach Gregory…it’s your team. Bring us back!!!!

juvenal

November 9th, 2012
8:26 am

will Anthony Morrow be there?

the big teet

November 9th, 2012
8:58 am

will lee goza be there

collegeballfan

November 9th, 2012
9:47 am

This is a rebuilding year. This is not a .500 ACC team. Next year? Yeah.

RochesterJacket

November 9th, 2012
10:27 am

I will reserve my opinion until after tonight’s game. If we play good defense and rebound, we will be okay.

North Ave Killer Beez

November 9th, 2012
10:34 am

This is going to be a good team. Bolden, Hunt and Carter can flat out ball and are going to surprise. .500 in the ACC is very possible.

Born2Buzz

November 9th, 2012
11:06 am

@ 5150, always has been and always will be the Big T.I.T.
@ juvenal, let’s hope Morrow is getting some PT down the street against the Heat. Otherwise I’m sure he would be there.
@ collegeballfan, I think you are going to be pleasantly surprised by this team. We are still missing a true PG, but there is enough talent on this team.

I will be there early to enjoy the festivities!

GT fan

November 9th, 2012
11:31 am

Ken,

Any chance you know which recruits will be at the game? I heard a couple big names are going to be there.

Yurtle_the_Turtle

November 9th, 2012
11:32 am

Baby fat? Who loses 15 lbs of baby fat at 18 years of age? I can understand being excited about a player gaining muscle but it sounds shallow that you get excited about someone adding muscle while others lose “baby fat”. Sounds too much of a homer to me. Go Jackets!

JM

November 9th, 2012
11:39 am

Congratulations on the sell out. I hope it is the first of many.

pcb mike

November 9th, 2012
11:39 am

Best of luck to Coach Gregory and the Jackets. Watching this team grow and improve should be exciting.

Born2Buzz

November 9th, 2012
11:53 am

Glad we have a sell out tonight. It will be interesting to see how many will be there next Wednesday against Presbyterian. I will be.

big gt fan

November 9th, 2012
11:56 am

this team has senior starting point guard and juniors starting at center and maybe the power forward spot along with the three freshmen and the poole kid who transfered. if they cant go 500 then gergory is much like johnson in his recuriting evaluating.

big gt fan

November 9th, 2012
3:30 pm

udofia,mooris,miller,reed,jordan,hosley,royal,carter,hunt, and poole, bolden. sounds like they are 8 or 9 deep easy.with good coaching 500 shouldnt be a problem.

bill

November 9th, 2012
4:37 pm

Carter will be an impact player. Hard to see this team going .500 in ACC unless Holsey and Miller become All-ACC quality players. PG will be interesting. Perhaps Udofia will finally get it his last year.
Gregory loves his players to run. Couldn’t do that last year. I don’t think they are going to scare many people this year, but think it’s coming next year.
We really need Royal, Morris and/or Bolden to hit 3’s to be successful this year.Well, it’s CBG’s team this year…let’s see what transpires.

New energy from a coach that wants to be here and prove himself. Kids that aren’t under the cloud of a staff that quit on them. Be positive and maybe they will surprise us this year. Do think good days are ahead.

Silly Mutts

November 9th, 2012
8:08 pm

Wow…the basketball team looks fantastic!! I am really really impressed with all of the freshman. Night and Day from last year!!

billyho55

November 9th, 2012
8:14 pm

.500? TECH WILL MAKE NCAA TOURNAMENT! I’M TELLING YOU GUYS, THESE FRESHMAN WILL MAKE A HUGE IMPACT THIS SEASON! WE WILL BE IN THE “BIG DANCE” THIS YEARS FELLAS!

billyho55

November 9th, 2012
8:15 pm

GT Bob

November 9th, 2012
8:21 pm

Gee Whiz I wish Tech had a Football Team!