ACC Basketball

Yellow Jackets Fill a Hole

trae golden

It’s amazing how often a sick relative and a position in need on a nearby team always seem to come together so nicely.

Tennessee point guard Trae Golden wants to be near his “severly ill” father and will transfer to Georgia Tech. Golden is from nearby Powder Springs, Georgia. The soon to be senior will petition to the NCAA to play right away rather than having to sit out a full year.

This looks like a clear case of hardship, so it’s hard to imagine the NCAA not granting Golden a waiver.

While Golden is far from a stud, he is exactly what the Yellow Jackets desperately need.

With Mfon Udofia’s eligibility up, there was a giant hole at point guard. The only two options head coach Brian Gregory had were sophomore Solomon Poole, who averaged just 1.8 points and 0.1 assists after joining the team nine games into last season. After him, there’s Travis Jorgenson, the #30 rated point guard (according to ESPN) in the 2013 class.

Golden came to college as a combo guard, with a thick build, capable of manning his way into the lane. He wasn’t quite known for his defensive prowess or an ability to make his teammates better, but he could be lights out from behind the three-point line.

However, after an impressive shooting season in 2011, Golden’s numbers all dipped last year. His shooting percentage went from 44% to 38% and his three-point shooting fell from a solid 39% to under 30%. Despite his struggles to put the ball in the basket, he took the second most shots on the team, eight more than his much more heralded teammate Jarnall Stokes.

He also only averaged 3.9 assists last year (down from 4.5 the year before), although he only turned it over 63 times (nearly a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio).

Still, if Golden can play this season, then Tech fans are going to be happy.

The reality is, the Yellow Jackets have some young, solid talent coming back, led by Marcus Georges-Hunt (potential All-ACC Player) as well as double-double candidate Robert Carter to go along with Chris Bolden and Daniel Miller. That may not be enough talent to win the ACC, but that’s certainly the kind of talent that could get the Yellow Jackets back into the NCAA Tournament…one year earlier than I would have projected when Gregory took over in 2011.

The weak spot was at point and no matter what Golden’s flaws are, he’s still a giant step up from Tech’s other options.


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