“I think we will be more selective in recruiting because you have two areas to recruit, both high school and the transfer portal,” he told AJC. “It’s almost like two recruiting seasons. We have always been very hard on our evaluations, and we will continue to be tough on our evaluations in the future.
The main reason is the increased role that transfers have taken in the role of talent acquisition. With the transfer portal simplifying the process and eliminating the requirement to spend a year at their new school, the number of transfers has skyrocketed. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were nearly 1,700 Division I players who had transferred this offseason – 4.9 per team – according to the Verbal Commits site. According to an NCAA report, the high for any of the previous four offseason – and likely any season before that – was 704.
The portal now presents coaches with a significant supply of players who have already demonstrated their abilities at the college level, are more experienced than the high school prospects and, starting this year, do not have to take a season off, as long as the player has not transferred before.
“Some schools might not even recruit high school kids saying, ‘We’re just going to wait for the portal in the spring,’” Pastner said. “For Georgia Tech to be successful, we need to recruit high school students and leave a scholarship or two open for student-athletes on the portal.”
Pastner’s list clearly shows his growing dependence on the transfer market. His second team at Tech (2017-18) included two transfers from his 12 stock market players. His sixth team to come will be five out of 13.
“The game has changed now because of the portal,” Pastner said.
As he polled applicants through the Champions Center, Pastner and his assistants continued to assess growing seniors, debating who deserved scholarship offers. Unless the players leave the squad as transfers, Tech is expected to have four purses open for the 2022-2023 season.
There are many reasons for their moderation in extending offers. The first is that due to the in-person recruiting freeze, coaches had not been able to assess prospects closely until Friday. But also, Pastner and his team can afford to be smarter in their offerings as not only does he plan to allocate at least part of his four expected scholarships to the portal – it wouldn’t be a surprise if two went to high school students. . and two went to the portal – but also because the success of the team has made the Jackets a more attractive destination.
A sample of perspectives that Tech pursues, along with its coaches, indicated how Tech’s ACC title and track record in player development began to change the way jackets are viewed. Led by Swartz, Tech’s efforts to identify prospects early and build relationships have been impactful, supported by the team’s triumphs in the field.
Pace Academy forward Josh Reed (white jersey) positions himself for a rebound during a game at the Georgia Basketball Coaches Association camp at LakePoint Sports Complex in Emerson on June 18, 2021 (AJC Photo by Ken Sugiura)
“I know it’s a really good school,” said Pace Academy forward Josh Reed, a four-star prospect in the 2022 class who paid an unofficial visit to Tech last week. “It’s something that fascinates me. I also know it’s a great basketball program, which won the CCA last year.
“They’re developing good players,” said Wheeler point guard High Isaiah Collier, a five-star 2023 class prospect who was scheduled to make an unofficial visit to Tech on Tuesday.
Wheeler High assistant coach Darnell Shepherd said that while kids used to see Tech as, in his words, “the belly,” they have now started to pay attention to jackets.
“It’s seen as a destination where they can progress for academics and basketball,” he said. “At first it was just considered a school for nerds to go to.”
The transformation is evident in Tech’s new freshman class, which signed in November. The trio of guards Dallan “Deebo” Coleman and Miles Kelly and forward Jalon Moore is ranked 28th nationally (247Sports Composite), the highest in Pastner’s tenure. Pastner’s pivotal class in 2017, which included Alvarado and Wright, as well as Evan Cole and Curtis Haywood, both of whom left as transfers, was 78th.
In years past, Pastner has said, “We have discovered every stone; we just couldn’t get anybody (highly rated). ”
The decreased focus on high school recruiting and increased selectivity raises a question Pastner himself once posed: If Wright was now a high school candidate, would Tech still recruit him?
As Tech fans are well aware, Wright was barely recruited out of high school in North Carolina. He didn’t have a lot of gaming experience, but his long build and athletic ability were extraordinary. With former assistant coach Darryl LaBarrie championing his cause, Tech successfully recruited Wright as he was ignored by nearly every other Division I school. After playing intermittently as a substitute during his first two seasons, Wright was developed by Wilkins and assistant coach Eric Reveno to become a strong starter as a junior before moving on to senior, leading the Jackets to the ACC title.
It’s worth mentioning that the situation Tech recruited Wright from was different in many ways from its current context. First, Pastner has failed to persuade high-level prospects to engage in the technology. Second, the portal wasn’t much of an option then as it is now for attracting talent (and, again, Tech didn’t have as much of an appeal as it does now). Third, Pastner was working on a plan to get to the NCAA tournament in his fifth year, Wright’s senior season, while now the mission is to be a regular participant in the tournament.
Now Pastner has a much better chance of being a top prospect, someone probably more willing to contribute than Wright was as a freshman. The portal may offer a player with a lot more experience than Wright had as a high school signer. Pastner could also have a break given that, if Tech recruited a high school student with the idea that he might not contribute immediately, it has become increasingly common for players to transfer to get more playing time elsewhere, especially now that they don’t have to be away for a year.
“Would we recruit Moses today if we’re in the position we are today, (with) the success we’ve had? Pastner asked. “I don’t know. Because you don’t know. By the time we took over, we were rebuilding and we hadn’t had the success that we have now.
It’s a curious notion, that Pastner might not make room for a player who would become the ACC Player of the Year. On the other hand, it’s also not like Wright is Tech’s first choice. Pastner’s first class reunited after he and his staff embarked on a series of top notch leads in that class of 2017.
“Nobody wanted Moses Wright,” Pastner said. “Four and a half years later, he’s the ACC player of the year.
Pastner and his team will always be working on evaluation and development, an area where the work of Swartz, Wilkins and Reveno speaks for itself. The difference will be that Tech’s days of shopping in the bargain basket seem over.
“I just think the game is changing in a lot of areas, and I think we’ll have a better idea (for) in the next couple of years,” he said. “Because you also have to take into account (the athlete can be compensated for the use of his name, image and likeness). You really have to know how to adapt and be flexible. Things change; there is no denying it.