May 26, 2009

Hewitt looking for returning players to step up

With one of the greatest recruiting classes in Georgia Tech history and a ton of talented returning players, the expectations for the Yellow Jackets men's basketball team are very high for 2009-10. Head coach Paul Hewitt's team is coming off a tough injury plagued season and he is excited about the returning players on the roster who have chance to be major factors next season. While a lot of attention will fall on freshman center Derrick Favors several other players could also step out and have huge years for the Yellow Jackets.

"It was an up and down year for us and I thought our guys did an excellent job of playing hard and keeping us competitive in games," Hewitt said. "There were too many games that got away from us. I look forward to this year because when I look down the bench I will not have to put as many walk-ons in the game. We have a good group coming back. Zach Peacock will be a senior. Brad Sheehan will academically be a senior, but only a junior athletically."

Guard Lance Storrs spent a week in the Bahamas playing six basketball games as a member of a traveling college team. Hewitt is expecting a major improvement from the reserve guard next season.

"Lance is just finishing up a trip abroad," Hewitt said. "We were fortunate enough because of alumni donations to send Lance to the Bahamas. Last Monday he played his fifth game in seven days and the trip has worked out well. He is averaging around 15 points per game and it has been a great experience for him."

A pair of point guards, Iman Shumpert and Maurice Miller have very different plans this summer. Shumpert will be attending several major basketball camps while Miller has been under the surgeon's knife repairing damage from his injuries last season.

"Iman is going to have a great summer. He has been invited to the Deron Williams All-Star Camp where he will be working out against the top point guards in the country as well as being invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy," Hewitt said. "He will be a counselor at both camps and he will be working with some of the best high school players. They also have some of the better point guards in the country workout against each other and there will be some professional coaches helping out there. He will have a good opportunity to improve."

Miller started 16 games and played in 23 games as a sophomore and Hewitt wants to see how well he can play if he is healthy for the whole year.

"Maurice is a point guard from Memphis who really had a tough year last year, he said.
"He suffered two concussions and he had surgery on a fracture of his face between his cheek and his nose. He actually had surgery again this week to correct some things that were not taken care of during the original surgery. I think that when gets back to being healthy he has a chance to really improve."

On the wing, D'Andre Bell is back after missing the entire 2008-09 season with a neck injury.

"D'Andre we hope will be back. So far, so good for him and he is moving along fine from his neck surgery back in December, he said. "He is on the west coast working out and basically the doctors are giving him the green light. Richard Stewart our trainer has done a great job this year and he has advised us to be cautious with him this year. We are trying to keep him at a reasonable pace."

One other player on the mind of Yellow Jacket fans is Gani Lawal. Lawal entered his name for the NBA draft, but did not sign with an agent. Lawal can still come back to Georgia Tech if he is not pleased with where he will fall in the NBA draft. Hewitt expects a final decision from Lawal in the second week of June.

"Gani has put his name in the NBA draft and starts workouts next week. He will be in Chicago for the pre-draft camp," Hewitt said. "He will be working out for several teams on June 2, June 9 and June 12. Shortly after those workouts, he will make a decision. I have no idea where he is projected and the best thing he can do is to go through the workouts and get some pretty good feed on where he will end up."

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