With Baye Ndongo Returning, What Will Georgia Tech's Starting Five Look Like Next Season?

What will the starting lineup be for Georgia Tech Basketball next season?
Mar 2, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets guard Naithan George (2) passes the ball against the Florida State Seminoles in the second half at McCamish Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets guard Naithan George (2) passes the ball against the Florida State Seminoles in the second half at McCamish Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech Basketball has had a busy offseason so far. They are looking to make a leap in year two under Damon Stoudamire and have been busy on the high school recruiting trail as well as the transfer portal. Stoudamire has reeled in a top 15 high school class in the country and brought in impactful transfers to help these young players. The biggest win of the offseason came this week though when forward Baye Ndongo withdrew from the 2024 NBA Draft and opted to return to Georgia Tech for another season.

Ndongo was arguably the best player on Georgia Tech's team last season.

The 6-9 freshman missed Tech’s first three games with a hand injury but started every game thereafter either in the post or at the power forward spot, and earned a spot on the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Rookie team. The Mboro, Senegal native, who prepped at Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy, was one of only two freshmen in Division I to average 12.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game while hitting at least 55 percent of his shots from the floor. Only Chris Bosh (2003) and Derrick Favors (2010) achieved all those numbers as freshmen.

Needless to say, having him back is going to be huge for Georgia Tech.

Tech also has put together a recruiting class that has been rated the 14th-best in the nation with high school prospects Cole Kirouac, a 6-11 center from Cumming, Ga., who attended Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., his senior year, Jaeden Mustaf of Bowie, Md., a 6-4 guard who also attended Overtime Elite, Doryan Onwuchekwa, a 6-11 center from DeSoto, Texas who attended Faith Family Academy of Oak Cliff, and Darrion Sutton, a 6-8 forward from St. Louis, Mo., who attends Overtime Elite in Atlanta. It would probably be unrealistic to expect any of these freshmen to come in and start right away, but I do think that Mustaf and Sutton are super talented players that will be in the mix early on in the rotation.

Oklahoma transfer guard Javian McCollum started all 30 games in 2023-24 form a Sooner team that went 20-12. He scored a team-leading 13.3 points per game while hitting 40.4 percent from the floor, 31.4 percent from three-point range, and a school-record 94.3 percent from the foul line. He also dished out 102 assists, second on the team. The native of Fort Myers, Fla., made a program-record 39 straight free throws at one point during the season and scored in double figures 21 times.

“Javian’s ability to create shots and make plays is what I love about him,” Stoudamire said. “He’s fearless, and he’s a leader. Javian and Nait creating for their teammates and playing off each other will be essential. Good guard play wins games and I feel I have two of the best.”

Luke O’Brien has played 111 games in his college career, and the Buffaloes earned bids to the NCAA Tournament and NIT twice each during his career. He helped lead Colorado to a school-record 26 wins in 2023-24, advancing to the championship game of the Pac-12 Tournament and earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament. He played in 35 games, starting 19, including the final 10 of the season.

“Luke brings good experience and shooting to our team,” said Tech head coach Damon Stoudamire. ”He’s played in the NCAA tournament and knows what it takes to compete and win at a high level.  His leadership will be invaluable as we go into the 2024-25 season.”

Ryan Mutombo attended The Lovett School in Atlanta before signing with the Hoyas, and is the son of former Georgetown and Atlanta Hawks great Dikembe Mutombo. The younger Mutombo played 54 games at Georgetown, making one start, and averaged 8.1 minutes, 3.3 points, and 2.3 rebounds over his three seasons there. He also connected in 51.8 percent of his shots from the floor.

“We’re excited about bringing Ryan into our program,” said Stoudamire, now in his second year at the helm of the Yellow Jackets. “He gives us size and shot blocking ability as well as added depth in our front court.  A lot like Javian and Luke, his experience will help us well.”

With all of these addtions, plus the returning players such as Ndongo, Nait George,and Lance Terry returning, what might the starting five look like for Georgia Tech?

I think it will look like this:

  • G Nait George
  • G Javian McCollum 
  • Wing Kowacie Reeves
  • F Luke O'Brien
  • F Baye Ndongo

I know that the backcourt would be smaller with George and McCollum, but Georgia Tech does not have a lot of size at the guard position in general and I think this would be the best combination offensively. McCollum is more of the scoring guard type while George is a more natural passer and point guard. Reeves and O'Brien would be the floor spacers that this team really needs, while Ndongo would be the five. I know that this team has lacked size at the center position recently and I could see Ryan Mutombo taking a starting position, but I don't know who heads to the bench in this scenario. The offense needs Reeves and O'Briens shooting (plus Reeves on defense), George to run the offense, and I don't think McCollum came to Georgia Tech to come off the bench.

The bench would consist of Lance Terry, Mutombo, Mustaf, Sutton, and the other freshmen. How deep the rotation is will depend on how quickly the freshmen get up to speed.

This is a more talented roster than last year's and I would anticipate more consistency next season. We'll have to wait and see to if that translates to more wins, but Stoudamire and his staff have done their jobs this offseason in terms of upgrading the roster.

Jackson Caudell


Jackson Caudell covers Georgia Tech Athletics and the Atlanta Hawks for FanNation