Damon Stoudamire Makes His Return To College Basketball, Takes Over Struggling Yellow Jackets Program

Georgia Tech announced on Monday that they have hired former 15-year NBA veteran Damon Stoudamire as their next men’s basketball head coach. It was a quick turnaround for the Yellow Jackets after they fired former head coach Josh Pastner less than a week ago.

Damon Stoudamire on the sidelines with the Celtics. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Yellow Jackets were once a proud basketball program that produced NBA talent like Glen Rice Jr., Jarrett Jack, Chris Bosh, Stephon Marbury, Iman Shumpert, Kenny Anderson, Derrick Favors, and others. Now, they have fallen on hard times with just six NCAA appearances in the past 25 seasons.

Stoudamire will have his hands full to get the Atlanta program back to being an ACC powerhouse. The Yellow Jackets have hired a new men’s basketball coach, football coach and athletics director in the past six months.

“We are thrilled that Damon Stoudamire will be the head coach of our storied men’s basketball program,” Georgia Tech director of athletics J Batt said. “Coach Stoudamire’s success and credibility as a player and coach at both the collegiate and professional levels make him a great fit to lead our program. He will serve as an outstanding mentor on and off the court and will attract talented student-athletes to The Flats. We could not be happier to welcome Coach Stoudamire to the Georgia Tech family.”

Basketball Background

Stoudamire is a native of Portland, Oregon, and helped lead his Arizona Wildcats to the 1994 Final Four. In 1995, the point guard was drafted seventh overall to the Toronto Raptors and won the NBA Rookie of the Year award. He was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers after three and half seasons with the Raptors. He spent eight seasons with the Trail Blazers, three with the Grizzlies, and one with the Spurs before he retired in 2008.

He started his coaching career as Rice University’s director of player development. He worked as an assistant coach for the Grizzlies, University of Memphis, and Arizona before he got his first head coaching job with Pacific.

Stoudamire coached at Pacific for five seasons and he had a 71-77 overall record. In 2020, he put together his best season with 23-10 record and West Coast Conference Coach of the Year award. After the 2021 season, he joined the Celtics’ staff as an assistant coach. He helped guide them to the 2022 NBA Finals under former head coach Ime Udoka.

Challenge of Coaching at Tech

The Yellow Jackets’ rich basketball tradition has given way to mediocrity over the past two decades because of forever-changing landscape of college athletics. NIL has made it legal for college players to receive money, and the phenomenon of one-and-done players made it tough for college coaches to recruit. For Tech, their high academic standards also pushed kids away from playing at the program.

Favors was the last recruit to sign with the Yellow Jackets ranked in the top 25 of his recruiting class (2009). The university require a minimum 3.3 gpa for their College of Computing and College of Engineering applicants. They require a minimum 3.0 gpa for the College of Design, College of Sciences, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, and Scheller College of Business applicants. The acceptance rate for the school is only 22.6 percent.

“I am humbled and honored to be the head coach at Georgia Tech,” Stoudamire said in a statement this week. “It is an incredible honor to be entrusted with leading such a tradition-rich program. I am excited to get to work with the goal of consistently having our team compete at the championship level that we all know we can and should compete at. I’m proud to represent Georgia Tech and can’t wait to walk out of the tunnel and onto the floor at the Thrillerdome in front of our fans.”

Stoudamire surely has work cut out for him, but the Atlanta area has rich pool of high school talent.

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