Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory’s Yellow Jackets squad has suffered injuries to players that have had a major effect on his player rotation this year. The Travis Jorgensen knee injury was a tough blow because it diminished the point guard rotation and also took a player who could create offense for others out of the shuffle. Corey Heyward, though he does not look for his shot much at the point, has done a good job of taking over those minutes that were left behind with Jorgensen out of the lineup.
The biggest blow however to the Yellow Jackets rotation was losing starting power forward Robert Carter Jr. and his 10.3 points and team leading 9.3 boards per game. The injury to Carter forced coach Gregory to have to move former starter, Kammeon Holsey into the starting lineup, which really is something he did not want to do. Coach Gregory had to like the security of having such an experienced post player coming off the bench to give Carter or center Daniel Miller a breather. But now with Carter hurt it is an obvious next man up situation.
That next man up is 6-foot-8, 184 pound, Freshman forward Quinton Stephens. Stephens is very slight in stature, but his athleticism and quickness help him to make up for his lack of mass.
With Carter hurt for the foreseeable future, Stephens actually becomes the most important bench player on the Yellow Jackets roster. There are a few reasons why this is the case.
The first reason is obviously because now he will be spelling minutes for Holsey or Miller when coach Gregory decides to insert him in the game. The second reason is, in cases where coach Gregory decides to go with a big frontline that has Holsey, Miller, and Stephens on the court, Stephens is quick enough to defend most small forwards.
Stephens has shown a nice stroke from about 12 to 15 feet and has knocked down the trey on occasion hitting 5 of his 19 attempts. I am sure that Gregory does not want to see Stephens take shots from deep and would rather see him be a defensive stopper for now, but it still is nice to know that you have someone on the court that can knock down a shot when asked.
Lets face it, it was not in Brian Gregory’s plans to have Quinton Stephens playing important minutes like he is right now for the Yellow Jackets as a Freshman. But the minutes Stephens is getting are only going to speed up his maturation process. You can tell by watching him in games since the Carter injury that he is starting to get comfortable. He still makes youthful mistakes, but the good far outweighs the bad.
Quinton Stephens is going to be an important player for Georgia Tech now and in the future, but as of now he is the most important bench player for the Yellow Jackets because he brings height, length and versatility. Those are things the Jackets need right now.