#TGW: Running the Point

Nov. 6, 2017

By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word -

THE FLATS -- Jose Alvarado had a passing knowledge of Georgia Tech while growing up, chiefly for sake of a couple of fellow New Yorkers who played some serious hoops for the Yellow Jackets years earlier, but he hardly gave the Institute a thought.

That makes it all the more interesting that the whirling dervish figures to help run the team in Josh Pastner’s second season as head coach.

Tech wasn’t recruiting the 6-foot point guard from Christ the King Regional High School in Queens until Pastner was hired in April 2016, and he soon hired former Georgetown assistant Tavaras Hardy.

The NYC-to-Tech point guard pipeline had been closed for years since former coach Bobby Cremins brought Kenny Anderson (1989-91) and Stephon Marbury (1995-96) down to star The Flats.

Yet Georgetown and Hardy were recruiting Alvarado and he soon landed on Tech’s radar, “late junior year; not before. I don’t even know if they had a conversation with me before Josh was here and when coach Hardy came on,” Alvarado said.

“I knew how the New York guards came here and how successful they had been. I learned more when I started looking into the school and about playing here myself.”

The Jackets’ first game will be Friday against UCLA in Shanghai, China, and their home opener will be Nov. 19 against Bethune-Cookman. Pastner already knows that the scrappy young man from The Big Apple is going to be a big part of his plan.

From summer workouts, fall practices and two exhibition games the coach can see that Alvarado brings an edge that he wants on the floor. He figures to share the point guard position now that Josh Heath graduated.

“Jose Alvarado is going to play a lot. We’ve only got two, really, point guards with him and Justin Moore, so Jose’s going to play a bunch of minutes, and I think fans are really going to like and enjoy watching him play,” Pastner said. “He’s tough; he competes. He’s shooting the ball well.”

Although he struggled with his shot in the Jackets’ first open exhibition, against Georgia State, Alvarado may bring a little more of a scorer’s mindset to his position than Heath, although many evaluators consider him a pass-first point guard.

“I just get the job done and win. I make people around me better,” he said. “That’s what I think I’m best at but I want to improve in every way I can.”

Basketball wasn’t always in the blood. Born in Brooklyn, Alvarado moved to Queens when he was 9 and hoops soon came into his life.

“I was playing football and I had a neck injury so my Dad said no more of that,” he recalled. “I just saw my friends outside going and playing pickup, and I just started playing from there and I really liked it.”

Alvarado began landing on a lot of radars as a junior at Christ the King, when he was named the New York City Catholic League player of the year following a season in which averaged 17.0 points and 6.5 assists.

He plays hard at both ends of the court, and logged the first quadruple-double in his high school’s history when he had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals in a game.

“There’s going to be obviously an adjustment period for him . . . he gambles a lot [defensively] in a sense because he probably could get away with it prior to coming here, and at this level he’s going to have to stay really sound,” Pastner explained.

“But at his size you’ve got to let him be a little reckless. You’ve got to let him make some mistakes here and there and take some chances because he is smaller, but he plays with that chip on his shoulder, that edge.”

Shortly before Alvarado committed to Tech last September, his AAU coach, Andy Borman, said, “There are kids that win you games and lose you games, and Jose wins you games. He just makes plays. He’s as tough and competitive a kid as I’ve ever coached, and I’ve coached some pretty darned good players.”

Jose is ready to go.

“I feel like it’s a great fit for me here. I have great people around me,” he said. “It’s a totally different game from high school. Coach Pastner wants to make you a better person on and off the court. Basketball-wise, I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in.”