Ex-Georgia Tech forward Julian Royal found a creative way to announce his transfer destination on Friday morning.
Royal chose George Mason over Vanderbilt, opting to reunite with coach Paul Hewitt, who initially recruited him to Georgia Tech two years ago. The 6-foot-8 rising junior will sit out next season and have two years of eligibility remaining once he's allowed to play again in 2014.
The addition of Royal could be a coup for a George Mason program looking to upgrade its roster so it can contend once it joins the Atlantic 10 this fall. Royal put up modest stats in two seasons at Georgia Tech, but the question is whether the former consensus top 100 recruit suffered from being overhyped or underutilized.
Expected to consider asking out of his letter of intent when Georgia Tech fired Hewitt and replaced him with Brian Gregory two years ago, Royal instead chose to honor his commitment to the Yellowjackets. He averaged 16 minutes per game in 3o games as a freshman, but the arrival of promising Robert Carter last year and the return of Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey shuffled Royal to fourth in a three-man frontcourt rotation.
What will determine whether Royal is a shrewd gamble for George Mason is whether Hewitt can tap into the potential the young forward showed when he was the Georgia state player of the year as a high school senior.
A face-up forward comfortable from the perimeter and in the paint, Royal is a potential mismatch in the guard-heavy Atlantic 10. It's not a great sign that he was unable to make an impact last season for a Georgia Tech team that went 6-12 in the ACC, but perhaps a fresh start with the coach who recruited him can help tap into his potential.