The 30 Most Influential NCAA MBB Teams of SLAM’s 30 Years: ‘96 Georgia Tech

To celebrate SLAM’s 30th anniversary, we’re spotlighting the 30 most influential men’s college teams from our past 30 years. Stats, records and chips aren’t the main factor here, it’s all about their contribution to the game’s cultural fabric.

For the next 30 days—Monday through Friday— we’ll be unveiling the full list here. We’ve also got an exclusive retro collegiate collection, out now, that pays homage to each squad’s threads. Shop here.

The Coney Island kid and SLAM’s golden child. A blossoming national talent hailing from Cincinnati. A 6-5 dimer leading the program in all-time assists. Stephon Marbury, Matt Harpring and Drew Barry formulated one of the greatest squads in Georgia Tech history. But their Sweet 16 appearance and dominance in the ACC pales compared to the lasting imprint left by Starbury and the Yellow Jackets cohort. 

Hailing from Lincoln High School, Marbury was shifting the culture long before he came to dawn the gold and navy. Two-time SLAM All-American. The first SLAM Diarist and a future great who we’d honor as one of the 30 players who have defined our 30 years. To put it into perspective, Marbury had dudes in the barbershop asking for a line cut down the middle of their heads. He had Alexander Memorial Coliseum rocking to a different type of rhythm. His vision was top tier, his style of play was ruthless, mean muggin’ as he trotted back down on defense. 

The Yellow Jackets already had a solid core in place between Harpring, Barry and Michael Maddox, but the arrival of the wiry high school sensation would put Tech over the top with a regular season ACC Championship and a final No. 13 AP ranking.

Led by ACC Coach of the Year Bobby Cremins, the Jackets looked to their sharp-shooting sophomore in Matt Harpring for never-ending consistency. Good for 18.6 points and 8.1 boards a game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc, the 6-8 forward would secure his second of three All-ACC honors during the year. Meanwhile, Drew Barry – the son of Hall of Famer Rick Barry – formed the second half of Tech’s insurmountable backcourt. 

The Yellow Jackets may not have found ultimate success in March – despite reaching the Sweet 16 – but they found it in cultural relevance. Starbury was born. A modernized swagger imbued the hardwood of Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Yellow Jackets weren’t all hype. They were emphatic. 

Photos via Getty Images.

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