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June 3, 2009

Georgia guard Zac Swansey transfers to Golden Eagles

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Zac Swansey, a regular in the University of Georgia lineup the past two seasons, will transfer to Tennessee Tech to wrap up his basketball career for the Golden Eagles, TTU coach Mike Sutton announced this week.

Swansey, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Dunwoody, Ga., will sit out the 2009-10 season due to NCAA transfer rules and have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

“Tech had recruited me out of high school, and I had built a great relationship with coach Sutton, coach (Steve) Payne and coach (Russ) Willemsen,” Swansey said. “As soon as I announced I was leaving Georgia, those guys called. Coach Sutton has been around the game a long time, and I know I can continue to develop my game under him.”

Lauded for his court savvy and point guard skills, he ran the Bulldogs offense during his two seasons in Athens, leading the team to the NCAA Tournament as a freshman.

“We had recruited Zac out of high school,” said Sutton. “We watched him play during high school and with the Georgia Stars AAU, and we did an in-home visit. We were one of several schools recruiting him.

“Once he decided to make a change from Georgia, we invited him on campus and he liked what he saw,” Sutton said. “I think it will work out well for him, and well for us. We have three returning guards who will be seniors, so after he sits out one year and has a year to practice and learn our system, we think he’ll be ready to step right in and lead our team.”

Swansey is the latest transfer to come to Tech and the previous transfers have enjoyed tremendous success. Previous transfers include Willie Jenkins from UMass, an OVC Player of the Year and two-time first-team all-OVC selection, Damien Kinloch from South Carolina, an OVC Newcomer of the Year and two-time first-team all-OVC pick, Belton Rivers from East Carolina, and another first-team all-OVC pick, and Derek Stribling from Tennessee.

“Transfers have been a key to our successful teams,” Sutton said. “Each of them has graduated and gone on to a professional career.”

“We think Zac has the potential to be an all-conference player like many of our other transfers,” Sutton said.

During his freshman season at Georgia, Swansey handed out a career-high 10 assists in his first collegiate game, a victory over OVC member Jacksonville State. He scored his career-high of 12 points against Hawaii, a number he matched twice more.

He became a more familiar name to Bulldog fans as the hero in Georgia’s SEC Tournament win over Kentucky in 2007 when he scored twice in the final 1:55, including the game-winning turnaround 3-pointer with one second to play to propel the Bulldogs into the NCAA Tournament.

As a sophomore, he played in 31 of the team’s 32 games including 17 in the starting lineup. He averaged 20 minutes per game, scoring 4.3 points per game. His 89 assists ranked second on the team, and he was also second on the squad in steals with 35.

He was a first-team all-state selection as a senior at Dunwoody High School, averaging 19.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.4 steals and 3.1 rebounds per game. As a junior, he helped Dunwoody to its second straight Class 3A state title while averaging 19.2 points and 6.3 assists. Swansey played his first two prep seasons at Flowery Branch High School.

“Zac played a huge part in our success at Dunwoody High School, and that included four Final Fours and two state championships,” said coach Scott Bracco. “He played a major role for us. He can score, there’s no doubt about that, but the most important thing about Zac is that he gets everyone involved. He makes everyone around him better.”

Bracco also had high praise for Swansey’s character.

“He’s unbelievable. He’s one of the best kids I’ve ever been around or coached. He will be successful in anything he does.”

For his four-year high school career, he scored 2,368 total points and helped his team to the state playoffs all four years.

Swansey says his biggest contribution to the Golden Eagle program will be his ability to lead.

“My strength is my leadership qualities. That’s what I’ll try to bring to practice every day,” he said. “I want to work hard and bring out the best in myself and my teammates.”

Sutton likes the skills Swansey will bring to the backcourt.

“Zac is a very tough, hard-nosed basketball player who can create opportunities, not only for himself but for other players,” Sutton said. “He’s a great kid who wants to be a part of something special, and someone we can count on right away. He has experience in big arenas against big opponents, and he’ll really fit in well here. We expect him to have a huge impact on our backcourt.”

“This year he will really help us in practice,” Sutton said. “This lets him work further on his game and play against our guys. And, our guys get to work against him. It helps everyone.”

Swansey was a teammate of current Golden Eagles Frank Davis and Bassey Inameti during his years with the Georgia Stars AAU team.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back together with Frank and Bassey,” Swansey said. “We’re looking forward to finishing our college careers together.”

Their AAU coach, Troy Vincent, has good things to say about his former point guard.

“Zac was an incredible leader and a great kid,” Vincent said. “He’s bringing a wealth of experience and leadership to Tennessee Tech. That’s what he meant for us. He brought a calming presence to our team.

“He’s also a leader off the court, too,” Vincent said. “The guys really looked up to him and respected him.”

Swansey is also familiar with November TTU signee Terrell Barnes.

“I played with Terrell’s brother, Chris, at Georgia,” Swansey said. “I got to know Terrell through that. I already had a good relationship with the coaches and I know a few guys on the team, and that made my decision easier and will make it that much better when I get there.”

Swansey will join a Golden Eagle roster that has already added four signees for the 2009-10 season. Those newcomers include Terrell Barnes and Jud Dillard from Riverdale (Ga.) High School, Livingston (Tenn.) Academy standout guard Chase Dunn, and Mineral Area Community College forward Byron Pickens from Chicago.