Jarell Eddie Assuming Early Leadership Mantle For Virginia TechPosted by Lathan Wells on December 11th, 2013
When Virginia Tech’s men’s basketball team had one of its players named the ACC Player of the Week on Monday, it’d be fair for most fans to wonder who could have possibly garnered that honor with Erick Green now playing in the pros. The Hokies were a team that relied almost exclusively on Green a year ago, and he put up continually stellar individual performances during a dreary overall season for the team. With Green now gone, many wondered who could possibly take over the reins offensively and help this team avoid a season in the conference cellar. Ten games into the year, that player has been Jarell Eddie.
Coming into the year, the squad from Blacksburg looked to be in complete rebuilding mode. A freshman, Ben Emelogu, was named its captain, a sign that the returnees weren’t seen as leaders or surefire contributors. Most probably looked at Virginia Tech’s opening loss to South Carolina Upstate as further validation that, minus Green, this would be a team that would struggle to beat anybody. But the team has shown its resiliency with solid victories over West Virginia and Winthrop in the non-conference schedule and an overtime win over Miami that left them as the conference’s lone unbeaten team (yes, that’s the only ACC game played thus far, but some may not have predicted a single conference win for this roster). The Hokies’ 7-3 record won’t blow anyone away, but it is a good start to a year that many thought could be completely disastrous.
Eddie has been the catalyst, just as head coach James Johnson hoped he’d be. After an underwhelming junior season in which his three-point shooting plummeted and he was benched at times for immaturity, Eddie was cited by Johnson as one of the players who had to play consistently well for Virginia Tech to be competitive in 2013-14. His shooting seems to have returned to form, as Eddie’s three-point percentage through the first 10 contests is a stellar 48.6 percent (compared to 32.1 percent a year ago), and he’s averaging just over 19 points per game after only averaging 12.3 a year ago (his 34 against Winthrop was a career-high). Three times already in this young season he’s connected six times from long range in a game. Surely Green’s absence has allowed for Eddie to be more aggressive on the offensive end, but he’s making the opportunities count so far. After two huge scoring performances this week that earned him the Player of the Week honor, Eddie seems to be in full stride with conference play rapidly approaching.
While Eddie’s prodigious scoring is nice and a must for a very young Hokies team, it’s the leadership that’s most important for Johnson to see from his senior swingman. Eddie’s comments about needing to “step up” against Winthrop because of injuries to guards Adam Smith and Emelogu, which necessitated former walk-on Will Johnston to start at the point, had to be exactly what Johnson was hoping for. Eddie even handled the ball for several minutes while Johnston rested, something he hadn’t done during his tenure in Blacksburg. That game, and the week in total, had to be a beautiful sight for Hokies fans. Jarell Eddie, who always had great potential but not always the desire and consistency to match it, seems to have settled into his role as senior statesman on this year’s Virginia Tech team. There may be more individual honors and some surprising team success to follow.