ACC Team Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies

Posted by Lathan Wells on October 25th, 2013

It’s difficult to argue that a coach with the eventual Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year on his roster was dealt a difficult hand, but that’s exactly what James Johnson was given in his first season at Virginia Tech last year. Johnson’s team, following the dismissal of long-tenured coach Seth Greenberg, operated most of the season with only eight scholarship players (and at times as few as six), making it difficult for the Hokies to employ his favored full-court pressure and trapping defenses. It also made for a very taxing season on his players overall, with very little depth to turn to and no consistent offense outside of the POY award-winning Erick Green. Green has departed for the greener pastures of the NBA, which leaves the Hokies in a transitional year as Johnson attempts to mold the team in his image in his second term.

Virginia Tech Preview 2013

Virginia Tech didn’t lose much outside of Green (their only other significant departure was the transfer of guard Robert Brown to UAB), but as stated above, the team certainly stood to gain quite a bit from an influx of new faces. While Johnson’s recruiting class this season is dominated by lightly-regarded players (at least by most scouting services), they will all be thrown into the cauldron early as the Hokies experiment with lineups and combinations. Combo guard Ben Emelogu, recently named captain of the team despite being a freshman, is characterized by Johnson as someone who can slash and jump-start the offense. Guard Adam Smith, a transfer from UNC-Wilmington, sat out the requisite season last year, but posted solid numbers in his freshman campaign in the Colonial Athletic Association (13.7 points per game, the top freshman scorer in the conference). Smith also has the benefit of familiarity with ACC competition, having notched 32 points against Wake Forest and 23 against Maryland in non-conference action two seasons ago. Freshman Devin Wilson also should see some minutes at the point as the Hokies try to rebuild their guard ranks.

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ACC M5: 12.18.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 18th, 2012


  1. News & Observer: Everyone agrees that Duke is the best basketball team in the nation. As silly as the rankings in the media and coaches poll can be, for many schools, a place at the top of one of these lists is a rare feather in the cap. Yet in Durham, the top of the polls isn’t anything worth getting excited about, a reasonable stance when a team has topped the polls so frequently. Of all the numbers that speak to Duke’s dominance in this area, I think this is the most stunning: During Mike Krzyzewski’s tenure, Duke has played more games as the top-ranked team than they have as an unranked team. That is nothing short of incredible.
  2. CBS Sports: In more numbers-related news, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim achieved his 900th win last night against Detroit. Boeheim is in rarefied air, and it seems very likely that the Orange coach will easily retire with the second spot in all-time career wins (Krzyzeski is all but uncatchable at this point). Boeheim, with his incredible win total (and win percentage!), is one of the true living legends of the college basketball world. It’s worth taking a moment to realize what a big deal it is that this man is going to be coaching in the ACC next season and beyond.
  3. Washington Post: A short Virginia Tech rotation just got even shorter. Freshman Marshall Wood has broken a bone in his left foot and will be out indefinitely. Wood was in the midst of a fairly successful opening campaign of his college career, playing 18 minutes a game off the bench, and serving as the third big man in the Hokies’ frontcourt rotation. While fellow freshman Joey van Zegeren has seen some playing time at this spot, his propensity for fouling may mean that Virginia Tech embraces a smaller line-up with swingman Jarell Eddie seeing some time at power forward like he did last year.
  4. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of impressive freshmen campaigns, it’s time to talk about T.J. Warren‘s impressive start for NC State. Garnering a second ACC Rookie of the Week nod, Warren has barely missed since the beginning of his time with the Wolfpack. Shooting 69.1% from the field, he’s easily been the most accurate player in the conference as well as posting the third best field goal percentage nationally. While it’s unlikely that Warren will continue to shoot the ball at such a torrid pace, right now it’s amazing to watch a forward shoot from all over the court and never expect to miss.
  5. Blogger So Dear: Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman recently tried to address the dismal state of Demon Deacons basketball. While Wellman’s defense of coach Jeff Bzdelik reflects admirable loyalty, it also underscores the main issue that has been bothering many Wake Forest fans: It doesn’t seem like anyone employed at the university sees what is so obviously happening to what was once one of the best basketball programs in the nation. Martin Rickman does a great job breaking down the complete failure of leadership in Winston-Salem.
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ACC M5: 10.25.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 25th, 2012

  1. ESPN:  North Carolina will be allowed to leave for its game at Long Beach State (en route to the Maui Invitational) more than 48 hours before tipoff. NCAA rules typically do not allow teams to leave for away games more than 48 hours before its tipoff, but North Carolina was able to lobby to successfully get a waiver (after it had been previously denied) to bypass this rule. This will reportedly save the school up to $120,000, as the team can now fly commercially instead of needing a charter flight.  It is definitely a change to see an off-the-court (or gridiron) headline that does not detail more doom and gloom for the athletics programs over at North Carolina. It is also good to see the NCAA exercising some common sense in this situation.
  2. Richmond Times-Dispatch:  Travis McKie is just one of two upperclassmen remaining on Wake Forest’s team, and he is the only one left from his 2010 recruiting class of five. Michael Phillips interviewed McKie recently, finding that his college experience has not been quite what he expected, as he has only won five conference games in his time at Wake Forest. But McKie has definitely learned through the adversity, saying, “I think now I appreciate things more.” The junior and coach Jeff Bzdelik are certainly confident that McKie’s leadership which has developed during his time at Wake Forest (including spending this summer mentoring all of Wake Forest’s freshmen) will get through to his extremely young teammates, and that the team can finally escape the ACC basement as a result.
  3. Washington Post:  Freshman Marshall Wood has been a pleasant surprise in practice for Virginia Tech. On a team with just eight scholarship players, coach James Johnson already envisions Wood playing many minutes at the power forward slot, and he was particularly impressed with Wood’s rebounding and outside shooting prowess. This is significant news for the Hokies because Wood, who put up great numbers in high school, was very lightly recruited and his high school competition in rural Virginia was not particularly strong.
  4. USA Today:  Andrew Wiggins is the most highly-touted high school player in the class of 2014 (although he is considering reclassifying and graduating this year), and possibly the best in high school regardless of class. Eric Prisbell’s detailed piece covers Wiggins’ growth in maturity since he moved to the United States from his native Canada to play for Huntington (WV) Prep,  previously home to OJ Mayo and Patrick Patterson. Wiggins has long thought to be favoring Kentucky and Florida State (his parents’ alma mater), although North Carolina, along with Kansas and Ohio State, has come into the running recently. Refreshingly, Wiggins is extremely humble and hates all the hoopla (inspired by his idol, Kevin Durant) so much that his coach believes that when Wiggins decides on his college, he will just text him the choice rather than announce it in an ESPNU televised special.  If Florida State could land Wiggins, it would undoubtedly be the biggest recruiting coup in the program’s history.
  5. CBS Sports:  Going along with Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson vowing to push the tempo this year, Sean Bielawski decided to take a closer look at the overall tempo stats in the ACC.  The ACC has historically been thought of as one of the higher-scoring, more up-tempo of the major conferences (at least in contrast to the Big Ten, for example), but last year, only one ACC squad, North Carolina, was in the top 75 in the Pomeroy adjusted tempo rankings. Overall, the ACC was ranked fourth out of the six major conferences in terms of average tempo, and 20th out of the 33 Division I conferences (weighed down by Miami, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Virginia, who were all outside the top 250).  If Johnson is true to its word, that could be enough to shift the ACC into the upper half of college basketball in terms of its pace.
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ACC Summer Recess: Virginia Tech Hokies

Posted by mpatton on July 17th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Virginia Tech.

Where They Stand Now

Virginia Tech surprised most people last year. The Hokies were picked in the middle of the pack by pretty much everyone. It was supposed to be a “down year” in the sense that people expected Seth Greenberg‘s perennial bubble team to not be one of the last teams out on Selection Sunday. Non-conference play went as expected: the Hokies lost all three games they played against tough competition and won the other 11. Then the ACC slate hit like a dump truck.

Virginia Tech started 1-6 in conference play with losses to league cellar dwellers Boston College and Wake Forest. Until beating Clemson by five in their final regular season match-up, the Hokies’ three wins came by a total of five points. No conference team played opponents as consistently close (Virginia Tech saw all but four of its conference games decided by single figures), but no team saw fewer conference wins either. It was the last straw for the athletic department brass, which waited until April 23 to let Greenberg go.

Erick Green

Erick Green Has First Team All-ACC Potential this Season.

In his stead is last year’s Assistant Head Coach, James Johnson. Johnson is a great choice for the job, though he failed his first assignments. Top recruit Montrezl Harrell de-committed from the program to go to Louisville, and rising star Dorian Finney-Smith transferred to Florida. Still, Johnson knows the Virginia Tech team well and he knows the program.

Who’s Leaving

Long story short: a lot of people. The Hokies lose Dorenzo Hudson and Victor Davila to graduation; they lose Allan Chaney and Finney-Smith to transfer; and they lost Harrell’s commitment along with their head coach Greenberg.

Hudson and Davila were the team’s second and fourth-leading scorers, respectively. They combined to average 18.4 points and 7.0 rebounds a game. While Finney-Smith was still very raw offensively, he contributed a lot on defense and by crashing the glass. He was highly rated coming out of high school (#18 by ESPN, #27 by Scout and #31 by Rivals), largely thanks to his potential.

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Who’s Got Next? Tony Parker Commits, Ripple Effect of Greenberg Firing

Posted by Josh Paunil on April 26th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at

Lead Story: Tony Parker Joins Adams, Anderson and Muhammad at UCLA

Parker Choose UCLA Over Duke, Georgia And Ohio State. (Photo: Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Tony Parker Gives UCLA Top Recruiting Class.  Class of 2012 power forward Tony Parker committed to UCLA Monday over Duke, Georgia and Ohio State, joining point guard Kyle Anderson and small forwards Jordan Adams and Shabazz Muhammad in head coach Ben Howland’s stellar 2012 recruiting class. Parker brings a tremendous inside presence to Westwood and is someone who will be able to rebound as soon as he steps onto campus. He is an elite big man with a great skill set in the low post and has the ability to score through a variety of moves in the paint. He can make a hook over both shoulders and is able to play facing the basket, although he’s at his best with his back to the basket. The biggest knock on Parker has always been the same — that he’s out of shape and lacks stamina. However, the Georgia native has worked hard to dispel that notion and although he can still improve his conditioning, he’s definitely gotten better at running the court and has an improved motor. Once Parker gets to UCLA, he’ll join a crowded frontcourt that already includes sophomore power forwards David and Travis Wear and sophomore center Josh Smith. Every single person in the UCLA’s 2012 recruiting class worked hard on recruiting Parker and Adams even predicted back in December that the Bruins would land him. UCLA fans should remain cautiously optimistic, though, because as we’ve pointed out at RTC, having a highly ranked recruiting class doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, borne out by UCLA’s 2008 recruiting class. Although, there are some differences between this year’s recruiting class and the one four years ago.

What They’re Saying

  • Senior Marshall Wood on asking for a release from Virginia Tech: “I need to get my release so I can review all my options. If somebody gets the job at Tech that recruited me or something and I have a really good relationship with [him], I possibly could still go back. But right now I just want to get the release so I can have more options to look at.” Read the rest of this entry »
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