Perhaps it’s just me, but at times I’m having a tough time believing what’s going on with recruiting for the Virginia Tech’s men’s basketball team.
It’s nothing bad. Quite the contrary, in fact, to the point I wonder if this is just a dream and I haven’t woken up yet. In my 50-plus years of watching Hokie basketball, there are certain hard truths I’ve learned, and one is that while there will be good years and bad, there will never be a year that blue chips flock to Blacksburg.
The Hokies will be in the dance with many. They’ll be included in the final two with a few. But typically when final decisions are made, most times they’re left at the altar watching the bride drive off into the sunset as a blue blood school makes a late move and sweeps a recruit off their feet. Doesn’t mean the Hokies haven’t had great players come to Blacksburg, but the marquee players among the nation’s recruiting elite tend not to end up in Southwest Virginia.
This year has felt different.
Start off, if you will, with the four freshmen who have signed with the Hokies for next season. Over the years, the best players from the Washington, DC area – the All Met team named by the Washington Post – have fueled championships in several major conferences, including the ACC. The player of the year usually goes to a blue blood program. When that player isn’t from DeMatha, the Stags' best player usually goes to a blue blood program.
This year’s All Met player of the year is Darren Buchanan Jr., a 6-7 225-pound forward from Woodrow Wilson. He was also the DC Gatorade Player of The Year and has amassed a list of other honors the length of your arm.
He’s signed with Virginia Tech.
Now take a look at DeMatha’s best player, Rodney Rice. He is a 6-4, 185-pound shooting guard who can score, play defense and make plays. He’s a big-time guard who makes things happen, and he also has signed with Virginia Tech.
I believe the last time Virginia Tech signed the two best players in the DC area was, well, never.
Also signing was MJ Collins, a 6-4, 195-pound shooting guard from North Carolina who is a prolific scorer, and the fourth member of the class is Patrick Wessler, a 7-foot, 255-pounder from the Charlotte, NC area. If you’ve followed the Hokies for very long, you’re aware the Hokies sign 7-footers as often as they sign the All Met player of the year. It’s rare.
So incoming you have a class with size, shooting ability and toughness. That group alone, to me, is beyond expectations and is a testament to what Mike Young is building in Blacksburg.
Not to act like a late-night commercial for a bass-o-matic or sham-wow, but WAIT.
With the loss of Keve Aluma to turning pro, and the probable loss of Justyn Mutts to the same career course, the Hokies needed to find a good replacement or two in the transfer portal. They needed at least one person who could shoot from the outside like Aluma, and at least one player who was a physical banger in the lane like Mutts.
They ended up getting three.
In the last two weeks they added sharpshooting John Camden from Memphis, who at 6-8 has the size to get his shot off. His Dad went to Virginia Tech in the 90s and the Hokies really wanted him last year before he ended up signing with Memphis. Camden was injured about two minutes after he saw his first live action, and due to a medical redshirt, still has all his eligibility left.
They then added 6-9 Grant Basile from Wright State, who is almost a clone of Aluma. Instantly the team added a 6-8 and 6-9 player with offensive skills capable of filling the void Aluma was leaving. In Basile, you’ve got someone with two years of college experience at Wright State, and together with Camden you’ve got a potentially successful situation at the 4 that could last for years.
I thought they were done after those two transfers, but today they added Mylyjael Poteat, a 6-9 260-pound transfer from Rice who averaged 7.7 points and 4.2 for the Owls. He’s clearly a 5 and will replace Mutts (who still could come back if he so chooses) and the role he played under the basket. So the portal has now added size, strength, scoring, and essentially everything Young needed for his system.
There have been years, I should note, entire recruiting classes for the Hokies were not as talented as these three additions from the transfer portal. To layer that on top of a hugely successful recruiting class is like opening all your Christmas presents, then looking out in the driveway and seeing a big bow on a new car for you.
You don’t know how it will all work out until a year from now when the season is over, and this is why at times it feels to me as if it’s too good to be true. But the Hokies are adding what appears to be seven really good players to a team that won the ACC tournament two months ago, with many having ties to family or coaches at Virginia Tech, and they all seem to have specific skills that fit within Young’s system.
Most importantly, they all seem to want to be at Virginia Tech.
Next season can’t get here quickly enough…