Virginia Tech Hokies
Overall Rank: #116
Conference Rank: #12 ACC
2006-07: 22-12, 10-6, 3rd (t)
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
There is enough talent on this team to reach the NCAA Tournament, but they will not have much time to get the six incoming freshmen acclimated to life in the ACC. There are hardly enough players returning to cover the starting five, so the talented group of freshmen will be asked to do a lot. The star of the team is now wing Deron Washington. The 6-7 senior averaged 12.0 points and a team high 5.3 rebounds last year and those numbers should only get better.
The backcourt duo of Jamon Gordon and Zabian Dowdell was one of the best in the nation. Gordon led the team with 4.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game and added 11.4 points and 4.5 rebounds. Dowdell was the best scorer for the Hokies, averaging 17.4 points per game. Replacing them will be nearly impossible and will not happen any time soon. Markus Sailes proved to be a quality perimeter player off the bench and was good for about 15 minutes per game. The major loss up front is Coleman Collins. The 6-9 forward was the lone scoring threat in the post and averaged 7.8 points and 4.8 boards during his senior campaign. The frontcourt also loses seldom used Chris Tucker and would be junior Robert Krabbendam. Krabbendam is headed to play ball in the Netherlands after starting five games for Virginia Tech last year.
This is a really nice list of incoming recruits. If they can live up to their potential, the Hokies will not be near the bottom of the table. Yet, they are still freshmen and there are not any Greg Oden’s or Kevin Durant’s here. Finding somebody to run the point may end up to the most important issue for the Hokies this season. Malcolm Delaney is not just a passer, he is a terrific scorer and can hit the long ball with consistency. If he is not playing this year, Delaney is expected to be the point guard of the future. Hank Thorns lacks the high school pedigree of Delaney, but should at least develop into a solid contributor off the bench. Dorenzo Hudson will make an immediate impact. The versatile 6-4 wing needs to work on his rebounding if he wants to be the next Gordon, but he can get to the basket and work the defense off the dribble. Darrion Pellum has the potential to put up big numbers in the scoring column and fellow small forward Terrell Bell will add more depth to the wing. Before all is said and done, Jeff Allen may be the best player in the class. The 6-8 power forward is strong and tough and will be a star once he develops a more consistent offensive game. Terrance Vinson has spent a couple years on the bench with back and knee injuries and, if healthy, could provide some depth at the forward spots. J.T. Thompson, an athletic forward, has completed his high school classes and will join the Hokies in the fall of 2007 instead of 2008 as originally intended.
Who to Watch:
There are a few players returning. Well, maybe. At the moment, the rumors are swirling regarding a transfer of Nigel Munson. The point guard played in 32 games last year and would be leading the team if he opts to return. Yet, until noted otherwise, Munson is the starting point guard for the Hokies. A.D. Vassallo, a 6-6 wing, is a tough matchup. Vassallo, now a junior, is the most dangerous outside shooter on the team and is not afraid to mix it up inside and use his size to help on the glass. Even with Munson returning, the backcourt is young and will need to plenty of help from the newcomers.
Speaking of young, the frontcourt is not much better. Sophomore Lewis Witcher and junior Cheick Diakite are the likely starters at the beginning of the year. Witcher, who started 20 games as a freshman, does not worry the opposition with his scoring, but will do the dirty work. The problem is Diakite played pretty much the same role last year. Somebody has to develop into a post scorer. Witcher has the potential to step up and take over Collins role, but he has yet to prove it with any consistency. As long as everybody sticks around, this team will be really good in 2008-2009. Even by the time the conference schedule is upon us, the Hokies could be a dangerous team, but this is an obvious rebuilding year in Blacksburg.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Nigel Munson, Sophomore, Guard, 3.0 points per game
A.D. Vassallo, Junior, Guard, 11.1 points per game
Deron Washington, Senior, Forward, 12.0 points per game
Lewis Witcher, Sophomore, Forward, 2.9 points per game
Cheick Diakite, Junior, Forward, 2.9 points per game