ACC Basketball: 2015-2016 Virginia Tech Hokies Preview

Virginia Tech Hokies


11-22 (2-16 in ACC) in 2014-2015


Key Returning Players

  • G Justin Bibbs
  • PG Ahmed Hill (may redshirt this season)
  • G Jalen Hudson


  • G Adam Smith (transferred to Georgia Tech)
  • F Joey Van Zegeren (transferred to Northwestern)
  • G Malik Muller (left program, playing overseas in Germany)
  • F Christian Beyer (graduated)
  • G Will Johnston (graduated)


  • SF Chris Clarke, 4-star recruit (#54 on ESPN 100 for 2015 class)
  • PF Kerry Blackshear Jr, 4-star recruit (ranked #115 in ESPN’s 2015 recruiting rankings)
  • PG Justin Robinson, 4-star recruit (ranked #131 in ESPN’s 2015 recruiting rankings)
  • G Seth Allen (transfer from Maryland)
  • F Zach LeDay (transfer from South Florida)
  • C Johnny Hamilton (JUCO transfer from Jacksonville (TX) College)
  • G/F Ty Outlaw (Redshirting this season; JUCO transfer from Lee (Tx.) College


It’s been a while since Virginia Tech basketball has had a winning season. Four years to be exact. It’s been even longer since Tech reached the NCAA Tournament (2007). While returning to the Big Dance is a pipe dream (and extremely unlikely), a .500 record is certainly attainable in year two of the Buzz Williams Era.

If there’s one question mark about coach Williams, it’s that he’s never had to completely rebuild a program. He was extremely successful at Marquette, but that program was already in terrific shape because of what Tom Crean did there. It’s a completely different undertaking for Williams, trying to build up a program while competing in the toughest basketball conference in the land. However, there’s not really a decent argument to suggest Williams can’t rebuild the program when you consider his passion, energy, work ethic, coaching philosophy and recruiting prowess. Williams pretty much has all of the human qualities needed to get the program on the right track. But, Tech fans have to be remain patient. In all likelihood, the rebuild is a three or four year process. As the saying goes, ‘crawl, walk and then run.’

The make-up of the roster is intriguing, with a core of players (like Seth Allen and Justin Bibbs) that Williams can work with and build upon. It’s not out of the question to see those guys combine to contribute 30 points per game between the two. Add in a trio of four-star recruits in Chris Clarke, Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Justin Robinson to the mix and coach Williams has a nice foundation at his hands.

What makes this year challenging is that the Hokies may be without sophomore point guard Ahmed Hill (8.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 39% 3PT), who’s recovering from a torn patellar tendon and JUCO transfer Ty Outlaw, who’s sitting out due to a medical condition. Losing last year’s leading scorer in Adam Smith (13.4 ppg) makes things even more challenging for a team trying to build depth.

Instead of focusing on the many problems from last season, one area of the game that absolutely has to be improved is rebounding, if the Hokies are going to be competitive. In fact, they ranked 337th (out of 345 DI tams) in rebounding margin at minus-6.4 per game. You’d hope that category would be improved with the additions of 6-11 C Johnny Hamilton, the 6-10 PF Blackshear Jr. and 6-7 F Zach LeDay. Not only will those guys have to step up, but there’s got to be a group effort from the backcourt players as well. When it comes to rebounding, it takes more than height to be a good rebounder. You have to give effort, be able to box out and understand where to be positioned based on a shot’s location and trajectory.


Schedule and Prediction

For a team in year two of a rebuild, the non-conference schedule isn’t very ideal. Sure, their first four games of the season are cupcakes, but the meat of the non-conference schedule includes Iowa State (#7), Northwestern, St. Joe’s and West Virginia (#28).

In this year’s season opening press conference, coach Williams summed up the schedule pretty succinctly:

“I think we’re playing a year-three schedule with a year-two roster. It’s hard to turn down some of the opportunities we had scheduling-wise. Some of the games were already on the docket prior to my hiring. We’ve got to flush those out as soon as we can in some ways, and then try to work around those games that were already scheduled. I think we’ve bitten off more than we’re probably ready to chew. But, we’ll see.”

Tech’s home-and-away opponents in conference play are #6 Virginia, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Miami. Not the hardest home-and-away slate, but not the easiest either. Fans should be ecstatic if the Hokies can garner two wins against the Demon Deacons and steal a game from either Pittsburgh and/or Miami. Teams in the ACC that Tech will have the best chance against this season are Georgia Tech, Clemson and Boston College. The only problem is that two of those games (GT, BC) are on the road.

Taking the schedule and roster into account, I think a reasonable expectation is winning somewhere between 15-17 regular season games. It’d also be nice if the Hokies could win somewhere between 5-7 conference games as well. Either way, the Hokies should at least be competitive in more games this season compared to last year. Sure, they’ll lose quite a few games, but probably not by as much as 15, 20 or 25 points.

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