Hokie basketball has experienced a massive resurgence under the leadership of Buzz Williams. The core group of players in the program is as good as any in Tech history.
They’re good enough that Virginia Tech’s impressive recruiting class will likely see only limited minutes in 2017-18.
It’s important to note that there could always be a change to the roster before next season arrives. The reason for the delay between this piece and the one covering newcomers was waiting on the roster.
Seth LeDay is no longer with the program. While the Hokies wait for the final pieces to fall in to place, we’ll look at the returning players who will play next year.
This roster is loaded with wing players so playing time at the one, two, and three positions is in short supply. That’s one of the reasons a guy like Jalen Hudson is playing at Florida now.
Buzz loves athletic wings, but it may be Tech’s most talented big man who will make the biggest difference next season.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. – Redshirt-sophomore Forward
Blackshear sat out the entire 2016-17 season while he recovered from a leg injury. As a freshman he averaged 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game and is poised to vastly improve Tech’s post play upon his return. As productive as Zach LeDay was for the Hokies, he was at a size disadvantage almost every time he stepped on the court. That was far more apparent on the defensive end, particularly against Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Blackshear has tremendous length on that end and flashed some very skilled offensive post moves for a young player. The importance of his return can’t be overstated.
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Khadim Sy – Sophomore Forward
Another post player who flashed tons of potential, Sy’s biggest area of need is strength. If he can get stronger this offseason there are plenty of other tools to build on. His 20 blocks led the team and while his offense is still unrefined, he’s shown potential there as well. Sy scored 10 points in 17 minutes in Tech’s upset over Virginia and shot 56.7% from the field. He’s got some moves that will only be helped by another summer in Tech’s weight room.
Ty Outlaw – Senior Forward/Guard
After a slow start to the season, Outlaw completely caught fire down the stretch. Through the first 21 games of the season, Outlaw was 29-of-71 from three-point range. That’s a very respectable 40.8%. In the final 12 games he knocked down 34-of-61 outside shots or 55.7%. It’s unreasonable to expect anyone to maintain that pace. Still, if Outlaw makes somewhere between those too numbers he’ll be one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC and likely the nation.
Chris Clarke – Junior Guard/Forward
When Clarke tore the ACL in his left knee during the win against Virginia, many thought Tech’s season would nosedive. That didn’t happen of course, but that’s how integral the versatile sophomore had become. He averaged 11.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in 24 games last season. He also shot 55.8% from the floor and dropped in 3.3 assists per game. His energy was contagious and his effort typified what Buzz Williams wants from his players. Obviously getting 100% healthy is Clarke’s main priority. After that, he needs to work to improve his shooting and expand his range a bit. That will raise the level of his play to first-team all-conference caliber.
Justin Robinson – Junior Guard
The best passer we’ve seen on the floor in recent years, Robinson gets a ton out of his small frame. He started all 33 games for the Hokies and averaged 10.4 points and a team-high 4.8 assists. He needs to get stronger like many of Tech’s younger players. He’s listed at 6’1″, 185 but with his tendency to drive to the basket he needs more bulk. He does have a knack for finishing in traffic, but getting stronger will help him hold up physically.
Justin Bibbs – Senior Guard
While his numbers fell off last season, Bibbs is still a very talented player. His points (9.2), rebounds (2.8), and shooting percentage (40.9%) all took a dip. 2016-17 marker the first time in his Tech career that Bibbs didn’t average double figures in scoring. Part of that can be written off due to the increased talent level of Tech’s roster. That’s particularly true at his position. Bibbs does need to be more aggressive looking for his shot though. He’s too talented a shooter to disappear for long stretches during games.
Ahmed Hill – Redshirt-junior Guard
Hill has long ben lauded as the best athlete on the team and he bounced back well from a lost season. He showed no ill effects from a knee injury that cost him the entire 2015-16 season. He averaged 11.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season. The only real downside for Hill is that he still has a tendency to play out of control at times. As a freshman and even as a sophomore coming off injury, that makes lots of sense. Now as a seasoned veteran he has to be more aware of when he’s trying to do too much.
Devin Wilson – Redshirt-senior Guard
Wilson redshirted last season after spending the first semester as a member of the football team. Most likely consider him an afterthought in a backcourt loaded with established veterans and talented newcomers. His experience shouldn’t be discounted though. Wilson has played 96 games and started 67 of them during his Tech career. He has 358 career assists and is perhaps Tech’s best on-ball defender. Those aren’t things to be taken lightly. Buzz Williams loves guards and he loves tough kids. Wilson embodies those traits and may carve out a role as a valuable reserve.