Virginia Tech Basketball has been increasing its prominence in the world of hoops year after year for the past half-decade or so. That’s largely thanks to the current man-in-charge, Mike Young (aaand a little help from Buzz Williams).
The student population has become more and more interested in basketball games as the team has gotten better. Nowadays, Cassell is one of the most intimidating places to play in the country.
If we look back to five years ago in 2017, the football team was fresh off almost winning the 2016 ACC Championship, while the basketball team had an unproven coach who was showing promise. Fast-forward to 2022 and the script has flipped.
We haven’t seen any tailgates on Center Street for basketball games yet (it’s still a football school), but the crowds that come rushing along the sidewalks of Washington St and through the glass doors of Cassell Coliseum are a clear sign of the growing basketball fanbase.
So, as we look to the future, what’s the next step for VT Basketball? How can the ACC Champions become the National Champions? Like true basketball powerhouses, the Hokies will likely have to start consistently producing NBA-level talent.
Since Dell Curry was drafted 15th in 1986, VT basketball has produced four 2nd round picks (Bimbo Coles, Eddie Lucas, Deron Washington, and Erick Green) and one 1st round pick (Nickeil Alexander-Walker).
NAW got drafted by the Pelicans with the 17th pick in the 2019 draft. He hasn’t lit the league up yet, but at just 23 years old he has at least proven that he belongs in the world’s best basketball league. He’ll be suiting up for the Utah Jazz next year.
Nickeil proved that players can hope to find a path to the league that goes through Blacksburg. Our hopes for this year’s draft mostly rest with Keve Aluma, but Storm Murphy has also been drawing some looks.
Keve initially had the option to come back to the Hokies, but upon speaking with NBA scouts he must have heard encouraging words as he decided to sign with an agent and effectively end his college career. Storm did not have the option to return to school.
Ahead of Thursday night’s draft, Keve has had workouts with a few teams. As of June 21st, we know that Keve has showcased his ability for the Charlotte Hornets, the Atlanta Hawks, the LA Lakers, and the Washington Wizards. Storm Murphy also participated in a workout with the Washington Wizards on June 17th.
In addition to his workouts for teams, Keve also performed for scouts at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (the PIT) back in April. He likely boosted his draft stock at the PIT, as he dropped 18.3 points per game and splashed 7 out his 15 3-point attempts.
As a 6’9″ Forward with shooting range, Keve should be drawing the eyes of scouts. Hokie fans can allow themselves to be a little hopeful about his chances of being a 2nd-round pick in the draft on Thursday, but even if he does not get drafted Keve can always work his way into the league through foreign competition or the G League.
As for Storm Murphy, his odds of being selected with one of the 60 available picks in Thursday’s draft aren’t as high as Keve Aluma’s. However, all it takes is one interested team to find a home in the league. Storm will likely have a tough road to being an NBA player, but with his shooting ability, passing ability, and mental fortitude, it’s certainly possible.
The draft will begin at 8 P.M. EST and is being hosted by ESPN. Let’s wish Keve and Storm good luck as they begin the next phase of their basketball careers.