#34 Virginia Tech Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Virginia Tech Hokies
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #34
Conference Rank: #7 ACC
Virginia Tech Logo
Virginia Tech finally got back to the NCAA Tournament in 2017, their first trip since 2006-07. The Hokies were taken down in the first round, but just making an appearance in the Big Dance is a step in the right direction. Head coach Buzz Williams has taken a team that won only nine games the year before he arrived up to 22 wins in just three seasons. This year, the Hokies will be without their top two scorers, so there will be work to do to get back in the NCAA Tournament. Williams added a couple of top-100 recruits, and the Hokies will get back a couple players who redshirted last season. Virginia Tech should be aiming to improve upon last year and not be satisfied with just getting back to the NCAA Tournament.
2016-17 Record: 22-11, 10-8
2016-17 Postseason:
NCAA Tournament
Buzz Williams
Coach Record:
53-48 at Virginia Tech, 206-134 overall
Who’s Out:
Virginia Tech enters 2017-18 without their top two scorers from a year ago. Zach LeDay has graduated after leading the Hokies in points (17.0), rebounds (7.6) and blocks (1.0) per game as a senior. LeDay was just 6-7, but his presence in the paint set the tone for the Hokies on both sides of the floor. Seth Allen has also graduated after scoring 13.3 points per game last season. Allen was a sharpshooting guard who hit 44.1% of threes, and Virginia Tech will have to replace his scoring ability off the bench. Big man Khadim Sy withdrew from Virginia Tech this past offseason. Sy started 28 games as a freshman last year, averaging 4.0 points and 2.7 rebounds. Lastly, the Hokies will be without Ty Outlaw this season after tearing his ACL in a pickup game over the offseason. Outlaw was heading into his senior season after averaging 6.3 points and shooting 48.7% from behind the arc last year.
Who’s In:
Kerry Blackshear is back this season after sitting out last year with a leg injury. He averaged 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game as a freshman two years ago. Blackshear stands 6-10 and will give the Hokies some more size in the frontcourt. Devin Wilson returns to the Virginia Tech basketball team after redshirting last year. Wilson spent his senior season as a receiver on the football team. Wilson averaged 9.2 points as a freshman, but his scoring went down each of the next two seasons. Tyrie Jackson will see action after redshirting his first year at Virginia Tech as a three-star recruit. Jackson adds depth to the Hokie backcourt. Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Wabissa Bede are the premier incoming recruits for the Hokies this season. Alexander-Walker, a 6-5 guard, was ranked as a top-40 recruit. Bede is a four-star recruit who was ranked as a top 15 point guard in the nation. Both freshmen should see important roles for Virginia Tech right away. The Hokies also add PJ Horne, a three-star incoming freshman. Horne is a power forward who adds another body to the frontcourt.
Who to Watch:
The Hokies will get back four players who scored at least nine points per game last year. Chris Clarke is the top returning scorer, but his health is what’s most important to the Hokies. Clarke’s sophomore season ended after an ACL tear in February. Clarke was arguably Virginia Tech’s best player before his injury, as he was averaging 11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game. If Clarke can get back to 100%, he will be the star of this team. Ahmed Hill also scored 11.4 points per game a year ago. Hill shot an impressive 44.6% from the floor and will be expected to continue that efficiency into his junior season. Starting point guard Justin Robinson is back after starting all 33 games as a sophomore. Robinson averaged 10.4 points and a team-high 4.8 assists per game. Justin Bibbs will be a senior this year after starting all 33 games last season. Bibbs is the Hokies’ three-point specialist, hitting two per game on 43.2% shooting from behind the arc.
Final Projection:
Though Virginia Tech may be missing some key pieces from their NCAA Tournament team, they still have the talent to not only get back to the Big Dance but to get past the first round. The Hokies get back four contributors from last year’s squad, along with two top recruits and experienced players who have redshirted. Chris Clarke’s health will likely dictate just how good Virginia Tech can be. Clarke was playing like the Hokies’ best player before tearing his ACL late in the season. A healthy Clarke should lead Virginia Tech to the NCAA Tournament, but the team could struggle to keep up in the ACC if he doesn’t get back to 100%.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Justin Robinson, Junior, Guard, 10.4 points per game

Ahmed Hill, Junior, Guard, 11.4 points per game
Justin Bibbs, Senior, Guard, 9.2 points per game
Chris Clarke, Junior, Forward, 11.4 points per game
Kerry Blackshear, Sophomore, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.1 (47th in nation, 5th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 74.7 (236, 12)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.9 (11, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.5 (206, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.8 (60, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.3 (10, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.7 (66, 5)
Rebound Margin: -2.4 (271, 15)
Assists Per Game: 15.1 (70, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.1 (85, 10)
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#35 Nickeil Alexander-Walker
#64 Wabissa Bede