By Mychal Hunter
The fun is almost over. This is the last weekend of glee. It is as if school starts back up Tuesday morning and there is a blizzard on the way.
When the Final Four concludes Monday evening the focus will shift to summer leagues and the spring signing period as the voids left behind by college basketball free agency will need to be filled.
Right now, you have to think the Virginia Tech Hokies are the leader in the clubhouse for the worst offseason among ACC programs. Buzz Williams is now the head man in College Station. Justin Robinson and Ahmed Hill are graduating, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker is almost certainly turning pro. There is also speculation that RS Junior Kerry Blackshear Jr. could become a graduate transfer. Ty Outlaw could also leave.
Williams had an overall record of 100-69 and had taken VPI to three straight NCAA tournaments in five seasons. His four 20 win seasons are tied with Seth Greenberg for second most in Virginia Tech history. Charles Moir won 20+ games seven times, but did it in 11 seasons. It took Greenberg 9 campaigns.
The Hokies received more bad news yesterday when the centerpiece of their 2019 recruiting class, Anthony Harris, de-committed. The 6’3 combo guard is a four star prospect ranked #64 in the country and would have been the obvious replacement for Robinson at the point guard position next season. Harris is not 100% gone, he has said he will consider returning, but that will obviously depend on who is hired to replace Williams.
In Robinson and Hill the Hokies are losing 26.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists. If both NAW and Blackshear Jr. were to also leave that would result in the Hokies losing 78% of their scoring, 58% of their rebounding and 84% of their assists per game. That quartet also made 60% of VPI’s triples this past season. If Ty Outlaw (a RS senior) were to join them in leaving, obviously the numbers get pretty cryptic.
Obviously the reason for optimism will be the coaching hire. The names most often mentioned so far have been Wojo from Marquette, Mick Cronin from Cincinatti and Kevin Willard of Seton Hall. Wojo is probably the biggest splash hire, but in my opinion Mick Cronin is by far the best coach of the bunch while also being the most unlikely. Willard seems to be gaining the most steam, but that hire would be tremendously underwhelming if I were a Hokies fan.
Whit Babcock struck gold by prying Williams away from Marquette five seasons ago and until this hire is made it is difficult to doubt him. If he is somehow able to get Mick Cronin to head to Blacksburg, that would AMAZING and they should start constructing Babcock’s statue immediately. With the roster in flux, Tech fans need to hope for a quality hire and hopefully the new coach is able convince Harris that Virginia Polytechnic Institute is the place for him.