Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Finishing in the cellar of the ACC last season cost Seth Greenberg his job as head coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies. Assistant James Johnson was named new head coach but only has eight scholarship players on his active roster for the upcoming season as he tries to rebuild VA Tech’s program.
VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES
Last Season: T-9th, 4-12 in ACC, 16-17 overall
Predicted ACC Finish: 11th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Cadarian Raines (Jr)/Joey van Zegeren (Fr)
PF: C.J. Barksdale (So)
SF: Jarell Eddie (Jr)/Marshall Wood (Fr)
SG: Robert Brown (So)
PG: Erick Green (Sr)/Marquis Rankin (So)
Gone: SG-Dorenzo Hudson, F/C-Victor Davila, F-Dorian Finney-Smith (transfer-Florida), PG-Tyrone Garland (transfer-LaSalle)
As is the case with most coaching changes in major college basketball these days, the Hokies lost two of their most promising players. A top 20 recruit, sophomore-to-be Dorrian Finney-Smith chose to transfer out of the program and ended up at Florida. Virginia Tech’s prized recruit for 2012, Montrezl Harrell a top 100 recruit nationally, also decided to play elsewhere as he de-committed to the Hokies and landed at Louisville.
That leaves Johnson short-handed for his first season as head man. Point guard Erick Green is the lone senior on the roster. He led the team in scoring last season and is certainly more of a scoring point guard than distributor. Green will likely be joined in the starting backcourt by Robert Brown who had a solid freshman season. Brown did undergo off-season foot injury which stunted his growth some as a player though he should be ready for the start of the season. Marquis Rankin is the only reserve guard on the roster meaning the Hokies simply cannot afford to have any injuries during the season.
Three-point gunner Jarell Eddie will have to elevate his game this season and become more well-round on the offensive end. Eddie shot 44% from distance last year but didn’t show much in terms of his ability to handle the ball and take defenders off the bounce. He can also be effective on the glass which allows him to play some four when Tech utilizes a smaller line-up.
C.J. Barksdale and Cadarian Raines figure to replace Victor Davila and Finney-Smith as the starting frontcourt. Barksdale is a springy four but limited in his offensive ability. Raines is more physical and played solid late last season when Davila was sidelined with injury. A head injury forced Joey van Zegeren to redshirt last season but he will be a major contributor inside off the bench. Freshman small forward Marshall Wood remained strong on his commitment to the Hokies despite Greenberg’s firing and will bring length and athleticism on the wing.
Johnson did land a key transfer after taking over as head coach. Adam Smith averaged 13.7 points per game as a freshman at UNC-Wilmington but wanted to play a higher level of basketball so decided to come to VA Tech. He will practice with the team this season but per NCAA transfer rules must sit out every game.
Player to Watch: Jarell Eddie
Erick Green is the obvious choice here so I’ll think outside the box a bit and go with Eddie. He ended up playing a decent amount at the four last season but should see most of his time at the three, maybe even some minutes at the two this year. With team undoubtedly focusing their defensive attention to Green, the Hokies will need Eddie to become a consistent number two scorer who can continually stretch defenses with his outside shot but also show more versatility off the bounce.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/27 vs. Iowa (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/1 vs. Oklahoma State
12/8 at West Virginia
TBD vs. Rhode Island
12/22&23 vs. Colorado State/Bradley/Portland (Las Vegas Classic)
12/29 at BYU
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.