Three Virginia Tech basketball recruits show off skills in scrimmage
It was only a preseason scrimmage, but Thursday night at Fleming High School in Roanoke, Va., Virginia Tech commit Robert Brown showed off exactly why the Hokies' 2011 recruiting class is generating more buzz than normal around Blacksburg.
Facing famed Oak Hill Academy in front of approximately 1,000 fans, Hargrave easily won, 105-78, and Brown's fingerprints were all over the victory. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard scored 28 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists in a game that featured more than a dozen Division I-bound prospects.
Brown, who has orally committed to the Hokies and is expected to sign a letter-of-intent on Nov. 10, left his home town of Clermont, Fla., for his senior basketball season in pursuit of better competition. He decided to come to Hargrave, and coincidentally ended up joining forces with fellow Virginia Tech commits Marquis Rankin and C.J. Barksdale, effectively getting a head start on his freshman year of college.
So far the decision had paid off. With Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg, Missouri Coach Mike Anderson as well as assistants from North Carolina, Virginia, Xavier and UTEP in the stands, Brown showed off a wide range of skills, including a smooth three-point stroke and an ability to drive to the basket and finish with either hand. At times, he was the best player on the floor.
"It's been cool getting to know Marquis and C.J.," Brown said afterward. He finished 10 of 16 from the field and hit four of his eight three-pointers. "They know how I play, I know how they play, so next year we'll be looking for each other."
Some other notes and observations from the game
*I asked both Brown and Barksdale about last weekend's "Late Night with the Hokies" event, and specifically how the visit went for Adjehi Baru, the top 50 center Greenberg is trying to land to round out his 2011 recruiting class. Baru is reportedly considering North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech, and has recently received renewed interest from Kentucky. Here's what each had to say:
"He didn't really hang out with us that much, but when we did get to talk to him we had him laughing," Brown said. "We have the [No. 15] recruiting class so i was telling him if we got him we'd have a chance to move up. He'd have a chance to come in and start, just blowing up his head as much as possible."
"He looked like he had fun," Barksdale said. "We tried to bond with him, talk about Virginia Tech. We gotta get him part of the Hokie family."
*I was particularly impressed with how patient and explosive Brown was going to the hole. He didn't force many shots, and showed he could hit from mid-range and beyond the arc. I've watched a lot of high school basketball the past few years, and it's rare you find a player with as much maturity to his game at this point. That said, his ballhandling and defense could use some work, but that can probably be said about every high school senior.
*Rankin, a 5-11 point guard, shot just 1 of 9 from the field but it doesn't do justice to the type of game he played. For the most part, he shut down Oak Hill's Quinn Cook, the reigning All Met Player of the Year who is considering Duke, Villanova and UCLA (It's worth noting, though, that this was Cook's first game back from a September knee surgery).
Like Brown, Rankin never seemed to be in a rush but when he needed to turn on the jets, there was plenty of speed there. The Hargrave staff had Rankin finishing with nine assists, but according to the statistics I kept, he only had five. I would say the real number is somewhere in the middle of those two figures. He also had three steals.
His shooting, though, could use some work. Rankin's stroke isn't very fluid and he struggled to get his shot off with a hand in his face. But I imagine when he arrives in Blacksburg next year, his role will be similar to the one he plays at Hargrave: a tough nosed competitor who can initiate the offense and penetrate to the basket to set up teammates for easy layups and dunks.
*Barksdale's performance was uneven at best. Playing in the post he was dominated at times by Oak Hill's Sidike Johnson, an Arizona recruit. Both are listed at 6-8 but Johnson was much more physical. To his credit, Barksdale didn't back down. If this were a real game, though, he would have been in foul trouble early and often.
Barksdale, whom Virginia Tech envisions as a power forward, did show some great instincts on the offensive glass, using his long wingspan for numerous put back opportunities. Otherwise, his shot selection left a lot to be desired. He's yet to develop much of a back to the basket game and he didn't hit any perimeter jumpers either.
There is a great deal of raw athleticism there, and considering this was just a scrimmage against a team the caliber of Oak Hill, I don't think it's fair to draw too much on just one game. The Hargrave staff had Barksdale down for seven points and 10 rebounds. I had him with just six rebounds, only one of which came in the second half, when Johnson really took it to him.
*If I were a homer, I'd say the best player on the court Thursday was Brown. But to me, he was a close second to his teammate P.J. Hairston. A North Carolina commit, Hairston finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds. He did get a little out of control on the fast break sometimes, but his athleticism and ability to curl around screens and drill long jump shots is a skill not many high school players have developed at this point.
*There were a ton of big time recruits on display last night besides the ones I've already mentioned. Check out Dave Telep's full rundown of the game if you're looking for a more national point of view.