Virginia Tech loses just two players from the 2016-17 club in Seth Allen and Zach LeDay. Despite that, there will be a multitude of new faces on Virginia Tech’s Carillion Court next season.
Everyone is excited by, one of, if not the best recruiting classes in school history. That’s perfectly understandable and we’ll cover that later, but first let’s look at some faces that will make the move from the bench to the floor.
Tyrie Jackson – Redshirt-Freshman Guard – 6’1″, 205
Anyone who frequents the Internet has likely heard the chatter about how strong Jackson has been in practice during his redshirt season. When you hear team leaders like Seth Allen rave about a guy, that’s certainly an encouraging sign.
When you watch him, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to Justin Robinson. Both are a similar size but aren’t afraid to drive to the basket. There’s also the strong handle on the ball and a nice jumper from outside.
He should be able to provide a spark off the bench and ease the load on Robinson.
Jackson’s older brother Tadric is a guard at Georgia Tech. Tyrie had planned to follow him there prior to the coaching change from Brian Gregory to Josh Pastner.
Seth LeDay – Junior Foward – 6’7″, 200
Speaking of brothers, the LeDay’s both found an unexpected home in Blacksburg and it’s finally time for the younger to take the floor.
First, let’s be fair and say that he’s likely not going to be the kind of player that Zach is. That simply means don’t expect nightly double-doubles or crazy faces after a big dunk.
When his brother signed with Tech, I thought he seemed like a poor man’s J.T. Thompson. Zach surpassed that comparison many times over and it’s certainly possible that Seth will do the same, although they’re different kinds of players.
Seth is a more athletic wing and you won’t see him banging down in the post. One thing that does appear very similar from some brief highlight footage is that both of the brothers LeDay bring plenty of energy during their time on the court.
With the return of Kerry Blackshear, LeDay should be allowed to grow into a supplemental role next season.
Wabissa Bede – Freshman Guard- 6’1″, 190
Buzz Williams likely has his backcourt of the future in the fold with Bede and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Bede is smaller and more of a true point guard who can really stroke it from outside and has the ability to create his own shot just about anywhere.
With Robinson, Jackson, and Devin Wilson in the fold at the point, Bede will have time to adjust to ACC hoops before being tossed into the fire. As a result, you shouldn’t expect him to get a ton of minutes right away.
Hokies know all too well how quickly a depth chart can change due to injury, however, so having this much depth may only be a temporary luxury.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker – Freshman Guard- 6’5″, 175
This kid will score any way you can imagine. He can finish strong around the rim and his shot falls easily from all over the court. He’s a bit thin for ACC ball at this point and that will take a little work with David Jackson and the strength and conditioning folks in Blacksburg.
His length means he’s a fairly traditional Buzz Williams wing player assuming his defensive toughness is up to par. Watching his highlights evokes thoughts or a right-handed Justin Bibbs who is more aggressive at creating his own shot.
Given the depth chart, his major impact will likely be down the road another season or two. That’s a major statement about where the program is right now because Alexander-Walker is among the highest rated recruits to don the orange and maroon.
PJ Horne – Freshman Forward- 6’6″, 230
Horne is the wildcard in this group. He was lightly recruited coming out of Tift County High School in Tifton, Georgia where he was a teammate of Tyrie Jackson for three seasons.
Horne averaged 25.3 points and 11.0 rebounds per game during his senior season for a team that posted a 111-10 record during his time there.
He’s another wing who looks like he can play in the post as well as outside which gives Buzz Williams the kind of versatility he seems to crave in his lineups. Yet again, because of Tech’s unusual depth he can adjust, learn, and bulk up this season in a reserve role.
In our next piece, we’ll break down all of the returning players from 2016-17.