Locker Room: It just doesn’t smell right
I understand how the game of college basketball has changed. There are some “student-athletes” still involved, but let’s just say there doesn’t appear to be quite as many these days. The “Transfer Portal” has overflowed this week, and it has left major damage behind at national champion Virginia and Virginia Tech.
We’ll take a look at the Hokies first. Buzz Williams is gone to Texas A&M, and for the most part it was a congenial sendoff. He actually didn’t get that much more money for coaching the Aggies then he could have gotten for staying at Tech, but that’s okay, he’s going home and he did a great job, elevated the program.
How do you feel now that he appears to be trying to elevate the A&M program with players that were supposed to play for the Hokies. It was noticed, and certainly there was mention a few weeks ago about the fact that two Tech recruits, Andre Gordon and Yavuz Gultekin had decided to reopen their recruitment.
Okay that’s fine. You hear that sort of thing all the time anymore. It seems like nobody is even expected to honor their word these days. Are commitments really commitments? It’s hard to say. But after the announcement things went totally quiet on Gordon and Gultekin. You never heard another word about these two lads. It seems as if they were not reopening their recruitment, but dropping out of sight altogether. Well they have resurfaced. Both are now recruits for Buzz Williams and Texas A&M.
The question that now must be on the minds of Tech basketball fans is did these two players know what was going to happen and they just dropped out of sight? And just how long ago did Buzz know he was leaving Blacksburg? This would seem to indicate the decision came during the season. Certainly it appears now that he knew he was leaving some time ago. Hugs and kisses anybody?
Such is the way it is these days in college hoops and now Kerry Blackshear, far and away the best returning player for Tech, has put his name in the “transfer portal.” And the new guy Mike Young has a locker room without very many people in it, let alone ACC quality type basketball players. I doubt Blackshear ends up at A&M. I doubt out of respect Williams would want that, but what does he do if Blackshear calls.? It will be interesting to see. But I wouldn’t bet a buck he would turn him away.
And what about Young? He’s got a major task at hand. First of all you can forget even trying to suggest what might be the starting lineup. You have P.J. Horne and Jonathan Kabongo, and the rest, whatever that is. Young will have to hit that “transfer portal.” He may try to find some junior college transfers. He will try to find some players out there that were maybe looked over. Young has to hustle and get the best talent he can when most of the talent is already gone. He deserves some patience.
And now you have UVa who just last week was installed as a 5-1 favorite out in Vegas to repeat as champ next season. Maybe they haven’t heard of the “transfer portal” out there yet. The latest to leave is Kyle Guy. Before him it was Ty Jerome and DeAndre Hunter. Tony Bennett’s program is not as high and dry as Young’s, but the Cavaliers will not be the pick to repeat anymore. In fact, and this is something that can be looked at later, it seems the ACC may drop a bit as a conference overall next season as the constant movement of players cis reating havoc with programs.
UVa will still have small guard Kihei Clark, 6-9 Mamadi Kiakite, 7-1 Jay Huff, and 6-8 Braxton Key. And even with all the lost talent, Bennett has been able to stock the UVa program with a depth of talent it has never had before. And that is what will save the Cavalier next season and it still certainly appears for a variety of reasons that UVa will continue to be successful, but it will not be of the same quality. Too much of that team has left early.
But it makes you wonder. The NBA has 30 teams, most of them use 13 players, so you have basically 400 players in the league. With all the players already there and all the players leaving college even after just one year, it appears there are more players than roster spots, many more. That’s what you don’t hear. How many of them end up somewhere in Spain or Holland? Or just never heard of again.
Some people would say it doesn’t matter I’m playing basketball for money and I don’t have to go to class and I guess that’s true, but is leaving home really that easy? Wouldn’t be for me. But one thing is for sure. You hear a lot about how great it’s been, I love my teammates, we have a brotherhood, we love each other like a family, and I loved playing for dear ol’ whoever, but for all those expressions, they still leave.
Not saying it’s right or wrong. It’s an opportunity, a choice, and a chance, and sometimes it doesn’t work out for the best. But the decision is theirs’ to make, but one thing is for sure. It’s not the good old days and players aren’t willing to give their all for dear of whoever like they used to. Maybe it’s time that alumni and dedicated fans realize that the players might not care as much as they do.
Note: Since this Locker Room was written, things continued to happen at a stunning pace in the world of college basketball. Landers Nolley, one of the first to announce he was entering the “Transfer Portal,” has decided to remain at Virginia Tech. Nolley was recruited as a forward by the Hokies for the 1018 class, but was redshirted and held out of action this pass season for what most believed was “academic uncertainty.” But Nolley has changed his mind and will be a freshman for Tech next season.
In another development, Diakite has decided to declare for the NBA Draft, making it four UVa starters, all of which could have returned for next season, to have left the program since winning the national championship. Ty Jerome and DeAndre Hunter are definitely gone for the Cavaliers, but Kyle Guy and Diakite after checking out the water temperature, could return. But these days under the new transfer rules for college sports, the only thing certain is uncertainty.