NCAA

Hokies Report: One last Thursday

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Hokies Report: One last Thursday

Check back every Wednesday for the Hokies Report to get all the biggest Virginia Tech headlines for each week, a recap of last week's game and a look ahead at next week's contest.

Virginia Tech 4-5, (2-3) in the ACC

In the news

Foster interested in becoming the next head coach: While everyone is talking about Rich Rodriguez, Kirby Smart and Justin Fuente as possible head coach candidates, Bud Foster decided to throw his hat in the ring this week. When asked Monday if he was interested in replacing Frank Beamer, Foster told reporters, "You guys think? Yeah, I've put a lot of time and effort into this thing. I don't think this program needs a culture change."

Foster has spent his entire career working under Beamer. If he were to replace him, it would ensure Virginia Tech does not stray from the culture it has developed over the years in its glory days.

If the Hokies were still enjoying 10-win seasons, this would be an easy sell to athletic director Whit Babcock. Given the team's slip into mediocrity in recent years, however, don't be surprised to see Babcock look outside of the program for the next head coach.

#GameDay4Frank gains momentum: ESPN's College GameDay was in Tuscaloosa on Saturday for the big LSU-Alabama game. You would expect some great signs for such a big matchup, but the most retweeted sign was one for Virginia Tech:

The movement also got a boost with Michigan State's loss to Nebraska. One of the big matchups on Nov. 21 that could also be a candidate for GameDay is the Michigan State-Ohio State game. That is still going to be a huge game, but it has lost some of its luster now that it will not feature two undefeated teams.

The news that kickoff for the Hokies' game against North Carolina was set for noon, however, is a bad sign. The GameDay show runs until 12 p.m. Considering the game is being broadcast somewhere within the ESPN family, you would think the start time would be pushed a little later if Blacksburg was in serious consideration.

Granted, a game featuring a Virginia Tech team that will be 5-5 at best is not going to get a great TV slot, but it doesn't need to be a primetime game. Even a 12:30 kickoff would allow fans a chance to go from the set, wherever it may be, to the stadium. The only way a noon kickoff could possibly make sense is if they went truly old school and tried to recreate the atmosphere of the 1999 appearance in Blacksburg which actually took place in Lane Stadium. The added nostalgia of the atmosphere would seem appropriate.

Prospect decommits: Wide receiver prospect Phillip Patterson decommitted from Virginia Tech on Saturday, reopening his recruitment to all interested schools.

A prospect decommitting from a program is nothing new in this day and age. The process is so long that prospects often commit too early and then do what every 17/18 year old does: change their mind. This situation is noteworthy, however, as Patterson is the first commitment to back out since Beamer announced he was retiring.

Recruits shouldn't go to a school based on who the coach is given the turnover among college coaches, but they still do. With Beamer leaving, recruits who committed for the chance to play for him now have to reconsider. Whoever the next head coach may be will have a lot of work to do convincing recruits and current players alike to stick with the program.

Slye named semifinalist for best kicker: Kicker Joey Slye was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award on Thursday, presented annually to the top placekicker in the nation.

Slye has hit 15 of 20 field goal attempts this season and has been perfect on 27 extra point attempts. The sophomore tied a career-high in Virginia Tech's win over Boston College with four field goals.

RELATED: Cavaliers Report: One for the road?

Last week's game: Bye week

Next game: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, Thurs. 7:30 p.m. ET

Preview

In the last Thursday night game of Beamer's career (barring a Thursday bowl game, but those don't count) Virginia Tech heads to Atlanta to take on the triple option of Georgia Tech.

Coming off an 11-win season that saw them win the Coastal Division, the Yellow Jackets are not having the type of year they were hoping for. Georgia Tech is only 3-6 on the season with the only highlight being a miraculous homecoming win over Florida State. The emotional high of that win was short-lived, however, as Paul Johnson saw his team lay an egg in Charlottesville in a 27-21 loss to Virginia.

What should make Hokie fans worry about this game is the same thing that makes them worry every week: a mobile quarterback. The defense has been shredded this season by mobile quarterbacks and obviously as a triple option team, Georgia Tech has one in Justin Thomas. Last year, Thomas was able to rush for 165 yards and added another 125 through the air .

Because this game is on a Thursday, both teams were off on Saturday. The benefit of having more time to prepare for the triple option is a huge boost for Virginia Tech and you can be sure Bud Foster will put that time to good use. Foster has always been fairly successful in slowing down Johnson's offense which has helped the Hokies win four of their last five meetings. In four of those games, Georgia Tech has been held to 250 rushing yards or less.

The real key to this game, however, will be on offense and not on defense. Georgia Tech's offense is not setup well to play from behind. Virginia Tech was able to manhandle the best defense in the nation against Boston College, jumping out to what was an insurmountable lead. The offense needs to be aggressive early and take an early lead again. If they do that, they can concentrate on giving Travon McMillian the ball in the second half and working the clock. If you can build a lead and keep the ball out of the offense's hands, the Yellow Jackets won't be able to win.

The biggest issue for the Hokies will be keeping their emotions in check. This will be a growing issue from week to week, but Thursday will be the first game since Beamer announced his retirement. For a team that has had tremendous penalty issues all season long, the Hokies cannot allow their emotions to get the best of them.

Virginia Tech is 5-0 against Georgia Tech on Thursday nights. You know the team will head into Atlanta focused on keeping that slate clean.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Another week, another NFL-caliber QB faces Maryland

Terrapins get huge commitment from 7-foot-2 internet phenom Chol Marial

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Screenshot: Courtside YouTube

Terrapins get huge commitment from 7-foot-2 internet phenom Chol Marial

The Maryland Terrapins just added a huge piece to their 2019 recruiting class. Literally. 

The Terps officially signed 7-foot-1 center Chol Marial (AZ Compass Prep, Chandler, Arizona), the team announced Monday. 

Depending on who you ask, Marial is either a three-star, 210-pound or a four-star, 220-pound recruit (247Sports, ESPN), but he's unquestionably taller than seven feet. He also has a 7-foot-11 wingspan that Maryland coach Mark Turgeon expects will make him "an excellent rim protector."

"I've watched Chol the last three years and I can't say enough about him as both a person and a basketball player," Turgeon said in a release from Maryland, which lists Marial at 7-foot-2 and 230 pounds. 

"One of the top players in his class when healthy, Chol's tremendous size and length make him an excellent rim protector. Chol possesses a humble demeanor and a strong work ethic that will fit well with our family. We can't wait to have him in College Park and look forward to helping him reach his dreams."

Originally from Rumbek, South Sudan, Marial moved to the U.S. as a middle-schooler in 2014. He also previously attended IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. 

ESPN ranks Marial as the No. 2 center in Arizona and the No. 14 center nationally, while 247Sports says he's No. 6 and No. 26 in those two respective categories.

He visited Maryland on April 26, according to 247Sports, and also received offers from Georgetown, Florida State, Arizona State, Iowa, UConn and West Virginia.

"I want to thank Coach Turgeon for giving me this opportunity," Marial said in a release from the school. "Coach Turgeon and I have gotten along really well and I really enjoyed spending time with the rest of the coaching staff and players. Bruno Fernando and I have similar backgrounds and I saw how much he improved as a player at Maryland. I'm looking forward to getting better every day and playing for Terp Nation."

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2019 NBA Draft Big Board 4.0: North Carolina's Coby White, Indiana's Romeo Langford heading in opposite directions

2019 NBA Draft Big Board 4.0: North Carolina's Coby White, Indiana's Romeo Langford heading in opposite directions

Ideally, the Washington Wizards get lottery lucky.

There is the basketball and business dream only Zion Williamson's supernatural gifts could fill.

Murray State’ Ja Morant would provide an electric charge with the injured John Wall idling.

Those fantastical visions, while tangible, do not reflect reality.

Targeting North Carolina scoring dynamo Coby White with their projected slot does.

The 6-foot-5’s rise up draft boards began during the college basketball season. It continues even weeks after the Tar Heels’ campaign concluded.

“I like White a lot,” is what an NBA scout told NBC Sports Washington this week. The sentiment reflects an overwhelmingly positive view on the freshman from league-wide sources.

The Wizards, who enter the May 14 NBA Draft lottery with the sixth-best overall odds of landing the first selection, need to jump up for those Williamson and Morant. There is a 37.2 percent chance of landing a top-four selection. Simply having stronger asset capital would help the yet-to-be-determined general manager.

Landing White seems more and more like a viable fallback.

The all-time leading scorer among boy’s high school players in the state of North Carolina, White averaged 16.1 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 35 games for the Tar Heels while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc.

With his lead guard skills and size to play on the wing, there is a positional case that White is a better fit for the Wizards long-term than Morant. White could play alongside Bradley Beal and John Wall whenever the five-time All-Star returns from his Achilles injury.

The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Morant is strictly a point guard, but also the higher-projected talent. Passing on him, even with Wall’s presence, would be the wrong approach.

Duke guard R.J. Barrett joins Williamson and Morant as the consensus top three selections more than a month out from the June 20 NBA Draft. There is little agreement with prospects 4-8, though the draft lottery will certainly help shape the order. Based on the new draft lottery rules, the Wizards could pick 1-4 or 6-10 depending on how the ping-pong balls bounce.

Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, Duke’s Cam Reddish, Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and White typically make up the pool of players immediately outside the top three. White’s insurgent freshman campaign thrust him into the tier.

Maybe there becomes a point where White’s rising rank leads to some brush back. We’re not there yet.

Check out more discussion on White, Zion Williamson and the 2019 NBA Draft on the latest episode of the "Wizards Talk" podcast.

 *Texas’ Jaxson Hayes, Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, Oregon’s Bol Bol, and international prospect Sekou Doumbouya are the current best bets to enter the 4-8 discussion. Bol’s truncated freshman season factored into a diminished evaluation, but there’s a turnaround in play, a Western Conference scout told NBC Sports Washington even after out previous love-hate relationship article on the 7-foot-2 forward.

*Indiana shooting guard Romeo Langford entered the NBA Draft pool following his freshman season. The sense from scouts is he’s exiting lottery selection talk. One scout told NBA Sports Washington Langford is "dropping." Another said he would be flabbergasted if his organization considered the 6-foot-6 guard with a wonky jump shot in the top 10-14 selections. Langford averaged 16.5 points per game, but shot 28 percent on 3-pointers. Individual workouts and the upcoming NBA Combine offer chances to turn heads and momentum.

*Maryland sophomore Bruno Fernando officially kept his name in the NBA Draft pool this week. According to a source, the 6-foot-10 center signed with Priority Sports and Entertainment, the same agency that represents Wizards’ Bradley Beal and Jabari Parker. Fernando finished his Maryland career ranked second in program history in field goal percentage (.595) and 10th in rebounds per game (8.7).

1. Zion Williamson, PF, Duke

2. Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

3. RJ Barrett, SG, Duke

4. De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia

5.  Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

6. Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

7. Coby White, SG, UNC

8. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

 9. Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

10. Bol Bol, PF, Oregon

11. Sekou Doumbouya, PF, International

12. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

13. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky

14. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

15. Nassir Little, SF, UNC

16. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky

17. Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

18. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

19. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

20. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech

21. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC

22. Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

23.  Goga Bitadze, C, International

24. KZ Okpala, SG. Stanford

25. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia

26. Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

27. Carsen Edwards, SG/PG, Purdue

28. Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova

29. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State

30. Louis King, F, Oregon

Next up: Matisse Thybuille, SF, Washington; Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State; Admiral Schofield, SF, Tennessee; Daniel Gafford, C; Arkansas; Shamorie Ponds, G, St. John’s

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