Virginia Tech has suspended senior wing Chris Clarke indefinitely, the school announced on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
The school did not specify why Clarke was suspended, or long he would be out, but it’s likely that he’ll miss the start of the regular season. Virginia Tech plays its exhibition finale on Sunday, Nov. 4 at Liberty before hosting Gardner-Webb to open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 9. It’s also worth noting that Clarke’s name and bio have been taken off of the official Virginia Tech men’s basketball roster.
The 6-foot-6 Clarke has been a key two-way wing for the Hokies the past few seasons as Virginia Tech, once again, finds itself in the NCAA tournament picture this preseason. Regarded as the No. 12 team in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25, the Hokies have high hopes for the 2018-19 campaign.
But they absolutely need Clarke in the lineup to maximize those lofty preseason expectations. Clarke plays a small-ball four role for the Hokies, as he’s the all-important glue guy that Buzz Williams teams often need to be at their best. Without Clarke, Virginia Tech’s options to replace him in the frontcourt are very limited.
Kerry Blackshear is the team’s only experienced frontcourt option left, as the Hokies will have to experiment with different lineups while Clarke is away from the team. That could mean starters like Ahmed Hill or Nickeil Alexander-Walker playing more at the four. It could also mean bench guys like sophomore P.J. Horne and freshman Landers Nolley getting more early run with Clarke out of the lineup.
Regardless of how Virginia Tech goes with its rotation, they desperately need Clarke in their lineup if they want to be a major factor in the ACC. Again, it’s impossible to speculate on the severity of this issue since we don’t know the full details of how long Clarke is gone. But Virginia Tech needs Clarke badly to make a third NCAA tournament appearance in a row.