With all of the decisions that are going to be made in regards to transfer destinations and the NBA draft over the course of the next six weeks, none will have a bigger impact on the 2019-2020 college basketball season than that of Kerry Blackshear Jr.
The 6-foot-10, 250 pound Blackshear averaged 14.9 points, 7.5 boards and 2.4 assists for a Virginia Tech team that played at one of the slowest paces in college basketball last season. He’s a bully in the paint, he has the ability to step out on the perimeter and beat players off the dribble and he was a 33 percent three-point shooter this past season.
And not only has the redshirt junior entered the NBA draft, he has entered the transfer portal as well.
Let’s be clear: There’s a chance that Blackshear ends up keeping his name in the NBA draft. He could end up being a second round pick given his size and his skill-set, and at 22 years old, there isn’t all that much that he has left to do from a development perspective. He is who he is at this point, and that is a player that is on the verge of being good enough to make an NBA roster. Returning to school when it is going to potentially be with a new team and a new coach where there’s no guarantee that he’ll fit in the system as well as he did with Buzz Williams is a risk.
That said, Blackshear will probably be a preseason All-American if he opts to return for another season. This is different than the Reid Travis situation from last season, where Travis went from being a high-usage player in a conference that didn’t have the players to guard him to a role player on a really good team. Blackshear was already something of a role player. Justin Robinson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker were the stars of that Virginia Tech team, and Blackshear thrived as a secondary option.
To be clear, if Blackshear opts to return to school, there are very few teams where he won’t immediately be the best player on the roster, or, at the very least, the best big man on the roster. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Blackshear can be the difference between a team being top ten-ish and being a legitimate national title contender.
If he decides to come back to school for a year.
Buckle up, because it’s going to be a wild six weeks while we wait.