Buzz Williams

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Virginia Tech’s Khadim Sy leaves program

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Virginia Tech lost a piece to its frontline on Thursday, as the program announced that sophomore forward Khadim Sy had left the program.

“We are genuinely grateful for the fifteen months Khadim was part of our program, and all he contributed on and off the floor,” Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said in a statement. “I will be watching the rest of his career unfold, and wish him only great things.”

Originally considered a three-star prospect by Rivals, the 6-foot-10 Sy picked the Hokies over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Miami, and Purdue. In his lone season in Blacksburg, he started in 28 of 32 games, averaging 4.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game.

Sy’s departure leaves Virginia Tech’s front court in an even more precarious situation entering the 2017-18 season. Zach LeDay, the team’s top scorer and rebounder from a season ago, has graduated. Chris Clarke is coming off a torn ACL he suffered in February. Ty Outlaw suffered an ACL tear of his own less than two months ago. Kerry Blackshear Jr. returns after missing all of this past season in order to recover from a foot injury.

The only other forwards on Virginia Tech’s roster are freshman P.J. Horne and 6-foot-10 Nick Fullard, who sat out last season after transferring from a Division II program.

Since late July, Buzz Williams has lost two returning starters. The Hokies still have a strong backcourt led by the veteran trio of Ahmed Hill, Justin Robinson, and Justin Bibbs. Even with a healthy Clarke and a healthy Blackshear, depth up front is a serious concern for the Hokies

Virginia Tech opens its season on Nov. 10 against Detroit Mercy.

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Gill’s 16, ‘D’ lead No. 7 Virginia past Virginia Tech, 67-49

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Anthony Gill scored 16 points and No. 7 Virginia turned the tables on state rival Virginia Tech with a 67-49 victory Tuesday night, the Cavaliers’ seventh straight.

Isaiah Wilkins added a career-best 14 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 12 for the Cavaliers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Virginia avenged a 70-68 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Jan. 4 in what rates as their worst performance of the season, and extended their winning streak at John Paul Jones Arena to 17 games.

Freshman Justin Robinson scored 16 points and classmate Chris Clarke had 11 in his first action for the Hokies (13-12, 5-7) since breaking his right foot in late December. Virginia Tech’s top two scorers, Zach LeDay (16.0 ppg) and Seth Allen (14.5), were limited to seven and six points, respectively, in part because of foul trouble.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said his team wasn’t ready to play when it lost to the Hokies earlier, but they have been surging of late and were focused from the outset. They were credited with assists and 14 of their first 15 baskets and forced 10 turnovers in the first half; they forced just eight in the last meeting of the teams.

For most of the game, the Hokies had more turnovers than field goals.

The Cavaliers led 32-20 at halftime and extended their advantage to 47-29 on a three-point play by Mike Tobey with 12:11 remaining. It capped an 11-4 run for Virginia, during which LeDay was whistled for his fourth foul. On Virginia’s next trip down court, it got the ball to Gill inside and LeDay basically backed off and let him score, quickly earning a spot on the bench.

The Cavaliers’ lead never dipped into single digits again.

The Hokies had just eight turnovers and outscored Virginia 26-6 off turnovers in their first meeting. This time, Virginia Tech had 10 turnovers by halftime and the Cavaliers had already turned them into 15 points. Virginia Tech finished with 16 field goals and 15 turnovers.

Already leading 9-6, Virginia got scoring from eight players in a 23-8 run that spanned about 8 1/2 minutes.

Gill started it with a dunk, Brogdon hit a 3-pointer, London Perrantes had a four-point play and Wilkins finished it with two free throws, giving the Cavaliers a 32-14 lead with 2:06 left in the half. They didn’t score again, and the Hokies closed within 32-20 by halftime.


Virginia Tech: The Hokies shot 57.1 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the second half of their 70-68 victory against Virginia on Jan. 4. … Virginia Tech’s starting five totaled four points in the first half.

Virginia: The Cavaliers have held four consecutive opponents to 50 points or fewer.


Virginia Tech plays at No. 12 Miami next Wednesday.

Virginia plays at Duke on Saturday.

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Lee’s 29 lead No. 16 Louisville past Virginia Tech, 91-83

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Damion Lee scored 29 points and No. 16 Louisville used superb shooting from behind the 3-point arc to overcome foul trouble and beat Virginia Tech 91-83 on Wednesday night.

Lee hit his first six tries from long range and Trey Lewis made four 3s in the second half for the Cardinals (17-3, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). Lewis finished with 22 points, all but two coming after halftime.

Jalen Hudson scored 27 points, Seth Allen had 26 and Zach LeDay 20 for the Hokies (12-9, 4-4), who have dropped three in a row since a surprising 4-1 start to conference play. Virginia Tech stayed in the game by making 33 of 38 free throws, but allowed the Cardinals to hit 12 3-pointers in 18 attempts.

The Cardinals arrived with the nation’s top field goal percentage defense (36.4 percent), and the second-stingiest scoring defense (58.8 points), but much of their interior presence was taken away quickly as 6-foot-10 Chinanu Onuaku was whistled for two quick fouls.

Onuaku was never much of a factor, but the Cardinals stepped outside to make up for it.

Lee, a graduate transfer from Drexel, finished 6 of 7 from deep. Lewis, a graduate transfer from Cleveland State, went 4 of 7, their shots continually breaking any momentum the crowd at Cassell Coliseum tried to encourage.

In the closing minutes, with the Hokies forced to foul, the Cardinals were on target from the line as well, preventing Virginia Tech from getting any closer than six down the stretch. Louisville finished 25 of 34 at the free throw line.

Jaylen Johnson had 11 points for Louisville. Justin Bibbs scored 10 for the Hokies.

The Cardinals hit six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the second half, opening a 67-57 lead, and appeared poised to put the Hokies away. But Virginia Tech continued driving the ball to the basket, getting Onuaku and 7-footer Anas Mahmoud into foul trouble – both eventually fouled out – and the Hokies made their free throws.

The Hokies led 20-12 before going more than 10 minutes without a field goal and getting just 12 points on free throws. The Cardinals used a 12-2 run to take a 24-22 lead, and closed the half on Lee’s buzzer-beating fourth 3-pointer of the half to lead 38-34 at the break.


Louisville: Onuaku arrived at Cassell Coliseum as the first Cardinals player in 22 years to record six consecutive double-doubles, but was whistled for two personal fouls in 3 minutes and sat out the rest of the first half. He finished with nine points and five rebounds.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies were 17 for 18 from the foul line and outscored Louisville 17-5 from the line in the first half.


Louisville is at home against No. 11 Virginia on Saturday.

The Hokies play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

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No. 14 Duke beats Virginia Tech 82-58 for 3-0 ACC start

Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Marshall Plumlee scored a career-high 21 points and No. 14 Duke burst out of the gate with an outside-shooting flurry to beat Virginia Tech 82-58 on Saturday.

Freshman Brandon Ingram added 16 points, nine rebounds and six blocks for the Blue Devils (14-2, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who hit their first four 3-pointers and had seven in the opening seven minutes. That was part of a strong start in which the Blue Devils were on the attack and the Hokies (10-6, 2-1) looked a bit tentative and unsure.

That mix allowed the Blue Devils to quickly turn this one into a rout, rolling to a 12-2 lead on the way to a 27-point halftime margin.

Duke cooled off from outside but still finished the game shooting 47 percent. The Blue Devils also used their length to finish with eight blocked shots and a 42-33 rebounding advantage.

Plumlee, a 7-foot graduate student, gave Duke another welcome show of production that was far more than being solely an interior defender or rebounder.

Three days after setting a career high with 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting at Wake Forest, Plumlee finished 6 for 7 from the field and made 9 of 10 free throws – not bad for a guy who came in shooting 56 percent at the line – to go with 10 rebounds and two blocks.

The Hokies entered Cameron Indoor Stadium with only their second 2-0 start in ACC play, first by rallying from 16 down to beat North Carolina State in overtime, then by upsetting No. 4 Virginia at home on Monday night. But Duke squashed any hope of another upset, starting when Ingram knocked down 3-pointers – both wide open – from the left wing on Duke’s first two possessions.

Duke didn’t manage its first basket inside the arc until Plumlee’s dunk off an offensive rebound at the 9:31 mark.

Zach LeDay had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead Virginia Tech, which finished the game shooting 38 percent – a total that got a boost long after the outcome was decided.


Virginia Tech: The Hokies shot 28 percent (8 for 29) in the opening half. … They missed their first 11 3s and didn’t hit one until the 4:11 mark of the game, finishing 1 for 12. … No. 2 scorer Seth Allen came in averaging 14.5 points but finished with three on 1-for-9 shooting.

Duke: Grayson Allen also scored 16. … Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera attended and drew hearty cheers when introduced during a timeout for his visit on a “well-deserved day off.” His team went 15-1 to earn a bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. … Duke held a moment of silence in honor of late former coach Bill Foster, who died this week.


Virginia Tech hosts Wake Forest on Wednesday.

Duke travels to Clemson on Wednesday.

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Virginia Tech loses freshman forward Clarke to foot injury

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Three days before they host West Virginia in their final non-conference game before the start of ACC play, Virginia Tech announced that it will be without one of its best rebounders.

Freshman forward Chris Clarke is out indefinitely after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. Clarke, who’s averaging 10.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, will undergo surgery to repair the fracture this week and at that point there will be some kind of idea as to how long he could be out of the lineup.

Head coach Buzz Williams has four other players averaging at least ten points per game, but where Clarke will be missed is on the glass. Zach LeDay, who is also Virginia Tech’s leading scorer, is averaging a team-best 9.4 rebounds per game and will remain the focal point in the paint for the Hokies.

Clarke’s absence means more opportunities for freshman Kerry Blackshear Jr., who’s averaging 6.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and junior 7-footer Johnny Hamilton (3.6 rpg) should see more minutes as well.

Wednesday’s game against West Virginia was already going to be tough. But to go into that contest a man down in the paint against a rotation that includes Devin Williams, Jonathan Holton and Elijah Macon makes that matchup even more difficult for the Hokies.