The 2014-2015 season for the Virginia Tech Hokies was expected to be a tough season with Buzz Williams starting his efforts to rebuild Virginia Tech basketball into a powerhouse in the ACC just like Tony Bennett has done at Virginia. Expectations were nonexistent especially for ACC play with fans hoping the team would be competitive.
Entering ACC play, Satchel Pierce was a very raw big man that was struggling to get playing time. It was looking like the Hokies should have considered redshirting him despite their lack of frontcourt depth. However, Pierce got his chance to gain some more playing time after Joey van Zegeren was suspended which later turned into van Zegeren leaving the basketball team.
This force Pierce into playing more and slowly but steadily, the 7-foot big man has developed into a solid ACC center that has a huge ceiling.
Pierce’s effort wasn’t always the best to start ACC play, but he also was not the most aware player always especially on the defensive end. However, Pierce has made a lot of improvement largely due to the fact that he has gotten to go against some very good big men.
Over the last few games, Pierce has been a different player that has made it a lot harder for opposing big men to score when he is on the floor. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor had a huge game against the Hokies, but Pierce forced Okafor to work extremely hard to get 30 points. Against Miami, Pierce dominated with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks while shutting down Tonye Jekiri who only had 4 points and 3 rebounds which are way below his season averages.
Pierce’s numbers against Miami are the biggest sign of progress that he has made on the offensive end of the floor. Pierce is starting to show some improvement with his ball handling while he is developing a solid hook shot from inside of 10 feet. Pierce also is showing some skills to attack the rim when getting the ball around the free throw line.
The most forgotten thing about Pierce is the fact that he is a very good shot blocker. Pierce is averaging 0.7 blocks per game in 13.8 minutes per game and looks like someone who could average around 1.5 to 2.0 blocks per game if he were to play around 25 to 30 minutes per game.
Satchel Pierce has shown that he has tons of upside, and he is starting to emerge as an ACC-quality center at the end of this season. The future is definitely bright for Pierce in Blacksburg who is gone from being a liability at the beginning of the season to a very good shot blocker, fairly reliable defensive player, and a developing offensive player.