Basketball season has arrived which as much excitement as there has been in a long time from a defending ACC Tournament champion Virginia Tech men's basketball team that has top 25 talent per the analytics, and a VT WBB team ranked well inside the top 25 that is not only an ACC title favorite but a legitimate Final Four contender.
So with that said, here are my bold predictions for the 2022-23 season for both the men's and women's basketball teams.
Darius Maddox Will Be All-ACC This Season
Darius Maddox has shown that he has all the tools that you want in a guy who can become a breakout star and all-conference player.
From shooting an impressive 50.6% from three-point range and 78.8% from the free-throw line to hitting clutch shots with ease highlighted by his game-winning three against Clemson in the ACC Tournament, Maddox looks the part of a player ready for his turn at stardom.
One that that's impressive is that as his role grew, his efficiency continued to be strong with Maddox making at least 50% of his three-point attempts in 13 of Virginia Tech's final 17 games. That's a simply absurd number against the toughest part of Tech's schedule that proves he's more than capable and ready to handle to difficulties that playing in the ACC presents.
While Maddox will certainly receive more attention this year, Tech's multitude of options with Sean Pedulla and Hunter Cattoor certain to draw plenty of attention on the outside themselves. What helps with Maddox is that he has shown an ability to not just be a three-point sharpshooter, but an ability to score at all three levels even if his three-point shooting is on a whole different level. Having that skillset makes him an All-ACC caliber player and a future star for the Hokies.
Last season was the arrival party for Darius Maddox, but the 2022-23 season will be the one to where he goes from star among VT fans to a national star and All-ACC player.
Don't Expect Grant Basile to Replicate His Wright State Scoring
Grant Basile is the most hyped of Virginia Tech's very good group of transfer additions and rightly so given his impressive time at Wright State. Last season was his best averaging 18.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while helping Wright State reach the NCAA Tournament and playing well against their toughest competition.
However, anyone expecting Basile to immediately come in an match what he did at Wright State (or be close to that) for the Hokies should lower their expectations just like they should have been lowered for Storm Murphy.
The fact is that it is rare for a lower to middling mid-major player to jump to the power conference level and average double figures immediately. This is excluding consistently top mid-major conferences like the Atlantic 10, AAC, WCC, and Mountain West that aren't far off the power conference level and regularly have multiple NCAA Tournament teams.
So here's a look at the players who made ESPN's top 100 transfers for 2021-22 from outside of the power 6 conferences and the next 4 high mid-major conferences, their scoring in 2020-21 at their previous school, and their 2021-22 scoring at their new school.
- Kevin Obanor (Oral Roberts to Texas Tech): 18.7 to 10.0
- Marreon Jackson (Toledo to Arizona State): 18.1 to 10.4
- Jalen Pickett (Siena to Penn State): 12.9 to 13.3
- Devante' Jones (Coastal Carolina to Michigan): 19.3 to 10.3
- Paul Atkinson Jr (Yale (2019-20 last season) to Notre Dame): 17.6 to 12.5
- Stanley Umude (South Dakota to Arkansas): 21.6 to 11.9
- Tyson Walker (Northeastern to Michigan State): 18.8 to 8.2
- Tanner Groves (Eastern Washington to Oklahoma): 17.2 to 11.6
- Zach Nutall (Sam Houston State to SMU): 19.3 to 6.8
- Michael Flowers (South Alabama to Washington State): 21.0 to 14.2
- Storm Murphy (Wofford to Virginia Tech): 17.8 to 8.0
- Phlandrous Fleming Jr (Charleston Southern to Florida): 20.1 to 11.1
- Noah Gurley (Furman to Alabama): 15.4 to 6.8
- Wendell Green Jr (Eastern Kentucky to Auburn): 15.8 to 12.0
- Parker Stewart (UT-Martin (2019-20 last season) to Indiana): 19.2 to 6.2
- AJ Bramah (Robert Morris to Nevada): 21.0 to 10.8
- Brandon McKissic (UMKC to Florida): 17.2 to 5.8
- Mason Faulkner (Western Carolina to Louisville): 16.9 to 4.6
- Jarrod West (Marshall to Louisville): 12.5 to 6.1
As you can see, only one player in Penn State's Jalen Pickett averaged more after climbing the ladder despite all 19 of these transfers being highly-regarded nationally and highly successful in their careers. Even Pickett had averaged more earlier in his Siena career than he did in his first year at Penn State. Auburn's Wendell Green Jr is the only other transfer on this list of 19 who averaged no less than 5 fewer points per game at his new stop last year than he did his final season at his previous school.
So it wouldn't be surprising to me if Grant Basile averages around the 8-12 points per game mark for the Hokies this year with me leaning towards the lower half of that end. However, if Basile is able to replicate what he did at Wright State for the Hokies without that meaning that other players got injured, then the ceiling of this VT team will be raised significantly.
However, even Basile averaged 8-12 points and 6-8 rebounds per game would make him a very good addition for this team to help replace Keve Aluma especially with Justyn Mutts back to lead the frontcourt anyway.
Virginia Tech WBB Will Reach At Least The Elite Eight
If you haven't paid attention, Virginia Tech women's basketball is ranked #13 entering the season and while that already is quite high, that actually seems like an underrating for what this team has.
Let's start with the fact that the only major losses they had were now WNBA champion Aisha Sheppard and role player Azana Baines. Sheppard is definitely a big loss given her immense talent that enabled her to help the Las Vegas Aces win a WNBA title, but Tech went out in the portal and replaced her and Baines in a big way.
Insert Maryland transfer/former All-American Ashley Owusu as the replacement for Sheppard, and Boston College transfer/All-ACC F Taylor Soule as the replacement for Baines plus Boston College C transfer Clara Ford to provide more frontcourt depth.
So add in those players and combine that with the return of 2021-22 ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley, All-ACC honoree Georgia Amoore, veteran starter Cayla King, and key bench pieces Kayana Traylor and D'Asia Gregg; and you have yourself an absolutely loaded, veteran roster.
Here are some notable stats about what Virginia Tech has on their 2022-23 roster by the numbers.
- 2: The number of players who have earned All-American honors during their careers.
- 5: The number of players who have earned All-Conference honors in a power conference during their careers (Kitley, Owusu, Soule, Amoore, Traylor)
- 367: The number of games started by VT's starting 5 (Amoore, Owusu, King, Soule, Kitley)
- 73.4: The average number of games started by VT's starting 5
- 99: The number of games started by players on VT's bench (Traylor, Ford)
This is a team that has a dream combination of having loads of experience and having elite talent that has that experience especially with Kitley and Owusu who are also both considered top 10 2023 WNBA Draft prospects. The only other schools in the range of having that are Maryland, Baylor, and South Carolina; elite company to say the least. Having an elite duo like that to lead the way in addition to the rest of their numerous big time playmakers is an absurd luxury only elite teams have.
So yes, not only am I buying this team as a legitimate Final Four contender, but I expect that the Hokies will at least reach the Elite 8 and wouldn't be surprised if lots of Hokies are buying tickets to this year's Women's Final Four.