Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
The Virginia Tech men's basketball team has won back-to-back ACC games for the first time this season. In both wins against Syracuse and N.C. State, Tyrece Radford's success on the glass and in the paint was a big reason for the success.
"He's just so aggressive," Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young said after the NC State win. "He's just such a strange matchup, and that better be a man that's guarding him. He's going to lower his head, and he's going to get places that quite a few people can't get to."
At just 6'1'', Radford is not what you would typically consider a "big man." Yet with 97 rebounds in just 16 games (6.1 rebounds per game), he leads the Hokies on the boards so far this season.
Coming out of McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Radford did not receive the attention he probably deserved. Despite averaging 22 points and 6 rebounds per game in his senior year, Virginia Tech was one of just a few scholarship offers Radford received that didn't come till late in the cycle.
Last year, Radford redshirted under Buzz Williams. He and Landers Nolley, who was not ruled eligible for the 2018-19 season by the NCAA, were the only two players not to see the floor for Williams.
After Williams departed for Texas A&M, Radford decided to stay in Blacksburg. Under Mike Young, he quickly earned a starting role due to his hustle and determination.
"He's quickly becoming, and has here for a couple of weeks now, one of those guys that just affects winning," Mike Young said. "It's hard to take him off the floor."
On multiple occasions against the Wolfpack, Radford provided sparks that the rest of the team could build on. One of those occasions was his emphatic block against NC State's Devon Daniels.
"I was in the right gap, and I timed it right," Radford said. "Off of my block, the team kept the energy going."
Radford's importance to the team is not lost on any of the other players. Junior point guard Wabissa Bede, one of the lone veterans for this Hokies team, had high praise for Radford.
"He's always at the right spot at the right time," Bede said. "He uses his wingspan very effectively, and he knows what to do. He has a nose for the ball, and he's just a wonderful, amazing rebounder."
Bede even joked that Radford "steals all his rebounds." While Radford has been an effective rebounder all season, he is now starting to improve his scoring, as well.
Radford had 9 rebounds and 7 points against Syracuse, and he followed that up with 9 more boards and a career high 18 points against NC State. For a Virginia Tech team that struggled to find offense at times against UVA and Syracuse, Radford's emergence is a welcome sight.
"The key is don't stop moving," Radford said of his successful day on offense. "Somebody's going to have their back turned, and if you don't stop moving, they won't know that you're there. You've just got to finish it."
Radford said that he has used his experience on AAU on high school teams to become a better interior player. He added that many of his teams have lacked height, so he has had to step up and play bigger than his frame.
Teammate Landers Nolley knows that Radford plays a style that many people might not expect from him. In some ways, that may even give Radford a bit of a leg up on his opponents.
"I feel like he is underestimated and underrated," Nolley said. "He doesn't worry about that stuff, so I don't worry about that stuff and our team don't worry about that stuff. He just does his job every night: get rebounds, play defense, and it leads to points for him."
Tyrece Radford is a factor in every facet of the basketball games that he plays in, and that is something that his coaches and teammates don't take for granted.