Keve Aluma followed what Justyn Mutts did as Aluma has declared for the 2022 NBA Draft and maintained his college eligibility as reported yesterday by Mark Berman of the Roanoke Times.
In Wed. paper, online now: @HokiesMBB story on Alleyne and Ojiako entering portal, Keve Aluma @AlumaKeve talking to me about entering the draft and keeping his eligibility, and Mutts entering draft but keeping eligibility too https://t.co/s0PS4roJVK— Mark Berman (@BermanRoanoke) April 12, 2022
Aluma may have only played two seasons (so far) for the Hokies after transferring from Wofford and redshirting, but the standout big man has likely already booked his future Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame spot leading the Hokies to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances plus an ACC Tournament title while earning All-ACC Second Team honors both seasons as well.
Statistically speaking, Aluma put up impressive numbers as a Hokie averaging 15.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game during the 2020-21 season while shooting 49% from the field including 35.1% from three and 72.2% from the free-throw line. Aluma improved as a scorer this past season averaging 15.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 0.9 blocks per game while shooting a VT career high 53.8% from the field including 33.3% from three plus 78.5% from the free-throw line.
Aluma's improved efficiency will be seen as a big positive along with his well-rounded offensive skill set. He is a little undersized and his defensive upside isn't nearly what his offensive upside is but there's no doubt that he has the skills to make an NBA roster next season and go somewhere in the second round. He also has a chance to make a lot of noise this weekend at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a famous scouting event for seniors heading for the draft which includes guys like Aluma who still do have the option of another year due to the COVID free year.
The odds of an Aluma return do seem low though the fact that he is leaving the door open should be seen as an encouraging sign. Of course, I still would bet heavily on Aluma choosing to decline the extra year thanks to the free COVID year of the 2020-21 season as six years in college basketball is a whole lot for a player like Aluma who has plenty of professional prospects in the NBA and Europe that pay well and allow him to start his pro career.
There's no doubt that Aluma will go down as one of the best big men in the history of Virginia Tech basketball should he elect not to return next season. His likely departure leaves a big hole at center with Tech almost certainly needing to go the portal for next season with Lynn Kidd and incoming freshman Patrick Wessler most likely not ready for the task of that just yet.
One name to watch is Wichita State transfer center Morris Udeze who the Hokies have made contact with according to Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers.
Texas, Illinois, and Virginia Tech are the newest programs in the mix with Wichita State transfer Morris Udeze, sources told @Stockrisers. In addition, he will officially visit New Mexico this weekend.— Jake (@jakeweingarten) April 13, 2022
Pittsburgh, Arizona State, LSU, WVU, among others in hunt.
Udeze is one of the best centers on the transfer market who started the past two seasons at Wichita State averaging 10.2 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 50.5% from the field and 72.6% from the free-throw line in 24.7 minutes per game. Udeze is undersized at 6'8'' but given that his production has come in a solid AAC, he should be able to be an effective starting ACC center though almost certainly not on the same level as Aluma or close.
Tech is also heavily involved with Wright State's Grant Basile who is more of a 4 than a 5 but has shown plenty of skills to play the 5 and has a little more size at 6'9''. Basile averaged 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists this past season while while shooting 49.8% from the field including over 58% from inside the arc.
For now, the Hokies will be hoping Aluma returns for one more seasons in Blacksburg though regardless of his final decision, Aluma's legacy as one of Virginia Tech's best big men of all-time seems set in stone at this point.