Coming off an ACC Tournament championship winning season, the Virginia Tech Hokies will look to reload the roster with a talented recruiting class heading into the 2022-23 season. Currently, Virginia Tech is ranked 29th nationally and 8th in the ACC in terms of the 2022 high school class rankings. This is certainly a rebound from last year’s class which mainly featured Sean Pedulla and was ranked 13rd in the ACC.
The final recruit in Mike Young’s 2022 class is Darren Buchanan Jr. He’s the most recent Hokie commit as he announced his decision back in early March. Buchanan is from the nation’s capitol Washington D.C. where he attended Woodrow Wilson High School.
He’s listed as a 6’7 225 pound small forward who will play as a wing at the college level. Both 24/7 Sports and Rivals have him unranked but ESPN says otherwise. Their recruiting rankings list Buchanan as a three star-prospect and the 5th best recruit out of the DC area for 2022. He was also the Washington Post's 2021-22 All-Met Player of the Year
So can Buchanan end up being a diamond in the rough find for Virginia Tech? Let’s take a look at his game and find out.
Buchanan stands out among his peers athletically. He looked like a man amongst boys physically against his conference opponents. The 6’7 225 pound wing has a body that’s ready for the college level, even before he steps into the Virginia Tech basketball weight room. He looks stronger, runs faster, and jumps higher than most at the high school level and this results in some fantastic plays.
In the first clip, we see Buchanan leak out ahead of the pack in transition. He erupts into a thunderous dunk which shows off his impressive raw athletic traits. Yes, the dunk was uncontested, but it’s still important to highlight the natural gifts seen. Buchanan shows some great explosion off one foot and impressive hangtime which both bode well for future development as a rim finisher.
Buchanan makes a splendid pass off an inbounds play. He shows a strong catch radius to snatch the ball with one hand and gather it with the other hand all in one motion. Then to complete his act, Buchanan fires an accurate bullet pass while on the decline of his jump.
We’ll get into Buchanan’s defensive prowess and instincts later but for now, enjoy this monster block of a clip. I like the activity on the boards and the recognition that the play is not over, and here’s where his athletic profile is on full display.
One area Buchanan stands out in his shot creation is his ability to get to the basket from drives along the baseline. He’s able to glide past his man in early offensive opportunities or in a normal half court setting.
The first clip is a typical half-court setting where Buchanan’s team is swinging the ball around the perimeter to try and find a weakness in the zone defense. Buchanan attacks the close out with a sharp first step and confident drive to the rack. He also uses good touch on his finish to avoid the rotating defender's contest.
In the other clip, Buchanan attacks a close out in transition. Once again we see the natural quick first step, but he also does a good job of slowing his speed a bit and jump stopping before flowing into a finesse finish.
Despite being very streaky as a three-point shooter as of now, Buchanan certainly has some positive indicators. The pure form looks mechanically good as he keeps his elbow level on most of his shots and follows through consistently. As we can see from the clips, Buchanan is not afraid to pull-up from long range. The fine form and confidence are good to see and foretell that there is plenty to work with in terms of his college development.
The improvement areas as a shooter come with his feet and base. Buchanan doesn’t set his feet pointing towards the basket on many of his jumpers and his legs can kick out awkwardly. Both these fixable issues will lead to Buchanan becoming a better shooter in the long term.
The most polished area of Buchanan’s game might just be his defense. He has some very promising flashes on this end that lead me to believe that he can be molded into a solid perimeter defender at the college level.
Here we see Buchanan’s ability to switch and stay attached to smaller guards' drives. When he switches, Buchanan does a good job of getting right into his defensive stance. His hips are open and he’s ready to slide his feet with active hands to shut down his man drive. Buchanan does just that and this clip shows off his versatility.
Again, we see versatility and a level of activity that will translate to the college game from Buchanan in this play. He jumps onto the lead ball handler and stops his dribble drive at the point of attack. Once the other team tries to flow into an action, Buchanan hedges out to the level of the screen and nabs a deflection on the ball. The end result is a turnover, but it’s all due to Buchanan’s engagement in multiple areas.
Buchanan is also good at stripping the ball and turning defense into offense. His hands are active ready to be a pest to the ball handler. Buchanan comes up with clean steals more than not and this leads to highlight plays on the other end. This area of his game also syncs well with his athleticism and transition play so expect this to be an immediate impact area.
Check out the rest of Will's scouting reports in the list below.