Bring the Brothers to Blacksburg
Less than a month has passed since the Hokies' season wrapped up in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, yet next year's roster already looks very different from this year's.
Mike Young has enlisted the services of his former point guard at Wofford, Storm Murphy, and tacked on the new tallest man in Blacksburg, 7'0 forward Michael Durr from the University of South Florida.
This pairing will help overlook the losses of Jalen Cone to Northern Arizona and Joe Bamisile to George Washington, though there is still empty space for the coaching staff to bolster their rotation.
According to Chris Arvin of 247 Sports, the Hokies have continued to pursue Jacob and Tanner Groves of Eastern Washington University, despite already making splashes in the transfer portal. The Groves brothers burst onto the national spotlight in a Round of 64 loss to Kansas in this year's NCAA Tournament, dropping 58 points between them.
UVA, Miami and Louisville have all made intelligent and impactful acquisitions in the portal that will make them competitive amongst the elite in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while the powerhouses in Duke, Florida State and North Carolina are set to refill their rosters with talent from incoming freshmen and will feel that they are on course to take home the ACC title next year.
Virginia Tech appears to be a consensus top-five team in the conference next season, as currently constructed, with the upside of a conference champion side— adding the Groves' into the fold would leave Mike Young with a spoil of riches and firepower all over the roster.
A rising senior and the elder half of the Groves duo, Tanner led the Eagles in scoring last season with 17.2 points per game in spite of playing lower minutes, as far as stars are concerned, averaging 27 per game.
At 6'9, 235 pounds, Groves is a below-the-rim forward with an ability to stretch the defense from the perimeter, having shot 37.2% for a career behind the arc.
Last year was the older brother's first year as a full-time starter, and he filled in seamlessly: Groves finished in the top five in conference scoring and rebounding and led his team to a Big Sky championship over the Montana State Bobcats, securing an NCAA Tournament bid in the process.
During his first season in the starting five full-time, Groves was also able to notch averages of 17.3 points and eight rebounds in four games against Power Five opponents. These numbers would be harder to come by in a league as athletic as the Atlantic Coast Conference, although Keve Aluma, who is also a less-explosive, 6'9 235-pound player, saw great success in his inaugural season.
Perhaps Groves' most amazing achievement last season was his consistency, notching double-figure scoring totals in 23 of his 24 games and scoring 20+ six times.
One of the Spokane, Washington product's most attractive qualities is his 77.8% standard at the free throw line last season; Virginia Tech forwards were not known for success at the stripe in the past campaign, posting lines of 72.2% (Keve Aluma), 50.9% (Justyn Mutts) and 41.9% (David N'Guessan), part of the reason the Hokies finished 209th in the nation in free throw percentage.
Tanner would likely have to be willing to accept a decrease in playing time, should Aluma return to Virginia Tech next season, but the forward rotation of Groves, Aluma, Mutts and Michael Durr would provide a sensational array of abilities for the Hokies, and would prevent any member from being strenuously overworked.
The second member of the Groves tandem started in 14 of 24 games in his sophomore chapter, establishing himself as a consistent figure down the stretch.
Checking in at 6'7, 185 pounds, Jacob Groves offers exceptional length at the guard position, something the Hokies are not presently known for.
In the 14 games that Groves played at least 20 minutes last season, he went for an average of 12.1 points and 4.7 rebounds on 57.4% shooting from the field and 38.7% beyond the arc. The 57.4% FG is especially impressive for a guard and would be the highest amongst current members of the Hokie backcourt.
Like his older brother, Groves would be likely to relinquish an opportunity to be the focal point of an offense in the coming season, and would spend around 20 minutes per games as a rotational piece to reprieve Nahiem Alleyne and Tyrece Radford, with Hunter Cattoor making a return as the primary ball handler off the bench. Groves would be the main backcourt scoring threat in this scenario, allowing him to still get his shots up.
A unique quality about the young guard is his release point of the basketball, which is incredibly high for someone at his position: on top of having a 6'7 frame, Groves' shooting form brings the ball behind his head in a Larry Bird-like motion, making his shot virtually unable to be blocked by regular perimeter defenders.
The arrival of the former Eagle would also make the Hokies' backcourt tremendously experienced, with all of Murphy, Alleyne, Radford, Cattoor and Groves being upperclassmen and having tournament experience.
Regardless of either of the Groves' starting status, they would be likely to play key minutes in different situations and would give the Hokies a minimum of nine players capable of performing against Power Five opponents. It may not be an overstatement to declare the Hokies the deepest team in the ACC, should the Groves' be added to VT's roster.
The main obstacle separating Mike Young from the brothers is geography: they are Washington natives who go to school on the West Coast, and would have to be willing to traverse the entire country to end up in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Time will tell, but the Hokies have positioned themselves to fight for the Eastern Washington pairing, and with them, a chance at the conference title next season.