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Fearsome Fives: Some Good and Weird All-Time Hokie Hoops Lineups

By Justin Cates | April 25
Cassell 2020

There was considerable chatter last week in the SOS group chat about all-time Hokie basketball lineups. I didn't get a chance to chime in as I was doing actual work but you'd better believe it kicked my grey matter into overdrive in the background. Meanwhile, the discussion largely morphed into a debate —both in the chat and on the broader Internet— about who the best basketball players in Tech history are. This is fine enough, but I think misses the point. Why make a reasonable lineup that could actually function well when you have endless possibilities? 

This is a ludicrous and impossible scenario so why not push it as far as you can?

The greatest college basketball video game, College Hoops 2K8 came to mind because it had a fantastic create-a-player feature. I spent far too much of my youth fashioning absurd lineups that the announcers, Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery, would describe using an endless database of pre-recorded names. That made lineups with a nearly eight-foot-tall center as well as the smallest All-American guard possible (Ransom President) entirely feasible. 

In that spirit, here are a handful of interesting if not slightly strange and impractical starting fives that came to mind.

The Jump Out of The Gym Lineup

These are the five best pure athletes who I could remember offhand. This by no means is meant to be exhaustive or in any way dismissive of the athleticism of everyone else who played at Tech. That disclaimer is for any former players reading this. Feel free to send your angry comments to any of our friendly staff on social media, or drop us an email!

Bryant Matthews

Not a name that came up in our discussions, Matthews was the Hokies' only first-team All-Big East selection during the school's brief fever dream of a residency in that conference. He led the league in scoring in 2003-04 (22.1 PPG) besting talents like POY Emeka Okafor and Syracuse's Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara. He almost single-handedly dragged Tech to its only Big East Tournament appearance as not everyone qualified at the time. Matthews was a 6'7" guy essentially playing point guard and whatever other position he felt like his senior year which is perfect video game-inspired insanity. 

Dell Curry

Most of us remember Dell as a dominant spot-up shooter whose talents while remarkable would only hint at his progeny to follow. Less is mentioned about his ludicrous baseball career. He posted a 6-1 mark as a pitcher during his junior year in Blacksburg, which is impressive enough, but he hadn't even played in college before that. He was selected multiple times in the MLB Draft, but never played pro baseball until a 1991 single A game for the Gastonia Rangers. While he got tagged for the loss, he also struck out four and surrendered only one run among four scattered hits in three innings. The man was a menace. Quick, someone make him in MLB The Show!

Dell Curry baseball
Dell Curry 1991 Gastonia Rangers /

Bimbo Coles

Coles was the first Tech athlete to make a U.S. Olympic team —something shockingly common now across multiple sports. And yes it's worth noting they only selected college players when he won a bronze medal in 1988. Still, the man was a force and still holds multiple career records for the Hokies. He's tops in points (2,484), and assists per game (4.8) while also averaging 21.6 PPG for his career which is second only to the great Allan Bristow. Coles was also a multi-sport athlete playing football and baseball in high school making numerous All-State teams in West Virginia and getting drafted by the Phillies. 

He was so revered during his time at Tech that someone at the Daily Press cooked up this bizarre compliment as a lede:

When Bimbo Coles strolls across the Drill Field – the centerpiece of Virginia Tech’s campus – awed students clear a path, as if he were royalty or had some rare disease.

— The Daily Press, 1990

Deron Washington

A contemporary of mine, Washington was always worth the price of admission. I can hardly count the number of times I witnessed him fully leap over another human being. I have zero doubt that Greg Paulus still has nightmares. Washington routinely threw down dunk contest-worthy moves in regular game action and he blocked shots with no regard for human safety. Just take a look at some of the highlights and remember the glory.  

Dale Solomon

Solomon played before I was born, but was squarely in my Dad's wheelhouse as their time at Tech overlapped. That meant I grew up hearing stories about his dominant and high-flying ways. Solomon was named the Metro Conference Freshman of the Year and made All-Metro in each of his four seasons. The 6'8" big man still ranks fourth all-time in scoring for Virginia Tech (2,136 points) behind only Curry, Coles, and Malcolm Delaney. It's also worth mentioning that Solomon and Curry both played without the benefit of the three-point line. Just look at that bare Cassell floor, no lines, no ads, and super clean with Gobblers to boot. 

WVU vs Virginia Tech January 9th 1980
Tech went on to win this one by two in overtime over West Virginia.

All Tall Lineup

I think there's a perception that Tech hasn't had a lot of good big men over the years. While these aren't all true "big men" I went with a tall lineup here in an attempt to prove that narrative wrong. I picked four imposing figures and then paired them with the tallest guard I could think of. Essentially, this group is a dominant roster of long defenders with some dangerous offensive talent. 


Terry Taylor

Listed at 6'8", 292 Taylor was built like a small locomotive and just as difficult to move off his chosen course. He's easily forgotten due to playing at the end of the cursed Ricky Stokes era, but he went toe-to-toe with many talented Big East post players in a league that embraced physical play in the post. A JUCO transfer, Taylor racked up 745 points and 385 rebounds in just two seasons in Blacksburg. He wasn't just all brawn though. He had a solid set of post moves and was one of the brighter spots in a low moment in program history.    

Roy Brow

The 6'11" Brow still holds quite a few Tech records including career blocks (251). He redirected 57 more shots than the next man up and averaged the most blocks per game for a career (2.4) of any Hokie. I was born during his sophomore season so again, have no direct memories but the numbers speak loudly enough and I've been spending an alarming amount of time watching old games on YouTube. You can see him swatting shots online if you care to. 

Old Heads might also rightfully advocate for his teammate Bobby Beecher who ranks close behind (third all-time in Hokie blocks) but this is my team and I went with Brow. No doubt though, Charlie Moir recruited plenty of height in the eighties. 

Jeff Allen

We could find taller guys to fill out the front line, but Allen is one of the best defenders I've seen in a Tech uniform, and at 6'7", he's on my tall guy list. He's tops on Tech's career defensive rebounds list and ranks highly in a number of categories but I'll always remember him for his remarkably quick hands. He ranks fourth in steals and is surrounded on the list by guards. Yes, he had a remarkable ability to pick up ill-timed fouls and left many a game too soon, but I maintain a lot of those were handed out based on reputation alone. He also got whistled for a lot of steals that officials didn't believe someone of his height could snag. Of course, sometimes our guy absolutely earned it but in a fun way.

Ace Custis

Another 6'7" guy, Custis also ranks highly on the career steals list along with most other categories. He had his number retired for many reasons, but one of the less obvious based on numbers was his excellent passing. That's on display a bit in the highlights below. Watch the first set —from when SportsCenter was good!— then skip ahead to the 3:20 mark. Witness the complete elation of a victory in the NIT Quarterfinals. 

Malcolm Delaney

At 6'3", I'm counting Delaney as the tall guard of our dreams —with apologies to 6'5" Markus Sailes. He marks the fourth member of the 2,000-point club at Tech and was a threat to score from anywhere on the court. He became a master at driving the the bucket and drawing fouls, but he could also drain shots from all over the court. According to Sports Reference —which might be the greatest set of websites ever— he leads the Hokies all-time in a stat called win shares with 20.4 total. That means by their metrics Delaney's combined offense and defense accounted for roughly a season's worth of victories in his career. For the record, Jeff Allen ranks second (17.2). 

I'm going to stop here as the combinations are simply endless. Are these good basketball teams? It's impossible to say but I'd absolutely love to watch them. Then again I have a sickness and I'd willingly watch any combination of humans play Hokie basketball. A useful attitude to have in the portal era. 


My Dad graduated from Tech in 1981 and I’ve been attending Virginia Tech sporting events since I first moved to Blacksburg in 1988. I myself graduated in 2008 with a Communication degree. During my time as a student I was the Sports Director for WUVT and helped establish and run Planet Blacksburg, an independent student-run news website. I’ve since written for numerous publications including SBNation, Inside The ACC, and Sports Illustrated's AllHokies. Currently, I host The Justin Cates Show in addition to other contributions here at Sons of Saturday and various other sites as the need arises. I now live in a fortified compound in upstate New York with my wife and numerous animals. The smell of popcorn makes me think of Cassell.

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