The Virginia Tech Hokies picked up their third commitment of the 2013 class Thursday night when Maurice Kirby verbally committed to the Hokies while on his official visit. Kirby is a 6'8"-6'9" 200-230 lb. (don't you just hate recruiting sites?) center prospect out of Basha High School in Chandler, Az.
Kirby is rated a 2-star prospect by three major recruiting services, and is not rated or ranked by 247 Sports. As always, Kirby's list of offers varies depending on who you consult. 247 Sports has him with offers from Brown and Northern Arizona, while ESPN and Scout have him with the lone offer from Tech, so I will go with the site that has offered up the most coverage/information about him, including the number of offers he maintains. Rivals lists Loyola Chicago among Kirby's offers in addition to the two 247 offers. ESPN also ranks Kirby the No. 37 center in the nation and the No. 8 player in the state of Arizona.
So for those of you questioning why Kirby after looking at the information above, I'll answer your questions here. Kirby helps to get the Hokies back to 11 scholarship players in 2013 should no further attrition occur, including five post players. That's workable, unlike the three (and I say that very liberally) at Virginia Tech's disposal currently. Secondly, it appears Kirby was ranked much higher several years ago. He de-committed from Arizona State about this time last year, and prior to that was one of the highest-rated sophomore centers in the country. As you can see from this article (if you're a Rivals subscriber), at the time of his commitment to Arizona State he was being recruited by several prominent basketball schools, including at least six from power conferences. Kirby also had an offer from Penn State earlier in the year before another player filled that vacancy according to Mark Berman. So I hope you won't get caught up too much in those rankings above.
So what are the reasons Kirby fell so drastically in the rankings, from being one of the top post players (recruiting site ranking-wise) to a player who was considered a mid-major prospect after his junior season? Well, for one, Kirby gained anywhere from 25-30 pounds, something a lot of high school post players could stand to do. But inevitably, Kirby wasn't as fast with his added weight. There are reports that he has lost some of that weight since his last evaluation by recruiting services. Another reason could be his lack of growth in the height department. If Kirby is a legitimate 6'9", that will be plenty for the collegiate game. But Kirby was also listed 6'9" as a sophomore, and those recruiting rankings can be fickle, often factoring in a player's height/growth when considering his potential. Lastly, Kirby changed schools between his sophomore and junior seasons, in the process joining a team that was already loaded, including two 2013 players ranked in the top 107 players nationally according to Rivals.com (one 4-star and one 3-star). So is it possible that a center took a backseat to a 4-star guard and a 3-star power forward, especially when the center was the new kid in town so to speak? Absolutely. For whatever reason, Kirby struggled, averaging just 7.5 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game and 1.2 blocks per game according to Berman.
Until Kirby gets on campus it will be difficult to figure out exactly what the Hokies have in him. Could he be lightning in a bottle? Certainly. But as a 2-star prospect, he may be equally as likely to be a dud. At any rate, this commitment is getting the Hokies back to functionality, and adding size never hurts. Also, the great majority of post players are generally ranked lower than their guard/wing counterparts as prospects, so that Kirby is rated as a 2-star is less meaningful. In fact, the more important ranking is the No. 37 center nationally. Think about that number and the number of teams in Division I basketball, and tell me you wouldn't settle for a player like that at this moment.
At face value, this commitment would seem to take the Hokies out of the race for any remaining post players on their board, including Demetrius Henry, a 3 or 4-star power forward/center (again, different recruiting sites, different opinions) who almost committed to the Hokies last year before deciding to prep to try to improve his stock/offers. The Hokies still maintain that they want to take a full class of five to get them back to the NCAA maximum 13 scholarship players, but may have a hard time finding players that they want as many of their targets are already committed. If they do happen to take the maximum, they may use their remaining two scholarships on wing/guard players. Kirby is officially the Hokies first recruit ranked 2-stars or lower since Johan Van Zegeren in the 2011 class, but as overseas players are rarely ranked, he is the first domestic commitment ranked 2-stars or lower since 2008 when the Hokies landed Gene Swindle.
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