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Virginia Tech Basketball Preview: Breaking Down The Frontcourt

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A look at how the Hokies will shape up down low this season.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
With another basketball season upon us and a dawn of a new era in men's basketball, it's time to take a look at how the Hokies will look down in the paint this year. While real-game experience is lacking to some degree with this group, expect the veteran leadership—along with some new faces—to bring a renewed excitement to Cassell Coliseum this season.

Joey Van Zegeren

The 6'11" redshirt-junior provides some of the only college experience in the frontcourt for the Hokies. JVZ played in all 31 games a year ago, starting in 24 of those contests. He is a defensive force down low and historically throughout his career has been able to dictate the way teams run their half-court offense, as he inevitably alters opposing shots through the lane with his tall, lanky frame.

While he has shot nearly 51% from the field throughout his two year career at Virginia Tech so far, he has struggled mightily from the free-throw line, as he is only a 40% shooter from the charity stripe. He will need to improve offensively by looking for his shot more this season. 4.6 ppg will not cut it with a young team struggling to score points in a tough ACC. Hopefully, he can create more highlights like this one below.

Shane Henry

This will be Henry's first collegiate season for the Hokies, as he transferred from Georgia Perimeter Junior College this summer. The 6'8" 190 lb Henry will be a true junior this winter, and is eligible to play right away. The Hokies are going to need him not only for depth, but potentially as a player who could see major minutes as a starter.

It will be interesting to see how he fits into Buzz Williams' new offensive system. He will waste no time in employing Henry, as he only has two years of basketball eligibility remaining in his career. He's a capable shooter from deep, but has the ability to score inside as well. Here's to hoping he makes a smooth transition to the Division 1 game and the ACC.

Greg Donlon

The 6'8" junior walk-on has been with the program for two seasons and will primarily be a body in practice to help the Hokies prepare for games. He has never seen meaningful playing time but has been active in keeping the team loose while being enthusiastic from the sideline. He's a fan favorite and the Hokies will need him in a leadership role to help the young players this season.

Christian Beyer

Beyer, a 6'7" senior is the only other player besides JVZ in the Virginia Tech frontcourt who has legitimate college experience. He averaged 9.5 minutes per game last year and was one of the players who former coach James Johnson relied on to play meaningful minutes and contribute, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

He is a fundamentally sound player, whose hustle cannot be mistaken for anyone else on the floor. It will be interesting to see how much he plays this season with all of the talent that Buzz Williams has brought to Blacksburg, but without many reliable options in the frontcourt don't be surprised to see Beyer come into the game more than you might expect.

Satchel Pierce

The 7'0", 255 lb. freshman will be relied on heavily this season behind veteran Joey Van Zegeren. He is the first true big man the Hokies have had in quite some time.

While his high school tape is impressive against many inferior opponents, it will be a task for him to grow his post game in conference play, especially as a freshman. The talent is there and he will be a dominant presence in Blacksburg for years to come, but it will be important for fans to be patient with him as he adjusts his style to Division 1 basketball. He will have opportunities early and often for the Hokies, so he will without a doubt be able to learn on the job his first year.

While the frontcourt depth in Blacksburg is not as deep as many would hope for from an ACC school, the Hokies make up for it with their wings and guard play. If the team wants to pick themselves up out of the cellar in the conference this season, this group will need to make significant contributions. Only time will tell if they are up to the task, but until then let's enjoy the development of these young players.

Go Hokies!