Last offseason, the Hokies traveled to South Georgia to recruit one-guard Tyrie Jackson. Buzz Williams double dipped into Tift County High School as forward Preston “PJ” Horne committed to the Hokies over the weekend, with two offers on the table (VT and Murray State) per 24/7. Horne has a stout build at 6-6, 230 pounds – for comparison, Chris Clarke is the same height but weighs about 30 pounds less than Horne. The 2017 forward joins Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Wabissa Bede in the Hokies’ recruiting class.
2017 Tift County (GA) F Preston 'P.J.' Horne has committed to Virginia Tech. (HT @CoachCBlack) https://t.co/y8tSEcJh0Z— Verbal Commits (@VerbalCommits) February 4, 2017
Horne does not have a star rating per 24/7 or any other recruiting sites, but like all Buzz Williams recruits, he will probably end up underrated due to his lack of great size for his position. Being listed as a 6-6 PF overshadows who he is as a player and his skillset.
Every time Williams picks up a commitment, you can safely assume that player checks off three boxes: athletic, versatile, and gives great effort. Needless to say, Horne is no different. While undersized for a 4, he has a little bit of Zach LeDay in him. He has excellent upper body strength which he uses as leverage if matched up with a taller player on defense. On offense, this allows him to be a powerful, no-nonsense finisher in the paint, and he can play above the rim as well.
Under Buzz Williams, the Hokies trust their bigs to finish in the paint once the ball is given to them either in the slot or under the basket. Horne looks to be capable in that regard as well.
Due to his bull-like strength, Horne is also difficult to box out. On the offensive end, combined with his excellent effort, Horne generates plenty of opportunities for tip-ins and putbacks.
This happened three years ago, when Horne was just a freshman. That is impressive.
Despite his impressive athletic ability and strength, there are plenty of aspects of his game Horne needs to work on. For example, he is not a guy that can consistently knock down a midrange jumper. The good news is he has solid mechanics with his shot, meaning all he really needs to do is get in the gym more often and continue to improve in that area. At his size, he will likely need to develop that part of his game in order to be effective in the paint at the next level.
Horne also does not seem like a player who can consistently create his own shot, which would force him to be relegated to a role player at the next level. This is not as big a problem in Buzz Williams’ system, however, since the backcourt has more of a creative license than the frontcourt. If he can better develop his handles and at least one go-to move on the block, Horne could push for a solid amount of minutes his first year in Blacksburg.
Unfortunately, the only tape or highlight videos on the web of Horne are at least two years old. Therefore, it is difficult to determine where Horne is in his development as he is about to graduate. But there is a good foundation in place for Horne to build his skillset upon with his size and athletic ability.
Welcome to Blacksburg, PJ.