Over the next three days, I’ll take a look and project the role and stats for each of the Hokies’ 2017 recruits for the men’s basketball team. Up first: PJ Horne.
When Horne committed to the Hokies back in February, the thought was he would provide depth in the Hokies’ frontcourt once Zach LeDay finished his final year. After all, he was the lowest rated recruit of the three in the 2017 class. The recent and unfortunate Ty Outlaw injury could change all that. Right now, Kerry Blackshear projects as the starter at the 5, but with Chris Clarke still rehabbing his ACL injury (why can’t we have nice things?) and Khadim Sy still an unknown, the 4 spot is up for grabs. Between Fullard, Horne, and Sy, there is plenty of competition for the freshman to overcome.
Buzz has shown that he will play four or more guards on the floor at the same time during his tenure in Blacksburg, but Horne will have every opportunity to earn minutes early in the season. Zach LeDay was a popular player comp for Horne, as both players are undersized for big men, but have good upper body strength and play hungry. Horne’s attitude could add to the appeal of putting him on the court early to get him experience against lesser competition until Clarke is healthy. Williams isn’t opposed to playing young guys early, especially if he feels they deserve a spot, evidenced by replacing Seth Allen with Justin Robinson as a starter in the middle of 2015-16.
At the PF position, Buzz has been favorable to those players with more versatility and spacing. This is one reason why Zach LeDay got so many minutes immediately after arriving at Virginia Tech and a reason why Ty Outlaw was so successful last season. Horne’s high school tape did not show a player with extended range or plus playmaking ability, so he will need to improve on both skills to garner attention and minutes early. However, he should provide flexibility on the defensive side of the ball, which the Hokies desperately needed to improve upon after last season.
It would be nice if Horne lives up to the billing as “the next LeDay”, but we should temper expectations for his freshman season. It really is anyone’s guess what lineup and rotations Buzz will use without Clarke or Outlaw. Right now, I project Horne to get minutes early but taper off as the season moves along, similar to Khadim Sy’s situation last year. This year should be a developmental year for Horne while adding depth to a somewhat think Hokies’ frontcourt.
Projected Role/Stats: 10 minutes/game, 4 PTS/ 2 RBS/ 1 AST