The best statistics following Virginia Tech’s intrasquad scrimmage this past weekend mostly came from the expected sources. Point guard Erick Green and forward Cadarian Raines led the team in scoring, and forwards Jarell Eddie and C.J. Barksdale each finished with double-doubles.
But there was no player on the floor who turned more heads than freshman Marshall Wood, the lone Virginia Tech recruit to keep his commitment when James Johnson replaced Seth Greenberg as the Hokies’ coach. Wood finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds and hit four three-pointers, continuing an eye-opening training camp for the lightly recruited 6-foot-8 forward out of Rustburg, Va.
“I see him being a big part of what we’re trying to do right now,” Johnson said Sunday. “He can run the floor. It fits into our style there. He can face up and knock the three down, as you saw today. And he can do some stuff around the basket. He’s a very good rebounder. Today, him rebounding the basketball wasn’t a surprise to me. He’s been one or two on the team through eight practices in rebounding.”
With a roster featuring just eight scholarship players, Wood was expected to play a role this season. But his game appears to be more developed than recruiting services indicated, with the versatility to face up bigger defenders on the perimeter and a 210-pound build that should allow him to contribute inside.
Wood averaged more than 24 points and 12 rebounds per game as a senior at Rustburg High, but because it came against lesser competition in central Virginia, there were questions about whether his skills would transfer over to the college game immediately.
But Wood has done a good job convincing his teammates he’s ready in the first full practices of the season. Like Johnson, forward Jarell Eddie lauded Wood’s skills as a rebounder and perimeter shooter.
“That’s huge for us because we’re gonna need him,” Eddie said. “It stretches the defense.”
Johnson envisions Wood playing power forward this season and talked Sunday of the issues he could create for opponents as a pick-and-pop option along with point guard Erick Green.
Regardless of how Wood is used, though, his emergence has been a welcome surprise with the start regular season just more than two weeks away.
“I feel like my teammates have enough confidence in me,” Wood said Sunday. “There’s going to be ups and downs for me during the season, but I feel like the chemistry is so good that they’re going to just pick me up when I’m down and stuff like that, so I don’t feel like it’s going to be that bad.”