Virginia Tech Coach James Johnson got a late start on the recruiting trail because of the sudden firing of former Coach Seth Greenberg, but he managed to snag four players for his inaugural class.
The Hokies announced Thursday that guards Donte Clark and Ben Emelogu as well as forwards Maurice Kirby and Trevor Thompson all signed their national letters-of-intent as part of college basketball’s early signing period, which began Wednesday.
The haul reflects the national approach Johnson and his staff had to take with limited options and a first-year coach. Virginia Tech’s four recruits hail from North Carolina, Arizona, Indiana and Texas.
Clark, a 6-foot-4 guard who’s playing at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, is considered the highest-rated recruit in the class. Rivals considers him a four-star prospect after averaging 15.8 points, 3.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game at Kennedy Charter Public School (N.C.) last season.
Clark picked the Hokies over offers from Miami, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Mississippi.
“Donte is a good combo guard,” Johnson said. “We look to play him at both the point and the off guard spot. He’s a long, athletic guard who can score the basketball. He can make plays for himself and for others. With our style of basketball, a running, fast-paced style of basketball, he has a chance to be a really good player. He also has a chance to be a very good defender.”
Emelogu, a Grand Prairie, Tex., native, averaged just eight points and two rebounds per game as a high school junior last season. The 6-5 guard was considered an under-the-radar prospect, but garnered more interest on the AAU circuit this summer.
He also had offers from Washington, Marquette, TCU, SMU and Texas Tech, among others.
“Ben is a strong, athletic guard that can really score the basketball in multiple ways,” Johnson said. “He’s an excellent shooter with deep range. He has a strong body and can score in a lot of different ways. One of the better guards in the state of Texas, he is an underrated recruit who we expect to come in and help us early in his career.”
The Hokies also added two big men, starting with 6-11, 210-pound forward Trevor Thompson, who played at South Lakes High in Reston as a freshman. Thompson averaged 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks per game at Ben Davis High in Indianapolis last year and will spend his senior season at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wis.
“Trevor is a long, athletic post player with a lot of skill,” Johnson said. “He can score inside with both hands; he can score facing up and he runs the floor extremely well. He is another player that fits our type of style. He is a talented, young man that can help us right away.”
Kirby, a 6-9, 235-pound forward from Chandler, Ariz., averaged 7.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game last season. His physicality, and smooth jump shot are considered his biggest assets.
“With Maurice Kirby being 6-9 and 235 pounds, he gives us a big, strong post player with very good skills,” Johnson said. “He can step away to 15 feet and hit the jump shot and he can definitely play with his back to the basket. He gives us a college-ready body right now.”
The Hokies also will also have guard Adam Smith, a transfer from UNC Wilmington who is sitting out this season because of NCAA rules, available next year.