Forward C.J. Barksdale has informed the Virginia Tech men’s basketball program that he will not be a member of next season’s team, a person with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed.
Barksdale, a rising senior from Danville, Va., becomes the fifth player to leave the program since Buzz Williams took over as the team’s head coach in March. His departure means all but one member of Virginia Tech’s vaunted 2011 recruiting class, considered the best in school history at the time, will have left campus before their senior year.
At this point, the Hokies have just five scholarship players back from last season (guards Devin Wilson, Adam Smith, Malik Mueller and Will Johnston and forward Joey van Zegeren), only two of whom appeared in more than 15 games and averaged more than 3.2 points per game. Forwards Trevor Thompson (Ohio State), Marshall Wood (Richmond) and Maurice Kirby (Coffeyville Community College) and guard Ben Emelogu have also moved on from the program since the 2013-14 season ended.
Emelogu has received interest from SMU, Tulsa and Rice, among others, since his decision to leave Virginia Tech became public last week.
Barksdale began last season by serving a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules and dealt with nagging knee and ankle injuries as the Hokies stumbled to a 9-22 record. The 6-foot-8 power forward averaged 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last year and started 31 of the team’s 32 games as a sophomore.
Barksdale always wowed with his diverse skill set, but never committed himself to conditioning like former coach James Johnson and his staff would have liked. It’s unclear whether he clashed with Williams’s new staff, which was formally announced by Virginia Tech on Wednesday.
Six of Williams’s eight new hires came with him from Marquette, including assistant coaches Isaac Chew and Jamie McNeilly and director of basketball operations Jeff Reynolds, a former head coach at Air Force. Former Lamar coach Steve Roccaforte, most recently an assistant at South Florida, will also serve as an assistant coach under Williams.
Chew worked as an assistant under Williams at Marquette and McNeilly played for Williams at New Orleans before serving in an administrative position at Marquette the past three years. This will be McNeilly’s first full-time assistant coaching job.
Williams and company have been hard at work trying to address the roster attrition. The Hokies had two open scholarships for next season when college basketball’s live evaluation period began Wednesday.
A person within the program said another transfer is on Williams’s initial wish list. Former Kansas guard Andrew White is scheduled to visit Blacksburg, Va., in the next 10 days. The 6-6 Richmond native has been to Nebraska and Notre Dame and is slated to visit Florida State this weekend as he searches for a new team.
Virginia Tech has already added former Maryland guard Seth Allen, former South Florida forward Zach LeDay and junior college transfer Shane Henry to the roster since Williams arrived in March. Like Allen and LeDay, White would not be eligible to play until the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Williams has also reportedly been eyeing 6-6 shooting guard Maurice O’Field, who spent his freshman season at Midland Junior College in Texas this past winter.
In addition, the Hokies welcome a four-member freshmen class that includes former Marquette signees Ahmed Hill and Satchel Pierce and guards Jalen Hudson and Justin Bibbs to the fold this fall.