Rising sophomore Ben Emelogu has decided to leave the Virginia Tech basketball team and recently returned home to Grand Prairie, Tex., an athletic department spokesman confirmed Friday afternoon. He becomes the fourth player to depart the program since Coach Buzz Williams took over in March.
Emelogu was seen as an essential building block last season and former Coach James Johnson named him team captain as a freshman. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard appeared in 22 games and started 12 times, averaging 10.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
It’s unclear why he decided to leave Blacksburg. At Williams’s introductory news conference, Emelogu expressed optimism about the direction of the program, particularly since the former Marquette coach also recruited him out of high school.
One person familiar with the situation indicated Emelogu is expected to transfer to a school closer to home. Another person within the program said this was not a case of Williams “running off” a player he did not want. Emelogu would have likely had a significant role on next season’s team.
The Hokies are trying to rebound from a 9-22 campaign and their third straight last-place finish in the ACC, and the roster has seen a significant amount of attrition since Williams arrived. Forwards Trevor Thompson (Ohio State), Marshall Wood (Richmond) and Maurice Kirby (Coffeyville Community College) have all also transferred from Virginia Tech in recent months.
In their place, though, Williams has buttressed the roster with several reinforcements. Former Maryland guard Seth Allen transfered to Virginia Tech in May and former South Florida forward Zach LeDay announced he would be joining the Hokies last month. Both will be eligible for the 2015-16 season after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules.
Virginia Tech will get more immediate help from four-star guard Ahmed Hill and center Satchel Pierce, two 2014 Marquette recruits who were let out of their national letters-of-intent once Williams left the school. He also convinced 2014 Virginia Tech prospects Justin Bibbs and Jalen Hudson to honor the letters they signed under Johnson.
Forward Shane Henry, one of the nation’s top junior college prospects, also committed to Virginia Tech in June and will be eligible to play next season. The 6-foot-8 Brooklyn native played at Georgia Perimeter College last year.