Virginia Tech guard Dorenzo Hudson swears he’s not the sentimental type. But last weekend, as the Hokies were busing back to campus from an overtime loss at Duke, the fifth-year senior stood in front of his teammates and repeated a saying about just how little time was left in his college career.
“Two more games and it’s RIP to Zo,” Hudson recalled this week. “I think I was kind of reminding myself.”
But as Hudson, 24, prepares for his final home game Sunday night against North Carolina State, even he can admit that his maroon-and-orange legacy will always be incomplete to a certain extent.
He came to Virginia Tech five years ago along with Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen, Terrell Bell and his cousin, JT Thompson, as part of what was considered a signature recruiting class for Coach Seth Greenberg. But despite considerable achievements, the group never qualified for the NCAA tournament.
Hudson and Thompson both returned this season because of injuries that forced them to take a redshirt year, but that underachieving stigma will live on unless the Hokies make a miraculous run through the ACC tournament this week in Atlanta. Hudson says it is his biggest regret when he looks back on his time in Blacksburg.
“Ups and downs,” Hudson said this week as he reflected on his career. “I call it a relationship. You’re gonna take some good and bad from it. I definitely had more good moments than bad, but I’m gonna take a lot of stuff from it.”
His final season at Virginia Tech has been a microcosm of that. Hudson, who played just nine games a year ago because of season-ending foot surgery, has struggled to regain the form that allowed him to score 41 points in a game against Seton Hall and earn third-team all-ACC honors in 2010.
Hudson has shot the ball better of late and is averaging 11 points per game, despite a nagging MCL injury. But he hasn’t been a consistent threat alongside leading scorer Erick Green, having been held to single digits in 16 games.
Hudson also has dealt with off-court issues. He was involved in a December incident in which three people, including Virginia Tech place kicker Cody Journell, allegedly broke into his apartment. Hudson was not charged, but prosecutors acknowledged in court that the 6-foot-5 guard got into a physical altercation with the defendants.
That, though, hasn’t dulled Greenberg’s admiration for Hudson, who he calls “very easy to coach” because of his “high basketball IQ.”
“Anything and everything we’ve asked him to do, he’s done and accepted it with a smile on his face,” Greenberg said this week. “He’s gonna make money playing basketball. Where, I don’t know, but he’s gonna make money playing basketball if he can stay healthy. With Dorenzo, that’s the million-dollar question.”
But the coach has admitted several times that the Hokies have struggled this season, in part, because they lack “an experienced tone-setter,” to help the team’s young core.
Hudson agreed with that this week, and took no offense to Greenberg’s comments because “he’s stuck by me through thick and thin.”
“Coming in, I knew we were young, but I figured we would figure it out,” Hudson said. “I was trying to get myself together, so with me not playing up to the potential I need to play at, it was kind of hard to bring young guys along with me.”
Still, this season hasn’t been a complete wash for Hudson. In a win at Oklahoma State on New Year’s Eve, he became the 42nd Virginia Tech player to score 1,000 career points. Then in January, he scored the crucial basket in the Hokies’ upset at then-No. 15 Virginia, their only win over a ranked foe this season. Last month, he hit a game-winning buzzer beater to lift Virginia Tech to an overtime win over Georgia Tech.
The rivalry victory over the Cavaliers is Hudson’s favorite memory from a season that hasn’t gone as planned. But as he looked back on his triumphs in college, Hudson can’t help but consider whether he could’ve done more.
“I have my standards set a little higher than what I’m doing this year, but I felt like I tried to do everything I could to help my team win,” Hudson said. “Wish we could’ve won some more games, but no, I’m not completely satisfied.”