One big exit, one big entrance and one big return for the ACC Monday: State's TJ Warren declared for the NBA draft and Buzz Williams was introduced at Virginia Tech and Marcus Paige announced he'll be back at UNC.
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The Hokies turned it into a party/pep rally, and Williams said all the right things:
- "I think it's a sleeping giant. There's a lot of work to be done. "... What I can tell you without promising anything other than you'll have my heart, you'll have my soul. I'll work at it every single day and I'll do right by the institution, I'll do right by this department, I'll do right by our program and I'll also do right by alumni and those that are in the community that support Virginia Tech."
- "I think the press conference is the easiest day of the job. This is perfect, to live in this world. I’ll buy everybody pizza and we can all stay here. It’s the easiest day. I’m zero and zero. Everyone’s looking at what we’ve been able to do over the past few years, it’s a home run, all of those things. But the real deal is Nov. 8, Nov. 9. When it’s time to tip it up, that’s over."
Both Marquette and Wake Forest are in the market for a new coach, and both are looking at Shaka Smart. Worth remembering: Smart is from Wisconsin and rumored to prefer coaching in the Midwest when he takes his next job. Also worth noting: Marquette currently has an interim A.D. and president. That's a big risk.
We said the other day that there was some bad blood out of Wisconsin over Williams' departure. Here's another article on that with a fairly serious accusation at the heart of it. No one at Tech will care right now, but if a similar situation arises in Blacksburg, it could be disastrous.
For State, TJ Warren is obviously a loss but may not be as bad as it might seem.
By next year, this year's freshmen will be vastly improved. Cat Barber, Lennard Freeman, Beejay Anya and Kyle Washington all showed real signs this season. Barber needs some work on his point guard skills, Anya need to lose some weight, and Freeman and Washington will hit the weight room and follow a natural curb of improvement.
Ralston Turner will be back, and should be better, and Trevor Lacey will also be eligible.
State is also bringing in three well-regarded forwards: 6-8 Abdul-Malik Abu and twins Caleb and Cody Martin, both 6-6. It's enough to get started with.
Anya and Washington could provide a very solid base, and Barber is as quick as anyone around. The rest you put together around them.
Some other early coaching moves: Houston's James Dickey has resigned, and while Houston is down at the moment, it doesn't have to be. The program has a glorious history. Kelvin Sampson, currently with the Rockets, is said to be interested. Sampson of course was stupid enough to commit the same violations at Oklahoma and Indiana, so one hopes he's learned.
Speaking of Indiana, Tom Crean may be looking soon, whether by choice or not: not only is Noah Vonleh likely to decamp for the NBA, Austin Etherington and Jeremy Howell are both leaving.
That's a big hit for one day and Crean was already feeling some pressure.
On the bright side, his style can work without big men, but it won't be easy in the Big Ten. But if not, maybe Smart is holding on for a better job than Marquette or Wake.