On the surface, the transfer of 6-foot-11 rising sophomore forward Trevor Thompson from the Virginia Tech Hokies to the Ohio State Buckeyes might not seem like a major deal. After all, Thompson averaged a modest 5.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game this year for a Virginia Tech team that went 2-16 in the ACC, finished dead last, and managed just a 9-22 overall record.
But with its second new head coach in three years taking over next season in former Marquette bench boss Buzz Williams, transfers like the loss of Thompson, along with the prospect of recruits decommitting, are the first major issue that Williams is going to have to solve on what appears to be a long road toward redemption for the Hokies in men’s college basketball.
Thompson didn’t just transfer to Ohio State to dot the I or eat at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in the German Village. While Ohio State may be a program that has faltered a bit in the NCAA tournament, it is traditionally a top-25 program and a factor in the Big 10. Thompson wouldn’t be going there if he couldn’t play and if he didn’t think he’d get minutes.
And the bottom line is that if Thompson can get minutes at a school like Ohio State, he’s a player who Virginia Tech and Williams needed to keep on the Hokies basketball team. Thompson is moving closer to home as he is from Indianapolis, but barring a special circumstance, he will likely not play for the Buckeyes until the 2015-16 season, meaning he’d rather not play for a year if he has to than play for Virginia Tech.
Thompson showed a bit of his potential late in the season in a loss at Duke, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and adding six rebounds. The 15 points tied a career-high he had set in Virginia Tech’s second game of the season against Western Carolina. Thompson also had 11 rebounds in that game against WCU and finished with double-digit rebounds four times this season, including a high of 12, done twice against Wake Forest and Miami.
At 210 pounds, he still has muscle to build on to his 6-foot-11 frame, and perhaps Ohio State’s strength and conditioning program offers Thompson a better chance to do that than the program at Virginia Tech.
But 6-foot-11 guys with rebounding prowess who have shown flashes of scoring ability (along with 28 blocked shots, nearly one per game) are just the kind of players that Virginia Tech needs to get out of the ACC basement — a conference that’s only going to get harder next season with Maryland leaving and Louisville joining.
If the turnaround is going to start next season, Williams must get his talent in order and make sure everyone is on board for what’s to come.