Fresh­man de­liv­ers for Tech

Wilkins scores 21 points off bench in sea­son opener

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - SPORTS 2 - BY MARK BERMAN

BLACKSBURG — Isa­iah Wilkins was a late signee, but he has made a pos­i­tive early im­pres­sion with Vir­ginia Tech.

The fresh­man guard had 21 points and five 3-point­ers off the bench to help 15th-ranked Vir­ginia Tech beat Gard­ner-Webb 87-59 in its sea­son opener Fri­day at Cas­sell Coli­seum.

He said he did not ex­pect his big out­put.

“That wasn’t me. That was Je­sus,” Wilkins said.

“It was him mov­ing through me. My team­mates found me wide open in the corner.”

Wilkins, who was 5 of 7 from 3-point range, said his first game was “an eye-opener.”

“The pace is much, much, much dif­fer­ent than high school,” he said.

The 6-foot-3, 230pound Wilkins did not com­mit to the Hok­ies un­til July, one month af­ter he grad­u­ated from Mount Ta­bor High School in Win­ston-Salem, N.C.

He had orig­i­nally planned on spend­ing a post­grad­u­ate year at Har­grave Mil­i­tary Academy in hopes of im­prov­ing his re­cruit­ing stock be­cause his first crop of of­fers had come from Hamp­ton,

High Point, Pres­by­te­rian and Win­ston-Salem State.

But he boosted his stock with Team CP3 in AAU tour­na­ments over the sum­mer, re­sult­ing in of­fers from Vir­ginia Tech, Wake For­est, Wi­chita State and Dayton. So he de­cided four months ago to pick the Hok­ies, who still had a schol­ar­ship avail­able.

The orig­i­nal plan was for Wilkins, who did not turn 18 years old un­til

Sept. 29, to red­shirt this sea­son. But coach Buzz Wil­liams in­formed him Mon­day, one day af­ter Wilkins scored 18 points in an ex­hi­bi­tion win at Lib­erty,

Vir­ginia Tech vs. Ball State at Charles­ton, S.C.,

11:30 a.m., ESPN2 that he would not be red­shirt­ing af­ter all.

“I’m very sur­prised,” said Wilkins, who is the 10th-youngest player in Di­vi­sion I men’s bas­ket­ball this year.

Wil­liams said the fact se­nior for­ward Chris Clarke was in­def­i­nitely sus­pended from the team on Oct. 31 was not a fac­tor in his de­ci­sion to play Wilkins this sea­son.

“He’s lost 22 pounds since he’s been here. His body’s be­gin­ning to change in a good way,” Wil­liams said. “He’s smart and he has a feel for how to play.

“His rate of growth … was dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent than I an­tic­i­pated.”

Wilkins said he did not have pregame jit­ters.

“I like to go in a game not think­ing about it too much,” Wilkins said.

Sopho­more guard Nick­eil Alexan­der-Walker also scored 21 points Fri­day.

“In the be­gin­ning of the game, I tried to be ag­gres­sive,” Alexan­der-Walker said. “But once I started let­ting it come to me, ev­ery­thing opened up more. The lanes opened up.”

Kerry Black­s­hear Jr. had 14 points for Tech. He sported a black face mask Fri­day af­ter break­ing his nose at Lib­erty.

Black­s­hear was el­bowed in the nose while go­ing up for a re­bound at Lib­erty. He said he will have to wear the pro­tec­tive mask for a few weeks.

In some years, Vir­ginia Tech does not have a stern non­league test un­til a Thanks­giv­ing-week tour­na­ment. In other years, that test does not come un­til af­ter Thanks­giv­ing, in the Big Ten-ACC Chal­lenge.

But this year, that test should come next week. The Hok­ies will play in the Charles­ton Clas­sic in South Carolina, where they could po­ten­tially face Alabama and Pur­due.

Gard­ner-Webb shot

46.7 per­cent from the field.

Wil­liams said his team’s de­fense was “re­ally bad” be­cause the Run­nin’ Bull­dogs got to the paint too of­ten.

Tech led Gard­ner-Webb (0-2) by just 4 points (4743) with 16:05 to go.

But the Hok­ies went on a 24-3 run to build a 71-46 cush­ion with 7:51 left. Alexan­der-Walker had 8 points in the run. Ahmed Hill had 6 points in the run.

FG FT Reb

G-W M-A M-A O-T A PF PT Efi­anayi 31 4-10 2-6 0-5 0 3 12 John­son 33 7-12 0-1 1-1 2 4 17 Turner 20 0-1 1-2 0-2 3 31 Jami­son 23 1-4 1-2 0-5 0 23 Perez 21 2-4 5-6 0-4 0 39 Corn­wall 20 1-4 0-0 0-1 4 12 Laster 17 3-4 1-2 0-1 0 28 Jenk­ins 16 0-3 1-2 0-0 1 01 Dufeal 13 2-2 0-0 0-1 1 14 Miller 6 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 02

To­tals 200 21-45 11-21 1-20 11 19 59

Per­cent­ages: FG .467, FT .524.

3-Point Goals: 6-21, .286 (John­son

3-7, Efi­anayi 2-4, Laster 1-1, Jami­son 0-1, Turner 0-1, Corn­wall 0-2, Perez

0-2, Jenk­ins 0-3). Team Re­bounds:

7. Blocks: 5 (John­son 2, Efi­anayi, Jami­son, Miller). Turnovers: 29 (Efi­anayi 7, Jami­son 4, Perez 4, Turner 4, Corn­wall 3, John­son 3, Jenk­ins 2, Laster, Miller). Steals: 3 (John­son 2, Jenk­ins). Tech­ni­cal: Perez, 5:04 first.

FG FT Reb

VA. TECH M-A M-A O-T A PF PT Black­s­hear 18 6-10 1-1 2-4 0 514 Alex.-Wlkr 34 8-15 4-4 1-6 5 321 Hill 34 5-10 0-0 1-6 1 211 Robin­son 28 2-7 6-8 2-2 8 211 Out­law 23 2-6 0-2 1-6 1 45 Wilkins 27 7-10 2-2 2-3 1 021 Bede 17 1-3 0-2 0-3 3 32 Horne 17 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 52 Kabongo 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 00

To­tals 200 32-63 13-19 9-30 20 24 87

Per­cent­ages: FG .508, FT .684.

3-Point Goals: 10-25, .400 (Wilkins 5-7, Black­s­hear 1-1, Alexan­der-Walker

1-4, Hill 1-4, Out­law 1-4, Robin­son 1-4, Bede 0-1). Team Re­bounds: 7. Blocks:

4 (Horne 2, Alexan­der-Walker, Black­s­hear). Turnovers: 20 (Horne 5, Alexan­der-Walker 3, Black­s­hear 3, Hill 3, Robin­son 3, Bede, Kabongo, Out­law).

Steals: 16 (Alexan­der-Walker 4, Bede 4, Robin­son 3, Hill 2, Black­s­hear, Out­law, Wilkins). Tech­ni­cal: Alexan­derWalker, 5:02 sec­ond.

MMGard­ner-Webb Vir­ginia Tech

33 42

26 — 45 —

59 87

DON PE­TERSEN

Vir­ginia Tech guard Isa­iah Wilkins grabs a re­bound in the first half of the 15th-ranked Hok­ies’ 87-59 non­con­fer­ence, sea­son-open­ing vic­tory in Blacksburg.

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