VT's Johnson moving on minus Erick Green

VT's Johnson moving on minus Erick Green
July 13, 2013, 8:30 am
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(USA Today Sports)

Leading up to and after the NBA Draft, CSNwashington spoke with several of the local college basketball coaches for their take on certain prospects, but also to discuss the 2013-14 season. After catching up with Georgetown's John Thompson III and *George Mason's Paul Hewitt, today's Q&A is with Virginia Tech's James Johnson.  

Last month, Johnson, who is entering his second year as the Hokies head coach, shared his analysis on various ACC players in the draft. That included his now former high-scoring guard, Erick Green

  • How do you go about replacing a player like Green who led the country in scoring and produced in many different ways for the team last season?

James Johnson: "We have two seniors in Cadarian Raines and Jarell Eddie. They will make an impact. You're never going to replace a guy who led the nation in scoring, but I think we did a pretty good job of recruiting with the guys we have coming in. And I think we have some guys already in the program that will help.

"Hopefully Jarell Eddie can help, improve over the [past year] on the offensive end, help us put the ball in the hole. Raines, we'll be looking for him to help with the scoring load, up his (6.6) points per game average, maybe getting into double digits. Then we have a young man who sat out last year, Adam Smith, who transferred from UNC Wilmington. As a freshman, he had big games. UNC Wilmington played two ACC teams and he had big games, [23] against Maryland in one, 32 [against Wake Forest] in another. I don't know if we're looking for those types of numbers, but he's capable of producing those types of numbers in certain games.

"I think we'll be a little more balanced. C.J. Barksdale averaged I think 10 and 6 over his last 10 ACC games. We're looking at him stepping up. Marshall Wood, a freshman last year, broke his foot. We look forward to him helping us out. He can stretch the floor. He can shoot.

"Then we've got some incoming freshman, especially a couple of guards in particular, Malik Mueller, a 6-foot-3 guard out of Germany. A couple of years ago, he won the MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic. Then we have a kid, Ben Emelogu, who led his team to the state championship game down in Texas. Expecting him to shoot the ball and really put it in the hole. ...His high schools numbers don't really indicate what he can do as far as putting the ball in the basket. They were a very balanced team (several D-I prospects)."

  • How did you get a kid from Germany to come to Virginia Tech?

Johnson: "We watched [Mueller] on tape, at the Jordan Brand Classic. Kurt Kanaskie, my assistant, his son played overseas, in Germany for a while. Just connections, talking to people, looking under rocks. We've got to dig under rocks to find those kind of guys."

  • Granted it's a ways before fall practice, but o you have a sense of a starting lineup right now?

Johnson: "With six* freshmen and one transfer, the lineup is open. They have to compete for a position right now. That's the way I'm approaching it now."

* (now five without Clark)

  • Earlier when talking about the draft prospects, you mention liking the way Raines played against Maryland center Alex Len last season. Could he take another step and be a surprise in the conference next season?

Johnson: "I don't know about a surprise in the conference, but I think he can take a better step forward. Last year was his first as a starter, first year as being kind of a go-to guy inside. He had to kind of learn that role. I think he became comfortable with that and next year take it a step further.

"Eddie is [now] a senior who's had some big games, but we're looking for a little bit more consistency out of him."