If Virginia Tech basketball is looking for a way to lure prospective players to Blacksburg, I have an idea. Pitch prospects, especially JUCO players, on the opportunity to play for Buzz Williams. Williams has put several players in the NBA; that includes All-NBA wing Jimmy Bulter, a top 10-12 player in the world.
After himself attending junior college, Buzz Williams — now entering his fourth season at Virginia Tech — got his start in coaching at the JUCO ranks. He believes strongly in the opportunities that path can provide for players. Williams is such an ardent believer in this that he likes to have at least one JUCO player on each of his rosters.
There are currently three NBA players that played for Buzz Williams at Marquette: Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and Wesley Matthews. Those three players were all free agents in the summer of 2015. That offseason the trio all signed new contracts for a combined $200 million.
- Jimmy Butler: 5 years, $95 million
- Wes Matthews: 4 years, $70 million
- Jae Crowder: 5 years, $35 million
It’s interesting, too, because if these three guys hit free agency a year later — in 2016, when the NBA’s salary cap spiked to unprecedented levels — they could’ve made even more money. Butler’s 2015 max contract would’ve been worth tens of millions more 12 months later; Crowder, a three-and-D bomber, could’ve vouch for more, too.
Williams told ACCSports.com that he believes Butler, who remains largely the same person, will go down as a top-50 player in NBA history.
On Virginia Tech’s current roster, the Hokies have another JUCO standout: Ty Outlaw. Like Johnson-Odom, Outlaw is a product of North Carolina that went the junior college route after prep ball. Outlaw was a critical part Tech’s top 25 offense in 2016-17. Outlaw hit 49.1 percent of three-pointers
Nearly 89 percent of Outlaw’s field goal attempts were jump shots, per Synergy Sports. Outlaw shot 49.6 percent (72.6 percent effective field goal rate) on jump shots. He scored 1.45 points per possession — No. 1 in the ACC and No. 3 in Division I.
Outlaw, unfortunately, will miss the 2017-18 season due to a knee injury he suffered over the offseason. Virginia Tech can still rely upon Ahmed Hill and Justin Bibbs for shooting; however, Outlaw will clearly be missed.
2018 and Beyond
Virginia Tech currently has three commitments for its 2018 class, including top-100 player Landers Nolley. The Hokies have zero JUCO commits at the moment, but that could always change. And if you are one of the top JUCO players in the country, why wouldn’t you be interested in playing for Buzz Williams?