Hokie Hoops Weekly: Devin Wilson has Made the Most of His Recent Opportunities
Coming into this season, perhaps the biggest question mark for the Hokies was 5th year senior guard Devin Wilson. Coming off a redshirt season in which he tried his luck with the football team, many wondered how Wilson would fit into the Hokies’ rotation, if at all.
Wilson has had as up-and-down a career in Blacksburg as anyone could imagine. As a freshman, Wilson was a standout point guard on an otherwise bad team in the 2013-14 season. He was a main scoring threat for the Hokies in a season that included a career-high 26 points against Wake Forest. He also set a school record for assists by a freshman.
However, once coach Buzz Williams came to town, Wilson saw his production and minutes both decline. In Williams’ first season (Wilson’s sophomore year), Wilson was still relied on to be the team’s starting point guard. The transition to Williams from James Johnson was just getting started. Buzz was still trying to establish a solid recruiting base. Because of this, Williams had to rely on Wilson and most of Johnson’s other leftover recruits. The Hokies struggled that season, going 2-16 in conference play.
That next season, Wilson’s time as Virginia Tech’s floor general quickly came to an end with the arrival of two players: Seth Allen and Justin Robinson. Allen, a transfer from Maryland, and Robinson, a four-star freshman, both quickly asserted themselves as Virginia Tech’s starting point guards.
Devin Wilson was left behind. He averaged a career-low 2.1 points per game as a junior, and his lack of true scoring ability was brought to the light. Many of Buzz’s new recruits dazzled fans with their offensive abilities.
After losing his starting spot and seeing his role diminish in the 2015-16 season, Wilson decided to try out for a different team: the football team. In addition to being a Division 1-level basketball recruit, Wilson was also a 3 star football recruit in high school. He had the ability to play at the college level, so he decided to give it a shot at wide receiver under new coach Justin Fuente.
Unfortunately, Wilson only had two catches for 13 yards that season. In addition to being extremely unsuccessful on the football field, Wilson also found his basketball career in jeopardy. Virginia Tech played their last football game on December 29, meaning that Wilson had already missed the basketball team’s entire non-conference season.
Many coaches would have told Wilson to hit the road, but Williams did not give up on him.
Williams and the rest of the coaching staff decided to allow Wilson to take a redshirt for the 2016-17 season. This allowed Wilson to have a full senior season instead of missing half of one.
Now, Wilson has an extra year in Blacksburg, and he has been given the chance to make another impact before he leaves.
Many fans were unsure how he would fit in on this team that had seemingly moved past him last season. He had missed the previous season, and his career was already declining before then.
Once again, Wilson struggled to be a big contributor at the start of this season. His role was limited to being a hearty veteran who gave 10-15 minutes of solid defense per game. His offensive struggles were too much to overcome to allow him to be a real factor.
However, when the Hokies needed a defensive boost after a deflating loss to Miami, Buzz Williams decided to put his most tenured player back in the starting lineup.
Wilson was given his first opportunity in the Hokies’ home victory against NC State on February 7. He had a decent showing in that game, scoring 6 points and grabbing 3 rebounds. It was not an overly impressive performance by any means, but it was enough to solidify him as a starter for the next game.
In that next game, the Hokies traveled to Charlottesville to take on their arch rival, #2 Virginia. This was perhaps their biggest game of the season, and Williams trusted Wilson enough to allow him to start again.
Not only did he start, but he had perhaps his best performance since 2015. Devin Wilson gave the Hokies 31 minutes of pure heart and hustle, along with 7 points and 7 rebounds including his second three-pointer of the season. The Hokies were able to upset the Cavaliers in overtime, and much of that victory is credited to Wilson’s effort.
It is always difficult to predict just what Buzz Williams will do with his lineup. However, one could confidently think that Wilson has done enough to cement himself as a starter for the rest of the season, especially with his great defensive effort. Wilson has come a long way this season from starting to fade down the Hokies' bench to jumping back into the starting lineup.
If you are looking for a story of heart and redemption, look no further than Virginia Tech’s Devin Wilson.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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