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December 16, 2011

Greenberg and staff ink two during the early signing period

By: Jimmy Robertson

Tech men’s basketball coach Seth Greenberg and his staff continued their trend of signing long, athletic prospects by inking two of those types during the early signing period in November.

Greenberg and his staff signed Marshall Wood, a forward from Rustburg, Va., and Montrezl Harrell, a forward from Tarboro, N.C. to letters-of-intent, and they will enroll at Tech next summer.

“These two players fit the prototype that we are looking for in a player – great people with terrific work ethics and great passion who want to be at Virginia Tech,” Greenberg said. “They both have outstanding athleticism. I expect them both to have a tremendous impact on the future of Virginia Tech basketball.”

Wood, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound swing player, averaged 19.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.5 blocks per game at Rustburg High School in his junior season. He shot 47 percent from the floor and 74 percent from the free-throw line for the Red Devils. ESPN ranked him the No. 27 small forward in the region and No. 33 nationally at his position.

“He’s as versatile a forward as there is in the country,” Greenberg said. “He has great length and bounce, and he shoots the ball with range. He has the ability to run the floor and will be able to guard multiple positions. He rebounds his position extremely well.

“Marshall is a world-class person and a terrific player. He is another player from the state of Virginia, which is very important as we are trying to establish ourselves as Virginia’s team.”

Wood plays both inside and outside for Rustburg coach Bradley Shields, who is in his second year at Rustburg, a small community outside of Lynchburg. In fact, Wood draws comparisons to former Tech player A.D. Vassallo, who played at Faith Christian Academy, not far from Lynchburg, and who also played at Hargrave Military Academy.

“We play him all over,” Shields said. “We’ll play him in the post, we’ll run him off screens … we move him around.

“He can shoot the ball and handle it pretty well, and he can block a lot of shots. He needs to work on his handle in traffic and using his body to create space. He’ll need to get bigger and stronger. But for his size, he can shoot it well and has a great second jump off the floor. He’s only going to get better and better.”

Wood, whose dad got a master’s degree at UVa and whose uncle played football at James Madison, chose the Hokies over VCU and Richmond. He also entertained offers from Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Michigan, Clemson, Duquesne and Liberty, and Shields estimated that Wood had around 30 offers. But the young man wanted to stay close to home so that his family could see him play.

“I’m not surprised he chose Virginia Tech,” Shields said. “He had a great rapport with the staff there, and they certainly saw him a lot. Plus, the Virginia Tech campus sells itself. It didn’t surprise me at all that he made that decision.”

Harrell, a 6-8, 235-pound power forward, averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds and 6.7 blocked shots for North Edgecombe High School as a junior, leading his team to a 21-3 mark in the North Carolina High School Athletics Association’s Class 1A. He has decided to play his senior season at Hargrave Military Academy.

“Montrezl Harrell is a spectacular athlete with great length and explosive athleticism, and he is a terrific person,” Greenberg said. “His year at Hargrave Military Academy will serve him well and prepare him for the rigors of ACC basketball. He is an active rebounder and an attacking player. I look for him to develop into a similar role as JT Thompson – a guy who brings great energy to our team.”

Harrell, who picked Tech over offers from Wake Forest, South Carolina, Xavier, Clemson, Miami and East Carolina, went to Hargrave to face better competition and improve his academics. That decision robbed North Edgecombe of its best player, but head coach Danny Ward supported the decision.

“He did the right thing,” Ward said. “He’ll be playing better competition and working on his academics. That all factored in.

“I’d love to coach him for his senior season, but my job is to get him right for the next level and for life. I think this helps him. I’ve got no problem with it.”

Harrell is ranked a four-star recruit by all three major rating services (Rivals, ESPN and Scout), and Scout rated him the No. 14 power forward recruit nationally. ESPN ranked Harrell the No. 23 power forward and No. 92 overall recruit nationally, and Rivals rated him the No. 27 power forward and No. 86 overall recruit.

Ward says that Harrell possesses many quality traits. But one stands out and should make him a good fit in Greenberg’s system.

“He’s a hard worker,” Ward said. “After his eighth grade year, I asked the coach if he thought we could get him right for varsity. He was 6-3 and a little on the thin side, but he was almost our go-to guy that season.

“He’s never been afraid of work. He ran the 400 in track because we wanted him to work on his endurance and get used to picking his feet up. The guy loves to win. He’ll work to get better.”

Tech’s staff has one scholarship remaining and could add another prospect during the spring signing period.