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March 13, 2014

Wilson named to ACC's all-freshman teams

By: Jimmy Robertson

Tech’s point guard set three school freshman records this season, including one held by former great Dell Curry, and was rewarded by both the media and the league’s coaches

Devin Wilson became just the fourth Tech player to make the ACC’s All-Freshman Team since the Hokies joined the ACC in 2004.

Tech point guard Devin Wilson’s play this season for the undermanned Hokie basketball squad has been good, if not great, and certainly consistent.

And for that, he has been rewarded.

Wilson was named to the league’s two all-freshman teams at the conclusion of the regular season – one by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA) and one by the league’s coaches.

The native of McKees Rocks, Pa., led the Hokies in minutes played (1,043 minutes, 34.8 mpg), assists (4.8 apg) and steals (24) during the regular season. He also averaged 9.2 points per game.

The only Hokie to start every game this season, Wilson enjoyed a record-breaking first year for the Hokies, snapping freshman records for minutes played, total assists (143) and free throws attempted (178). Wilson’s 1,043 minutes broke the previous record of 1,024 held by former Tech great Dell Curry, who set the mark during the 1982-83 season (34 games).

Wilson broke the freshman record for assists in a season by a freshman when he dished out five assists in the Hokies’ 57-53 loss to Virginia on Feb. 18. Those five assists gave him 114 for the season at the time and enabled him to break the old record of 113 set by Hank Thorns during the 2007-08 season.

Wilson ranked third in the ACC at 4.8 assists per game heading into the ACC Tournament.

Wilson broke the Tech freshman record for free-throw attempts in the Hokies’ 60-56 loss to North Carolina on March 1. He went 8 of 12 from the line in that game and scored 15 points. He finished the regular season with 178 attempts, besting Dale Solomon’s previous record of 164, which came during the 1978-79 season.

Wilson became the first Tech player to make the ACC’s All-Freshman squad since Dorian Finney-Smith in 2012. Other former Tech players to make the All-Freshman team include Jeff Allen (2008) and Deron Washington (2005).

Jabari Parker of Duke, Tyler Ennis of Syracuse, London Perrantes of Virginia and Kennedy Meeks of North Carolina joined Wilson on the All-ACC Freshman teams.

Missed games add up

Tech’s season essentially was ruined by injuries, as the number of games missed because of injuries indicates. Tech’s players missed a total of 37 games because of injuries or illnesses, and 31 of those games came against ACC competition.

These numbers do not even include Marquis Rankin’s missed season Rankin did not play this season because of personal issues and left the team before the spring semester started. The numbers also do not factor in the games missed by Malik Mueller, who sat out the season because of eligibility issues.

Adam Smith, who started the first eight games as the team’s shooting guard, missed 16 games with a strained calf/stress fracture, including the final 13 of the regular season. Ben Emelogu missed nine games, including six because of a sprained ankle and three early in the year because of a concussion.

Van Zegeren closes regular season in fine fashion

Tech center Joey van Zegeren established his career high in scoring on three occasions in the final six games of the regular season. He went into that stretch with a career high of 11 points, but scored 13 in the Hokies’ loss to UVa on Feb. 18, and then in the penultimate game of the regular season, he snapped that mark with 14 points in a 64-47 loss at Maryland on March 4. In the final game of the regular season, he scored 21 points in Tech’s 62-51 defeat to Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

In the Georgia Tech game, he hit 9 of 17 from the floor and 3 of 5 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed seven rebounds.

I saw a lot of confidence in Joey, not just in Atlanta, but the last couple of games,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “He got his career high the game before and then he broke that.

“He’s playing with a lot of confidence, and he’s very aggressive on both ends of the court, especially on the offensive end. I think he’s feeling like if we need a basket, we can throw to him and he’s going to get it. So I’m seeing a lot of confidence in the young man.”

Van Zegeren, a redshirt sophomore, shot 60 percent from the floor in those three games, and he shot 58.5 percent from the floor in the final six games of the regular season.

Thompson strong down the stretch, too

Van Zegeren wasn’t the only post player to finish up the regular season on a strong note. Freshman Trevor Thompson worked his way into the starting lineup and made the most of his minutes.

Inserted into the starting lineup on Feb. 5, the 6-foot-11, Indianapolis, Ind., native started the final nine games of the regular season, playing at least 20 minutes in eight of the nine. During that span, he averaged 7.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in that span.

Thompson’s best game came against then-No. 6 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the Hokies’ 66-48 loss. He tied his career high with 15 points, hitting 6 of 9 from the floor and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line. His other 15-point outing came against Western Carolina on Nov. 15.

He also grabbed six rebounds and had a career-high three steals. All of this came in a career-high 35 minutes.

“I came into the game, and I told myself to be patient on the offensive end,” Thompson said after the game. “I wanted to do everything possible to help my team out. I feel like there was a lot of stuff that I messed up on – rebounds I should have had. When I get back to school, I’m going to go back to the gym and work on the stuff that I thought I should have done better.”

“I thought coming into the game that we could get the ball inside,” Johnson said. “I thought we could score on them inside with van Zegeren and Trevor. Trevor was a lot more patient out there. He took his time when he got the ball. He scored around the basket with his right hand and his left hand. I thought he took a step forward against a very good team in a hostile environment. He scored whenever he got the opportunity to.”

More impressively, Thompson held his own against Parker and Amile Jefferson – two of Duke’s former McDonald’s All-Americans. Parker is widely considered by many to be the best freshman in the nation and one of the best players nationally. He finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds, but made just 3 of 11 from the floor. Jefferson scored just six points.

“I know who they are, but I really don’t care,” Thompson said. “At the end of the day, it’s just basketball. We’re all basketball players. We all put on the same type of jersey. We all shoot the same ball. I came in and I wasn’t worried about the hype. I just wanted to play.”