This post's title is partly obvious and partly not so obvious. "The New Class" is obviously in reference to the Virginia Tech basketball 2013 recruiting class. Wednesday was Signing Day and all 4 of our verbal commits have signed a Letter Of Intent with VT. Why "Saved by the Bell"? Because James Johnson and his staff really had to scramble in finding some quality players with such a short amount of time since they took their new jobs. The result is a class of players who are not very highly rated by the national recruiting services, but who could end up surprising us.
Currently, the highest rated player in the class is 6'5" combo guard Donte Clark from Charlotte, NC. Donte was rated as a 4-star recruit by both ESPN and Rivals. ESPN puts him as the #89 player in their top 100. James Johnson expects to play him at both point guard and shooting guard. He has good length and athleticism being classified more as a scorer than a shooter right now. He has a lot of potential on the defensive end as well. He had offers from Missouri, Miami, Georgia, Tennessee, Memphis, and Oklahoma State among others.
6'11" center Trevor Thompson is a 3-star recruit according to the major services, but his scholarship offers do not reflect that. He had offers from USC, Purdue, Tennessee, Kansas State, Xavier, Mississippi State, and Arizona State. So there is obviously something about this kid that the high major schools wanted and I think you'll see him shoot up to a 4-star recruit by the end of his senior season if not sooner. The bill on him is that he's a little skinny, but is long with good bounce and good speed. He runs the floor extremely well, he can finish with both hands, rebounds well, and blocks shots well. He should fit right in with JJ's offensive and defensive schemes. Thompson is from Indianapolis, IN, but originally hails from Reston, VA.
An interesting pickup for VT was Maurice Kirby, a 6'9" PF/C who decommitted from Arizona State after verbally committing to them as a sophomore. Kirby took a big step back his junior season and supposedly put on a lot of weight that slowed him down and sapped his energy. However from what I have read, Kirby has greatly reduced his weight for his senior season and could be primed for a big comeback. He's a face-up player on offense with poor post moves, but he can hit the jumper out to 15 feet. He's supposedly a good rebounder and shot-blocker. There is a lot of talent here, but it needs to be developed. His only other offers currently are from Loyola, Brown, and Northern Arizona. Kirby is from Chandler, AZ.
The final member of this year's class is 6'5" shooting guard Ben Emelogu from Grand Prairie, TX. Right now he projects more as a "3-and-D" player. He can hit the long jumper with consistency and he's got the ability to be a defensive stopper. He needs to work on driving to the hoop and handling the ball as well as rebounding his position, but he can be a useful player coming off the bench for the Hokies (although it's not a given that he will see court time as a freshman). Ben chose VT over offers from Washington, Marquette, and TCU.
All in all, I think James Johnson and his assistant coaches did an excellent job recruiting for 2013 given the amount of time he was given to get these players to commit. He went after players who weren't necessarily on the national radar, but who all have the potential for big jumps in their senior season. I would prepare myself for the fact that we might only get 1 or 2 players out of this class that will be solid starters going forward... there's potential for better, but I think that's more of a reasonable projection. Personally, I think it'll be Thompson and Clark who end up with the best careers at Virginia Tech.
JJ was known to be solid recruiter before he was hired as a head coach, and I am very intrigued to see what he does with the 2014 and 2015 classes. For 2013, this really did not need to be a big class with a lot of studs. Robert Brown has SG locked down for another 2 years. Jarell Eddie and Cadarian Raines have both SF and C locked down for one more year, and I think Joey Van Zegeren will improve enough in 2 full seasons to be able to take over center at that point if needed. The only position that appears to be thin is point guard, and we'll have to expect that position to be addressed either in the 2014 class or with a 5th scholarship offer in the Spring.