The Hokies keep winning big this offseason, with Mike Young getting his first big-time recruit with the commitment of four-star point guard Jalen Cone after he announced this Thursday that he will play at Virginia Tech next season. The highly touted prospect out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, announced he would finish high school early and reclassify to the 2019 recruiting class this past Sunday. Cone was ranked as the No. 53 overall prospect by ESPN and the No. 9 point guard in the nation.
Young will be excited to get his first big recruiting win in Blacksburg, and should be pleased with the efficiency of the recruiting process as Cone officially visited just a couple of weeks ago. The Hokies beat out many Power Five schools, including Texas A&M, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Boston College and fellow Sweet 16 participant Tennessee to earn his commitment. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound point guard was a true star in high school, averaging 25.7 points, six assists and two steals his junior year.
Cone joins a class of two other commitments so far in Young’s tenure with Wofford transfer Keke Aluma and incoming freshman Hunter Cattoor adding to the Hokies roster. These players will go a long way in filling the shoes left by seniors Justin Robinson, Ty Outlaw and Ahmed Hill, NBA prospect Nickeil Alexander Walker and likely transfers Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Wabissa Bede. The Hokies currently only have five scholarship players enrolled on the roster in P.J. Horne, Landers Nolley, Isaiah Wilkins, Jonathan Kabongo and Tyrece Radford, with only Horne and Wilkins having received significant playing time last season.
This means Cone will most likely have to play a big-time role and will likely have a huge impact on Virginia Tech’s success as a basketball program next season.
What the Hokies are getting from Cone
Cone is a pure scoring guard in the mold of recent college stars Carsen Edwards, Trae Young and Frank Mason III. His strong suit is his array of moves to get separation from a defender and get his shot off quickly. He has a nice sidestep three that consistently destroys his defenders. He also has great vision as a passer and is completely comfortable running the offense. Those traits make Cone a unique player on the roster as no one else can truly do what he does.
Cone also is a great finisher through contact and, despite his small size, does not get his shot blocked much. He also has a beautiful mid-range jumper and will continuously hit shot after shot coming downhill off of screens. Moreover, he is a tremendous athlete for his size and can throw down some House of Highlights-worthy, mind-blowing dunks.
The 17-year-old is not without his weaknesses though, as he doesn’t really bring much defensively, struggling to contest shots or get in the way of bigger players’ drives. That is to be expected from a 5-foot-9 guard, and maybe he can grow a little bit when he gets to Blacksburg. Nevertheless, Cone is a tenacious athlete who never gives up on a play, and has great instincts to get in passing lanes and start the break.
If Young can scheme up a way to hide him defensively, his size should not be an issue.
Hokie fans have something to be excited for as it seems the nightmare offseason that started with a second left in the Duke game is finally turning around. Between coach Young, redshirt freshman Nolley and now Cone, Virginia Tech has the right combination to continue its ascension as an ACC power.