Recruiting players who can compete at the highest level of college basketball is a process that requires months or even years of research.
Finding players that can coexist and embrace the mentally taxing challenges of the Atlantic Coast Conference takes incredible foresight and judgment of character.
Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg has found the ideal mix this season with freshmen Ben Boggs, Erick Green, Manny Atkins and Cadarian Raines.
With the 2009-10 regular season hitting the home stretch, these four rookies have come a long way since they arrived on campus at the beginning of last summer.
“In the summer, nobody is really here,” Boggs said. “We would hang out a lot, play video games. ... That’s when we became good friends.”
As those important relationships began to form, the days of high school supremacy faded from each of the players’ minds.
One of the more difficult aspects of the transition for such high-caliber players is going from being the local star to simply a role player in college.
In the case of Boggs and Green, both committed to the Hokies during their junior years of high school, a small indication of the type of attention they received earlier than most prospects.
“They were the first school to recruit me during my freshman year,” Boggs said. “That was one of the big reasons I decided to come here.”
Even though the group did not really get to know one another until arriving in Blacksburg, the roots of some of their friendships can be traced back several years.
Boggs and Green first met in eighth grade while playing against each other in an AAU tournament. Two years later, the pair roomed together at one of Greenberg’s summer camps.
Raines crossed paths with Green and Boggs through the AAU circuit as well.
Atkins, the lone freshman who does not hail from Virginia, had to wait until he arrived on campus to establish such bonds with the other newcomers.
“We spent the summer lifting weights, working out. ... That’s when we were getting a bond together,” Atkins said. “We did almost everything together.”
Entering preseason practice, Raines was expected to compete for playing time at forward behind sophomore Victor Davila.
Those expectations took a turn for the worse when Raines suffered a fracture in his left foot, which sidelined him for two months.
He finally got his first college experience on Dec. 6 when Tech hosted Georgia. As the weeks passed, he became healthy and began to see more playing time.
“In the summer time he was looking really good, but after the injury it took him a while to get back into shape,” Atkins said. “As the weeks have been going on ... he looks ready and back where he started.”
One guy that understood exactly what Raines was going through was Boggs. During his senior year of high school, Boggs suffered a broken leg, which kept him out for the rest of the season.
“You’ve got to be proud of how (Raines) battled through that injury to get back and play this season,” Boggs said.
Of all the newcomers to the Hokies this season, nobody has been under more scrutiny than Green.