Question is, who will take over those positions for the 2013-14 season?
At least one prospect rates high on both schools’ wish list:
A 6-foot-2 graduate of Lake Forest Academy in suburban Chicago, Ennis just completed his freshman season at Rice. He started 27 of 35 games, averaged 8.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists, and made
Ennis told me Wednesday evening that he's narrowed his options to Virginia, Virginia Tech,
Ennis plans to decide next month and enroll this summer "to get acclimated" to teammates, coaches and classes.
"I'm looking for a fast-paced, guard-dominated offense so I can go in there, run the offense and get it and go," Ennis said.
Leaving Rice, located in
His high school coach, Matt Vaughn, believes Ennis also wants to test himself at a higher level than Conference USA.
Ennis averaged 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as a high school senior, and according to Rivals.com his scholarship offers included
"He just got better and better," Vaughn said. "He can be a pure point guard when he wants to, but he can put points on the board, too. He goes right at you. Not a lot of flash as a ballhandler, but he knows where he wants to go and figures out how to get there."
After committing to Rice, Ennis improved athletically and drew some interest from "high majors," according to Vaughn. But he still signed with Rice.
Vaughn said the question of whether he could compete in a premier conference "kind of gnawed at (Ennis) a little bit. He loves basketball so much. It's something he'll regret if he doesn't try."
Does Vaughn see him at that level?
"Competitively, and basketball IQ-wise, yes," he said. "He's probably still limited athletically, but he just knows how to play. Could he be all-conference or a star? I don't know. I think he could have been at Rice."
Ennis shooting percentages at Rice weren't award-winning from any range: 43.5 overall, 35.4 from beyond the 3-point arc and 66.4 at the free-throw line.
Rice finished 19-16 this season, 8-8 in Conference USA. The Owls lost to Oakland in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com tournament, a game in which Ennis contributed 14 points, five assists, five rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal.
Ennis’ older brother, Brandon, plays for the
Virginia's backup to Evans next season likely will be freshman Teven Jones, who enrolled in January after graduating early from Fishburne Military School. Sophomore Marquis Rankin is the probable backup for Green (15.6 points per game) at Virginia Tech next season.
Even if Jones and/or Rankin morph into 35-minute-per-game, ACC-caliber lead guards, every coach wants a capable backup. Ask
Virginia’s point guard search gained urgency Tuesday when news broke that
McConnell stood 5-8 and weighed 125 pounds when, as a high school sophomore, he committed to play for Duquesne in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Five inches, 60 pounds and four-plus years later, he has arguably outgrown the
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound McConnell played in 63 games for Duquesne, starting 61. The Dukes went 19-13 and 16-15 in those seasons, with McConnell averaging 11.1 points, 4.9 assists and 2.8 steals for his career there.
McConnell, who played for his father, Tim, at Chartiers Valley High School, ranked third nationally this season in steals at 2.8 per game. Steals don't necessarily equate to lock-down, on-the-ball defense like that played by Evans, but they do indicate McConnell possesses good instincts.
The 2011 Atlantic 10 rookie of the year, McConnell was third-team all-conference this season.
But as ideal a fit as McConnell appeared for Virginia, he chose Arizona, coached by his fellow Pittsburgh native Sean Miller. That connection — the families know one another — was Arizona's trump.
Neither Virginia nor Virginia Tech is a haven for transfers.
The Cavaliers’ most recent was point guard Calvin Baker of Woodside High School. He played one season at
While Ennis would provide Virginia Tech instant experience in 2013-14, the Hokies continue to aggressively recruit Hampton High point guard Anthony "Cat" Barber, who will be a college freshman in 2013-14. Barber also has offers from Kansas and Alabama.
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