Back in April, less than 24 hours before the deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft, junior point guard, Malcolm Delaney sent this tweet:
“IM COMIN BACC TO SCHOOL… Final 4.”
At that moment, all of Blacksburg celebrated. Last year’s scoring champ and first-team All-American, was returning for his senior year and just like that, Virginia Tech once again was one of the favorites to compete for the top spot in the ACC.
Of course, it’s not like the Hokies are a one-man band. In fact, two other players (Dorenzo Hudson and Jeff Allen) cracked the top-25 list. Yet, while this team could overcome the loss of Hudson or Allen, the last thing any Tech fan would want to imagine is a world where Delaney isn’t on the floor. Without him, it’s not only goodbye ACC title, but goodbye NCAA tournament bid (again).
At 6-3, Malcolm Delaney has good height to run the point, often playing both guard spots throughout the game. Delaney is most dangerous in the paint, becoming one of the ACC’s best finishers.
He’s a slasher and a scorer, who can take it in with either hand. He’s got a lightening quick first step, capable of driving it all the way through the trees to the rim or putting up a sweet mid-range jumper.
Most importantly, Delaney has an amazing knack for drawing fouls. He took a stunning 273 foul shots last year, 52 more than Jon Scheyer, who finished second in free throws.
Of course getting fouled is even more important since Delaney is the ACC’s top returning free throw shooter. He shot 84% from the charity stripe last year, which was actually down from 87% the year before.
If a flaw can be found in Delaney’s game, it’s the deep ball, which is a bit shocking considering the kid came in known for his outside touch. The fact is, his three-point shooting percentage has fallen each year — from .402 as a freshman to .354 as a sophomore, to a pretty unacceptable .306 last year. It’s no wonder he’s been shooting less each year (48% of his shots were threes as a freshman, 47% as a sophomore and 42% last year).
It’s great that he recognizes this and doesn’t let it rain from deep. It shows great basketball IQ, but the Hokies have a ceiling if their top guard can’t hit threes at a better rate his senior year.
Secondly, Delaney has logged heavy minutes over his three-year career. Last year he played 35.7 minutes per game, which is actually less than the 36.9 minutes he logged as a sophomore.
While last year’s Blue Devils proved that the ‘tired-leg’ syndrome is a bit of a myth, you can’t help but wonder how the workload effects Delaney. All those fouls against have to take some kind of toll, especially when you consider he’s a bit on the skinny side.
In the end, there will be no drop off for Delaney his senior year. While I won’t promise a second scoring title (he’ll get more scoring help this year with the addition of Florida transfer Allan Chaney), he should remain top-five easily.
In fact, if the Hokies can finally break through and get a couple games in the NCAA Tournament, Delaney should crack the top-10 in the ACC in scoring for his career.
#5 – TRACY SMITH, FORWARD – NC STATE
#6 – KYRIE IRVING, GUARD – DUKE
#7 – JORDAN WILLIAMS, FORWARD – MARYLAND
#8 – DURAND SCOTT, GUARD – MIAMI
#9 – CHRIS SINGLETON, FORWARD – FLORIDA STATE
#10 – DORENZO HUDSON, GUARD – VIRGINIA TECH
#11 – DEMONTEZ STITT, GUARD – CLEMSON
#12 – REGGIE JACKSON, GUARD – BOSTON COLLEGE
#13 – JEFF ALLEN, FORWARD – VIRGINIA TECH
#14 – JOHN HENSON, FORWARD – NORTH CAROLINA
#15 – XAVIER GIBSON, CENTER – FLORIDA STATE
#16 – C.J. LESLIE, FORWARD – NORTH CAROLINA STATE
#17 – GLEN RICE JR., GUARD – GEORGIA TECH
#18 – REGGIE BULLOCK, GUARD – NORTH CAROLINA
#19 – MASON PLUMLEE, FORWARD – DUKE
#20 – C.J. HARRIS, GUARD – WAKE FOREST
#21 – SETH CURRY, GUARD – DUKE
#22 – SEAN MOSLEY, GUARD – MARYLAND
#23 – JOE TRAPANI, FORWARD – BOSTON COLLEGE
#24 – MIKE SCOTT, FORWARD – VIRGINIA
#25 - IMAN SHUMPERT, GUARD – GEORGIA TECH