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Every spring, when Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors make it to the finals and he hits all sorts of ridiculous shots, it becomes Groundhog Day for Virginia Tech fans.
As in the day when people ask “why didn’t Virginia Tech give Curry a scholarship when his Dad was a legend there?”
Over and over again.
If you don’t know the story, allow me to tell it one more time. Steph, while in high school, was a bit undersized versus how he is now. He grew up like the child of anyone whose Dad was a big Virginia Tech fan, and Dell Curry brought his family back to the campus often to see Virginia Tech football and basketball games. Not surprisingly, Steph grew up around a lot of orange and maroon. Also not surprising: he grew up with a basketball in his hands, and started to become quite good in high school.
As the recruiting process was starting his junior year, Steph came to Blacksburg for a workout. Legend has it that the Hokies’ two senior guards and two best defensive players on the team – Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon – easily defended him to the point that Steph couldn’t even get his shot off. Head coach Seth Greenberg, the story goes, decided upon seeing this that he might not be an ACC-caliber player, which was the same opinion as all the other ACC schools because none offered Steph a scholarship.
But Steph was part of a family that was Hokie royalty. So again, as the story goes, Greenberg invited Steph to walk on, with the promise of a four-year scholarship after red-shirting that walk-on year. Greenberg has said at the time he had no available scholarships to give due to some early commitments that were made that season. Given that, it sounded like a very fair situation for a player many deemed an “iffy” prospect at the time.
But there was one more contingency to the promise that has turned into a point of contention and sent the whole deal sideways. Supposedly Greenberg promised that while he couldn’t offer a scholarship at the time, should one later become available for that first year, he would give it to Curry instead of asking him to walk on.
The only people who know if that really happened are Greenberg and the Currys.
Turns out a scholarship did come available, but Greenberg did not give it to Steph, offering it to another player who ended up not even coming to Blacksburg. The Currys, the legend goes, were miffed, Steph accepted a scholarship offer from Davidson (which was in the shadow of Charlotte where Dell starred for the Hornets) and the rest is history.
Lost in this story, which often ends with everybody calling Greenberg a knucklehead for letting this happen, is that Steph Curry probably does not become the player you’re watching on television now if he goes to Virginia Tech. Greenberg’s teams stressed defense and rarely allowed someone to take the offensive spotlight like Curry did at Davidson.
At Davidson, he grew taller and stronger, played in a lesser league so initially he was able to quickly gain confidence in his game, and then his team and coach built their offense around him. He was the classic late bloomer who was in the right place at the right time. At Virginia Tech, he probably rides the bench until he gets bigger and stronger, then doesn’t enjoy the offensive freedom to do all the highlight-reel things he did at Davidson.
The story, as far as I’m concerned, had a happy ending. Would I have liked to have seen him do those things in Blacksburg and become the basketball version of Michael Vick, setting the world on fire? Of course. Was it ever going to happen given the variables that existed at that time? No.
All I know is every time Steph has a big game, they pan the crowd for his parents. They usually show one Wardell Curry, growing and graying into an old man just like me, looking healthy, happy and smiling.
As a fellow Hokie, that’s good enough for me.