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When I heard the news Monday that Joe Bamisile had entered the transfer portal, my first thought was “I’m surprised it wasn’t Jalen Cone.”
Today, it was.
Cone tweeted that he was leaving, saying “I don’t even know where to begin…Virginia Tech has become my second home. I have built relationships that will last a lifetime and learned so many things here. I’ve gained new family and made memories that will never fade. There is no place like Blacksburg and nothing can replace it.
“I want to thank the staff for giving me tremendous opportunities and helping me through this journey. I want to thank my teammates for always pushing me, the great memories, and becoming my brothers for life. To the basketball program as a whole, y’all can never be replaced. To the students and people of Blacksburg, thank you for believing in me and being the best fans ever.
“After prayer, giving it long thought and conversation with my loved ones, I’ve decided to reopen my recruitment and enter the transfer portal.”
It would appear Cone looked at the same stats Bamisile did when looking at potential minutes he might get next season. A week ago, Virginia Tech had 9 guards on its roster when including transfers and signees, and assuming Wabissa Bede doesn’t come back and Bamisile leaving, the number was still 7. Cone’s departure moves it down to 6, assuming the Hokies don’t acquire anybody else from the transfer portal.
Cone played in 15 games this season and started four before missing the final four games of the season due to an ankle injury. The handwriting was on the wall for him, however, in watching the NCAA Tournament game against Florida, just as it was for Bamisile. In that overtime game, 95 percent of the minutes played went to just six players for Virginia Tech, and four of them were guards: Bede, Hunter Cattoor, Tyrece Radford and Nahiem Alleyne.
Cattoor, Radford and Alleyne will all be back next season and transfer Storm Murphy will probably take Bede’s minutes. That would have meant Cone would be battling for whatever minutes were left with Darrius Maddox and incoming signee Sean Pedulla.
Cone is a prolific shooter that when hot, is among the best in the game, showing that with 6 three-pointers and 23 points in a road game at Louisville. He suffered through a slump right before his season-ending injury, but still finished the season averaging 9.2 points per game.
Virginia Tech now has three open scholarships.