BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech's basketball team on Thursday night landed a highly-ranked recruit who could eventually replace Malcolm Delaney as the Hokies' point guard.
Marquis Rankin, a 5-11, 170-pound junior at Vance High in Charlotte, N.C., committed to the Hokies, choosing them over scholarship offers from Clemson, Mississippi, South Carolina, Wake Forest and Louisiana Tech, according to recruiting Web site Rivals.com. His other finalists were Clemson and Wake, said the player's father, Lamar.
Rankin is rated the 26th-best player in the Class of 2011 and the ninth-best point guard, according to Rivals, making him the highest-rated recruit that coach Seth Greenberg has landed in his seven seasons at Tech.
Rankin's commitment was critical because Delaney, a three-year starter, will be a senior next season, provided he doesn't leave a year early for the NBA. He declared for the draft but hasn't hired an agent, so he could return to school.
When Rankin arrives at Tech, he likely will immediately challenge Erick Green, a freshman this past season, in the competition to become Delaney's successor. The chance to play significant minutes as a freshman was "a big part of his decision," said Lamar.
The Hokies began recruiting Rankin when he was a sophomore and offered him a scholarship midway through that year, after Wake was the first school to offer the previous summer.
Former assistant coach Stacey Palmore noticed Rankin when he was recruiting Jarell Eddie, a wing player from Charlotte who later signed for next season's freshman class. Palmore left to become an assistant at Georgia after last season. His replacement, Bill Courtney, took over Rankin's recruitment.
"He didn't miss a beat," Lamar said. "When he came in, he picked up right where Stacey left off at. They nagged us in a good way. That let you know that Quis was their guy. When they could make phone calls, they made them. Anything going on with him, they knew about."
Rankin is the third member of Tech's Class of 2011, joining Robert Brown, a 6-4, 175-pound shooting guard from Clermont, Fla., and C.J. Barksdale, a 6-7, 190-pound power forward from Danville.
Brown is rated the 104th-best player in his class and the 13th-best shooting guard. Barksdale is rated No. 78 overall and No. 13 among power forwards. Both players were recruited by assistant James Johnson, a Powhatan High graduate.
The three committed players for the Class of 2011 cannot sign national letters of intent until November.
Greenberg's two previously highest-rated recruits were Eddie (63rd in the Class of 2010) and Marquie Cooke (57th in the Class of 2004). Cooke was kicked off the team after his freshman season.
Rankin's commitment means Tech has two more spots available in the Class of 2011, because five Hokies will be seniors next season, if Delaney returns. Tech's coaches will try to add a wing player and a post player for 2011.
Or they could add just one more player for 2011 and save the other scholarship for the Class of 2012, when they are scheduled to have just two spots available because their only seniors in 2011-12 will be center Victor Davila and power forward Allan Chaney.
Contact Darryl Slater at (804) 649-6026 or dslatertimesdispatch.com.
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