Each Friday we will count down the 10 greatest basketball players in the history of Virginia Tech. Let’s kick things of with Bill Matthews, a great low post player and an even greater Hokie.
Bill Matthews | 6’5″ Center | 1952-56
- Points: 1652 (14th)
- Points per Game: 16.5 (13th)
- Rebounds: 1379 (2nd)
- Rebound Average per Game: 13.8 (2nd)
- Nickname: “Moose”
- 3 year captain
- Averaged 18.8 rebounds per game his junior year (3rd highest average in school history)
- Head Coach of the basketball team for two years (1962-64), compiling a 28-19 record
- Later coached the golf team
- Worked in the VT Athletic Department until 1986, finishing with 35 years of Hokie service as a student, athlete, and employee
- Inducted into the VT Sports Hall of Fame in 1993
- Passed away in 2008 at the age of 73: TechHoops.com Article | Roanoke Times Article
Why He’s in the Top 10:
This was actually a very tough decision. There were a couple of other players that seemed to be just as worthy as Bill. And while this list is about PLAYERS, it could be said that his service to the University helped in terms of forming a tiebreaker. (More details on who he barely beat out when the ‘Best of the Rest’ are announced with #6.)
In terms of what got him on this list as a player, it is the gaudy rebounding numbers. Bill snagged 840 rebounds in his final two seasons, including 18.8 per game during the 1954-55 campaign. He followed his 470 rebounds in his junior year with 370 (14.8 per game) in his senior year as the team got a lot better. Yes, the game was different back then and guards did collapse to help as much on the boards. But still, lots of other Hokie big men played in this era and didn’t put up anywhere close to the numbers Matthews did.
Bill wasn’t just a ‘Dennis Rodman’, though. He could score, too. Matthews averaged 16.5 points per game over his career (13th best all time) and was in the top 10 in scoring until Zabian Dowdell bumped him in 2007. He currently sits in 14th place (Vassallo, Delaney, and Allen have since passed him). Bill also erupted in the scoring column one cold February evening…
Greatest Game: 2/23/56
In Bill’s next-to-last home game in his career at Virginia Tech (the Hokies played in War Memorial back then), he scored 46 points against the citadel in a 103-47 woodshed-beating. Those 46 points still rank as the 4th-highest single game scoring mark in VT history. The win moved the Hokies to 13-10 and clinched a winning record for the squad, the first time in five years the Hokies had done that.
Team Record: 28-74 (27%)
Virginia Tech was ricky stokes-bad during Bill’s first three years. The team went a combined 14-63 during that span. At that point Coach Red Laird did not return and Chuck Noe took over. Noe, Matthews, and the Hokies equaled their win total from the past three seasons combined, going 14-11 in Matthews’s senior year. This got Virginia Tech basketball going. Noe would produce seven straight winning seasons before moving on and Tech would have just one losing season over the next 30 years. Matthews and the 1955-56 Hokies can be credited for laying the foundation of winning.
Bill was a great player but had an even greater impact on the University over his life. He loved Virginia Tech with all his fiber. Still, put his numbers up against anyone, and this is a top 10 Hokie basketball player of all time.