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The year of Erick Green: Where does he rank?

Virginia Tech guard Erick Green

Erick Green is having a phenomenal senior season, but where does he rank all-time?

The 2012-13 college basketball season hasn’t been kind to Virginia Tech fans. It began last winter when Jim Weaver, the Hokies’ athletics director, gave then-coach Seth Greenberg a vote of confidence and then pulled the rug out from under him a few weeks later.

One player transferred (Dorian Finney-Smith), and Montrezl Harrell, a highly-touted incoming freshman, asked to be released. That left Tech with just eight scholarship players coming into this season.

Most fans, however, believed that the Hokies could have a respectable season so long as they stayed healthy. And with the exception of freshman Marshall Wood missing seven games, Tech has, for the most part, avoided the injury bug that had plagued them over the last few seasons. Unfortunately, staying healthy hasn’t been enough. This team just can’t seem to get it together.

After starting the season a surprising 7-0, the team is just 4-13 since, including a current seven-game losing streak. One player was benched for an entire game for lack of effort during practice; another missed almost an entire half after an on-court temper tantrum that nearly injured his teammate; and that same player, who has been playing poorly, was replaced in the starting lineup by a walk-on. Yeah, it’s been that bad.

Enter the Winchester Rifleman, Erick Green

The only bright spot for Hokie hoops fans this season is senior guard Erick Green, who is still the nation’s leading scorer. With hopes of a winning season and post-season appearance all but gone, Virginia Tech fans have thrown their support behind the senior guard from Winchester, who is having one of the best seasons by a Hokie in recent memory.

Of VT’s 24 games this season, Green has led the team in scoring 23 times. He averages 25.2 points per game, tops in the country and seven points better than the ACC’s second-leading scorer, Mason Plumlee of duke, who averages 18.2 ppg.

If Green continues on his current scoring pace, he will become the first Hokie to average more than 25 ppg since Bimbo Coles did so during the 1989-90 season. Coles averaged 25.3 ppg that year, a tenth of a point ahead of where Green stands now.

And unless Green just completely falls off the map (he could go scoreless for the rest of the season and still be above 18 ppg), he’ll end the season as just the third tech player to average better than 20 ppg in the last 23 years. Bryant Matthews averaged 22.1 ppg during the 2003-04 season and Malcolm Delaney averaged 20.2 ppg during the 2009-10 season.

What’s even more incredible is the percentage of points Green scores for his team. Take a look below and you’ll see the leading scorer for each ACC team, their total points (through Feb. 12), and their team’s total points, followed by the percentage. The teams appear in order of the current ACC standings:

Team Player Player Points/Team Total % of Points
miami Kenny Kadji 298/1549 19%
duke Mason Plumlee 419/1799 23%
uva Joe Harris 391/1543 25%
unc James Michael McAdoo 342/1801 19%
ncst C.J. Leslie 374/1871 20%
fsu Michael Snaer 305/1546 19%
md Alex Len 299/1714 17%
clemson Devin Booker 283/1450 19%
wake Travis McKie 335/1557 21%
gt Marcus Georges-Hunt 228/1429 16%
bc Ryan Anderson 354/1545 23%
VT Erick Green 604/1700 35%

Green is the ACC’s leading scorer by nearly 200 points. He scores more than 35 percent (35.5 to be precise) of his team’s points; 10 percent more than the next highest percentage in the league – uva’s Joe Harris, who contributes 25 percent. That stat speaks volumes about the lack of support from Green’s teammates.

Now, one could argue that Green scores more points because he shoots the ball more. That’s a valid argument, on the surface. Take a look at the shooting percentages for each team’s leader in attempted shots.

Team Player FGA/Team Total % of FGA
miami Kenny Kadji 223/1215 18%
duke *Seth Curry 265/1335 20%
uva Joe Harris 267/1223 20%
unc James Michael McAdoo 295/1532 19%
ncst C.J. Leslie 248/1374 18%
fsu Michael Snaer 230/1202 19%
maryland Alex Len 213/1344 16%
clemson Devin Booker 208/1220 17%
wake Travis McKie 238/1242 19%
gt Marcus Georges-Hunt 197/1196 15%
bc Ryan Anderson 273/1196 23%
VT Erick Green 414/1407 30%

*Seth Curry is the only player in the league to lead his team in shot attempts, but not in points.

But if you dig a little deeper than just the season stats, you’ll find that Green attempts, and scores on, a higher percentage of shots only when the rest of the team is struggling, which has been for a couple of months now.

In the Hokies’ first seven games, all wins, the team shot 48 percent from the field. In the last seven losses, that number is down to just 37 percent.

During the seven-game winning streak to start the season, Green attempted just 23 percent of the team’s field goals (95/404):

FGA in first seven wins
58 – 11 (19%)
57 – 15 (26%)
68 – 13 (19%)
53 – 15 (28%)
52 – 16 (30%)
61 – 15 (24%)
55 – 10 (18%)

During the team’s current seven-game losing streak, the percentage of shots by Green has increased to 34 percent (136/397):

FGA in last seven losses
43 – 18 (42%)
60 – 17 (28%)
53 – 20 (38%)
62 – 21 (34%)
65 – 23 (35%)
62 – 20 (32%)
52 – 17 (32%)

What about made field goals? Well, we’re glad you asked. During the first seven wins, Green made 25 percent of tech’s field goals (49/195). During the last seven consecutive losses, Green has made more than 40 percent of the team’s field goals.

Green’s not a ball hog by any stretch of the imagination. This kid WANTS to get his teammates involved, but they’re just not hitting shots. The team attempted 404 shots in their first seven wins and 397 in their last seven losses, so they’re still not afraid to shoot, but Green’s the only one hitting anything on a consistent basis. And he’s doing it while being double-teamed.

Say what you want about opposing teams giving Green space and letting him have his points, but from what I’ve been seeing, they’re not doing that at all. They’re guarding him using every combination they can think of and he’s still getting his shots off and keeping his team in the games.

What does it all mean, Basil?

If you are on Twitter and follow tech hoops, you’ve probably seen the comments arguing that Green deserves to have his jersey retired and his banner hung from the rafters of the Cassell.

Look, Green is having a heck of a senior season, especially under the circumstances, but before we start making room next to Ace Custis in the rafters, let’s take a step back and see where Green ranks among some of the greatest of all time at VT.

Green’s career isn’t done yet, so we have to do some predicting (not Niemo, he sucks at making predictions). The Hokies have seven regular season games left and at least one (and probably only one) ACC tournament game. So let’s assume Green has eight games left in his career. If he continues on his current statistical pace, here’s where he’ll likely finish in the record books:

Points Scored in a Season:
1. Erick Green (2012-13) – 810
2. Bimbo Coles (1989-90) – 785
3. Dell Curry (1985-86) – 722
4. Bimbo Coles (1988-89) – 717
5. Bimbo Coles (1987-88) – 702

Points Scored in a Career:
1. Bimbo Coles, 2,484
2. Dell Curry, 2,389
3. Malcolm Delaney, 2,255
4. Dale Solomon, 2,136
5. Perry Young, 1,899
6. A.D. Vassallo, 1,822
7. Allan Bristow, 1,804
8. Zabian Dowdell, 1,785
9. Bob Ayersman, 1,782
10. Erick Green, 1,750

Scoring Average in a Season:
1. Bimbo Coles (1988-89) – 26.6
2. Boby Ayersman (1958-58) – 26.5
3. Bimbo Coles (1989-90) – 25.3
4. Erick Green (2012-13) – 25.2

Free Throws Made in a Season:
1. Malcolm Delaney (2009-10) – 230
2. Malcolm Delaney (2008-09) – 225
3. Erick Green (2012-13) – 218

Free Throws Made in a Career:
8. Erick Green (2009-13) – 418

Free Throw Percentage in a Career:
T8. Erick Green (2009-13) .800

Assists in a Career:
8. Erick Green (2009-13) – 333

As great a season as Green is having, I’m not sure anyone can make a compelling case that he should have his jersey retired and a banner with his likeness hanging from the rafters with Ace Custis, Bimbo Coles, Dell Curry and Allan Bristow.

While Niemo is under a gag order not to make any predictions, naturally I wanted his thoughts on Green’s legacy at Tech.

As of today, I wouldn’t have Erick in my VT Top 10 and therefore wouldn’t retire his jersey. While he is having one of the five greatest seasons in Tech history, I don’t think his body of work is top 10-esque just yet. He may reach the top 10 in scoring and definitely will reach it in assists, but there are a lot of guys ahead of him that were very productive for four years, not just two and a half.

While I’m with Niemo on this, I played devil’s advocate and suggested that Green’s extraordinary senior season is made even more impressive given the fact that he’s doing more with less. Niemo countered:

Also, I don’t like the argument of “he’s doing more with less.” I actually think that lessens his scoring in my eyes. The numbers guys like Zabian [Dowdell], Malcolm [Delaney], and Dell [Curry] put up with a better supporting cast impress me more. If Erick could score 25 per game on a team that won and had other guys that could score consistently, I’d be more impressed. Still, his 50 percent shooting percentage this year is remarkable for a guard, and by the end of the season my opinion may very well change, but I would not have him in my top 10 and would not retire his jersey at this point.

The TechHoops staff have spoken. We love Erick Green and have enjoyed watching him play the last four years. He has done everything he’s been asked to do and has represented the team and the university with honor.

We’re not taking anything away from Green, but when you think about some of the great players that have come before him that have had more productive careers and DON’T have their jerseys retired, I think even the Winchester Rifleman would agree that while he’s had a fabulous career, he’s not in same category as those four legends.

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Around The ACC, StatsComments (8)

#8 Zabian Dowdell | 10 Greatest VT Players of All Time | INCLUDES Q&A WITH ZABIAN DOWDELL

Each Friday we will count down the 10 greatest basketball players in the history of Virginia Tech. This week we reflect on, and talk with, the newest Hokie to make the NBA..

#10 Bill Matthews

#9 Jeff Allen

Zabian Dowdell | 6’3″ Guard | 2003-07Personal Page


  1. How does it feel to be considered one of the 10 greatest Hokie basketball players of all time?
  2. ZD: Its definitely an honor when you think of some of the guys who have worn a Tech jersey like Bimbo Coles, Dell Curry, and Ace Custis just to name a few.

  3. When you first got to Virginia Tech, what were your goals as a Hokie?
  4. ZD: I came to Tech with a chip on my shoulder being that I wasn’t a guy who was highly recruited coming out of high school and at the time no one really respected Tech basketball. I mainly wanted to show people that we could win and become a respectable program throughout the country.

  5. What were the keys to your growth as a player at VT?
  6. ZD: My work ethic allowed me to grow and get better as a player every year at Tech. I took advantage of every offseason to work on my game.

  7. Looking back on your Hokie career, what are you most proud of?
  8. ZD: The fact that we made it to the NCAA Tournament my senior year. It was like the culmination of a 4 year journey and we finally reached our ultimate goal.

  9. You just completed your first NBA season, appearing in 24 games and averaging 5.0 ppg, 2.1 apg, and 0.8 steals.  Give me your assessment of how you did and the feedback you got from the team?
  10. ZD: I feel like I could have been a lot better but I’m always going to feel that way because that’s just who I am. I had some good moments and some bad moments but overall I’m pleased. As a player earning the respect of your teammates is a big deal.  I was able to do that this season and that’s one of the things I’m most proud of.

  11. What have they told you about this offseason and next year in terms of you?
  12. ZD: Everyone has been stressing staying hungry and continuing to work to get better. Nothing is guaranteed for next year but that won’t change anything as far as the offseason goes. I’m going all out like I always do.

Career Numbers:

  • Points: 1785 (8th)
  • Points per Game: 14.6
  • Assists: 380 (6th)
  • Steals: 241 (3rd)

Of Note:

  • First Team All-ACC his senior year (1st Hokie to accomplish this)
  • Named to the All-ACC Defensive Team twice
  • Led the Hokies in scoring his last three years (14.4, 15.3, and 17.4)
  • Led the Hokies in steals his junior year
  • Reached double figures in points in his first 41 ACC games
  • Made his NBA debut with the Phoenix Suns on 1/11/11
  • One of the original arm-curl victims of Niemo

Why He’s in the Top 10:

Dowdell was the star of a Hokie team that vaulted Virginia Tech from the depths of despair to heights they hadn’t seen in years (more on that below in the Team Record section).  He’s in the top 10 in points, assists, and steals.  Need I say more?  OK, I will…

Zabian is a classic example of what you can achieve if you work your tail off.  He came to VT as a not-so-highly regarded recruit, ranked as a 2 or 3-star recruit by most services despite being First Team All-Florida his junior and senior year (a broken ankle the summer before his senior year kept him off the circuit).

Dowdell was not a star as a freshman.  Dowdell shot just 38% from the field, 31% from 3-point range, and 69% from the line.  The summer between his freshman and sophomore years saw a transformation with Zabian, and that was due to countless hours in the gym.

Zabian’s sophomore year saw Dowdell blossom into a star, picking right up where Bryant “Opie” Matthews had left off.  Dowdell shot 45% from the field, 42% from 3-point range, and 71% from the charity stripe.  Those were significant improvements in the first two areas.  His points per game went up from 10.8 to 14.4.  He also showed how clutch he could be, hitting the go ahead basket to lead the Hokies to a 67-65 win over #7 duke in Blacksburg.  This was the same blue devil team that had beaten the Hokies by 35 in Durham earlier that season.  Yeah, that was a sweet win.

Dowdell’s junior year… yeah, let’s just skip that.  Not because of anything Zabian did.  It was just a tragic disaster.  He did average over 15 ppg though and was named to the All-Defensive Team.

Zabian’s senior year Tech was back under the radar.  But Hokie fans knew they were good, and Dowdell was the best of the bunch.  Dowdell took another step forward, showing a deadly runner.  It made him all but unstoppable on offense – an ability to hit the 3, drive to the tin, or pull up.  Dowdell scored 17.4 ppg, 7th best in the ACC.  He also finished 2nd in the ACC in steals (behind teammate Jamon Gordon).  That led to Zabian making First Team All-ACC, and joining the All-Defensive Team a second year in a row.

Dowdell was a star on both ends of the floor, and that is why he was a lock for this list.  While he was great offensively, he was every bit as good on defense.  He was one of the best on-ball defenders Tech has ever had at the guard position.  What doesn’t show with his 241 steals is how many passes he deflected.  Dowdell and Gordon were a nightmare for opposing offenses, forcing them to work so hard to feed the ball inside.

Greatest Game:

Zabian’s finest effort was in the game at unc in 2006-07.  Tech had already knocked off #1 unc in Blacksburg earlier that season, but had to face #4 unc in Chapel Hill where VT had not won in 40 years. In that game, Zabian had a career-high 33 points on 7/15 from the field and 17/19 from the free throw line. But it goes beyond that. Dowdell basically carried the offense, scoring 23 of VT’s 28 points over a 17 minute stretch. He also had six of Tech’s eight points in overtime and helped stop Ty Lawson’s attempt at the end of overtime to win it, and the Hokies won 81-80 in their first trip to Chapel Hill as a member of the ACC. This win showed the win in Blacksburg was not a fluke, and that VT could play with anyone anywhere (other than nc state).

Team Record: 67-56 (7-9 in the Big East, 22-26 in the ACC)

It surprised me to look back on VT’s record in Dowdell’s first three years and realize they were only 45-44.  It seemed like they were much better than that.  But I think that has to do with how bad Virginia Tech was before Dowdell, Jamon Gordon, and Coleman Collins arrived.  Here’s how bad they were:

  • Tech was 30-54 overall in the 3 years before Zabian arrived
  • The Hokies were 10-38 in the Big East in those 3 years, their first 3 years in the league
  • VT did not qualify for the Big East Tournament in those 3 years
  • ricky “program bomb” stokes was their coach

In Zabian’s freshman year, the Hokies went 7-9 in the Big East, qualified for the Big East Tournament, and finished over .500.  That may not sound like much, but that was about five times better than the Hokies had been in previous years.  This was the only time in 4 years in the Big East that Tech qualified for the conference tourney.  And they even won their opening round game.

Tech joined the ACC the next year.  Many Hokie fans, me included, wondered how many YEARS it would be before Virginia Tech won a single ACC game.  It ended up taking just three games as the Hokies knocked off clemson at home.  Some how, some way, the Hokies managed to go 8-8 in a very good ACC that year and went into the ACC Tournament as the #4 seed!  That leads me to my favorite Zabian moment…

My favorite Zabian moment is his three-pointer he hit with 16 seconds left to put VT ahead of the #7 duke blue devils in 2005. The blue devils were unable to hit a shot to win the game at the end, and VT had a 67-65 landmark victory that helped turn the program around (Jeff King, anyone?). It was sweet revenge for a 35 point loss earlier in the season to duke and coach k. Dowdell was as clutch as could be that season, and when that three went up, you knew it was going in. He was automatic.

In Zabian’s junior year, the tragedies the team dealt with were immense — from deaths in families, to Katrina displacing Deron’s mom, to Allen Calloway (forward on the team) developing cancer that would ultimately take  his life.  That clearly spilled over on to the court.  Starting with the loss at #1 duke on a 44-foot shot at the buzzer (else VT would have won), the season went down the tubes.  Tech started out 0-6 in ACC play and finished 4-12.

Zabe’s senior year was magical.  The Hokies went 22-12 and made the ncaa tournament for the first time in 11 years, going in as a #5 seed.  Tech won at #5 duke, avenging the heartbreaking loss from a year before, beat #1 unc at home, and won at #4 unc.  Tech also knocked off illinois in the ncaa tournament before losing to southern illinois.


The Hokies are darn lucky to have Zabian in their top 10.  He originally planned to play for Coach Greenberg in his home state of Florida at the u… of south florida.  But he followed Coach to Blacksburg and became the Hokie from Pahokee.  So instead of reading about him on BullsHoops.com, we got him all to ourselves.  Thank goodness.

When VT needed a big shot, he hit it.  When they needed a stop, he got it.  And the best complement I can pay him (other then the fact he’s a great person) is he got better every year as a player.  Zabian made a lot of people Virginia Tech basketball fans, including many that had turned their backs on the program during the dark years (me included, I’ll admit).

February 2011 Interview with Zabian:

  1. Part 1 – He Made It (the NBA)
  2. Part 2 – NBA Dreamin
  3. Part 3 – The VT Years

2007 Hokie Celebration

2007 Hokie Celebration

Posted in HomeComments (7)

Phoenix Suns sign former Hokies Zabian Dowdell for remainder of the season

Former Virginia Tech standout Zabian Dowdell was signed for the remainder of the 2010-11 NBA season by the Phoenix Suns

Former Virginia Tech standout Zabian Dowdell was signed for the remainder of the 2010-11 NBA season by the Phoenix Suns

Former Virginia Tech Hokies standout Zabian Dowdell finally made it to the NBA. As the end of his second 10-day contract neared an end, the Phoenix Suns called him into the film room following Friday night’s loss to Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City and told the 26-year-old rookie that they were signing him for the remainder of the season.

Dowdell was originally signed to be a practice player to rest veteran Steve Nash during practices. But after an injury to Goran Dragic (cut his heel on broken glass) Dowdell actually got some significant playing time in the NBA and he played well. The Hokie from Pahokee (Fla.) scored 12 points, registered six assists, committed six turnovers and came up with three steals in 37 minutes over three games last week.

TechHoops.com recently published a three-part audio interview with Zabian. In case you missed them, go here.

Read more about Dowdell and his new contract with the Suns.

Posted in 2010-11 Season, Around the World (Wide Web), MoreComments (4)

Zabian Dowdell Interview | Part 3 | The Hokie from Pahokee

Niemo spoke with the first Hokie to make the NBA in quite a while, Zabian Dowdell.  Dowdell had a banner career at VT, making the All-ACC First Team as a senior and the All-ACC Defensive Team twice.  He is 8th on Tech’s all-time scoring list, 6th in assists, and 3rd in steals.

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The interview is broken up into three parts (audio is linked above, transcript is below):

  1. He Made It – We discuss his tryout with the Phoenix Suns, making a NBA team to fulfill his boyhood letter (‘I Will Make It’), and life in the NBA so far.
  2. NBA Dreamin’ – Zabian talks about not getting drafted, playing overseas, and then going to the NBA Developmental League.
  3. The Hokie from Pahokee – We talk about his time at Tech with Coach Greenberg, his former teammates, VT, and his favorite memories — including being arm-curled by yours truly.

Here’s the transcript from Part 3 – The Hokie from Pahokee.

Niemo: I read in the SI article that you picked number 22 in honor of Jamon Gordon, is that right?
Dowdell: Yeah, yeah. I wanted to, kind of, do that for him, and also for my uncle.  But me and Jamon, obviously, Jamon is like a brother to me and his dream was to make it here, too. And it’s kind of like both of us are here now. So, I definitely wanted to kind of do that in honor of him.
Niemo: How much do you stay in touch with him and some of your other former Hokie teammates?
Dowdell: Yeah well, me and Coleman talk every now and then. I played with Deron last year, in the D League for a couple games. I think Jamon probably I talk to him more than any of my other teammates. But, like, Shawn Harris I still keep in touch with him. Marcus Sailes. I still keep in touch with the guys. Man, that was a great time at Virginia Tech. We, going from a freshman to a senior, making it to the Big East Tournament my freshman year and then, making it to the NCAA Tournament my senior year, we shared a lot of great memories together.
Niemo: Is Deron still 160 pounds, or has he put on weight yet?
Dowdell: [laugh] Yeah, Deron hadn’t gained a pound when I saw him last time. So, yeah he’s still, the same old skinny Deron.
Niemo: [laugh] Now you almost didn’t end up at Virginia Tech, you were originally looking at south florida when Seth was still there, is that accurate?
Dowdell: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I tell everybody, if Coach [Greenberg] had stayed there then, that’s probably where I would have ended up going. And I was pretty much set on going there, but obviously he made the move to Virginia Tech. And I was able to come along with him. And I’m definitely thankful for that.
Niemo: How tight is your bond with Coach Greenberg?
Dowdell: Ah, I say me and Coach have a really good, really good relationship. I can go to him and talk to him about anything. I mean, we came in together. We came to Tech together. [laugh] So that’ll always be something that we have together, to kind of help build the program from the ground up. That will always be something that we can say, we went in it together and we went through the hard times.  We went through the good times and, I mean, we came out with a good product.
Niemo: Don’t you think you were destined to be a Hokie being from Pahokee, Florida?
Dowdell: [laugh] A lot of people say that, man. I definitely think it’s ironic [laugh] that the name of my hometown rhymes with the mascot of the school, but hey, it happened that way. And I, you can definitely say it’s destiny, man. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I mean just all of the support that that I get from the Hokie Nation, man, it’s second to none. And I don’t think people, I don’t think people realize how good that makes me feel, or makes anyone feel, when you can go somewhere and if there’s a Hokie anywhere in the area, that you’re fine. I don’t have to worry about anything so, it’s definitely great to be a part of the Hokie Nation.
Niemo: What was your favorite moment at Tech?  There were a lot of great ones. There was our first year in the ACC with your shot against duke to beat them after we lost to them by 35 there and then your senior year beating unc twice. But what was your favorite moment?
Dowdell: Looking back at it I think the best moment for me was going back to duke, after we had lost in the last seconds with the half-court shot from Dockery.  Just going back there and winning that game, that that was like, that was the biggest thing. Because I can remember after that game [the year before], a lot of guys were dealing with a lot of personal issues, and the season kind of took a turn for the worse after that. And, just kind of, just being able to go back there and accomplishing what we accomplished that night, that kind of took a lot of weight off our shoulders.
Niemo: You mentioned a lot of the personal things guys were going through your junior year. You had Allen Calloway, who developed cancer, and unfortunately has since passed away. And, Coleman’s dad battling cancer. And A.D. Vassallo’s host mom. How did you guys rebound from that season and come back your senior year? What got you guys through that?
Dowdell: Ah man, I mea, I guess the best way to describe that situation is experience is the best teacher. And a lot of things at that time they hit us at once during our season and  we really weren’t prepared for it. I mean, it’s so hard to kind of go out and play the game that you love and enjoy it when you’re dealing with so many other serious issues. So it definitely made us stronger and it made us come together more as a team. I can remember that season and next. In my senior year we were more like a family. We’d go out to eat together, we’d hang out at each others’, and stuff like that.  I feel like that, is a big reason why we were successful because we became more of a family other then just being teammates.
Niemo: And I’m sure that season’s helped Coach Greenberg out a lot, this year, having to deal with, not the personal matters you guys did that year. But dealing with losing 5 scholarship players this year, 4 to injury and 1 to transfer, and having to find a way through that in the season.  That’s been really tough.
Dowdell: Yeah, that’s always tough, a guy can go out. But, I mean, Coach has been around long enough to, he knows how to kind of work out the kinks so, I never worry about that as far as the coaching side of it with him.
Niemo: Speaking of that, how much do you keep up with the Hokies’ basketball team?
Dowdell: It was kind of tough my first couple of years out. I checked, I looked at it on the internet and just do that. But now I can actually watch the games, the ESPN games, and just kind of keep up with them a lot better now. And I’m definitely always going to be as close as I can to the program. And I definitely want to see those guys do well, and have as much success, because, as a guy that has been there, been to the tournament. As a college basketball player, that’s like the ultimate experience, and, hopefully they can pull it off this year, and I mean, I’m behind them 100%.
Niemo: Are you in touch with any of the current players? Do they talk to you for advice or anything?
Dowdell: I twitter a couple of the guys back and forth and just try to let them know that I’m in their corner.  A lot of players leave and then they just forget about the current players. But, I mean, I just want to let them know that I’m not that type of guy.  That if they just want to talk, I mean, I’m here.
Niemo: You got your degree in property management. How much did that mean to your mom?
Dowdell: Everything, I mean, she always brags about this because, I mean, coming from Pahokee not a lot of people make it to college, let alone get a degree. So that’s definitely something that I’m proud of and [laugh] just looking back at some of the things I’ve done, man, I’ve definitely been blessed. God has definitely  been good to me.
Niemo: Your website which you mentioned earlier, SportsAgent411.com. How did that start about and how’s that doing?
Dowdell: Yup. Yes, It’s actually going pretty good.  It came about, me and a friend of mine, we were kind of brainstorming about a couple of ideas, trying to think of some stuff we can do besides basketball and, the idea kind of came up.  A couple of ideas came up that we still have in the works. But that was one of them. And, man, I definitely think it’s a great idea. It’s the only site out there like that. So, we’re definitely looking for big things with that.
Niemo: I don’t want to get you in trouble if you have a lady in your life, but have the NBA groupies started showing up yet?
Dowdell: Man, what? I really don’t go out a lot.  I’ve never been the type of guy to go out a lot, and party a lot. So, I really haven’t had a lot of time to party or anything like that.  But I do have a girlfriend so yeah, I mean I pretty much focused on her.
Niemo: She right next to you right now, isn’t she?
Dowdell: No, she’s actually back in Richmond right now.  So right now in my situation I think it’s best that I just focus on what I need to get done to stay here.  I mean have a lot of time to have fun and stuff like that man so that’ll come.
Niemo: Final question for you. What was the best advice you got in the years when you were still trying to make the NBA? What really stuck with you?
Dowdell: You know, I think one of the best things a player told me, and this was at Suns training camp this year, Chucky Atkins, obviously he’s a veteran guy.  We were playing pick-up and, I think he had been there a couple of days but he really didn’t know who I was.  He was kind of asking about my situation and stuff and he was like, he went through the same kind of situation.  Had to wait a couple years after school before he got his chance at the NBA and he made the most of it and he was just like, man, the best thing you can do is just keep playing.  Just keep your head up.  I just think coming from a guy like Chucky who’s been on this level and, just for him to say that to me he could have just been like, man, I’m competing with this guy for a spot. I don’t need to help this guy at all but he reached out to me.  Man, that was real big coming from a guy like that.
Niemo: So any final thoughts you’d like to say to all your loyal Hokie fans out there that are rooting for you?
Dowdell: Ah, man, I just wanted to let everybody know that I appreciate your support and everywhere I go I’m proud to say that I’m a Hokie.
Niemo: Well, thanks to you now I’ve arm curled 2 NBA players. You along with Greivis Vasquez.  So thanks for adding to my resume [laugh].
Dowdell: [laugh]. Hey, I saw that picture’s online, man. That picture’s actually online. I don’t know when the last time I saw it, but, I actually remember that day, man. And, I was like, wow. [laugh]. That was kind of funny, man. [laugh].
Niemo: [laugh]. There were a couple of cocktails preceding that. [laugh]
Dowdell: Yeah. I know that. [laugh].
Niemo: That’s become an ongoing joke even with the guys today, and I’ve gotten pretty much everyone except for Malcolm. And that’s because I had arm curled Jeff Allen right before him, and I threw out my back in the process getting him up. [laugh]. So, oh well.
Dowdell: [laugh] Yeah. Wow, wow. Jeff is a pretty good, pretty big guy, man. [laugh]
Niemo: Zabian, thank you so much for your time and hopefully, like with Anthony Mason and Kurt Rambis your ten-day contracts will turn into a 14 year career like it did for them.
Dowdell: Yeah, well that’s the plan, man. And, I appreciate the support from the Hokie Nation, man. And I’m going to try to continue to make them proud.
Niemo: Thank you, Zabian!

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Zabian Dowdell Interview | Part 2 | NBA Dreamin’

Niemo spoke with the first Hokie to make the NBA in quite a while, Zabian Dowdell.  Dowdell had a banner career at VT, making the All-ACC First Team as a senior and the All-ACC Defensive Team twice.  He is 8th on Tech’s all-time scoring list, 6th in assists, and 3rd in steals.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The interview is broken up into three parts (the audio is linked above with the transcript below):

  1. He Made It (Link) – We discuss his tryout with the Phoenix Suns, making a NBA team to fulfill his boyhood letter (‘I Will Make It’), and life in the NBA so far.
  2. NBA Dreamin’ – Zabian talks about not getting drafted, playing overseas, and then going to the NBA Developmental League.
  3. The Hokie from Pahokee – We talk about his time at Tech with Coach Greenberg, his former teammates, VT, and his favorite memories — including being arm-curled by yours truly.
Niemo: This is Niemo from Techhoops.com. I’m joined by Zabian Dowdell, the newest Hokie to join the NBA fraternity. [In this segment we focus on the time after Z left VT and was working towards the NBA.]
Niemo: I bet at times, it seemed like you’d never make the NBA. Walk me through, when you first left Virginia Tech and didn’t get drafted – how disappointing was that for you?
Dowdell: It was very disappointing, but at the same time, you kind of have to realize what type of business you’re in, and I just used that as fuel for the fire. I always kept it in mind. I still keep it in mind to this day, when I’m working out in the summer or whenever I’m working out, I just use that as motivation.
Niemo: What were some of the reasons they gave you – scouts or NBA executives – for why they didn’t see you as an NBA player at first coming out of Tech?
Dowdell: A lot of people said I wasn’t a point guard and, there’s some bogus reasons, but, at the end of the day, I mean, I’m here now, and, hopefully I plan on staying.
Niemo: Walk me through some of the places you’ve played since that point – overseas and whatnot.
Dowdell: Oh, man, I played in my first year out, I played in France. My second year out, I played in Italy, and last year, after I recovered from my groin injury, I played in Spain. So yeah, I kind of traveled the globe a bit.
Niemo: What was your favorite place to play?
Dowdell: Italy. That may be my favorite place to play because it was my team. The coach allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do, and we had a good group of guys. And the city pretty much embraced me, so that was probably my most enjoyable year.
Niemo: Food’s not too bad either, is it?
Dowdell: Ah, man well, if you like pasta, no. But I definitely had a good dose of that. But other than that man it was a great experience.
Niemo: What was the roughest place you had to play?
Dowdell: The roughest place I had to play. Maybe my first game, my first regular season game in Italy. We were on the road and, the fans were going crazy, and like the seats kind of hung over the court. They were very close to the court. The fans were throwing paper planes and, just all kinds of stuff on the floor. I was like man is this how it’s going to be over here?
Niemo: It’s kind of like playing in Yankee Stadium I guess.
Dowdell: Oh man it was crazy, no order.
Niemo: What were some of the toughest adjustments of playing abroad for you?
Dowdell: I guess the game over there, they put a lot of focus on fundamentals. I got called for travelling a lot, just like a lot of the American guys that make that transition. You just have to kind of slow down when you play over there, and kind of work on the passing and the shooting. Because you have to be able to shoot over there if you want to score. There’s no 3 second rule over there. I guess just the style of play, really. It’s not really an up and down game over there, there’s more half court. So that would really count as the biggest adjustment for me.
Niemo: Last year and then the first part of this year you were playing in Tulsa. What’s it like playing in the NBA D league?
Dowdell: That’s a grind. It’s a grind definitely. A lot of guys hoping to be called up, and there are a lot of guys who need to work on certain things to improve their chances of being called up. So every day the coaches stress development, and just getting in the gym, working out, trying to improve. That mindset was good for me. As a player you always want to be in the environment where you’re not content with what you are – you’re always trying to get better.
Niemo: And were there any points where you started to consider giving up the game or, trying something different?
Dowdell: No, I’m just a guy that loves to play the game, so whether it’d be here or somewhere in Russia, I’m still going to be playing. But at the same time, there was definitely a timetable as to how much longer I was going to be making sacrifices, just to make it to the NBA. But other than that I’ve never really considered giving the game up altogether. I love the game too much to do that.
Niemo: So eventually you would have, if things weren’t working out in terms of the NBA, you would have reconsidered some of the abroad offers you had?
Dowdell: Yeah, definitely, I mean you have to be smart about things like that. That was definitely something that was going to have to happen soon too.
Niemo: Virginia Tech obviously has another guard this year who has been a first team ACC player, much like yourself, who was overlooked in the draft last year and was not predicted to be drafted in either round. Why do you think Virginia Tech players, especially you and Malcolm Delaney, have been overlooked by scouts and NBA executives?
Dowdell: That’s a great question. I guess the biggest thing I can think of is the amount of exposure we get as far as basketball goes. It has definitely gotten better, since the time I came and left, but a lot of people still don’t look at the school as a basketball school. And they really don’t get a lot of respect in the basketball department. But, I mean, I still think that if you’re a good player, you continue to work, you just continue to do the things you need to do, then eventually people will find it. It just happens.
Niemo: Final question for you. What was the best advice you got in the years when you were still trying to make the NBA? What really stuck with you?
Dowdell: You know, I think one of the best things a player told me, and this was at Suns training camp this year, Chucky Atkins, obviously he’s a veteran guy.  We were playing pick-up and, I think he had been there a couple of days but he really didn’t know who I was.  He was kind of asking about my situation and stuff and he was like, he went through the same kind of situation.  Had to wait a couple years after school before he got his chance at the NBA and he made the most of it and he was just like, man, the best thing you can do is just keep playing.  Just keep your head up.  I just think coming from a guy like Chucky who’s been on this level and, just for him to say that to me he could have just been like, man, I’m competing with this guy for a spot. I don’t need to help this guy at all but he reached out to me.  Man, that was real big coming from a guy like that.

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Zabian Dowdell Interview | Part 1 | He Made It


Niemo spoke with the first Hokie to make the NBA in quite a while, Zabian Dowdell.  Dowdell had a banner career at VT, making the All-ACC First Team as a senior and the All-ACC Defensive Team twice.  He is 8th on Tech’s all-time scoring list, 6th in assists, and 3rd in steals.

Zabian is currently on his second 10-day contract with the Suns.  After this, they will have to decide whether or not they want to sign him for the rest of the season.  Click the audio link right below this to listen, or view the transcript at the bottom of this article.

The interview is broken up into three parts:

  1. HE MADE IT - We discuss Zabian’s tryout with the Phoenix Suns, making a NBA team to fulfill his boyhood letter (‘I Will Make It‘), and life in the NBA so far.
  2. NBA Dreamin’ (Link) – Zabian talks about not getting drafted, playing overseas, and then going to the NBA Developmental League.
  3. The Hokie from Pahokee – We talk about his time at Tech with Coach Greenberg, his former teammates, VT, and his favorite memories — including being arm-curled by yours truly.

Transcript of Part1 – He Made It:

He Made It
Niemo: Zabian, congratulations! What’s it feel like to reach your dream and make the NBA?
Dowdell: Aw man, it feels great.  A lot of hard work is finally paying off and I just want to continue to do good.
Niemo: So you’re at Tulsa [playing in the NBA D-League for the Tulsa 66ers]. You get the call from the Phoenix Suns that they want to bring you in for a tryout in early January. How many other guys were you competing with for basically one spot?
Dowdell: Yeah.  There were three other guys there but I don’t think the other guys had ever been to a training camp or anything like that. So I definitely knew I had the edge there.
Niemo: And how nervous were you going through that, or did you have sort of a quiet confidence?
Dowdell: I knew I was just confident. And, I just went in, with a clear mind and, I mean, took care of business.
Niemo: How excited were you when they told you they were going to sign you to that first 10 day contract.
Dowdell: Oh man, I mean that was like music to my ears. And I don’t think it hit me until like a couple days after that. But it was just like, man, about time. But, obviously with a 10 day contract, you don’t have a lot of security. So, I was just pretty much trying to do as much as I could in those first 10 days to have him bring me back for another contract.
Niemo: Now after you were told they were going to sign you, who was your first phone call?
Dowdell: My mom, I called my mom and let her know the good news and then I called my agent and just pretty much after that man it’s like a blur. Everyone was calling me and,  but it was definitely, a good time. Something I’ll never forget.
Niemo: Your mom’s name is Isabelle, is that correct?
Dowdell: Yes, yes Isabelle McDonald.
Niemo: Was she able to keep it together on the phone or was she more excited than you?
Dowdell: [laugh] Yeah, she might have been more excited than me man. Hey She’s been waiting for this a long time just like me. And I think sometimes she gets more emotional about it than me,  because I’m not really the type of guy to overreact . It definitely great news for her.
Niemo: I read in the Sports illustrated article about you that you had written a letter when you were 16 to yourself talking about how you were going to make it to the NBA. Did you really think about that at the time? Or was that something a few days later that sort of came to mind?Article: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1181204/index.htm
Dowdell: Well, actually I hadn’t read the letter in awhile. Maybe a year or something like that because I don’t have the physical copy with me. I had it while I was at Tech and after I left some of my stuff did get all over the place. So when the writer that I talking to, he brought it up, I was like, “I have it in my email.” I had it in my email the whole time. And it’s definitely good to go back and just see where my head was at, at that time. And [laugh] it, was great. [laugh]
Niemo: [laugh] Now how did the SI article come about?
Dowdell: I guess they were trying to get something on, get the mindset of a guy who is playing with a 10 day contract. And, I think soon after I signed the contract, someone from the team called me and asked me would I do it. I was kind of hesitant at first. I didn’t want the guy to kind of put me in a bad light. But, after that, I was like, it’s fine.  And I thought it would be a great opportunity to kind of show people what guys in my situation are thinking about. And it was a great opportunity to get some free publicity for my internet business. So [laugh] it worked out well man. [laugh][Zabian’s a founder of SportsAgent411.com: http://sportsagent411.com/]
Niemo: Well I know that article has been read by everyone that’s followed you over the last several years and everyone in the Hokie community is really rooting for you and was glad to get to see that and see you’re doing well.
Dowdell: Yeah, I walk by people on the street man and they tell me it was a nice article so it’s definitely being read by a lot of people, [laugh].
Niemo: Your first game [with the Suns] you don’t get to play in. The second game after you’ve been signed, the team’s down about 30 points at the end of the third quarter. Did you have a feeling you’re finally going to get in there?
Dowdell: [laugh]. Yeah, well, that game I knew was going to play. [laugh]. Things were pretty much not going our way that game and I was like, I better warm up, I might, get some garbage time. I got in and played the last quarter. That’s really  not the situation you want to be in as a player. But, for me, it was just good to get on the floor and play.
Niemo: Did it feel different at all? Or is basketball basketball?  Once you got out there it just felt normal?
Dowdell: Yeah, basketball is basketball. I mean, a lot doesn’t really changes except for the speed of the game and the intelligence of the players. But, other than that, everything is pretty much the same. I felt comfortable out there, I felt good.
Niemo: What’s it like going from sitting on the bench in Tulsa to now playing with Steve Nash and Vince Carter and going against the Celtics the other night and all those guys?
Dowdell: It’s kind of hard to put in words. Just being a fan of the game, and, watching, seeing guys out there, who are now my teammates that I watched growing up. It’s crazy. You see these guys and, you try to learn as much as you can from them because obviously they’ve had great careers and they continue to play well. So, that’s pretty much what I’m trying to. Just learn as much as I can and soak up as much as I can from these guys.
Niemo: I read in the SI article that Vince Carter was giving you crap after unc beat the Hokies?
Dowdell: [laugh] Yeah I was kind of hoping for that win so I could mess with him the next day but I couldn’t really say a whole lot back except the referees were awful for that game we’ll just leave it at that. [laugh]
Niemo: What has the team told you in terms of this second 10-day contract and then what they’re looking to do after that in terms of whether or not they’ll sign you for the rest of the season?
Dowdell: Obviously, the backup Goran Dragic ended up getting an injury so now I’m the back up. They were just like, “We have confidence in you. We’re going to put you in there and we don’t want you to be in there playing hesitant.” And that’s not really how I play anyway so they said, “Just go out there and play the game. But as far as what they’re going to do after this 10 day ends?  They haven’t really said a whole lot about it. They said that they liked me a lot but, in this business man, you really can’t believe it until you see it. But, we’ll see what happens.
Niemo: What’s been the coolest perk of being in the NBA?
Dowdell: I guess the travel. Just coming from the D League where you’re flying commercial and you might get the aisle seat or you might get stuck in the middle of a row. Now, it’s like you get off the bus, and walk straight to the plane. It’s just the small things. But, for me, I really can do without a lot of that stuff. I’m just glad to be here. That’s the biggest thing for me. I’m just glad to be here.

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NBA’s Phoenix Suns Sign former Hokie Dowdell to another 10-day Contract

Former Virginia Tech standout Zabian Dowdell signed another 10-day contract with the Phoenix Suns.

Former Virginia Tech standout Zabian Dowdell signed another 10-day contract with the Phoenix Suns. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns signed former Virginia Tech standout guard Zabian Dowdell to another 10-day contract on Thursday, Jan. 27, according to the NBA team’s official website.

Dowdell has spent the last three seasons playing in Europe and most recently for the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA’s Development League, where he played in 18 games and averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 29.3 minutes. He played in 10 games for the 66ers during the 2009-10 season.

The 6-3, 191-pound Dowdell was part of the Suns’ training camp last fall, but was cut about a week before the start of the season. His first stint in the NBA began on Jan. 9, 2011, when he signed his first 10-day contract. The former Hokie appeared in two games in his initial tenure with Phoenix.

Dowdell is one of the most beloved Tech basketball players in recent memory. He was a standout for four seasons at Virginia Tech (2003-07) and was a 2006-07 All-ACC first team selection and a two-time All-ACC defensive team selection.

Congratulations to Zabe and good luck!

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Zabian Dowdell’s Journey: 10 Days to Live

Here is a great article from Sports Illustrated on Zabian Dowdell’s life and his 10 day contract with the Phoenix Suns:

Dowdell Article in SI: 10 Days to Live


  • Dowdell wrote a letter to himself when he was in high school saying he was going to make the NBA… he did.
  • He wore #22 with the Suns to honor Jamon Gordon (playing in Greece).
  • The Suns claim he’ll get another shot when they get home from their road trip… well, they are back home tonight and he hasn’t been resigned yet.
I’ll let you read the rest yourself.  If you were around when Dowdell was here, it is a great article and makes you root for the guy even more.  Oh, and Vince Carter is a jerk.

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Zabian Dowdell Not Resigned by Phoenix

When former Hokie and All-ACC First Teamer Zabian Dowdell’s 10-day contract ran out on January 19th, the Phoenix Suns elected not to sign him to another 10-day contract or for the rest of the season. ?Dowdell played in two games – 4 points in 12 minutes in a woodshed beating, and going 0/1 in 1 minute against Portland.

Unfortunately, it might be back to the D-League and the Tulsa 66ers for Dowdell.

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Niemo arm curls Zabian Dowdell

2007 Hokie Celebration, originally uploaded by techsports.

At the 2007 Hokie Celebration

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The Wild Hokie Club!

The Hokies experienced their worst season since the ricky "program bomb" stokes era. Sure, it would have been easy to quit on you, but did we quit when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? HELL NO!


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2014-2015 Schedule/Results


11/14 - Hokies 71, md. eastern shore 46
11/19 - Hokies 73, liberty 63
11/22 - appalachian state 65, Hokies 63
Cancun Classic
11/25 - n. iowa 73, Hokies 54
11/26 - Hokies 78, miami ohio 63
11/30 - Hokies 83, morgan state 63


12/03 - penn state 61, Hokies 58
12/07 - radford 68, Hokies 66
12/14 - Hokies 65, alabama a&m 55
12/20 - Hokies 64, the citadel 61
12/22 - Hokies 87, vmi 74
12/27 - Hokies 87, presbyterian 65
12/30 - west virginia 82, Hokies 51


01/03 - syracuse 68, Hokies 66
01/06 - louisville 78, Hokies 63
01/18 - unc 68, Hokies 53
01/22 - notre dame 85, Hokies 60
01/25 - uva 50, Hokies 47
01/27 - Hokies 70, pittsburgh 67
01/31 - wake forest 73, Hokies 70


02/03 - syracuse 72, Hokies 70
02/07 - vs. fsu | 3pm, ACCN
02/09 - vs. georgia tech | 9pm, ESPNU
02/14 - @ clemson | Noon, RSN
02/18 - @ miami | 7pm, RSN
02/21 - @ nc state | 6pm, ESPN2
02/25 - vs. duke | 9pm, ESPN2
02/28 - @ uva | 4pm, ACCN


03/02 - vs. boston college | 9pm, ESPNU
03/07 - vs. miami | Noon, RSN
ACC Tournament
03/10 - 1st rd.
03/11 - 2nd rd.
03/12 - quarterfinals
03/13 - semifinals
03/14 - championship

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