Tuesday, April 29th, 1997

Crank Up the Grindstaff Hype Machine and Let 'er Rip!

It appears that Tech quietly signed its most heralded basketball recruit in years when the Hokies inked 6-2, 200 pound point guard Jenis Grindstaff out of McDowell County High School in North Carolina last November. Grindstaff had verbally committed to the Hokies months before that, and he didn't bat an eyelash when Coach Bill Foster announced his retirement, staying faithful and signing on the dotted line when the early signing season opened.

I've been intrigued by Grindstaff ever since he signed, because he appeared to be quite a ballplayer. In the reports I heard or read after he signed with us, he was consistently scoring in the upper 20's and low 30's, and occasionally even topping 40. As his senior season wore on, the ACC schools started to take a good hard look at Grindstaff, but his committment to the Hokies was a done deal, so that was all they could do...look.

I figured that if Grindstaff was scoring 30 a game, then it must be against inferior competition, because if he was really that good, then the ACC schools would known it from the start, and Tech never would have had a chance of recruiting him.

That notion of mine was laid waste about a week ago when The Charlotte Observer named Grindstaff Mr. Basketball in North Carolina. You know, they play a little hoops down there in Carolina, and being named Mr. Basketball in that state isn't like winning the same honor in, say, Wyoming. If they're calling you Mr. Basketball in the Tarheel state, you must be doing something right.

Of course, the honor led to a few articles about Grindstaff popping up here and there, and one of them ran in the ACC Sports Journal. The text of the article was posted on the Hokie Central message board a few days ago, and here are the highlights of Grindstaff's impressive career:

  • one of only 15 North Carolina H.S. players to score over 2000 career points
  • freshman averages: 10 points, 8 assists
  • sophomore averages: 18 points, 7 assists
  • junior averages: 22 points, 7 assists
  • senior averages: 27 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, 2.7 steals, 52% FG (including 40% from 3-point range), 85% FT
  • career scoring average: 20 points per game
  • career high: 42 points
  • academics: 3.7 GPA, SAT's "well over 1,000"

Grindstaff's story goes beyond mere numbers, though. He is an outstanding overall athlete, earning all-conference honors in baseball as a sophomore, cross-country as a sophomore and junior, and basketball as a sophomore, junior, and senior.

And he is a prime-time player. In his final outing, a loss in a sectional championship game, he scored 38 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished out 9 assists. His coach raves, "I'll bet his free-throw percentage was over 90 percent in the fourth quarter."

He's not talking about that one game, folks. He's talking about his career.

More so than that, Grindstaff appears to be a Hokie through and through. He committed to Tech early and stayed true to his word, apparently liking the mountains around Blacksburg, which reminded him of his home. His coach also spoke highly of Grindstaff's work ethic, and in my mind, a love of Blacksburg and the will to work earn this kid "Hokie" status before he ever sets foot on campus.

His coach describes him as "a point machine," which the Hokies can certainly use, and the article I read was full of amazing stories. Like the time he hit 10 of 11 three point tries during a game his junior year, or the time he played in an AAU game and had 19 assists and 0 turnovers, or the game where he made 20 of 21 free throws, including 16 of 16 in the fourth quarter. There seems to be no end to the basketball stories.

But what I really like are the GPA and the SAT score, the kid's dedication to the game (as described in the article), and how he kept his word about going to Tech. He verbally committed to Tech early, hung in there during the coaching change (he was quoted as saying that he really likes Coach Hussey), and signed on the line when the time came. And when the ACC schools came calling, he didn't try to back out.

There are a lot of kids who can play basketball, but few appear to be the total package like Jenis Grindstaff. He will play early in his career for Tech, and he will play a lot.

And here's one more number for Jenis: 2,484. That's the Tech career scoring record, held by Bimbo Coles.

Now does that classify as hype, or what?

Best Tech/UVa Joke I've Heard in a While

I got this one from a Wahoo that I met this past weekend:

A Hokie and a Wahoo are scheduled to be executed by firing squad. The captain of the firing squad says, "You get one last request before your execution." Looking at the Wahoo, he says, "What will it be?"

The Wahoo says, "One more time, before I pass, I would like to hear 'The Good Ole Song.'"

The Captain says, "Very well. So it shall be." Looking at the Hokie, he says, "And what is your last request?"

The Hokie says, "Shoot me first."


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