Friday, October 12, 2012

Sports minute: Big man picks Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Hokies basketball

Berman Courtside

Maurice Kirby, a 6-foot-9, 232-pound senior power forward/center from Basha High School in Chandler, Ariz., said Thursday he has verbally committed to Virginia Tech.

Kirby said he picked Tech over Brown, Northern Arizona and Loyola (Ill.). He said he had an offer from Penn State earlier this year, before another player took that grant.

"The [Tech] coaches did a really good job, made me feel like family," Kirby said in a phone interview from Blacksburg, where he has been on a recruiting visit since Tuesday. "It wasn't [about] the biggest school. I wanted to feel where I could fit in and be a part of something special. I felt like they're doing that here; it just so happened to be in the best conference in the world."

Kirby committed to Arizona State before his sophomore season but decommitted the next summer.

"When you're young, that's something you really want to do, is stay close to home," he said. "Now I definitely think differently. I just want to go where I can have an opportunity to play and be part of something special. I just made a decision [about ASU] too early."

Kirby averaged 7.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season at Basha. He is rated the No. 37 center in the nation by ESPN.com.

"I get up every morning at 3:30. I'm out running and lifting weights before school," said Kirby, whose family moved from Flagstaff, Ariz., a few years ago. "I can shoot 15-foot jumpers and post up really well inside.

"I run the floor pretty well as a big guy. I'm a very good passer. I finish pretty well with both hands in the paint. I'm a physical guy; I like to get in there and bang. And I can step outside and be versatile."

Hokies' Brown cleared

Virginia Tech announced Thursday that guard Robert Brown, who underwent surgery in July for a fractured foot, has been cleared to resume basketball activities.

The Hokies begin preseason practice today.

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