Basha (Chandler, AZ) senior power forward/center Maurice Kirby found exactly what he was looking for in a school when he took an official visit to Virginia Tech last week.
“It was like being part of a family,” Kirby said of his time in Blacksburg last week. He would go on and commit to Hokies men’s basketball coach James Johnson. “That was a big thing for me, so I wanted to go somewhere I felt at home. Also, Coach Johnson was up front with me. He didn’t want to sugarcoat anything for me. He said they’d have to recruit players at the same position in future classes. He said he will give me the opportunity to come in and compete, but after that it’s on me.”
Kirby is ready for the challenge of major college basketball.
“A lot of people say I shouldn’t be in the position I’m in, but [Coach Johnson] saw something in me,” Kirby said. “I want to make him proud. When the opportunity comes, it’s on my shoulders. Coach Johnson was telling me the [ACC] is the best conference in college basketball. You have to bring it every night. With the facilities and everything they have, if you don’t get better you did something wrong. Virginia Tech has all the tools to make you a great person, athlete, and student.”
John Burns is entering his first year as head coach at Basha, a team he faced each of the past two seasons while head coach at Mesquite. Under Burns, Kirby’s role on the team is expected to change significantly.
“I’ve coached against him the last couple of years,” Burns said of Kirby, who averaged 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.5 blocks per game last season. “Last year, he was probably the third option because they had two other very good players (Colorado-bound guard Jaron Hopkins and forward Torren Jones, who is also a major D1 target). Those players transferred out. This year, Maurice will be the focus of the offense. The ball will go through him. On defense, he’ll be the back-side anchor. It’ll be a challenge for him.”
The 6’9″ senior weighs somewhere in the 225-pound range right now. Burns, who has a college basketball background, says his workouts are “intense” and “college-style,” adding that Kirby “has embraced it. He worked hard before, but we have taught him how to work hard.”
A terrific student,...
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