This weekend I am excited to be attending the Hall of Fame induction of my first recruit at Virginia Tech, Zabian Dowdell. Zabian bought into my vision for rebuilding the Virginia Tech program. He, along with Jamon Gordon and Coleman Collins, not only helped the Hokies earn their first Big East tournament appearance but also transitioned the program into a winning ACC contender the first season in the league. This group had wins at UNC and Duke and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament advancing to the second round.
The “Hokie from Pahokee” was an under-recruited, skinny, left handed guard that had a passion and a work ethic second to none. I cannot remember a day where he didn’t come to practice with a focus and the intent to get better and make everyone in the gym better.
It was not unusual for me to come to Cassell Coliseum early in the morning or late in the evening and hear the bouncing of the ball. There was Zab working on his game. He had a chip on his shoulder and he used that chip to motivate him. Through his hard work and commitment, he developed into one of the elite guards in college basketball.
The year after a demoralizing loss at Duke on a buzzer beater from half court with 1.6 seconds left, we found ourselves in a similar position.
Down one, one minute to go.
Up one, 25 seconds to go.
Up 2, 3 seconds, Duke ball.
Paulus misses. We won.
I vividly remember Zabian prior to that overtime. The look in his eyes, the determination to not go through what we went through last year. As we were walking off the court he was so proud of where we were, but more importantly how far we came. It is a memory that will be with me forever.
Not many can roll into the Dean Dome and drop 33 vs. a #4 ranked Carolina team in an overtime win. Or hit a game winning 3-pointer vs. Duke. But that was Zabian.
Zab was the total package. He did the right thing on and off the court. He graduated in 4 years and always did the right thing. He was the definition of a student-athlete.
I am so proud of him and excited to share his HOF induction.