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Jalen Cone aims to find an NBA path away from Virginia Tech

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Walkertown's Jalen Cone wants to show off all of his skills, to show he can play in the NBA.

He believes he will need to leave the Virginia Tech men's basketball program to achieve those goals.

The reserve sophomore guard has entered his name in the transfer portal. He battled an injury during the 2020-21 season and averaged 9.2 points in 20 minutes per game for the Hokies (15-7).

"He just wanted a little bigger role," Cone's father, Harold Cone, told the Roanoke (Va.) Times' Mark Berman on Thursday. "My son has a desire to play at the next level, the NBA.

"He would like to handle the ball a little bit more and do some different things and just felt like his role at VT was more catching the ball and shooting it. He got known to be a great shooter there. But … he always wanted to kind of show some more and wanted to be able to be in a situation where he can show some more. ...

"He said, 'Dad, I want to show that I can do a little bit more than that.' The goal is to be able to have the ball in his hands and be a little bit more creative with it."

Cone, who is 5 feet 10 and weighs 165 pounds, ranked second on the team in 2019-20 with 64 three-point baskets and was third with 37 in the past season.

Cone was hurt early in a Feb. 6 win at Miami and missed the team's final four games. Harold Cone revealed Thursday that his son suffered a fractured foot in the Miami game and underwent surgery to have a screw inserted.

Cone missed Virginia Tech's first three games because of a preseason injury to the same foot. Harold Cone said Thursday that the initial injury was a hairline fracture.

"I kind of wished he had done the screw in the beginning," Harold Cone said.

Cone scored in double figures in six straight games this season. He reinjured the foot during a game against Duke on Jan. 12, his father said, scoring in double figures for the final time of the season.

Cone reclassified at Walkertown and skipped his senior season, committing to attend Virginia Tech in May 2019.

"I talked to some people, talked to my family, and just prayed to myself that I believed that I was ready for the next level," Cone told the Journal that day. "But, Virginia Tech, they need Jalen Cone. It's not more of a want, but they need Jalen Cone.

"And Coach Young and his system have Jalen Cone written all over it."

Cone also said that attending Virginia Tech would allow him to remain near a young daughter.

"I knew I didn't want to go too far and be apart from her, especially in these early stages," Cone said at his announcement. "But, if I had to, that most likely would've been the decision because I would've had to make a long-term decision instead of short-term and sacrifice missing out on these next few years of major events and stuff so one day I could provide for her."

In a tweet Thursday, Jalen Cone thanked the Virginia Tech staff, teammates and students.

"Virginia Tech has become my second home," he wrote. "I have built relationships that will last a lifetime and learned so many things here. ... There is no place like Blacksburg and nothing can replace it."

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