John Rivers wore No. 21 when he played basketball for Virginia Tech.
Next season, his daughter Lydia will do the same.
Lydia Rivers, a standout for reigning Big South women’s basketball champ Radford, has decided to transfer to Virginia Tech.
“It’s a lot of pluses,” John Rivers said Thursday in a phone interview. “I have a child that wants to kind of mimic Dad. I must have been doing something right.”
Lydia Rivers will be graduating from Radford this month with a degree in exercise science. As a graduate transfer, she will be able to play for the Hokies in the 2019-20 season without having to sit out a year.
The 6-foot-2 power forward wore No. 20 for Radford, but her father said she will wear No. 21 for Tech. John Rivers, the sixth-leading rebounder in Virginia Tech men’s basketball history, wore No. 21 when he roamed the Cassell Coliseum court from 1988-92. He also played football for the Hokies.
Lydia Rivers’ exit is a blow to the Highlanders, who won a school-record 26 games this year. Rivers made the All-Big South first team as a fourth-year junior this year, when she averaged 12.2 points and a league-high 10.4 rebounds.
She was named the most valuable player of the Big South tournament after helping Radford win that tournament and advance to the NCAAs for the first time in 23 years. She had 14 points and 14 rebounds in the Big South final against Campbell; it was her 15th double-double of the season.
Rivers had nine points and 14 rebounds in a win at Virginia in December. She had 11 points and eight rebounds in her team’s NCAA tournament loss at Maryland.
The Hokies must replace post player Regan Magarity, so Rivers will be a valuable addition. Magarity, who is Tech’s career rebounding leader, was chosen in the WNBA draft last month. She made the All-ACC second team as a senior, when she averaged 14.1 points and 12.8 rebounds.
Rivers entered the transfer portal in late March to explore her options because she is interested in getting a master’s degree in exercise science. Radford does not have a master’s program in exercise science, so if she had stayed at Radford she would have had to choose a different area of study.
She took part in her team’s Senior Day ceremony in March because she was not sure if she would remain at Radford for her final year of eligibility.
John Rivers said Lydia heard from about 50 schools after entering the transfer portal.
“We [were] trying to find something in her major,” John Rivers said. “When she put her name in that transfer portal, I kind of figured that we’d have a few schools that may be interested. I didn’t think it was going to blow up the way it did.”
She visited Purdue and Virginia Tech. She met in Charlotte, North Carolina, with one of the Rutgers coaches. There were phone conversations with West Virginia and Florida, among others. UVa expressed interest as well.
John Rivers said Lydia liked Tech coach Kenny Brooks and his staff. One of Tech’s assistants is Britney Anderson, who helped recruit Rivers to the Highlanders when Anderson was on the Radford staff.
Rivers’ father spoke to the Tech coaches as well.
“They know how to bring some of the potential out of their players, so I’m hoping that would be something that they would be able to do with Lydia,” he said.