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ACC Preview #8 - Virginia Tech

Some key losses, to be sure, but new talent should prevent slippage.

Virginia Tech v Texas
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 18: Hunter Cattoor #0 of the Virginia Tech Hokies shoots a free throw in the second half of the game against the Texas Longhorns during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Fiserv Forum on March 18, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Everyone should be impressed with what Mike Young did at Wofford. He knocked off UNC at UNC and at home and took Kentucky to the absolute wire in the 2019 NCAA tournament before losing 62-56.

He’s done a fine job at Virginia Tech too. In his first year, the Covid year, the Hokies finished 16-16. In the last two seasons, VT has finished 15-7 and 23-13 and of course last season, they finished 23-13 and won the ACC Tournament, beating UNC and Duke along the way.

He’s widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the game and his offense is just fun. He’s a major asset to the ACC.

Young loses a lot from last year. Keve Aluma followed him from Wofford and was a really sound big man. Point guard Storm Murphy took his last year at Virginia Tech after playing for Young at Wofford. He was good too. Erratic guard Nahiem Alleyne is done, and given his up-and-down play, not a huge loss. David N’Guessan, a 6-9 sophomore, is off to Kansas State, while 6-10 junior John Ojiako split for George Mason.

The last two aren’t major losses although N’Guessan was in the rotation but Aluma and Murphy are going to be hard to replace.

But fear not, Hokies fans: the cupboard is far from bare.

Hunter Catoor, Sean Pedulla, Darius Maddox and Justyn Mutts are back, and all four could certainly start.

Catoor is a 6-3 senior now and he’s amazingly efficient with the ball and ball movement and he’s a really good shooter, hitting 44.7 on threes. We really, really like him.

Sean Pedulla is small at 6-1 but he’s an outstanding shooter: he hit 42.8 percent overall and 44 percent on threes. He also hit 90 percent from the line. He showed some real flashes as a freshman. He should be able to take over for Storm Murphy at point guard and since he’s been around the block, he should be better for the experience.

On a couple of occasions, Maddox really stunned us. He’s a 6-5 sophomore with outstanding athleticism who could be ready for a big leap forward. He hit 50.6 percent of his threes, so yet another solid shooter. He’s a guy people will not want to see.

Mutts is a 6-7 senior. He’s tremendously versatile and an outstanding passer. He’ll be called a glue guy but he’s more than that. With such outstanding shooters, he can be a huge asset for the Hokies on offense but also on defense.

Young reeled in three transfers from the portal. Grant Basile is a 6-9/225 lb big guy from Wright State. He averaged 18.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season for Wright State. He’s going to be a factor. He has two years left.

Myljael Poteat, who comes over from Rice, is 6-9 and 260. Rice used him as a traditional big but Young might find more creative uses.

Young first recruited him when he was at Wofford. Poteat averaged 13.8 minutes at Rice, 7.7 ppg and 4.2 rpg. He probably won't start but he’ll play.

John Camden spent one year at Memphis but was injured and only played one game. He was a Top 50 kid coming out of high school. At 6-8, he can reportedly shoot (no big surprise, given Young’s proclivities). His dad also went to Virginia Tech. He could be pretty good but we’ll have to wait and see. He could be good enough to start.

All three of those guys are going to help.

Now the freshmen: Rodney Rice is a 6-4 guard out of DeMatha. He’s one of the highest ranked recruits VT has ever landed. A solid combo guard, it didn’t hurt that Hokies assistant Mike Jones coached him at DeMatha. He’s should be good and will probably play a lot. We could see him starting too.

Patrick Wessler, a 7-0/245 center from Charlotte, is intriguing. He wasn’t an elite recruit - barely top 200 for what the rankings are worth, which is not much. However, he’s said to have good footwork and also to be an excellent rebounder. So keep an eye on him. He’ll probably be down the bench this year but could surprise. He looks like he might have a bit of a nasty streak. That’s bad for everyone else, but great for Virginia Tech.

What to make of Darren Buchanan? He wasn’t highly ranked either, but he is athletic and was the Washington Post’s choice for All-Met Player of the Year. He seems like the kind of guy Young can work with and remember that Young has a keen eye for talent. At 6-7 and 235, he’s also physically mature. All he really needs to do is to identify a need and fill it. If he can do that, he’ll certainly play and he could also be a surprise early.

Michael Collins, Jr., aka MJ, is a three-star recruit out of North or South Carolina (he’s listed in some places as being from Lincolnton but his bio says Clover, SC), is a guy Young and staff probably followed at Wofford and kept up with. He’s sort of under the radar but if you trust Young’s eye for talent, which we do, he could turn out.

Michael Ward (6-2) and Owyn Dawyot (6-2) are recruited walk-ons. Dawyot went to JJ Redick’s high school, Cave Spring, by the way.

Remember how the Hokies started slow last year? they were 10-10 on January 26th and a lot of people wrote them off.

They finished on a 13-3 run, including four games to win the ACC Tournament, and just spanked Duke in the finals.

Texas took them down in the first round of the NCAA tournament as foul trouble for Aluma and Catoor let UT open up a 17-point lead. However, the final was a respectable 81-73.

At this point, ACC fans know, or should know anyway, that Young is a tremendous coach. He’s imaginative and at Wofford, he learned how to look at overlooked players and has a knack for finding some gems.

We’re guessing that when he sifts and sorts through his new talent, he’ll end up with a real tough team. It’s hard not to admire how the Hokies play.