Key Departures: Tyrece Radford (–>Texas A&M); Jalen Cone (–>N. Arizona); Wabissa Bede (Grad);
New In Town: Storm Murphy (<–Wofford); Lynn Kidd (<–Clemson); Sean Pedulla (#136); Jalen Haynes (NR)
State of the Program:
Mike Young has something cooking with Virginia Tech right now, after breaking through in year 2 by getting to the big dance he has quickly gotten the train back on the tracks after Buzz Williams’ exit. He had tremendous success at Wofford capping it off with that famous 18-0 SoCo run and a win in the NCAA tournament. He enters this season getting back a majority of the contributors from last season, most notably leading scorer Keve Aluma (SR), along with fellow starters Nahiem Alleyne (JR) and Justyn Mutts (SR) and role player Hunter Cattoor (JR). He also gets back a couple of talented SO’s from last year’s class is David N’Guessan (SO) and Darius Maddox (SO) who were well regarded coming in and will get a chance to grow into a larger role after a year of development. This is a solid core for Young to continue to build with, and having All-ACC Aluma back is huge. They get their best 3-point shooters back in Alleyne and Cattoor and have promising young talent to develop. They should expect an even better season to come.
Young has brought in a couple pieces to compliment his returning core, with the most notable newcomer being former Wofford G and All-Southern selection Storm Murphy (SR). Murphy has been an absolute stud for Wofford and has played for Young and alongside Aluma during his time there. He averaged nearly 18 ppg and 4 apg last year and is a 42% career shooter from deep. This is a huge addition and he should come in and run the show at the point with his old teammate inside. The other transfer is athletic big Lynn Kidd (SO) who was #110 in last year’s class but barely played at Clemson. His upside is his athletic ability but he also has potential to develop as a shooter and become a stretch big with huge defensive upside. Down the road he could explode as a really great player if he puts the time in, and this season will look to serve as a backup inside behind Aluma, Mutts and N’Guessan. Freshman CG Sean Pedulla (#136) also comes to campus looking to play right away, and they’ll need him for depth behind this experienced backcourt. He had a video go viral on Twitter of him dropping 31 and looking like a young Jimmer Fredette, and has risen up draft boards at the last minute. He is an elite shooter and athletic enough, and crafty enough to create space and get his shot off. He should get time in the backcourt as a reserve right away and could become an All-Conference player down the road. The last newcomer is F Jalen Haynes (NR), who is not a major recruit on paper but Young throughout his coaching career has had success developing under recruited guys. He’s 6’8” with a strong build so you’d have to think he’ll redshirt but down the road look for his name to re-appear as a contributor for the Hokies.
The starting lineup of Murphy, Alleyne, Cattoor, Mutts and Aluma is as solid as solid can be. Aluma represents the type of All-Conference player inside you need to elevate a program. Around him they have 3 backcourt players who are 40%+ shooters from outside plus Mutts who is a force on the glass and a developing shooter. The issue with the Hokies will be rebounding, as they’re undersized, as well as depth. The depth is concerning due to the inexperience, with Maddox, N’Guessan, Kidd and Pedulla likely filling out the rotation but having very little playing time at this level. Inside they at time abused on the glass, especially by larger teams like UNC. They do a good job of gang rebounding and crashing the glass from all 5 positions, that just limits their transition opportunities, hence the 298th pace ranking. The starters will be asked to play a ton of minutes, but that won’t look much different from a year ago when Young played only 7-8 guys in big games, plus the reserves should come along as the season progresses. I look for Young to continue to elevate this program and make another appearance in the big dance as they will once again beat up on the bad teams in the ACC. What gives me hope is the combination of outside shooting and Aluma as a go-to playmaker, and that combination will provide for some upsets and maybe a surprise finish for the Hokies this season.