Blacksburg – The ACC Champions are back on the field.
The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team, which began pre-season practice on Monday, brought back four of the seven best players from a team that earned the first ACC championship crown in program history.
“That was an amazing experience and accomplishment, but in this business you keep working,” Young said before training on Thursday. “There are more mountains to climb and this league will be even better than it was a year ago.
“But how can there not be some confidence left and good things going in line with what this team did a year ago?”
The Hokies went 23-13 last year, including an ACC semi-final win over North Carolina and an ACC win over Duke.
So Young was having fun outside.
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“I had worse,” Young said.
Tech, who went 11-9 in regular season ACC play, made her second consecutive NCAA Tour appearance.
“We have the makings of another very good basketball team at Virginia Tech. That could definitely translate into another NCAA Championship appearance, but there are a lot of things that have to come together,” Young said.
Virginia Tech should replace a trio of juniors – Keve Aluma center (15.8 dpi), a two-time All-ACC second-team pick who now plays professionally in Japan; point guard Storm Murphy (8.0 ppg), who now plays professionally in Germany; and goalkeeper Nahiem Alleyne (9.6 ppg), who moved to UConn.
“The loss of these three kids is huge, but I feel very comfortable and confident in our ability to tweak the squad if desired and keep moving forward,” Young said.
Young added seven scholarship newcomers to five scholarship returning players.
“We have some miscellaneous pieces,” Young said. “We are deeper than we were in my time here. Where we were very skinny in the front lines a year ago, we were deeper there. We are deeper in the backcourt.
“We are bigger than we have ever been here in all areas.
“I feel good about our roster. … Shall we have more backcourt scoring? I think we do.
“How do we redeem 15 points of Aluma? I don’t know the answer to that yet.”
Tech was selected for seventh place in the ACC by Lindy’s Sports magazine’s college basketball preview. Tech magazine does not include among the six ACC teams that it expects will create the NCAAs.
The Hokies bring back two starters – striker Justyn Mutts (10.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg), a sixth year back in college, and senior ranger Hunter Cattoor (10 golfers), who has been named the most valuable player in the ACC.
Two more points in the starting lineup will undoubtedly go to sophomore point guard Sean Bedola (5.4 dpi) and junior goalkeeper Darius Maddox (6.4 dpi).
Pedulla scored 20 points in a Florida state win last season.
“His body is bigger and stronger. He’s doing some things with the ball – passing, getting to the edge – he couldn’t have done a year ago,” Young said.
Maddox made a three-pointer to hit the bell at the end of overtime in the team’s ACC tournament win over Clemson.
“The lights come on for different people at different times. I think the lights really did come on for him during the second half of playing ACC and definitely in the ACC,” Young said. “We will see a continuation of that level of confidence and that level of assertiveness.”
The Grant Basile Wright State transfer currently has a slight advantage in the competition to replace Aluma as the starting center. Basile, who is 6-foot-9, averaged 18.4 points and 8.5 rebounds as a junior in the fourth year last season.
“Basile’s ability to vacuum the floor and move around has been encouraging,” Young said. Basile will play a lot.
Young expects Basile, who was twice selected for the All-Horizon League, to make a successful jump to the ACC.
“The levels are different,” Young said. “It was a different level for Storm Murphy coming from Wofford here, and this kid had a good year for us. I let everyone run their own race.
Will he repeat these? [Wright State] numbers here? Maybe not. But he will be a very good player for us.”
Another contender at the center is the Mylyjael Poteat rice transport. The Butts averaged 6-9, 265 pounds, 7.7 points as a sophomore last season.
“It’s as big as a house,” Young said. “He has great hands. … He will play.”
The other contender in the center is Lynn Kidd, who played a total of 25 minutes for Tech last season.
“Lin Kidd appeared here as someone we think we can rely on,” Young said.
Memphis transfer John Camden, 6-8 freshman in red shirt, will see action on the wing and in the power forward.
“I love the flexibility we’re allowing with John,” Young said. “He can really shoot the ball. He gave us another kid on the ocean who can push the floor away.”
New Student Guard Rodney Rice will be used on guard post and off guard. 6-4 Rice, who is expected to return to action “soon” from an ankle injury in August, has been named the 45th player in the 2022 high school graduating class by ESPN.
“He can really score,” Young said. “Rodney Rice is really talented and we’re excited to have him in Blacksburg.”
MJ Collins, a 6- to 4-year freshman, has been ranked #22 unguarded in the 2022 graduating class by ESPN.
“He’s more of a threat inside the arc than he is outside the arc now, but he’s a good player to pick up and shoot from the periphery,” Young said.