Rejoice. College basketball season opens Monday. The ACC has a full slate of games on the schedule, and the Virginia Tech Hokies open against Delaware State.
How good will the Hokies be this season? According to the ACC media, the Hokies were picked seventh in the ACC. They did receive one first-place vote. North Carolina was the overwhelming favorite with Duke and Virginia coming in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the preseason ACC poll.
While we can argue with where the Hokies are predicted, it’s important to note that ACC is loaded again in 2022-23.
It’s no surprise that North Carolina, Duke and Virginia are picked as the top three teams in the ACC. Duke and UNC each made the Final Four last season, and the Cavaliers return everyone and have some talented newcomers.
There is a lot of optimism surrounding the Virginia Tech Hokies and head coach Mike Young. After all, the Hokies are defending ACC champions. That magical run in Brooklyn where the Hokies won four in a row, including defeating the top three seeds in the ACC Tournament, and double-digit wins over UNC and Duke, will always be remembered fondly.
What can the Hokies do for an encore?
Here is our preview of the 2022-23 Virginia Tech Hokies men’s basketball season.
- G: 0 Hunter Cattoor, Sr., 6’3”, 200, Orlando, Fla.
- G: 1 Rodney Rice, Fr., 6’4”, 195, Clinton, Md.
- G: 2 Michael [M.J.] Collins Jr., Fr., 6’4”, 190, Clover, S,C,
- G: 3 Sean Pedulla, So., 6’1”, 195, Edmond, Okla.
- F: 4 Darren Buchanan Jr., Fr., 6’7”, 235, Washington, D.C.
- C: 5 Patrick Wessler, Fr., 7’0”, 245, Matthews, N.C.
- G: 10 Camden Johnson, So., 6’1”, 185, Waxhaw, N.C.
- F: 11 John Camden, R-Fr., 6’8”, 215, Downingtown, Penn.
- G: 13 Darius Maddox, Jr., 6’5”, 180, Bowie, Md.
- G: 14 Owyn Dawyot, Fr., Fr., 6’2”, 190, Roanoke, Va.
- C: 15 Lynn Kidd, Jr., 6’10”, 235, Gainesville, Fla.
- F: 21 Grant Basile, Gr., 6’9”, 235, Pewaukee, Wisc.
- F: 25 Justyn Mutts, Sr., 6’7”, 220, Millville, N.J.
- G: 33 Michael Ward, Fr., 6’2”, 175, Bethesda, Md.
- F: 34 Mylyjael Poteat, Jr., 6’9”, 265, Reidsville, N.C.
- Head coach: Mike Young
- Associate head coach: Mike Jones
- Assistant coach: Christian Webster
- Assistant coach: Kevin Giltner
- F Keve Aluma
- G Storm Murphy
- G Nahiem Alleyne
- F David N’Guessan
- F John Ojiako
Of the departures, Aluma is the one that stings the most. A two-time All-ACC performer, Aluma was a terrific player for the Hokies who dominated in the low post. Aluma was also a good rebounder and defender. The Hokies hope Basile, a Wright State transfer, can fill Aluma’s shoes.
Point guard Storm Murphy brought leadership and toughness to the Hokies last season. While he struggled early in the season, he appeared to get more comfortable in January, which coincided with Tech’s outstanding run throughout the final three months of the season.
Alleyne was a streaky player. When he was on, he could carry the Hokies. Unfortunately, he really struggled last season and opted to transfer. The Hokies shouldn’t miss Alleyne too badly because of the depth they’ve added in the backcourt.
N’Guessan had a lot of potential but didn’t see a clear path to starting. Mutts’ return to Blacksburg ensured that N’Guessan would be playing elsewhere.
- Rodney Rice
- John Camden
- Grant Basile
- M.J. Collins
- Patrick Wessler
- Mylyjael Poteat
- Darren Buchanan
The Hokies bring in some talented newcomers. Basile averaged 18 points and nine rebounds per game last season. Head coach Mike Young is counting on Basile to replace Aluma, but there will be an adjustment period. The Hokies hope Basile gets accustomed to his new surroundings over the first two months before ACC play begins in full in January.
Rice is one of the top recruits to ever come to Virginia Tech. He can play both guard spots and is a big-time scorer. Due to Virginia Tech’s depth in the backcourt, he may not start immediately, but he will be heavily featured.
Collins is a talented wing who can shoot the ball. Much like Buchanan, Collins is a bit of an underrated recruit. The Hokies may not need Collins to contribute significantly this season. Buchanan has size and power and is a bit of a late bloomer. The Hokies may have stolen him late in the recruiting process. The 2022 Washington D.C. player of the year, Buchanan could give Young some early minutes if he adapts to Young’s defense.
Camden is a former four-star recruit at Memphis. He has a high ceiling. He is known as a good outside shooter, something that made him attractive to the Hokies. Young was high on Camden coming out of high school, but he chose Memphis. When he announced he was leaving Memphis, he remembered that relationship with Young, choosing the Hokies over LSU.
Wessler is a 7-footer who may not play a huge role this season, but he has intriguing skills around the basket.
Poteat adds tremendous size to the bench. The Hokies hope he can bring rebounding and toughness off the bench immediately.
- F Justyn Mutts
- F Grant Basile
- G Hunter Cattoor
- G Darius Maddox
- G Sean Pedulla
This may not be Young’s starting five — and it could change frequently. A lot of this depends on Rice’s development and how Camden fits in.
Young and Hokie Nation wanted to celebrate when Mutts announced he was returning to Blacksburg. He will be in his sixth college season — and third in Blacksburg. Mutts is a contender to be named ACC player of the year. Sure, there are a lot of incoming freshmen more talented than Mutts, but Mutts is the veteran who does everything well. He energizes Cassell Coliseum with a terrific defensive play or a dunk. He is a talented passer who is solid in all areas of his game.
If Basile can come close to his numbers from Wright State, the Hokies will be in terrific shape. There is a step up in competition, so that will be a concern. Basile is terrific around the basket and has a nice mid-range game. He has taken more three-pointers in the last two seasons, but that’s not his strength. The Hokies need Basile to play closer to the basket.
Maddox was Tech’s breakout star over the final months of last season. An incredible athlete, Maddox is also a good outside shooter. He brings energy to the defensive end and served in a sixth-man role last season. The Hokies need Maddox to start. He has the potential to be Tech’s top player and an All-ACC player this season. His development was a fun storyline throughout last season.
Cattoor, the ACC Tournament MVP, is another good shooter. He is a bit streaky, but when he’s on, he’s one of the best in college basketball. Cattoor can play both guard spots but is best suited to play off the ball. He is another reason fans are excited about this season’s team.
Pedulla is the player every other ACC team is going to hate — and that’s the ultimate compliment. He isn’t the biggest player, but he is a terrific shooter and competitor and isn’t afraid to mix it up on defense. When Young began to play him more last season, Murphy improved and so did the team. Pedulla is tough. He will be an All-ACC guard before his career in Blacksburg is finished. Young is excited about Pedulla running the point for his team in 2022-23.
The Hokies were a difficult team to project for the ACC media. If Aluma had returned for another season, the Hokies would be right up there with North Carolina, Duke and Virginia. Tech may not be as talented overall as those three, but there is plenty of experienced mixed with incoming talent.
For the Hokies to be a top-tier ACC team in 2022-23, several things need to happen. Basile stepping in for Aluma is one. Basile doesn’t need to give Tech 20 and 10 every night, but if he can average around 14 points and seven rebounds per contest, the Hokies would be thrilled.
Mike Young is counting on the development of Maddox and Pedulla. Last year, both players got better the more they played. If that natural progression continues, the Hokies are going to be a top-20 team. Virginia Tech knows what it is going to get from Mutts. Don’t be surprised if he takes on a larger scoring role this season. Mutts is a triple-double threat, which is rare in college basketball.
Cattoor, much like Mutts, is consistent. I would expect his scoring to rise this season, too. Cattoor will be counted upon more as a scorer.
Rice’s development will be the thing to watch. If he is ready for prime time early in the season, that’s terrific news for Young. If he is as good as advertised, does he start? Or does Tech bring him off the bench? Either way, that’s a good problem to have.
If players like Camden, Poteat and Buchanan find roles on Virginia Tech’s bench, it gives Young some intriguing depth. All can fill different roles, taking some stress off Tech’s top six players. The Hokies really hope Camden can provide a scoring presence off the bench as a spot-up shooter. Ideally, Poteat can give you around 12-15 minutes per game, defending the low post and providing a physical presence underneath. The Hokies aren’t counting on Buchanan immediately, but his skill set is intriguing as a first-year player.
The Hokies will be a good team in 2022-23. How good? We shall see. There is a good blend of experience, athleticism and size that Young should mold throughout the year.