The Atlantic Coast Conference revealed their highly anticipated awards for the 2020-21 season Monday morning, naming Mike Young, Keve Aluma and Tyrece Radford in their selections.
The popcorn man himself was bestowed with ACC Coach of the Year honors after leading a group projected to finish 11th to the third seed, finishing 9-4 (two games out of the top spot) and defeating eventual champions Virginia in the process. This tied the Hokies’ highest finish in league play and secured them their first double-bye in the postseason tournament.
Mike Young was brought over from Wofford after serving a 30-year tenure, 13 as an assistant and 17 as the head coach. Young is a Radford, Virginia native and never fails to mention driving over to Cassell as a youth to immerse himself in Virginia Tech basketball.
Although he has officially replaced Seth Greenberg as the most recent VT member to garner Coach of the Year status, Young will not feel that the job is done.
The Hokies’ distinguished leader reached the NCAA tournament five times as a head coach at Wofford and was brought to Virginia Tech with hopes of revitalizing a rebuilding program with his high-flying offensive approach.
Young’s first season at 16-16 went even better than some thought it would, though his squad was punished by ACC powerhouses due to their lack of size and strength inside.
This time around, he found the balance. Virginia Tech launched into the national spotlight after defeating #3 Villanova in their second game of the season, marking the first of four Hokie victories over top 25 opposition. Young’s crew would go undefeated against ranked competition throughout the campaign.
Keve Aluma joined his coach in the regular season nominations, earning himself a spot on the all-ACC second team. The competition for the first and second team was fierce for the forwards as a star-studded cast including Georgia Tech’s Moses Wright, Duke’s Matthew Hurt, Pittsburgh’s Justin Champagnie and Virginia’s Sam Hauser and Jay Huff were all in with a shot at Player of the Year status.
Aluma averaged 15.9 points, 8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 blocks on 50% shooting this season, tremendously increasing his career averages in almost every major statistical category.
Coming over from Wofford with Mike Young, expectations for the junior forward were not set at the high level that they currently are. Aluma had failed to average more than six points a game and had never made a three-pointer. Clearly, Aluma’s hard work in the offseason added different dimensions to his player profile.
Some of Aluma’s most memorable performances include a 30-point explosion against Pittsburgh four days after he dropped 29 on #8 UVA, 14 rebounds against Georgia Tech and 5-5 three-point shooting against Wake Forest.
The most damning evidence in respect to Aluma’s dominance are his numbers against the top 25: in four games, the Hokies' star posted averages of 20.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 58.3% field goal shooting. The big man has a habit of living up to the moment and will be his team’s focal point in the postseason chapter of ACC basketball.
Sophomore guard Tyrece Radford joined his teammate on the awards list, receiving an all-ACC honorable mention after maintaining an 11.4-point, 6.1 rebound standard throughout the season.
Despite missing four games due to a mid-season suspension, Radford has served as the team’s identity in moments of crisis. Whether it was his late-game takeover against #19 Duke or his relentless pursuit on the glass, Radford’s toughness and commitment keep every game in a favorable position for his squad.
Mike Young’s outfit will find themselves back in action Thursday at 9 p.m. in the third round of the ACC tournament, taking on the winner of sixth-seed North Carolina and either eleventh-seed Notre Dame or fourteenth-seed Wake Forest.