Hokie Hoops: The Offseason Part 1
Following a disappointing loss to Florida in first round of the NCAA Tournament, Mike Young and his staff will now turn their attention to filling out the roster for the future. Make no mistake, Virginia Tech is ahead of schedule. No one believed that the Hokies would be a tournament team in year 2 of the Mike Young Era, yet here we are. Now the challenge becomes maintaining this success, and building on it. Before we dive into what I believe are the key areas that need to be addressed, let’s take a look at the current roster construction.
The way things currently sit, there could be a lot of mouths to feed in 2022. Even after factoring in the departures of Jalen Cone, Joe Bamisile, and (probably) Wabissa Bede, there are currently 6 guards on the roster that could earn playing time. The way I see it, the hierarchy of playing time and minutes looks something like this
- Tyrece Radford
- Naheim Alleyne
- Storm Murphy
- Hunter Cattoor
- Darius Maddox
- Sean Pedulla
At the very least, I can see the first 5 on this list playing a legitimate role in the 2022 rotation, with the potential for Pedulla to sneak in some minutes as well. Mike Young has plenty of talented guards at his disposal moving forward.
At the moment, this group consists of a lot more questions than answers. Factor in the likelihood of a transfer portal addition, and it gets even murkier. I’ll try to break it down into the “Knowns” and the “Who knows?”
The “Knowns” are pretty simply. Keve Aluma was an absolute joy to watch in 2021 and I think he is just getting started. His ability to score around the rim with soft hands and fantastic footwork makes him an incredibly difficult guy to check. He had trouble dealing with guys with significant strength advantages, but another year in the weight room should ease some of those difficulties. I also look for him to improve his 3 point shooting and passing heading into next season.
The other member of this group is Justyn Mutts. I was very excited about Mutts heading into the season and he did not disappoint. As the year went on he just kept getting more acclimated to ACC ball and by seasons end was an absolute problem for teams. His unique combination of speed and deceptive size and strength create a lot of issues for both bigger and smaller defenders. I think he will continue to get better from beyond the arc and make life very difficult for opposing defenses.
And now for the “Who Knows?” This group really consists of 2 guys, David N’Guessan, and John Ojiako.
David N’Guessan ended up being the most productive member of a very talented freshman class. The 6’9 forward finished his first season in Blacksburg averaging 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds, while playing about 10 minutes per game. While this is obviously a very small sample size, I was pretty impressed with N’Guessan when he was on the floor. He has a unique ability to be in the right spot around the rim, both to receive a pass or grab a rebound. His biggest issue in his freshman campaign was clearly his lack of size and strength. A full offseason with strength coach Dave Jackson will do wonders for this talented freshman.
The last member of this group is John Ojiako. At 6’10, 245 pounds, Ojiako is an absolute unit. Unfortunately due to injury, Big John missed a lot of valuable developmental time and barely played in 2021. Hopefully some serious time in the gym this offseason will catapult Big John into a very serviceable big man off the bench for Mike Young.