With the news that fan-favorite Justyn Mutts will return to Blacksburg for one last ride, the Hokies 2023 roster now comprises a perfect blend of youth and experience.
They lost Storm Murphy through graduation and Keve Aluma through the NBA Draft. Nahiem Alleyne and David N’Guessan went into the transfer portal and found news homes in UConn for Alleyne and Kansas State for N’Guessan. Additional depth pieces John Ojiako and Jalen Haynes transferred to George Mason and ETSU respectively.
However, Mike Young has reloaded this roster with a solid recruiting class and some immediate impact transfers. So let’s take a look at what lineups the Hokies will roll out on the Cassell Coliseum hardwood in November.
Projected Starting Lineup:
G- Sean Pedulla
G- Darius Maddox
G- Hunter Cattoor
F- Justyn Mutts
F- Grant Basile
In this potential starting five, Virginia Tech sees two official returning starters. Hunter Cattoor and Justyn Mutts were big parts of the team that became ACC Champions in the 2022 ACC Tournament. Sean Pedulla and Darius Maddox are now upgraded into the starting lineup after being the two key bench pieces for the Hokies last season. Then star transfer Grant Basile slots in as the Aluma replacement at the five.
If this is indeed the starting five for the 2022-23 men’s basketball season, Virginia Tech will be an upper-tier team in the ACC. They’ll run a similar style to last year's team. Slow-paced but analytically sound by generating good looks from three with a strong inside-out attack.
It starts from the backcourt where Sean Pedulla will now take the reins as the primary ball-handler. His change of pace, athletic pop, distributing ability, and shot-making upside will give the Hokies a more reliable point guard on a game-to-game basis.
Surrounding him in the backcourt will be Darius Maddox and Hunter Cattoor. Both are excellent shooting and floor-spacing threats that force defenses to not double team down low as often. Cattoor’s role will be indifferent from what it has been in years past. Come off Young’s designed screening actions for threes, move well and cut without the ball, and take advantage of overplays by attacking closeouts and making the extra pass.
Maddox can do some of the same, but he must have an expanded role in this offense. Too often, Maddox would sit in the corner or on the wing and solely be used as a spot-up threat. He has the talent to do so much more than that as a shot creator. It will be up to Mike Young and the Tech coaching staff to unlock Maddox’s full potential by giving him more reps as an on-ball creator in the offense.
In the frontcourt, it will be more of the same for Virginia Tech. Justyn Mutts will fill the same offensive and defensive role for the Hokies. On offense, Mutts' best trait is his passing and this will continue to be a vital part of Tech’s ball movement. Additionally, Mutts will get his touches in the post and go to work there. It remains to be seen whether Mutts will add in an outside shot in his final college season.
The lone newcomer to Blacksburg Grant Basile will round out the starting five. Offensively his game is pretty similar to Aluma which gives Virginia Tech plenty of continuity. Basile can score in the paint and from beyond the three-point arc. Given Mike Young’s insistence on post-centric offense, it’s likely Basile comes in and leads the team in scoring.
Projected Key Bench Pieces:
G- Rodney Rice
F- John Camden
F/C- Mylyjael Poteat
If I had to guess, these would be the first three players off the bench for the Hokies in 2023. All three are newcomers to Virginia Tech basketball. Two come from the transfer portal and one from Tech’s 2022 recruiting class. Rodney Rice seems like a shoo-in to get minutes right away. He was a high four-star recruit coming out of high school and the Hokies' highest-rated recruit in four years. Rice will be a great shooter and projects to have a lot of upside as a three-level shot creator.
One area in which Virginia Tech falls behind in is true 3&D wings. Cattoor serves that role even if he’s listed as a guard. John Camden could be a huge help to Virginia Tech in this aspect. Based on his high school tape, Camden looks to be a good outside shooter. He also has the chops on defense to guard opposing wings. These tools will serve Camden well, especially in a bench role.
Frontcourt depth was made a major priority and Mike Young delivered on that promise. Mylyjael Poteat comes in from Rice and will be a true big man off the bench for the Hokies. He has a powerful raw size at 6’9 and 260 pounds. Poteat is also light on his feet and his defensive activity and rebounding will log him minutes.
Projected Depth Pieces:
G- MJ Collins
F- Darren Buchanan Jr
C- Patrick Wessler
C- Lynn Kidd
The majority of Tech’s depth will be freshman in 2023. MJ Collins, Darren Buchanan Jr, and Patrick Wessler were all three-star recruits who now come into the development system. Likely, they won’t get an abundance of minutes in year one unless one of them surprises the coaching staff in the pre-season. However, all of them have the potential to be big parts of the future of Virginia Tech men’s hoops.
Collins is a craft combo guard with a nice handle and slashing skills. Buchanan Jr has some eye-popping athleticism. Wessler has defensive capabilities as a rim protector and a nice hook shot out of the low post.