Virginia Tech associate head coach Mike Jones is leaving the Hokies to take an assistant job at Maryland, giving the Hokies a significant opening given the magnitude of this departure.
How will Mike Young look to replace Jones? Well recruiting ties to the DMV seem like a likely priority given how Jones replaced Chester Frazier after Frazier left for Illinois and had been valuable recruiting that region for the Hokies. Christian Webster has some good DMV ties as well but it wouldn't be surprising to see Young also bring in someone else with strong recruiting ties in that region.
Also, it definitely seems reasonable that Tech could look at an assistant known for their defensive acumen given the defensive struggles that the Hokies had this past season.
So with that said, here are some potential candidates who could fit for the Hokies.
Former Mount Saint Mary's, Siena, & George Washington HC Jamion Christian
You will probably hear the name Jamion Christian a decent amount, but Christian is a talented coach who elevated Mount Saint Mary's as a head coach before spending one season at Siena and three up-and-down years at George Washington.
He reached the NCAA Tournament twice during his tenure finishing in the top 2 of his conference in each of his final 2 seasons while sweeping the regular season and conference tournament titles in his fifth season at the helm. Things didn't go great in his three years at George Washington though his best A-10 finish at GW came in his final season there.
Christian has tons of roots in the DMV and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia along with loads of respect from across the sport to where he would make a lot of sense as a top target. He's coached along the I-64 corridor as an assistant at William & Mary and VCU prior to his time at Mount Saint Mary's with his roots being in the Commonwealth as a VA native. Combine that with his time in the DMV as a head coach at Mount Saint Mary's and GW, and the regional recruiting ties fits exactly what the Hokies are probably looking for.
There's also a potential common bond with Mike Young here as Christian started his coaching career as an assistant at Emory & Henry like Young did. While it's unknown if Young or Christian have much of a relationship already, having a common bond like that could be valuable for building that relationship and the potential fit on this staff.
Christian was a rising star before things didn't go so well at George Washington, but he's still a talented coach who would absolutely be worth considering for this role.
Boston College AC Anthony Goins
When Mike Young arrived in Blacksburg, he poached assistants off staffs at Kansas State and Cincinnati so its reasonable to think that he could poach someone else's top assistant. One guy who could make a lot of sense is Boston College assistant Anthony Goins.
Goins has been at Boston College for the two past seasons and has helped the Eagles go from irrelevance to being a respected ACC opponent after having their best season in years. He's primarily worked in the Northeast, but has spent some time elsewhere at Clemson for the two seasons prior to going to BC playing a role in the devlopment of a 2021 NCAA Tournament team at Clemson.
His roots are also in the Mid-Atlantic as someone who was born in Greensboro, NC and grew up in the 757 playing his high school basketball at Oscar Smith HS. While Goins may not have a lot of DMV connections, he could be very useful both in the Northeast given his time at BC, Quinnipiac, Yale, and Dartmouth plus in the Southeast with his roots in VA and NC plus his time at Clemson.
He's proven to be a very good developer of guards as well including guys like Makai Mason on a Yale team that upset Baylor in the NCAA Tournament and Al-Amir Dawes and Nick Honor at Clemson.
Goins has proven to be a quality coach with loads of good experience across the ACC and for other great coaches like James Jones at Yale, and would be a sharp choice for the Hokies.
Miami AHC Bill Courtney
If Mike Young wants to take a big swing for the fences, then maybe he reaches out to Miami associate head coach Bill Courtney.
Courtney has deep roots in the DMV having started as a high school assistant in that region before spending time as an assistant at American and George Mason. He's also a former Seth Greenberg assistant who landed the Cornell head coaching job after spending the 2009-10 season in Blacksburg.
He's proven himself to be a sharp assistant over the years with over a decade of experience coaching in the ACC including plenty of time with Jim Larranaga at Miami and earlier in his career at George Mason. He's proven himself to be a quality coach and recruiter helping Miami land some big time talent out of high school and in the transfer portal.
Now this would be a big swing and seems like an unlikely one that Tech could pull off but if the Hokies could, this would seem like a worthwhile move.
Fordham AHC Tray Woodall
Looking for a rising, young assistant who could be a big time coach at the right hand of Mike Young, then loom no further than Fordham associate head coach Tray Woodall.
Woodall has climbed the ladder fairly quickly and played a big role in helping Keith Urgo turn around Fordham into one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10 this year. Prior to that, he coached and learned one of the most respected mid-major head coaches in the country, St Bonaventure's Mark Schmidt. While at St Bonaventure, the former standout Pittsburgh guard played an important role in the development of guards like Kyle Lofton and would definitely know what it takes to play in the backcourt at a high level in the ACC given his career at Pitt.
Now Woodall is more of a Northeast guy so he doesn't necessarily fit the regional mold that Tech may be wanting to fill, but this also could be a chance for the Hokies to expand their reach up the East Coast given what they already have in the DMV with Christian Webster. Additionally, he's a young rising assistant who could absolutely adapt to learning a new region and recruiting well in that area.
If Tech wants to go for a younger, rising coach from the high mid-majors, then Tray Woodall would be someone worth considering.
Illinois-Chicago HC Luke Yaklich
Put this down in the extremely unlikely and very unconventional but if you want to land a top assistant who could help turn things around defensively, then Luke Yaklich is about as good as it gets on that front.
Yaklich was the right hand for John Beilein at the end of his tenure at Michigan where he became known for being Beilein's defensive ace helping elevate Michigan into one of the Big 10's consistently top programs. He also worked alongside Shaka Smart at Texas for a year before getting the head coaching job at Illinois-Chicago and not only has a great defensive mind himself, but has also worked with another great defensive mind in Smart.
Now his tenure at Illinois-Chicago hasn't gone the best so far as they haven't had a winning season during his 3 years there and he could be headed for the hot seat this year. His salary is also something that Tech could overcome to get him though a buyout would likely be a factor as well.
Yaklich may not have the DMV recruiting ties, but Tech has recruited some in the Rust Belt where he could probably provide a boost. Combine that with his defensive acumen and going for him could be a wise move.
Of course, this would seem very unlikely but if Tech chooses to prioritize getting a defensive ace above all else, then Young should at least give Yaklich a call.
JMU AC Xavier Joyner
James Madison has quietly become one of the best basketball programs in the Sun Belt even as the quality of the league has increased in recent years with Xavier Joyner rising the ranks as JMU's top assistant.
Joyner has proven himself to be a quality assistant during his three years at JMU after spending two seasons at Mount Saint Mary's. He also has loads of ties to the DMV including at the high school level spending a few seasons at Northern Virginia powerhouse Paul VI as an assistant coach and scouting director. He also has been an assistant for the Washington D.C. Nike Team Takeover while he was a high school assistant.
What's undeniable is the fact that Joyner knows the DMV hoops scene very well and has the potential to be a big time recruiter for the Hokies in that region. Given how much Tech has prioritized that, adding Joyner would make a lot of sense though he may not come in as the top assistant with Christian Webster sliding into that top role in this scenario.
If DMV recruiting ties are a heavy priority for this hire, then Joyner would make a lot of sense for the Hokies to consider.
Furman AC Tim Johnson
Only 1 of the 5 assistants that Mike Young has hired during his tenure as Virginia Tech's head coach was an assistant previously for him at Wofford in Kevin Giltner. If Young is going to go down that route, then one guy who would make sense would be Furman assistant Tim Johnson.
Johnson has been at Furman for 4 years and has helped the Paladins become the top program in one of the strongest mid-major conferences in the country. Prior to his time at Furman, Johnson was an assistant at JMU and should have some recruiting ties in the Commonwealth of Virginia and into Northern Virginia.
Johnson played his college basketball at Wofford and got his first full-time assistant gig for the Terriers after spending some time as a grad assistant at Wyoming. Johnson should be able to fit well on a VT staff though like a couple other names on the list, he likely would not be the top assistant upon arrival.
If Mike Young goes to his past assistant tree, then Tim Johnson is a name to keep an eye on.
Bryant AC Chris Cole
One coach who has been linked with the opening is Bryant assistant Chris Cole per Jeff Ermann of Maryland's 247 Sports site.
I won't be surprised if Virginia Tech goes after Bryant assistant Chris Cole, another DMV native, to fill the assistant coach vacancy left by Mike Jones' departure. @ChrisArvin_247— Jeff Ermann (@Jeff_Ermann) April 3, 2023
Cole definitely fits the mold in terms of prioritizing DMV ties as prior to his current five-year stint as an assistant at Bryant, he was a successful high school head coach at Rock Creek Christian Academy in Marlboro, Maryland. He's proven to be a quality assistant for a Bryant program that has a lot of industry respect under the leadership of Jared Grasso who's been linked with plenty of higher mid-major and major conference jobs over the years.
If Tech were to go with Cole, it would likely be a similar shakeup of the staff to a couple other names with Christian Webster likely sliding into the top assistant role and Kevin Giltner moving up the ladder.