Transfers to Watch for Virginia Tech Replacing Justyn Mutts

Transfers to Watch for Virginia Tech Replacing Justyn Mutts
Photo Credit: Liam Sment
Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
Apr 14, 2022

Standout forward Justyn Mutts announced Monday evening that he is declaring for the 2022 NBA Draft. While he is also maintaining his college eligibility for what would be a sixth year in college basketball thanks to the free COVID year, a return does seem to not be that highly likely just as it is for Keve Aluma who Mark Berman of the Roanoke Times reported Tuesday is doing the same as Mutts in entering the draft but maintaining his college eligibility.

Tech is in an interesting situation where David N'Guessan has shown loads of promise and should be ready for a larger role this upcoming season, but probably isn't ready to be a high-level starting PF just yet. Tech also seems to want to give N'Guessan another year of development in a larger role before that with Tech having already reached out to lots of intriguing power forward transfer prospects.

That includes Northern Iowa PF Noah Carter who was set to visit the Hokies this season though that certainly is no longer the case after he committed to Missouri on Tuesday days after visiting them.

With that said, here are three power forward transfer targets to watch for the Hokies.

Wright State's Grant Basile

Wright State power forward Grant Basile has kept things fairly quiet regarding his transfer recruitment to date, but Mark Miller of the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook based in Basile's home state did reveal what a few sources has told him about Basile's recruitment recently.

The trio of Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Iowa State is an interesting one with three schools that all seem to be on the right trajectories after Notre Dame and Iowa State each made their first NCAA Tournament in years while the Hokies won their first ever ACC Tournament title this past season.

That doesn't come as a surprise as Basile was dominant this past season averaging 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 0.9 steals in 32.6 minutes per game. He also was efficient shooting 49.8% from the field including 58.1% from inside the arc and 28.3% from three-point range plus 78.4% from the free-throw line on an average of well over 4 free-throw attempts per game.

He also played well against some of the toughest competition Wright State faced this past season with 21 points against Arizona in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament and a 23-point, 16-rebound double-double in their upset victory at N.C. State.

What may be most significant at this point is the fact that the Hokies are set to host Basile on a visit this weekend as first reported by Chris Arvin of 247 Sports' VT Scoop. There are plenty of transfer recruitments that end up being decided on the first visit as Tech experienced with Noah Carter going to Missouri, and Tech getting the first visit for Basile presents a significant opportunity.

The Hokies are in a strong position for Basile who certainly is one of their top transfer targets, and have a great opportunity to make a big move or even close it out this weekend.

Ohio's Ben Vander Plas

Virginia Tech's involvement in the transfer recruitment of Ohio standout Ben Vander Plas seemed likely given how assistant Kevin Giltner had followed Vander Plas and some of his family on Twitter. Public confirmation happened recently of that with the Hokies among a select group under consideration for the talented big man.

The Hokies are joined by in-state rivals UVA plus Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa State in what is a very exclusive group for the MAC standout. Vander Plas is a Wisconsin native which gives the Badgers an edge in that area along with other western Midwestern schools like Illinois and Iowa State though grad transfers like Vander Plas tend to not have proximity to home as a major factor though that varies from recruit to recruit.

There's no doubt that Vander Plas could be a quality ACC starter after putting up impressive numbers for the Bobcats during his four years there including the past three as a starter. He's a three-time All-MAC honoree which is quite good and shows loads of consistency and a player ready for a higher level while he also handled a large load well averaging 35.3 minutes while putting up 14.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game plus shooting 45.7% from the field including 33.8% from three-point range and 72.5% from the free-throw line.

Vander Plas would also be a very good fit at the four for the Hokies as someone who is a very versatile scorer and can be an effective passer just like Justyn Mutts has been over the past two seasons.

Tech is likely one of the underdogs in this transfer recruitment, but we've seen plenty of surprises before in the transfer portal and the Hokies undoubtedly give Vander Plas as good of an opportunity as any.

Southeastern Louisiana's Gus Okafor

Gus Okafor may not be viewed as highly as other talented forwards but the Southeastern Louisiana standout who earned First Team All-Southland honors this past season is definitely a name to watch.

Okafor may not be as big at 6'6'' but he definitely has proven to be a productive forward averaging 14.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 steals in 30.8 minutes per game this past season while shooting 42% from the field including 32.6% from three-point range plus 79.3% from the free-throw line on over 4 free-throw attempts per game.

Tech has made contact with Okafor via assistant Kevin Giltner as well with N.C. State, Arkansas, Butler, DePaul, VCU, Loyola-Chicago, and others also having shown interest in Okafor. Things have been fairly quiet on the Okafor transfer recruitment front since then, but he would be an intriguing fit who could also play some at the 3 and could be a target regardless of whether Justyn Mutts stays in the NBA Draft or returns for one more season at Virginia Tech.

Okafor is a Baltimore native and has told us previously that there is some appeal in being closer to home though it won't be a decisive factor for him in his considerations. He also started out his collegiate career at Longwood before transferring at one season there so playing in VA would be familiar territory in some ways.

Gus Okafor may not be as high profile in the transfer market as Grant Basile or Ben Vander Plas, but he's a proven, productive player who could be a solid fit for the Hokies regardless of whether Justyn Mutts stays or leaves.

Loyola (NAIA)'s Zach Wrightsil

Seeing an NAIA player on this list may seem like a red flag to some yet Zach Wrightsil isn't any NAIA player, but might arguably be the best player who didn't play Division I basketball this past season. The 6'7'' Wrightsil was a star for Loyola (in New Orleans) this past season averaging 18.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.1 steals, and 0.8 blocks on his way to leading Loyola to an NAIA national title while earning NAIA Player of the Year honors.

Unsurprisingly, that has led to Wrightsil receiving plenty of major conference interest including some from the Hokies.

That's a pretty good group of schools with four NCAA Tournament teams who received 11 seeds or better in VT, Marquette, TCU, and Loyola-Chicago. Marquette in particular is a major contender for Wrightsil and may be the favorite at the moment with Wrightsil set to visit the Golden Eagles this week on April 14th according to Jon Rothstein.

Like Okafor above, Wrightsil could fit at the 3 as well for the Hokies as a bigger wing and may be a target regardless though his lack of production shooting from three-point range makes that a little more difficult.

Wrightsil is definitely a name to keep an eye on though given that Marquette is the only known visit at the moment, the Golden Eagles appear to be the clear frontrunners currently.