Virginia Tech Preseason Basketball Preview, Part 3: Position Breakdown


In Part 3 of Tech Sideline’s Virginia Tech Basketball preseason preview, we break down the Hokies’ 2021-22 roster. (Jon Fleming)

At the end of August, I reviewed the Virginia Tech men’s basketball non-conference schedule for the 2021-22 season and provided analysis for each opponent.

On Thursday October 28 and Friday October 29, I posted parts one and two of our Hokies four-game preseason preview. The first part looked at ACC AM schools, while the second part analyzed New Zealand.

This is part three, where we’ll dive into the Virginia Tech roster for the season and break down the Hokies position by position. Later, Chris Coleman will have a column (part four) following the first three parts of our preview.

The Hokies open their season on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at Cassell Coliseum vs. Maine. It’s a 8 p.m. ET prediction on ACC Network Extra, and it follows the 5 p.m. women’s basketball game against Davidson. Full schedule: link.

Here is a table with the full roster of Virginia Tech men’s basketball for the 2021-22 season:

# name Pos. Ht. weight. To classify
0 Cat hunter g 6-3 200 Jr.
1 David N’Guessan F 6-9 205 So.
3 Sean Pedule g 6-1 190 Fr.
4 Nahiem Alleyne g 6-4 195 Jr.
5 Storm Murphy g 6-1 185 Gr.
ten Camden johnson g 6-1 175 Fr.
11 Jalen haynes F 6-8 250 Fr.
13 Darius Maddox g 6-5 185 So.
14 Ben Varga g 5-10 170 Fr.
15 Lynn kidd VS 6-10 240 So.
21 John Ojiako VS 6-10 245 Jr.
22 Keve Aluma F 6-9 235 rSr.
25 Justyn mutts F 6-7 230 rSr.

We will proceed item by item, starting with the leader.

Guard point

For the first time in five seasons, Wabissa Bede is no longer a leader at Virginia Tech. He took over from Justin Robinson in 2019-20 and played in the Mike Young system for two years, but decided to leave for Texas A&M ahead of this season and join Buzz Williams’ staff as a program assistant.

With Bede leaving, Young and his team hit the transfer portal, and boy, they hit the jackpot.

The Hokies added Storm Murphy, a 6-0 senior graduate from Wofford. Former All-SoCon first-team performer Murphy, alongside technical forward Keve Aluma, helped transport the Terriers to the NCAA tournament in Young’s final season at Spartanburg.

Young has a veteran point guard in Murphy (center) and a young talent in Pedulla (right). (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Now he’s at Blacksburg, and he averaged 17.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds last year. It’s very different from what Tech has been used to over the past two seasons with Bede pointing in Young’s system. Bede was careful and did not return the ball, but was an offensive handicap.

Murphy has great vision and can find open teammates, but he can score too. With him on the ground, opponents must defend the Five Hokies, which makes Virginia Tech even more dangerous.

“He [Murphy] is a great scorer, but at the same time, he’ll see things that no one else on the pitch sees and he’ll get there, ”said tech forward Justyn Mutts. “Playing with a guy like that makes everyone work so much harder, it makes everyone want to go so much harder because you know opportunities are going to arise.”

The Middleton, WI native is back in the Mike Young system, the pattern he originally played in Wofford, and he has a plethora of away options.

Behind him is Sean Pedulla, a 6-1 freshman from Edmond, OK. A three-star goalie and the No. 2 player in Oklahoma state, Young said Pedulla hasn’t really rested and learned the ropes. He is competing with Murphy and wants to be involved.

“Sean Pedulla is going to play,” Young said in early October. “He adheres to the things that we value. … He’s a tough kid, he can take a shot, he doesn’t return the ball.

Tech also has the option of Hunter Cattoor as a point guard, if required. He spent time there last year to give Bede a break, but he’s in better shape on the wing. With Murphy’s experience and Pedulla’s depth, these two should spend the majority of minutes at one.

Wing

Hunter Cattoor (6-3, Jr.) and Nahiem Alleyne (6-4, Jr.) were part of Mike Young’s first four-man recruiting class at Virginia Tech. John Ojiako is still at Virginia Tech, but struggled with an injury, while Jalen Cone was transferred to northern Arizona during the offseason.

It’s crazy to think that Cattoor and Alleyne are already third year players under Mike Young at Virginia Tech. (Ivan Morozov)

Cattoor and Alleyne have improved considerably, however. Both played important minutes as freshmen in 2019-20, and both played solid roles on last year’s NCAA tournament squad. Alleyne started 21 of Tech’s 22 games last season, while Cattoor played in all games but started only two.

The duo now have two years of experience under their belt, which is scary. Here are their stats from last season:

Alleyne: 11.1 points per game, 204 points overall (second on team), 40.8% out of three
Cattoor: 8.5 points per game, 187 points overall (fifth on team), 43.3% out of three

“Alleyne and Cattoor came here at a time when I had no choice but to play them,” Young said. “And now, as a third year guy, these guys have been playing ball a lot. … It was painful sometimes to go through that, but the experience and reps that these guys had as youngsters, and now, seeing them as third year guys, they’re doing really, really well.

Behind them there is depth. Darius Maddox (6-5, So.) performed very well, while David N’Guessan (6-9, So.) should also spend some time on the wing.

Young told media that N’Guessan looked like the top player in Virginia Tech’s first five practices in early October, and said he can play both three and four. As for Maddox, Young said he’s had a great summer and will help the Hokies.

“David really worked on his perimeter game,” Young said. “He’s worked and he’s become a damn good perimeter shooter, and that will be part of his game. He will have the ability, the opportunity to shoot that shot. Maddox had a bit of a numbers crunch last year but had a great summer and I’m counting on him to help us win games.

The big ones

Keve Aluma (6-9, r-Sr.) And Justyn Mutts (6-7, Gr.) Both return this season, and the Hokies have more depth than ever in the four and five this year.

John Ojiako (6-10, Jr.), Lynn Kidd (6-10, So., Clemson transfer) and Jalen Haynes (6-8, Fr.) give Virginia Tech a lot of size in the first zone. Add N’Guessan, who has to play four, and it’s a busy group.

Aluma won All-ACC preseason honors and was second for ACC preseason player of the year, behind Duke’s Paolo Banchero. He has a serious argument for being the best player in the league, and as Young said, he’s in the best form he’s ever had.

“I remember five years ago as slightly overweight, shy, uncertain and seeing it now… it looks like a million bucks,” Young said. “He could shoot over 40% out of three this year. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was doing around 40-55 from three, it shoots just as well. To see, in terms of balance, it is pleasant to train. He’s awesome, I’m so proud of him and grateful for the opportunity to train him for another year.

Justyn Mutts is not left out either. He has strong aspirations to make the conference’s All-Defense squad at the end of the season, and Young has called him a difference maker. Alongside Aluma, he provides a solid one-two. He can also pull it from outside.

Keve Aluma (22) and Justyn Mutts have a ton of depth behind them this season. (Matt Gentry / The Roanoke Times)

Then there are the other four. Ojiako has been at Blacksburg for a few seasons, while Kidd has transferred from Clemson. Haynes is a freshman and N’Guessan is an experienced second year student.

“John [Ojiako] going to play, ”Young said. “He plays basketball well. He’s as big as a house, he’s strong. He has been very impressive in our training and if we were to play today he would support Aluma and I would feel very comfortable with that. He manages our affairs well. Large body, the ability to block shots has improved, so he will play.

“Jalen Haynes is tall, lost a lot of weight, is really good with the ball, left-hander,” Young said. “Lynn Kidd did it to Clemson in a really good program.”

Next

The technology has abundant depth. He also has experience and will likely start three fifth-year seniors and two third-year players.

The non-conference schedule is also tough, possibly the most competitive on the list of conferences the Hokies have played since joining the ACC.

What is the ceiling for this team? Chris Coleman will have more in his column later this week.

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