Tech Talk Live Notes: Justyn Mutts And Mike Young

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Virginia Tech, Justyn Mutts
Justyn Mutts has had a big impact for the Hokies. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Justyn Mutts

On his journey to Virginia Tech…

It was definitely tough having to go through the whole recruiting process over the phone or through visits on Zoom. Just being able to develop genuine relationships with Coach Young and Coach Frazier and Coach Webster, I thought that was something that made the transition easier for me. I showed up and it felt like home.

On the biggest adjustment he’s had to make…

Definitely the level of play. Being in the ACC, you have to bring your ‘A’ Game every night or someone else is going to take the title or the ranking. You have to be on your game every night, not just for yourself, but for your teammates as well.

On his goals academically…

My dad’s favorite thing to say is that I could leave here as ‘Dr. J.’ I don’t know what the future is going to hold, but I value of education and the ability to learn as much as possible. Psychology was something that was really interesting to me, so my classes weren’t really a challenge because it was what I wanted to learn. I didn’t mind going to class and taking in all of that knowledge because I feel like they won’t just benefit myself, but maybe the youth of America one day.

That’s ultimately the goal. I think school is very valuable, and I don’t take it for granted, especially being on a full scholarship and being able to earn a degree. I know that’s not something to take lightly. I’m proud of that, so I try to make the most of it.

On his goals after basketball…

I want to be some sort of mentor to kids. I feel like I have a lot of knowledge that could help them grow in a lot of different areas and become a better version of themselves. Why not use the experiences that I’ve had and what I’ve been through to benefit them as much as possible? I feel like it’s a waste if you don’t spread that knowledge and use it for good. What good is it for me to keep all of this information to myself when I could spread it to the world and make it a better place?

On having six siblings… 

I’ve got a pretty close-knit family; I already have a niece and a nephew as well. Just being able to have that strong foundation gives you the confidence to go out into the world and know who you are as a person. It helps with being able to be on a team and knowing your role. Not just how to bring out your best, but how to help others bring out their best. That helps as a team and also helps as a family.

On playing against Duke…

You’re playing a legend. Being able to beat Duke and Villanova and playing these legendary schools with historic backgrounds, it makes you want to keep going harder. It makes us recognize how great we can be as a team and how far we could go. Being in the same gym as a legend like Coach K, it really was surreal to look over and see him on the other bench. He knows the game and knows what he’s doing, but being able to play for such a great coach like Coach Young, I feel like that’s the biggest blessing right there.

On playing against Villanova…

It was cool. We were in that gym and there were no fans, it was just us playing the game. At the end of the day, after you get past the fact that they have a big name on their jersey, you really are just playing a game against another team. At the end of the day, it’s about who’s more prepared.

At the beginning of overtime, I felt like I just made a huge mistake to end the game, so I felt like I needed to help propel us with a little bit of something. We have a lot of good players, and we made enough plays to win the game. Playing against more big teams in the ACC, I feel like we have the team to make a big statement this year. I think they had us ranked 14th in the preseason, and a lot of guys on the team took that as very disrespectful. We’re just trying to prove people wrong one game at a time.

On settling into his role next to Keve Aluma…

I think a big role of mine is to bring the energy and lift up my teammates. When somebody is open, I try to pass the ball as well as possible and take care of it. I felt like I got off to a pretty slow start to the season, but my teammates kept pushing me and my coaches never backed off and kept pushing me to be my greatest. I’m just trying to maximize my potential as a player one day, one game and one practice at a time.

On what gives him the biggest thrill during a game…

I’ll say getting an assist. That one assist to Keve at the end of the Duke game was a big one and gave us a ton of momentum. At that time, I thought that was exactly what we needed. This season, I’ve really liked shooting the three ball, too. That’s something that I’ve never really been allowed to [do]. Getting here over the summer and putting in all of that work and having coaches that believe in me, it means a lot to me to show-off the work that I’ve put in.

On his love for old-school music…

I wouldn’t say I’m old school, but I appreciate all types of music. I even enjoy a little country music. We had Chicken Fried on this morning and that song turns me up. I was throwing on some crazy weight and trying to do anything. I just enjoy music as an artform. I just appreciate it.

Mike Young, Virginia Tech
Mike Young’s team is 10-2. (Johnnie Izquierdo)

Mike Young

On Justyn Mutts…

He’s a unique young man. He’s really smart and put-together. He’s added a great deal to this team. He’s a dynamic athlete. He is helping our team on both ends of the floor, and he’s an intelligent basketball player. He really worked on his game when he was down here over the summer. He’s never been allowed to shoot very much from the perimeter, and I’ve given him that opportunity. I thought he got too married to that part of it, so I had to explain to him that his best work comes around the basket with offensive rebounding, and he’s a very a good passer.

From the second half of Louisville through the Notre Dame game and Tuesday against Duke, I thought he was more of the player that he truly is. He made a three against Duke in the first half and may have made a couple against Notre Dame. His work on the glass and his work against Laszewski in the Notre Dame game, he also did a good job on Hurt. I would’ve played him more on Hurt, but he picked up a few fouls and we wanted to have either Keve or Justyn on him because he’s such a dynamic player. We put whoever had the least amount of fouls on him, and that happened to be Keve for the majority of the night. He’s been terrific and I’m thrilled that he’s such a big part of our program.

On the last three halves the team has played…

I didn’t think we were bad in the first half against Notre Dame, but we could have guarded a little better. Then to come back and really put the clamps on them in the second half and limit them to only two made field goals. That team can strip the net with several guys, so that was impressive. To begin the Duke game with such a level of energy and toughness was exciting. We were up 18 in the first half. It wasn’t a matter of us playing bad basketball, but Duke made a run at us and good teams will do that. We got the ship steadied after they got it to one point. We bounced it back out there. We need to win those home games. Winning over Notre Dame is always a good win, and certainly beating the Blue Devils is a great win as well.

On what the next steps are for the team…

We need to take it day-by-day and just have a laser focus on practice tomorrow and the Wake Forest game on Sunday. You start looking ahead with, ‘If we do this or that,’ I just think bad things happen. We need to just stay where we are on January 14. In a year such as this, how many more games are we going to play? I hope 15, but it could be ten. We don’t know.

Every day is a blessing, and I think we have an opportunity to come back over here tomorrow and begin our preparation for Wake Forest. So, help me goodness, that’s the only thing that matters to me with regards to our basketball program. I hope we can make the trip down 77 and compete against the Demon Deacons on Sunday night and try to win another ballgame.

On Hunter Cattoor…

I don’t know what football is like, but there are probably a lot of parallels between the sports. I always think that the biggest jump in a person’s game is between his freshman and sophomore year. I thought Hunter had a darn good freshman year for us and played a lot of basketball, but those guys that care and it means a lot to are going to take that year and learn from it. Where are my deficiencies? What do I need to do to get better?

He had to get his footspeed better and do a better job of keeping people in front of him. His defense has really improved, and he can really shoot the basketball. I thought, when I recruited him, that he was more of a point than a two. After seeing him for a few years, he’s more of a two-guard than a point, but out of necessity, we’ll move him back there. I think he’s done an extraordinary job through however many games he’s been back there.

We come off of the bench with Hunter and Jalen Cone for a little bit more offensive pop along with Mutts and Aluma, and it might be Radford there. Darius Maddox is going to start playing more for us, he’s practicing well for us. He’s only playing three, four, five minutes for us right now, but I go back and watch those minutes very carefully and he’s helping our team. Not so much by scoring the ball, but he’s responsible defensively and he moves the ball on offense. Back to Hunter, I’m really proud of him and he’s just doing a whale of a job for this team.

On Tyrece Radford…

We were watching the Duke game as a staff and I said that he reminds me of the old cartoon roadrunner. There’s a puff of smoke off of his rear-end. He’s going 100 miles per hour past like seven people, Hokies and Blue Devils, as he goes to the other end of the floor. That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your defense and it’s really hard to get set on that end. Now the floor is broken, and they’re not connected on that end. He’s making the right play, whether that is getting all the way to the rim or pitching it to the perimeter for Cone. It’s hard for the defense to catch up to the ball and catch up to your offense once all of that happens. He’s as unique as anybody I’ve coached, and what a great year he is having.

He’s a special human being and a special basketball player. He’s just different. I don’t know how else to describe him. He’s 6’1” or 6’2” and we’re playing him against Wendell Moore and Dane Goodwin. We’re playing him against bigger guys, and he’s just tough. He’s a terrific basketball player and certainly adds a great deal to our unit.

On Wake Forest…

I look across the country, and we’re one of very few teams that have played [12] games. We are fortunate to get to this point. I watched them last night more as a fan than really taking a look at them under the microscope. I’ll start that tonight, but I wanted to take Wednesday and most of today to look at our stuff and where we are exactly.

I do know this, whatever [Steve Forbes] is doing will be done the right way. They’ll play the right way. They’ll guard you and scratch and claw as they did last night. That was a two-point game, and they kind of hit a wall against Louisville at home. They had a really good look at Duke last week. They were up 12 against UVA and ended up losing that game by 10 or 12. Like every other ACC game, we’re going to have to go down there and play our best basketball. If we do, we’ll be fine, but if we don’t, we’ll get our ears clipped.

I have great faith in our team, we’re in a good place, and we feel good about ourselves. It’s a daily grind, though. You’re forced to play quality ball daily, and I feel certain we’ll do that.

On Carter Whitt…

I think the kid is doing a nice job. I don’t blame Steve for throwing him out there, and I don’t blame Carter for taking that step after he graduated from high school. Guys get the year back, so you’re not losing anything. He’ll have a good freshman year, I’m certain, and he’ll be much better prepared to help that team win a lot of games next year.

I saw him a little bit in the Duke game, a little bit of the Georgia Tech game and the Louisville game last night. He did not play against Louisville because he got hurt in pregame warmups or shootaround. He probably stepped on the ball. That’s always scared me with all of those balls bouncing around and all of those kids out there. That happened to me five or six years ago in shootaround six hours before a game. We’re not braced or taped during shootaround, which I think is a mistake. A big kid stepped on a ball, twisted his ankle and now he’s out for two weeks.

Carter Whitt is a good basketball player. He’s really comfortable with the ball in his hands and can make a shot, he’s a very good passer. He’ll be a very good player in this league for a long time.

On Isaiah Wilkins…

He’s right there and I’m sure he’s doing a good job for Steve. Just like I did when I came here, Steve started off with people who have been there and know what’s going on. I know he’s doing a good job down there and I’m happy for Isaiah.

On traveling to Wake Forest…

I think we’re practicing here on Friday. I like practicing here, and that concentrated work here with our preparation in Hahn-Hurst or Cassell. We give them three hours to eat a little bit, some last-minute packing. You talk about a difference-maker, being able to fly out of Blacksburg, that is a real convenience. Our kids live a minute from the parking lot over there, so that is helpful. We’ll meet over there as a team and we’ll bus down there on Saturday. We’ll go to the arena and we shoot around for an hour. It’s about as relaxed as it gets. We don’t talk about anything, we’re just getting accustomed to the facility. Then, we get into our real preparation on Sunday.

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10 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Nice article always good to hear from the players , you learn a lot about their character when they talk, like the attitude that mutts has has become 1 if my favorite players sling with catoor and radford, good base for the program. Go hokies!!!!

  2. There’s a lot of wisdom packed into this statement: “…We were in that gym and there were no fans, it was just us playing the game. At the end of the day, after you get past the fact that they have a big name on their jersey, you really are just playing a game against another team. At the end of the day, it’s about who’s more prepared.” David was never in fear of Goliath. He didn’t concern himself w/how big he was.” He just played the game to his strengths. Remember Seth’s first game w/Duke? He wanted his guys to punch them in the mouth and was criticized for not respecting royalty. This is the way to build a brand. Seth never allowed his guys to be intimidated by who they were playing. Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time. Mutts has it right: “At the end of the day, it’s about who’s more prepared.” Any team can be beaten. You can’t allow yourself to be distracted by the uniforms the other team is wearing. Great attitude. .

  3. Radford seems like a cross between Chris Clark and Al Young. Al was a joy to watch bringing the ball upskirt. Radford seems to be better than either of them.

  4. Regarding J Mutts, I wish I knew what I wanted to do at his age. What an impressive young man. Oh, and his BB is truly Hokie.

    1. I did. I knew when I was 15 years old. That’s why I went to Tech. It was the only place I ever wanted to be.

  5. Does this year being a COVID year not count for MBB eligibility, like football? What I’m getting at, is will Mutts be able to come back next year if he chooses?

  6. Mutts, IMO, makes Keve Aluma more effective.. nice to have a 6-7/6-8 four man to take pressure off the five/center. for sure Mutts is a “team guy” and does his role well. Super Glad he is a Hokie.

    GO Tech, beat Wake..

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