With An Experienced Core Returning, Virginia Tech Has High Potential

What are the expectations for Virginia Tech in 2022-23? (Liam Sment)

When Justyn Mutts announced his return to Virginia Tech on Wednesday, June 1, it was the final piece to the puzzle for the 2022-23 roster.

The sixth-year forward from Millville, N.J. has three degrees and an ACC Championship ring. Three other players from that historic week will join Mutts in the starting lineup for the Hokies come Nov. 7: Sean Pedulla, Hunter Cattoor and Darius Maddox.

Together, the four have almost 300 games and 7,000 minutes in their respective careers. They also combined for 45% of the team’s points and rebounds in 2021-22, along with 51% of assists.

In front of a group of reporters on Tuesday, head coach Mike Young said his 2022-23 bunch could be better offensively than last year’s squad. But when just five of the 11 scholarship players from last season remain, it’s not that simple.

The Virginia Tech roster for 2022-23, with the key on the right. (David Cunningham)

Four freshmen and three transfers of all skillsets and sizes joined the Hokies over the summer. How that rotation plays out is yet to be determined.

“I know that Maddox and Cattoor and Pedulla and Mutts are going to start,” Young said at media day. “Basile is going to play a lot at the four and five, he’ll play with Mutts some. I do think that Mylyjael Poteat is going to be in the mix. I do think Lynn Kidd is going to be in the mix.

“John Camden gives us some versatility at the three,” Young said. “M.J. Collins is having a very good preseason camp. … Rodney Rice has yet to practice, he will soon, we think he’s going to be in the mix, and there are others.”

Camden could be one of the keys to unlock different options for Tech this year. The 6-8 redshirt freshman from Downingtown, Pa. transferred from Memphis in April and can provide the Hokies with some versatility. They can use a larger lineup with him at the three or stretch the floor with him at the four.

John Camden can provide the Hokies with some versatility. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

“Get his feet set and he’s a terrific perimeter shooter,” Young said. “Probably more of a three-man through this point in the year. We got a lot of mileage out of our four-guard lineup last year — four guards, Mutts or Aluma — and I think John will allow us to do some of that.”

Meanwhile, Basile is different from Aluma. The Wright State transfer is a dominant scorer and rebounder — he averaged 18.4 points and 8.5 rebounds last season — but isn’t the back-you-down big man Aluma was. That’s more to the liking of Poteat or Kidd.

While that rotation works itself out, the backcourt is set in stone. The three-headed monster of Pedulla, Maddox and Cattoor shot 44% on 354 attempts last season, and the first two came off the bench. To no one’s surprise, Young’s guards are efficient scorers.

All three have grown more mature, too. Cattoor admitted he’s eating better — he was never a vegetable or salad fan, but he started to eat healthier — while the other two have a better understanding of their roles and feel more comfortable.

The past two years weren’t always easy for Maddox, as he said on Tuesday. It took him until the Florida State win on Jan. 29 last season (21 games) to earn consistent playing time. It was a similar situation for Pedulla as a freshman. He didn’t have the easiest time trying to adjust to an ever-changing position. 

But when the two acclimated around February, they were two key pieces in the Hokies’ ACC championship run. And they understand their jobs going into this year.

Maddox and Pedulla are going to be two of Tech’s biggest contributors this year. (Liam Sment)

“Last year, I was kind of growing into my role,” Pedulla told Tech Sideline. “My role kind of changed throughout the year. This year, I know exactly what my role is, I know what I need to do to perfect that role out there. … I know exactly what to expect going in.

“The pressure’s kind of on me a lot more than last year, so I think it is going to be tougher, it’s going to be a bigger ask from me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Off the bench, Collins and Rice, who is recovering from an injury, are set to have an impact on the wing. Cattoor said this is the most coachable group of young guys he’s ever been around, and they pay very close attention to what the veterans have to say. That’s not always the case with freshmen.

“I think M.J. Collins is going to give us a nice punch off the bench,” Young said in terms of backcourt scoring. “Rodney Rice, that was kind of his M.O. coming here, his ability to score. … Maddox, Cattoor, Pedulla are all capable night-in, night-out. … I don’t think that scoring from the backcourt is ever going to be an issue.”

With all of that in mind, what are the expectations for the Hokies? As learned last year, expectations should be tempered. But as Cattoor pointed out, if 2021-22 was any indication, it’s not impossible to climb out of an 0-4 or 2-7 hole in the ACC.

Young knows he’s got a talented, experienced group. There’s a solid core at the center, but how complementary are the surrounding pieces? And taking note of the time it took for young players like Maddox and Pedulla to really see the floor, what might the oiled machine look like for Virginia Tech this year?

“I have a good basketball team. Where does that begin and end? I don’t know the answer to that, but if we can bring this team along and get this team playing its best basketball in March, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. And if we’re doing that, we’ve got a chance to be darn good.”

16 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Carolina will be a beast this year and the ACC should be improved across the board but, if this team plays to its potential, we will be in the upper 1/3 of the ACC and hopefully get enough good bounces to make a little run in March. I love that Mutts came back. He is 100% Hokie 4 Life!!!

  2. If the three guys can replace Keve Aluma we will be good and hopefully in top 1/3 of ACC. ACC will be better overall this season. GO HOKIES!!!!!!!!!

  3. Only partial TIC – was so happy to see this article on the page, just to have something positive to talk about!!

    1. Only partial TIC – was so happy to see this article on the page, just to have something positive to talk about!!

  4. Whit hired an experienced coach for BB and you see the results. Wish he had done the same for FB.

        1. Look at Miami with Cristobal and he has tons of HC experience. Would you please let Coach Pry have a chance at getting his guys in the program?

      1. Agree with HokieMike94.
        Yep! We did hire that “experienced coach”. Justin Fuente, the guy a lot of others coveted. Yes, we Virginia Tech, got him! As a result, what was the outcome? A lot of misery and disappointment, plenty to go around for everyone.
        So, yeah, VT Rockie, I will take Brent Pry over JF in a heartbeat. Just like it took five seasons to destroy this team, Pry needs time to repair it. This is a pretty much a total rebuild project thanks to the previous staff. Could we maybe give CBP a little more than 5 games to turn things around? Maybe five years? In the meantime, maybe those who love to complain so much, can find another bandwagon to jump on.

  5. VT looks better on paper, the OOC looks easier, but the ACC will likely be better this year. I think if the players commit to playing defense the way MY insists they do to get on the court and none of the key players get injured this could be a very special year for VT hoops. I also am looking forward to seeing them in-person.

  6. Hope for this year…if we can get 20 points and 10 rebounds nightly from Basile, Poteat and Kidd, we should be in good shape. With more depth, we should be able to run a little more and defend better on the interior.

  7. U hire a seasoned head coach like Mike u know he will have the team stacked with talent that wants to run his sets and play for each other.

    Great hire and i cant wait to see them take the court.

  8. Got a good feeling about this group!If we can have a solid 8/9 man rotation 25 wins is easily within our grasp!Go Hokies!!

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