Entering His Final Year, Hunter Cattoor Is Setting The Stage For Hokies’ Future

Hunter Cattoor and Mike Young have a very close relationship from their four years together at Virginia Tech. (Jon Fleming)

Mike Young had never let a player install a play before in his 38 years of coaching. He’d never had a player like Hunter Cattoor before, though.

The sharp-shooting guard from Orlando, Fla., committed to Virginia Tech in 2019, following Young from Wofford to Blacksburg. Despite initially being ranked as a 0-star recruit out of high school, Cattoor thrived in his first four seasons at Tech, even earning ACC tournament MVP two years ago.

Now entering his final year of college, he enters a mentorship role.

“He’s kind of been that leader to me,” sophomore guard MJ Collins told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s kind of teaching me the ropes of taking over once he leaves. [Hunter] being there, helping the younger guys and just continuing to uplift everybody and lead, it’s been really good for us, which is a big point of why I believe he came back.”

Collins averaged 24 minutes a game last season, the second-most of any freshman at Tech in Young’s four seasons, just behind Nahiem Alleyne’s 26 in 2019-20. Entering his second season in the program, he wants to focus on the two elements of Cattoor’s game that make him so dangerous: three-point shooting and defense.

His first challenge this year will be to guard the opposing team’s best offensive player on the floor, the responsibility previously held by Cattoor.

In his final year with the Hokies, Hunter Cattoor (center) is leading by example for young players like MJ Collins (left). (Jon Fleming)

“I believe [Coach Young] told me yesterday that he needs me to be able to guard the other team’s best offensive player so it can take some pressure off of Hunter, to where he’s not having to make all the shots and guard the other team’s best player,” Collins said.

With defense being a point of emphasis for the entire Tech team heading into the season, Cattoor’s tutelage will be crucial — and the teaching role is one he hopes to continue into the future.

“He wants to be a coach,” Young said. “I had him install [a play] yesterday. I don’t think I’ve ever done that in 38 years as a coach.

“He commands a great deal of admiration and respect for what he’s done here. [It] permeates throughout the program. I think he has embraced that and has done quite a good job thus far, and it’ll be very important for this bunch.”

Young tasked the veteran point guard with teaching the play to his teammates, gifting Cattoor the opportunity to act as a player-coach. It was an action to get him an open 3-pointer, a set he’s extremely familiar with and scored over 100 points off of in four years in Blacksburg.

“The trust [Coach Young] has for me to go out there and to tell the team, ‘This is how we’re going to run the play,’ it means a lot,” Cattoor said. “He could have just went out there and told the team, ‘This is how we’re going to run it,’ but the trust he has for me to go out there and explain it to the players that don’t know the play and remind the ones coming back how we run it, it was pretty cool to do that.”

Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla will anchor the Hokies’ backcourt this year with Rodney Rice. (Jon Fleming)

Cattoor’s enthusiasm for mentoring the younger players on the roster will help bring everyone along, even guys he’s played with for multiple seasons, like junior point guard Sean Pedulla.

Entering his second year as the team’s starting point guard, Pedulla has worked on sharpening his defensive game after struggling at times last season.

“Defensively is an area where I definitely try to look after Hunter’s game and take away from that, just because he’s one of the better perimeter defenders in the ACC,” Pedulla said. “I think I can get to that level too [with] my quickness and my strength and the ability to move my feet, so I think that’s something where he’s really good and I can take away from him.”

Both Cattoor and sophomore guard Rodney Rice enter the season looking forward to being back to 100% health, and injury-free years in 2023-24 could be mutually beneficial for the pair.

Unlike Collins and Pedulla, Rice missed much of last season due to two separate injuries. He’s back now, however, and will have a full season to learn lessons from Cattoor before the veteran starts his next chapter.

“I think [the young guys] have been good in the sense of you tell them and they want to be coached,” Cattoor said.

Amazingly, Hunter Cattoor is finally entering his final season in Blacksburg. (Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech sports photography)

As Cattoor wraps up his career in Blacksburg this season, his focus will be on getting the team back to the top of the ACC — and he knows everyone’s personal goals will come to fruition in the process.

“At the end of the day, you want to go out on a high note. You want to compete for another ACC championship. You want to make it to the big dance and make a run,” he said.

“I think that’s just the main thing to worry about — team success — and the individual success will come along.”

12 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I think it was pretty clear last year that the having Hunter cover the opponents best offensive player took away from his offense. I’m hopeful his teammates can truly take some of that defensive responsibility as it should pay dividends on the offensive side for Hunter and the rest of the team too.

  2. We are lucky to have Hunter Cattoor back. And we are beyond lucky to have Mike Young as our coach. As long as he’s in charge, Hokies men’s basketball will be competitive.

  3. I have a lot of respect for this young man. Am hoping to hear his name for years to come. Best of luck Hunter!

  4. Hunter is the rock of the team! Tough as nails, mentors his teammates and drives the team in ways you don’t always see on the basketball court. He is a teacher, and player coach to say the least. Looking forward to seeing Hunter in his senior year at VT. Go Hokies! Glad you came along for the ride with Coach!

  5. Great to hear he wants to be a coach. Fantastic preparation…listening to Coach Young as a player and to Coach Brooks on his days off.

  6. One of my all time favorite players at Tech. Great person and a great player. I hope he will some day be a coach at VT.

    1. I would love to see it. Catoor has done all you could ask as a player. Sincerely hope we can send him out on a high note.

  7. Just like Storm Murphy – another Wofford player, without whom the Hokies would not be ACC Champions!

    We will miss him dearly when he has run out of eligibility.

    Here’s to one last exciting season!

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