Justyn Mutts Returning “Because I Want To, Not Because I Have To”

Justyn Mutts, Virginia Tech
Justyn Mutts is returning to Virginia Tech. (Liam Sment)

Virginia Tech men’s basketball received good news on Wednesday when Justyn Mutts announced that he is using his final year of eligibility to return to Blacksburg for the 2022-23 season.

Mutts has helped Virginia Tech make the last two NCAA Tournaments, and he and his teammates lifted the ACC Championship trophy back in March. He has averaged 9.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his two years in Blacksburg, and he famously had a triple-double – just the second in program history – in the Hokies’ win over Syracuse in Cassell Coliseum this past season.

He tested the waters of the NBA Draft and weighed the option of playing professionally, but in the end, Mutts preferred to stay at Virginia Tech for another year.

“At the end of the day, I feel like I’m coming back because I want to, not because I have to,” Mutts told Tech Sideline on Wednesday. “Wanting to be around Virginia Tech fans, in the community. That’s an indescribable feeling right there being around those fans. And also being able to play for Coach Young for one more year would be amazing, that played a big factor as well, I’m not going to lie.”

As he alluded to, his relationship with Mike Young is very strong. While the fanbase didn’t have an idea of what was going on behind the scenes, which caused the, “has anyone heard anything about Justyn Mutts?” question to be asked every other day, there was never a lack of communication between Mutts and his head coach. They were in constant contact throughout the process, and both men always knew what the other was feeling.

“Me and Mike Young have been in contact throughout the entire summer,” Mutts said. “Throughout this entire process, we’ve been in contact. He came to see me in Las Vegas. We’ve been talking so often throughout the process that I feel like he’s always had a good understanding of where I was at. Even [changing my mind throughout the process] at times, he understood mentally where I was at. He supported me the whole way, too. That’s why I’ll forever love Coach Young, because he never changed. He was always supporting whatever I felt like was the best thing. I’ve got a lot of love for that guy.”

Mutts freely admitted that it wasn’t an easy decision. He worked out with future pros on a daily basis, and learned that he could hold his own against them. Throughout the spring, he changed his mind more than once – more times than he can remember, actually.

“It was almost like a weekly thing,” he said. “At the end of the day, I just had to weigh everything, count the pros and cons. I couldn’t really count the number of times I changed my mind.”

His journey took him to Las Vegas, Tampa and Los Angeles. He went head-to-head with future draft picks, got feedback from many coaches and learned to live the daily life of a professional basketball player.

Good performances against top-level players gave Mutts a confidence boost, and as a result, he believes that he’s returning to Virginia Tech a better basketball player.

“I learned that I can really hold my own against anybody,” Mutts said. “With all the events that I did this summer, going to Tampa, our Pro Day in Los Angeles, I really learned that there’s a lot of good players out there, and I’m one of them. I belong