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2019-20 Virginia Tech men's basketball preview

Virginia Tech Hokies

2018-19 record: 26-9, 12-6 in the ACC

Head coach: Mike Young

Tenure at Virginia Tech: 1st season

Career coaching record: 299-244

Home court: Cassell Coliseum

Starters: G Jalen Cone, G Wabissa Bede, G/F Landers Nolley II, F P.J. Horne, F Branden Johnson

Bench: G Isaiah Wilkins, G Hunter Cattoor, G Tyrece Radford, F John Ojiako

Overview: It's almost unheard of for a team coming off a Sweet Sixteen berth and a solid record in a grueling ACC slate to lose nearly its entire previous team. But unfortunately for the Hokies, former head coach Buzz Williams decided to return to his home state to take the helm at Texas A&M, and with him went Virginia Tech's top five scorers. What's left for the Hokies is a roster with virtually no returning talent and a hodgepodge of freshmen and graduate transfers. To say newcomer and former Wofford head coach Mike Young has his work cut out for him is an understatement.

Although Young proved himself to be capable of building a solid program thanks to his past success leading the Terriers, who posted a 30-5 overall record in 2019, the Radford, Va., native's biggest challenge will be keeping his head above water in his transition from Southern Conference play to the ACC grinder.

Of the few Hokies from last season that remain in Blacksburg, Wabissa Bede and P.J. Horne stand as some of the only remaining upperclassmen with any real playing experience. Even then, Bede attempted just 3.6 shots per game while Horne averaged just three points and two rebounds—hardly the numbers indicative of game changers. To make matters worse for Virginia Tech, the Hokies have zero point guard talent, meaning Young will have to rely on freshman Jalen Cone or Hunter Cattoor to lead his offense—a tall task for a team that has virtually no play style continuity from the past season to begin with.

Although the Hokies face an uphill battle in getting back on their feet in time to be competitive in the ACC, Virginia Tech may be able to right the ship sooner than expected if some of its younger talent blossoms with much-expanded roles from last season. Redshirt freshman Landers Nolley II was primed to make an impact off the bench last season, but NCAA eligibility questions forced him to sit out the entire year. Sophomores Isaiah Wilkins and Brendan Palmer also proved themselves to be solid offensive threats last season, albeit with limited touches.

One thing that needs to go right: Young finds what works with this mismatched roster of Hokies and creates a simple but efficient system that accommodates for a roster largely devoid of experience. One of Virginia Tech's previous unknowns blossoms thanks to more playing opportunities, setting the Hokies up to surprise the ACC with a competitive squad.

One thing that could go wrong: The lack of true returning experience can't be reconciled and Virginia Tech's freshmen are unable to integrate with the returners. Young's first season is a bust, and the Hokies find themselves scraping the bottom of the ACC barrel already looking forward to 2020.


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