If Mike Young, before he took over the Virginia Tech basketball program, asked a casual observer of college sports what would it be like to recruit at the ACC level with a unusually high number of open scholarships, they’d probably lean on an old cliche and tell him it will be ‘like a roller coaster.’ Well, Mike Young is proving that hypothetical college sports fan unbelievably correct.
He started his recruiting (or re-recruiting in the case of the VT players from a year ago that jumped in the transfer portal) season with a big win. He convinced Landers Nolley, a one-time Top-70 recruit in the country to remain in Blacksburg. Nolley immediately became a legitimate scoring option in the ACC and filled a necessary role.
Next, the Roller Coaster slowed down as Mike Young swung in and stole from the school he was leaving after 30 years of employment. Hunter Cattoor from Orlando swapped his commitment from Wofford to Virginia Tech. Cattoor may end up being a main contributor on the Hokies’ next Sweet 16 team, but it is always a bit underwhelming when an ACC school steals a commitment from Wofford.
To double down on the robbery from Wofford, Mike Young then went back to his old stomping grounds and walked away with 2 year started Keve Aluma. A quality big (6’8″) that played up to his competition level in games against big time competition (like Kentucky in the NCAA 2nd round). It was a fun commitment that represents the first decent sized plunge in the ride. Some people put their hands in the air to show their excitement.
Then, the roller coaster hit it’s big, fun, flipping, swirling apex. Jalen Cone, a 4-star PG, committed to play for Young at Virginia Tech. Cone will be expected to play the same role for Young that Justin Robinson (you may have heard of him) played for Buzz Williams. Which is, lead the team into the future and grow as the team grows into an ACC and National Contender. Cone has that type of potential. He is explosive, athletic, and has a knack for scoring the ball.
The momentum continued when Wabissa Bede, a 26 game starter on the best team in Virginia Tech history a season ago, decided to buy into what was being sold back in Blacksburg and took his name out of the portal. Bede is a much needed jolt of experience and defense into a team that looks like it may be growing rapidly in talent and scoring potential.
Finally, as of now, Young’s roller coaster of a recruiting season is back at the ‘cranking’ stage. We are going back uphill and the machinery is making funny noises that we aren’t all convinced are supposed to be happening. Branden Johnson, a 6’8″ grad transfer from Alabama State, has joined the fray in Blacksburg. Again, he might be great, but a player that averaged less than 5 points and 5 rebounds per game in the SWAC doesn’t ignite my adrenaline.
Overall, I’m getting back in line to ride the coaster again. I want to see if Mike Young can snag a Grad transfer guard and a HS big man. I want to see if he can put another piece in place for the upcoming year without mortgaging the future. (That’d be a grad transfer with 1 year of eligibility). The Mike Young experiment has been fun, and that is enough for me right now.