Virginia Tech had an interesting season last year. They had a total of eight games canceled last year due to COVID-19 issues. Between February 7th and the start of the NCAA Tournament, the Hokies only played three games. Three. They had a strong team (As evidenced by their win over #3 Villanova in November), but were not able to showcase it as much, nor did they have enough time together. That kind of stuff shouldn’t be a problem this year, and the Hokies look primed for a strong season.
The Hokies did suffer some losses. The team’s second-leading scorer last season, Tyrece Radford, left for Texas A&M to join former Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams. They also lost another starter and two bench pieces. But they have plenty of talent left over and plenty more coming in.
The biggest get, of course, is point guard Storm Murphy. The electric scorer averaged 17.8 PPG last season for Wofford. Murphy has a ton of experience. In four years as a Terrier, the first two of which were with now Hokies head coach Mike Young, he started 119 of 126 games. Not only is he reuniting with Young, but also with teammate Keve Aluma. The two played together at Wofford under Young. Now they will probably be the Hokies’ best two players this season.
The other addition to Mike Young’s squad is Clemson transfer, Lynn Kidd. Kidd only played in seven games as a freshman for the Tigers. Even in those few games he played very little and didn’t play very well. But Kidd was a four-star recruit that was ranked at #110 in his class coming out of high school. If he can show that side of himself in Blacksburg, he will be a big help to this team.
The good thing is that despite the losses they suffered, the Hokies still have plenty of talent returning. The returners are lead by forward Keve Aluma. Aluma was the Hokies’ best player last year and should be this year too. The senior averaged 15.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game last season. That rebounding average was fifth in the ACC. Aluma also shot 49% from the field. That put him seventh in the ACC and above other players like Justin Champagnie and Buddy Boeheim. He has a very legitimate shot at earning ACC All-American honors.
Nahiem Alleyne and Justyn Mutts are the other two returning starters. Alleyne shot 40.8% from three last season and was the team’s second-best free throw shooter. But he will need to improve his other shooting numbers. Mutts, a graduate forward, is a dominant rebounder and can score too. He averaged 6.4 RPG last season, good enough for fifteenth in the conference. Hunter Cattoor mostly came off the bench last season. But, he was Virginia Tech’s best three-point shooter. He should get a starting job this year.
It won’t take long for this Virginia Tech squad to show us who they are and how good they are. The week of Thanksgiving they are playing in the NIT Season Tip-Off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. They get a high-powered Memphis squad and then will play either Xavier, who should be a tournament team this season, or Iowa State in the next round. Also in non-conference play, they have a road game against Maryland in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and a road game against Dayton. The Hokies are also playing in the Hall Of Fame Shootout in Charlotte on December 17th. Their game in that event is a very intriguing matchup against St. Bonaventure.
PF – Keve Aluma (15.2 PPG/ 7.9 RPG/ 2.2 APG)
F – Justyn Mutts (9.5 PPG/ 6.4 RPG/ 2.2 APG)
G – Nahiem Alleyne (11.1 PPG/ 2.6 RPG/ 1.7 APG)
SG – Hunter Cattoor (8.5 PPG/ 1.9 RPG/ 1.4 APG)
PG – Storm Murphy (17.8 PPG/ 3.3 RPG/ 4.3 APG/ 1.0 SPG at Wofford)