Mike Young can't coach length, and the lack of it limited Virginia Tech last season. He stated as much after the Hokies' 74-63 loss to Florida State — an ACC program known for its notable size.
"I would love to throw the ball into a 6-foot-9, 6-foot-10 kid and have him turn and score. I can't... We don't have that facet and that hurts. When you have one you can sling the thing into and they throw it back out and force a long close, that is helpful."
Getting bigger has been the biggest recruiting focus in Young's short time in Blacksburg, and to the delight of many, results are starting to pour in. The Hokies signed freshman center John Ojiako last season (6'10") as well as Wofford transfer Keve Aluma (6'9"). The loss of 6'7" Landers Nolley to the transfer portal provided Young another scholarship spot, and an opportunity to add to the front court.
The Hokies rounded out their 2020 recruiting class with the commitment of David N'Guessan, a 6'9" power forward from Baltimore, MD.
And he put it best, "They need length."
The 247Sports Composite ranks N'Guessan as a 3-star (0.9101) power forward. By the same metric, he ranks as the No. 6 overall player in Maryland for the 2020 cycle, and the No. 39 PF nationally.
The Mt. Zion Prep big-man held offers from VCU, Washington State, and George Mason, among other programs. His commitment bumps the 2020 Hokie class to 19th in the nation, 5th in the ACC, with an average player rating of 0.9477.
What's so exciting about N'Guessan, though, is how he uses his length. N'Guessan is more of a face-up offensive player that can stretch the floor. He has guard skill and can shoot, which creates a matchup challenge for defenders.
"He can handle the basketball," said Mt. Zion head coach Rodrick Harrison. "He can pass the ball with either hand over either shoulder. He can score at all three levels."
"To me, I think he's a big guard. He can play that 4 spot but his ability to run an offense and make plays at that 4 spot is similar to what a guard can do."
That's a hunch why Young believes N'Guessan can play in the ACC. He fits the stretch 4 role that the coach loves to use along with a more traditional center at the 5.
"[Coach Young] said that I would really fit into the school's culture and that I was an ACC caliber player and I fit into their system really well," said N'Guessan. "My ability to drive and get into the lane and then make a play for myself or my teammates really impressed him."
From Harrison's perspective, Virginia Tech made a lot of sense for N'Guessan because it's not only a chance to play at the highest level, but evolve his game too.
"[Coach Young] has a track record of not only developing his guys but also winning," said Harrison. " My biggest concern always was to make sure you go somewhere where you could continue to develop. A guy your size with the skillset you got if you go to the place that's going to help you and get the best out of you, you have a chance to play as a pro one day."
Harrison knew N'Guessan had the natural talent to play high level college basketball. It was only a matter of time and experience.
"The skill level was never the problem," said Harrison. "Just the understanding of the speed of the game and understanding how to be effective at all times. He always had the skill level he could always handle the ball he could always shoot, and he could always pass. It just takes some time to get used to competing on that level a lot."
It also didn't shock Harrison that more ACC or Big East schools from the area didn't come knocking on N'Guessan's door.
"The ACC is known to have those heavy bigs," said Harrison. "So you look for those guys that are already 220lbs. True big men. A lot of school's outside of those ACC schools are starting to evolve into that stretch 4 spot; a guy that can make plays on the perimeter but also has the ability to score inside."
In Young's system, the 4 has responsibilities to defend like a big, and also at times run the offense as a big guard. For instance, the drive and kick is a key to any successful college basketball offense. Last season, it was mostly Wabissa Bede who did that. Although, Bede wasn't much of a threat to score in the paint once he got there. N'Guessan, on the other hand, can put bigger defenders in uncomfortable situations off the dribble with his ability to score and pass in the paint.
Without Bede on the floor, the offense struggled to get the ball moving and create open shots. Nolley was able to create some offense with the ball in his hand acting as a ball dominant guard, but his best offense was perimeter shooting and isolation in the mid-range. That's what N'Guessan can bring to the table that Tech didn't have last year. Length that can matchup defensively as well as create offensively. Couple that with his ability to rebound, and he fills in a major missing piece to the puzzle.
For Harrison though, one of the best parts of N'Guessan's game will never show up on film.
"The energy he brings. He's a constant supporter of the team," said Harrison.
"He constantly reiterates what the coaches are saying. He constantly tells his teammates 'hey, let's keep going'. He holds them accountable and does it in a great way. You'll sometimes watch him play and say 'man, he should've taken that shot.' But then you realize a few possessions later that he was just trying to get other guys involved and into the game. He knows he can get that shot anytime but he needs to get these other guys going if we're going to win. Those types of things don't show up in a stat sheet or you can't see on film, but he thinks like that."