Part II: Mike Young, An Honest Assessment

The second installment of an all-encompassing look at the Virginia Tech men's basketball program under Mike Young in year five.

[Virginia Tech Athletics]

Let's acknowledge this: sustaining success at a school like Virginia Tech is hard.

The Hokies have won eight games in the NCAA Tournament, ever. No other ACC school has less than 14. Mike Young, for all his flaws, has the third-best conference winning percentage of any Tech coach in the last 50 years.

But as times change, so do expectations. This isn't the same Tech program that was floundering in the A-10 and the Metro Conference. The last decade of Hokie hoops is proof that winning is possible in Blacksburg. So after two straight seasons of missing the NCAA Tournament, the question for Mike Young is how to get back to dancing in March.

Today is Part II of my postseason autopsy of the 2023-24 Virginia Tech men's basketball season. My goal is to look at the program as a whole in year five of the Young era: recruiting, roster management, and infrastructure.

The Jimmy's and Joe's

College basketball is a fun sport to follow if you like balance. (Ignore the fact that UConn is currently an unstoppable juggernaut for the purposes of my argument.)

Unlike football, college hoops does not operate on a rigid case system with perpetual haves and have-nots. Basketball coaches have an outsized ability to influence recruiting rankings. To see that, we can look at historical recruiting data.

Using numbers from 247Sports, the following chart shows where Virginia Tech has ranked in the ACC in composite talent, along with the number of top-100 high school players, each season dating back to 2014.

One thing that is plainly evident is that Buzz Williams massively upgraded the talent level on paper in a way few other VT coaches have. He inherited a disaster from James Johnson and put together three straight teams that were top-five in the ACC in composite talent — an ACC that, at the time, was sending upwards of nine teams to the Big Dance.

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