The Virginia Tech Hokies basketball squad is undergoing a roster rebuild, but it may not take too long for this squad to find success. Second-year head coach Mike Young has a lot more to work with in the cupboard for 2020-21, which should only mean more positives this upcoming season.
We’ve already broken down the overall roster for 2020-21 and now, we go deeper.
Over the next few weeks, SI All Hokies will go in depth with a look at each of the position groups, and then the incoming freshmen for next year.
So, in this edition, we’ll cover the backcourt. In the next edition, we’ll cover the frontcourt. Then in the final installment, we’ll focus solely on the newcomers and incoming freshmen class for 2020-21.
First up, we take a look at the backcourt that’s returning for the Hokies in 2020-21. There’s a nice balance forming between shooters and playmakers within the Virginia Tech backcourt. Two of Tech's freshmen this past season, Tyrece Radford and Nahiem Alleyne, had to grow up fast after being inserted into the starting rotation, but they adjusted quite well.
As a team, the backcourt was responsible for 9.8 made 3-pointers per game (1st in the ACC), 35.2 percent shooting from 3-point land (tied for 3rd in the ACC) and 28.0 3-point attempts per game (2nd in the ACC). On the back end, the Hokies ranked 11th in the ACC in points per game (68.6) and 12th in field goal percentage (41.9 percent).
Going into Year 2 with this group, it’s a solid backcourt with experience and room for guys to grow into bigger roles for 2020-21. As players develop and learn their roles and learn to do more than just score the basketball from 3-point range, this is a backcourt with an opportunity to be very successful in the coming season, and beyond.
Wabissa Bede | Senior | 6’1 | 195 lbs.
2019-20 Stats: 5.2 points, 5.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals
Wabissa Bede is an underrated asset for the Hokies. Bede focuses on his job as a distributor, which paid off for him in 2019-20, as he dished out a career-high 5.5 assists per game while turning the ball over just 2.7 times per contest. For those keeping track at home, that’s an assist-to-turnover ratio of roughly 2:1, which is rare to see in the college game these days. Bede finished third in the ACC in assists (177) and his assists per game average was good for fifth-best in conference play.
In Virginia Tech’s case, it’s good to have a guy as indispensable as Bede. He’ll be a senior leader that should be relied upon heavily to lead the way for this group in 2020-21. He’s an unselfish player that’s continually gotten better on both ends and has become one of the best defenders on the team.
As his offense continues to develop and confidence grows, he’ll be an X-Factor type player in the rotation that will play heavy minutes for the Hokies in 2020-21. He’s shown when he’s locked in, he can be a strong floor general. He posted 12 points, five assists and four rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting from the field against Duke back on Dec. 6. Look for some of his best performances to come during his senior season.
Tyrece Radford | Sophomore | 6’2 | 195 lbs.
2019-20 Stats: 10.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals
As a freshman, Tyrece Radford emerged as a major option in the rotation for the Virginia Tech Hokies in 2019-20. He’s the returning leader in scoring (10.2 ppg) and rebounds (6.2 rpg) and showed he’s quite the combo guard in the backcourt at 6-foot-2. Even more impressive, Radford is an efficient scorer that likes to get to the paint and finish in traffic using his underrated athleticism.
In 2019-20, he shot 60.4 percent from the field, mainly in the paint, showing his strength as a rim attacker with the ball in his hands. He isn’t the greatest 3-point shooter, as he attempted just 12 threes his whole freshman season, but he’s shown he can fill the void in other areas to make up for that deficiency in his game.
Radford started in 29 of his 32 appearances in 2019-20, and given his overall production as an efficient scorer and rebounder, it’s hard to see him getting moved out of the starting rotation anytime soon.
During ACC play, Radford's production increased. He averaged 11.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 steal per game as a freshman. He put together a double-double (21 points & 13 rebounds) in a win against Wake Forest on the road on Jan. 4 and followed that up with a career-high 24-point performance against Miami on the road a few games later on Jan. 28.
If he can stay consistent and show his growth on both ends in 2020-21, look for him to emerge as a first-team or second-team All-Conference performer. Paired with Bede in the backcourt, Radford has a chance to play a solid role at the off-guard position entering his sophomore campaign.
Nahiem Alleyne | Sophomore | 6’3 | 195 lbs.
2019-20 Stats: 8.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 38.9 percent from 3-point range
Nahiem Alleyne was an unknown name coming into the 2019-20 season and a late addition to the 2020 recruiting class. Still, he emerged as a starter to begin his college career and started in 27 of 32 contests for the Hokies. He was another sharpshooter in the rotation that shot 38.9 percent from 3-point land.
Alleyne is a 6-foot-3 guard that surprised many in 2019-20 and even had a career-night on Dec. 11 against UT-Chattanooga with 22 points on 3-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. He finished third on the team in 3-point field goal percentage (38.9 percent) and returns as the second-leading scorer in the rotation.
He’s an efficient shooter, but as a volume 3-point shooter so-to speak, outcomes have been both a gift and a curse for him so far as a Hokie. In a close loss to Boston College back on Feb. 8, Alleyne shot a career-high 16 shots from the floor with 10 of them coming from 3-point land. He made just five shots from the field including three from 3-point range to finish with 16 points in the game. In two losses against UVA in 2019-20, he shot a combined 2-of-14 (14.2 percent) from the field. He shot just twice total from behind the arc in those contests as well, which is rare considering he averaged 3.9 per contest on the year.
He’s a young sharpshooter that’s still working the kinks out in his game. When he’s on and hitting from the outside, he’s invaluable. When he’s not hitting, he’ll need to find other ways to contribute going forward. He’ll be one to keep an eye on as a player who could find competition for his spot in the starting rotation in 2020-21.
Hunter Cattoor | Sophomore | 6’3 | 205 lbs.
2019-20 Stats: 6.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.0 steals; 40.2 percent from 3-point range
Hunter Cattoor was the proverbial Sixth Man and provided a spark as a sharpshooter in the Virginia Tech backcourt in 2019-20 as a freshman. It’s worth noting, Cattoor was a member of Mike Young’s 2020 recruiting class when he was coaching at Wofford and made the move from Wofford’s recruiting class to the Hokies’ class when Young took the job.
Cattoor has shown that he’s a solid fit already, as he made 51 3-pointers and shot 40.2 percent from 3-point land in 2019-20 despite coming off the bench. He did make three starts, but much of his time came as a reserve. He averaged 20.3 minutes of action and by season’s end, he found his way as a spark off the bench. In the Hokies’ final game of the season in the ACC Tournament, he put up a career-high 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting from 3-point range.
He returns as the second-best 3-point shooter in 2020-21 and one can only hope his role should grow as a facilitator given Bede is entering his senior year. His numbers and production dropped a bit during conference play this past season, but with a season of experience under his belt, things could go in a positive direction for him.
Jalen Cone | Sophomore | 5’10 | 170 lbs.
2019-20 Stats: 8.0 points, 1.1 rebounds, 45.7 percent from 3-point range
Jalen Cone was a late addition to the Hokies' recruiting class and reclassified as a prospect, moving from the 2020 class to the 2019 class to make the jump to college a year early. Things paid off for Cone as he emerged as a top 3-point shooter in the ACC, finishing sixth in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage (44.4 percent) and tied for ninth in 3-point makes per game (2.2) in conference action.
Cone led the team in 3-point field goal percentage (45.7 percent) while making 2.0 3-pointers per game in 2019-20 and returns as their top 3-point shooter after making 64 as a freshman, a number that will only grow as his career moves along.
Things happened quickly for Cone, so much so, he was more of a catch-and-shoot threat on the perimeter more than anything else. With a bigger focus on getting stronger in the weight room and emerging as a guard that can distribute as well as he can shoot, Cone has the potential to earn more minutes in 2020-21 after playing 18.4 minutes per contest as a freshman.