• David Cunningham

Mike Young Realizes His Dream Becoming the Head Coach at Virginia Tech

It was a homecoming in Blacksburg on Monday as Whit Babcock and Virginia Tech announced Mike Young as the new head coach of the Hokies’ basketball program.

“To be the basketball coach at Virginia Tech is just a mountaintop experience, a dream come true,” Mike Young said at the press conference Tuesday.

Young, the Radford native, was head coach of the Wofford Terriers for the last 17 years. Prior to that, he was an assistant with Wofford for 13 years. His roots and heritage, however, are still in Southwest Virginia.

He spoke of when he was younger and came to watch the Hokies’ 1973 NIT Championship Team play in Cassell Coliseum, mentioning how Allan Bristow would leave him and his father tickets in will call.

“As I look around, I think of all the big games I’ve seen in here through the years,” Young said. “I have felt this building shake on a number of occasions. To be standing over there [motioning to the Virginia Tech’s bench] as your basketball coach is meaningful to me. I’m so excited.”

In his tenure in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Young amassed a head coaching record of 299-245 (.545) record. He led the Terriers to five NCAA Tournament appearances, including four from 2009 to 2015. He also recorded wins over North Carolina, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, NC State, and South Carolina throughout his tenure.

That success is a reason why athletic director Whit Babcock believes Young is the right man for the job.

“We wanted someone that could build it and sustain it, like Coach Young,” Babcock said. “We want to switch from this ‘challenger brand’ to a ‘champion brand,’ and he’s the guy for it. He has beaten the best, he knows recruiting, his values fit our culture, and he wants to be here.”

Young addressed the state of the program and spoke about recruiting, putting emphasis on recruiting the Commonwealth as the number one priority.

“There was a time where I think I knew every high school basketball coach in Virginia,” Young said. “I’d like to rebuild those connections.”

His recruiting plan starts in Virginia and leads into states like North and South Carolina, while also recruiting the Atlanta area and the state of Florida. To do that, he’s going to need to put together a talented staff.

“We’re going to put the right guys in the right positions,” Young said. “The process is going to be fluid, and we’re going to try to make decisions before the dead period in recruiting ends on Thursday.”

One of the first and most important tasks is swaying the current players open to leaving to stay in Blacksburg.

Three players graduate from the Hokies’ Sweet Sixteen roster – Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill and Ty Outlaw. Sophomore Nickeil Alexander-Walker is announced he is entering his name in the NBA draft on Sunday while freshman Landers Nolley reportedly entered the transfer portal Monday after Young’s press conference.

Still, the most important names Young needs to try to keep are Kerry Blackshear and Wabissa Bede. Blackshear has not stated anything, but has the options to either pursue the NBA, stay, or be a grad transfer, while Bede entered the transfer portal on Friday.

Being able to make sure Blackshear stays while convincing Bede and/or Nolley to withdraw from the transfer portal would be a huge success. Combine that with hitting the recruiting trail in a few days, and Young’s got work cut out for himself in Blacksburg.

However, he’ll do it in Blacksburg, the place where his love for basketball came to fruition. For him, being the head coach of the Hokies is a dream come true.

Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics

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