Intel Report 3/24/22

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Within minutes of the season-ending loss to St. Bonaventure on Tuesday night, we started working contacts to gauge where things could be headed with next year’s Virginia’s roster. It’s early right now, and some situations are definitely fluid. But after talking to quite a few folks, I feel pretty confident this is an accurate assessment of the current picture.

They Better Take a Step

A lot was made of some of Tony Bennett’s postgame quotes on Tuesday night. In talking to people, this one in particular hit on the theme I kept hearing.

“We must improve. Every player that returns to this program, they better take a step. In terms of their commitment, in their strength and their ability. And commit and work. If they don’t want to, they shouldn’t be here. Don’t want em”

The coaching staff feels that this group, certainly some players more than others, don’t work as hard as other UVA teams in the past. They haven’t consistently shown up to put in the extra hours that Bennett has come to expect. As one source put it, there’s no Brogdon here, no Ty Jerome. The culture of work isn’t the same. It’s going to be called out in postseason meetings. Players will be challenged to change their habits or move on.

Freshmen

It was interesting however to hear that the two freshmen, Taine Murray and Igor Milicic, are considered among the hardest workers on the team. I think a lot of people felt those comments were aimed at them, when that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. From what I’ve heard, the coaching staff is generally pleased with those two and certainly hope they return.

At the same time, I gather it could be a while before UVA brings in another overseas recruit. Both of them were expected to contribute this season. The roster was planned with hopes that they would both be in the rotation. It obviously didn’t work out that way. They just weren’t as ready physically as the staff believed they were.

It shows how hard it is to evaluate players from overseas. And their situations can be more complicated when they’re not living up to early expectations, as family and advisers back home aren’t always on the same page.

Super Seniors

Let’s start with the easy one. Jayden Gardner is fully expected to return to Virginia next season. I’m not going to say it’s an absolute certainty, but everyone I talked to was pretty dismissive of any possibility that he wouldn’t.

Kihei Clark is the subject everyone wants to talk about. I think it’s fair to say his decision on whether to return will shape next year’s team more than any other. He’s gone back and forth on it since last summer. It’s understandably a hard decision.

The consensus right now is that he’s leaning toward returning. The source I trust most on the subject put the chances at 60% that he’ll be back. Some people believe it’s a lot higher than that. He’s definitely given preliminary indications recently that he’ll return. But the thinking is that his mind could easily change again as he starts to seriously examine his options now.

Transfer Candidates

I’m told the staff will begin individual player meetings “late this week”. So it may not take long before we get firm verdicts.

The most worry is over a young player that the coaching staff is very high on. He’s always the first mentioned whenever the topic of potential departures comes up. I’ll put the chances of his leaving at 75%. One trusted source believes it’s a near certainty, while others are less sure while acknowledging it’s more likely than not. So I’ll split the difference.

There are two players that have been in the program for a few years who I’m told will be especially challenged to step up their work ethic in postseason meetings. Bennett won’t push players out the door, or even nudge them. But it’s clear that he’s ready to draw a line in the sand and demand better. I’m not going to put odds on them leaving because it’s totally up to them whether to accept those terms. But it won’t be surprising if one or both decide to look elsewhere after their talks with the boss.

There’s also a former walk-on who I hear has caught the eye of mid-major programs. It’s possible he explores those options through the transfer portal.

Use Them All

Until there’s a departure, UVA doesn’t have an available scholarship. But unlike this past season when they went with only 10 scholarship players, all 13 could be in play for next season.

I was somewhat surprised to hear that the staff views two incoming recruits as potential redshirt candidates, Ryan Dunn and Leon Bond. While that doesn’t necessarily mean both will redshirt next season, it does mean they’re open to planning the roster that way. Bennett typically doesn’t like to have more than 11 active players, meaning those who aren’t redshirting. So with two that are considered possibilities, it opens up every scholarship for use.

So look for the Hoos to be aggressive in the portal if and when a scholarship opens

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The most worry is over a young player that the coaching staff is very high on. He’s always the first mentioned whenever the topic of potential departures comes up. I’ll put the chances of his leaving at 75%. One trusted source believes it’s a near certainty, while others are less sure while acknowledging it’s more likely than not. So I’ll split the difference.

I really hope this isn’t Shedrick but sounds like it could be Milicic.

Thanks for the breakdown HGN - do you think it’s possible Kihei could have a limited role if he returns for a 5th year?

Tony has to realize at this point our ceiling is severely capped playing him alongside Reece and for 35 minutes a game.

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I just would be so surprised by Shedrick. One, because he is a third year and two, because he made huge improvements from last year (65% FG%). My read is Igor probably gone, and then there will be conversations with Caffaro and Carson. The question is: would we hunt a backup big if Caffaro leaves, or allow there to be some playing time available for Traudt

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A lot to unpack there. Like @Jerome ‘young player’ sounds like Igor but might be Kadin (which I would hate). Igor is a very unique situation, but as i’ve said in the past I would have expected his camp to be bought into the long term plan coming in. As HGN mentioned, maybe part of their plan was immediate PT.
Think Carson wants to stay, but will the idea of little PT going fwd spurn him to go?

Think Papi might explore overseas pro options

Would love to see Malachi get some mid major offers and have a great career

Something else I’ve said before, but the idea of a Bond RS doesn’t make sense as we have no one with his (much needed) skillset on the roster. His game is raw, but he can defend, rebound, make hustle plays…seems like a role we certainly have mins for. That said, if we can lure a 1 year player for that role from portal while he learns, ok.

Also, I think the fact that we were at very least putting out feelers to transfer before the end of the season is an interesting tell

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The question would be, did the staff change their mind on Igor as a guard/wing versus a big. I could see that being the type of thing that makes a guy leave. If Igor was expecting to be slashing, shooting, and ball-handling and is now being asked to just pick and pop, he might not think the role is for him - regardless of minutes

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Isn’t it mccorckle? He’s always the first mentioned it comes to transferring.

I was thinking that young was McCorkle but maybe Igor.

In the program for a few years and challenged to be Kadin and Caffaro.

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No idea of course, but I would think at this point the staff is probably higher on Igor than Carson long term

The article didn’t compare the player to anyone else. Could be very high on both

If the staff is “very high” on McCorkle after what we saw on the court this year then I seriously question their judgment.

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Yeah, I completely read that as McCorkle as he was an assumed transfer before the season by a lot of posters.

Again, as long as it’s not Kadin or Reece we can withstand any transfer. Igor is a little redundant with Traudt coming in so him leaving would make sense and free up a scholly to go after a bouncy wing/4 that pairs better next to Traudt anyway

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My guesses: Igor 75% chance to transfer, Carson and Caffaro are being challenged, Kihei comes back (don’t love this outcome).

Maybe Kadin is being “challenged”? He seems like a critical piece for us next season but Tony is constantly talking about how needs to get stronger

Edit: My excitement for next season will fade quite a bit if we run back a Reece/Kihei backcourt yet again

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Igor

Carson and Kadin

Malachi. Pretty sure he was on scholarship this year but was recruited as a walk on.

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Who?

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Decode:

Candidate 1 - McCorkle (always mentioned for transfer)
Candidate 2 - Caffaro (veteran player)
Candidate 3 - Shedrick (veteran player)
Candidate 4 - Poindexter (former walk-on)

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Alternative:

Igor (young, coaches very high on him)

Carson and Kadin

Malachi of course

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Can someone explain the Shedrick logic? His numbers look remarkably similar to Mamadi’s 2nd/3rd playing years. Obviously Shedrick commits more fouls but he is not playing next to deandre Hunter and Braxton key.

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Just that he’s a possibility for “been in the program a couple years”. IDK if it’s actually about him vs Papi vs Carson, but it’s possible.