With UVA’s trip to Italy now over, recruiting moves back into the forefront. They’ll waste no time, as the Hoos are set to host a visitor this weekend. Meanwhile, there’s growing optimism about another key 2023 recruit.
A 10-day dead period ended on Tuesday, meaning recruits can visit again. That will remain the case for the foreseeable future.
September 9th is a key date. It marks the start of the so-called Fall recruiting. Coaches are allowed back out to visit recruits at their schools or homes. Mostly they’ll attend open gym events arranged for them. It stays open, with brief exceptions, through next Spring. But September is the busy season. Coaches will be out a lot for a couple of weeks. Then it slows down as practices start.
Also worth noting, the scholastic calendar flipped on August 1st. 2024 recruits are now considered juniors, which means they can take official visits. And the 2025 class is allowed to take unofficial visits.
Under Bennett, UVA has typically gotten their recruiting done early. Especially of late. In the previous four classes, they were finished by mid-September. Only two commits during that span came after September 1st. They’re used to turning the page to the next class in the Fall. Barring multiple surprises in the 2023 class, that won’t be the case this year.
The hope is still to get at least two more 2023 recruits this Fall to go along with Blake Buchanan. But the coaching staff feels like the four current freshmen provide some cushion… At least one of them will end up redshirting, essentially becoming part of their 2023 group. I expect them to just follow through on the recruits they’re already after. If they don’t get what they want, there’s always next Spring.
Elmarko Taison or Bust
It’s fair to say that UVA’s search for a point guard in the 2023 class hasn’t gone smoothly. The latest blow came when Trey Green committed to Xavier earlier this month. That left them reeling a little bit in the immediate aftermath. Since then, they seemed to have settled on a plan to exhaust all efforts on the two players already on the board.
South Kent (CT) point guard Elmarko Jackson released a Top 11 list last week that included UVA. They’re just hoping to get one of his five official visits. He’ll reportedly visit Kansas in early September. And he’s already taken unofficials to a few others on his list.
The name of Totino-Grace (MN) guard Taison Chatman has reemerged in recent weeks. He’s scheduled to visit Ohio State in early September, and possibly Minnesota before that. The Buckeyes are thought to be in the best shape right now, but they already have a crowded backcourt. I believe he intended to go to Kansas before they took another guard. That’s left him figuring things out. There’s even talk that he might wait until Spring to decide.
Both of them will be hard to get for UVA. Jackson is more attainable. His recruitment is wide open. That’s why he opted to keep 11 teams in the running. It’s no secret that NIL is an important factor for Chatman, and he’s still open to schools outside his top five.
The UVA staff is preparing to recruit 2024 point guards. While they may look at some other 2023 options in the months ahead, I expect them to pivot to 2024 if things don’t work out with Jackson or Chatman.
There’s been a couple reports mentioning interest in former Purdue commit Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn. I’ve heard that’s unlikely to go anywhere.
Gertrude and Cosby
Hudson Catholic (NJ) shooting guard Elijah Gertrude has reportedly scheduled three official visits to Seton Hall, Kansas, and Rutgets on consecutive weekends starting mid-September. He’s been the clear top target for UVA in that spot since they offered in June. He took an official visit to Charlottesville in late July.
They’re in a really good spot with Gertrude. I’ve heard basically the same story from multiple people. Something weird would need to happen for him not to end up at UVA. That said, Kansas is the one contender that is believed to have the potential to tempt him. Assuming he keeps that visit, it becomes more interesting.
Gertrude has also said he’s planning a return visit to UVA. Which is the most telling part of the story. If that were to happen, it would be as a commit or soon to be one.
Word of God (NC) sharpshooter Davin Cosby Jr. is the other guy being recruited in the same spot. He’ll be in town for an official visit this weekend. While they’re invested more in Gertrude and have a much better chance of getting him, there’s no preference between the two. They’re going hard for Cosby too now.
Cosby just released a top 7 of UVA, Wake Forest, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, NC State, and LSU. He’s already visited Wake and NC State. He’ll visit Alabama in early September, then LSU and Tennessee in October. We’re probably at least a couple months from a decision.
Decision Mode for TJ
Worcester (MA) forward TJ Power has been the top overall player on UVA’s board since the Spring. He named a top five that included Virginia along with Duke, North Carolina, Boston College, and Iowa. At this point, we’re waiting to see what happens next. While he hasn’t ruled anything out, it’ll probably just be a verdict coming over the next few weeks.
All that’s changed in recent weeks is there’s been some reinforcement to back up what we already believed, that UVA is strong in the running with him. I’ve heard from outside people the same story as UVA folks were whispering. He was close to committing to the Hoos in July when UNC and Duke jumped in. And a couple of the national gurus seem to expect him to spurn the bluebloods.
I believe the race is between UVA and Duke, and it’s ongoing. The way to describe what I’ve heard on the UVA side would be cautious optimism. They seem to believe they’re the team to beat, but they also know they’ve been in similar spots before only to lose out. I wouldn’t rule out North Carolina, but Duke is believed to be the main competition.
Power has said he’ll decide in September. He’s already visited all five finalists. All of them would probably prefer a resolution soon, ideally before they go back out on the 9th. Certainly UVA would