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In this VIP Intel Report, I look at some adjustments Virginia is making in recruiting and share a few whispers we’re hearing from summer practices.
Recent NCAA rule changes have complicated recruiting, especially for programs like Virginia that try to build for the long haul. Everybody has had this Spring to study how things work in this new environment. Coaches are adapting now. With in-person recruiting back, a shift in UVA’s approach is becoming noticeable.
Immediate eligibility for transfers has been a game changer in terms of the way coaches try to manage rosters. Some are embracing the chaos, loading up and accepting that they’ll need to do it again the next year. Tony Bennett showed us this Spring that he’s taking the opposite approach, limiting roster size to avoid losing players.
They’re not trying to put together a huge 2022 class. The goal is to have 10 or 11 players. Ideally, anything past that involves someone willing to redshirt. During the early signing period, there’s some flexibility with that. You can almost assume there will be at least one outgoing transfer annually now. But they’ll be a lot more careful going forward to avoid situations where players don’t have the opportunity to earn the playing time they expect.
The hope in all this is to limit outgoing transfers to underperforming players, and not capable young players stuck in a roster logjam. ,
None of last season’s seniors used their extra year of eligibility, but UVA could have a Super Senior or two in the near future. From what I gather, Bennett and staff have already talked to the three rising seniors about it to gauge their interest so that the staff can plan ahead and make recruiting decisions.
Kihei Clark probably will use his extra year. Nothing is definite. He could change his mind after the season. But they’ve clearly adjusted their recruiting of late based on the expectation of having him back. The other two are more wait and see. They’d love to have Jayden Gardner for two years. It’ll all depend on his pro prospects and how he enjoys the UVA experience.
At this point. UVA is looking to add at least two more players to their 2022 class to go along with committed guard Isaac McKneely . Maybe three.
With Kihei Clark likely returning, there’s not much of an opportunity for another guard in 2022. That’s why there’s been so little activity in that area, and lots of 2023 PGs being evaluated. While it’s possible they find a great player willing to wait his turn, probably not. Right now, the plan is to be in the market for a pair of 2023 guards.
The focus is all on the frontcourt now. A skilled forward is at the top of the list. Grand Island (NE) forward Isaac Traudt is obviously the guy they’re hoping for. And an athletic wing player as evidenced by this week’s offer to Tyrell Ward . In a perfect scenario, both those spots get filled. A third recruit would be center or hybrid forward. What they don’t get will be placed on the 2023 agenda.
2023 Oak Hill (VA) PG Caleb Foster is on grounds for an unofficial visit today.
Isaac Traudt just wrapped up his last June visit to North Carolina. They’re not much of a threat for him. They were out in full force this past weekend for Jalen Washington, who I think is actually their preferred guy. UVA is a heavy favorite for Traudt.
Leon Bond is taking his official visit to Marquette this weekend. His whole situation is eerily reminiscent of Sam Hauser’s original recruitment. UVA’s being a little sneaky here. Bennett will see him during that first July AAU period, assuming Marquette doesn’t close the deal. If UVA offers, it’ll be between those two.
DC folks don’t believe UVA will have any real chance with freshly offered wing Tyrell Ward . The thinking is that he’d like to go through the process a little bit, hear people out. But he’ll almost certainly end up at one of the two places he’s already visited, VA Tech or LSU.
I mentioned on the forum, Tony Bennett intended to see Dr. Phillips (FL) big man Ernest Udeh this past weekend. His team’s flight was canceled and they never made the trip. That’s one to keep an eye on, they’ll get around to in July.
Summer practices have been underway. It’s not much, but I harassed people for a few tidbits on what they’re seeing.
And overall, the comments we heard were more negative than positive. That’s usually the case this time of year though. They’re looking for someone to step up as a “vocal leader”. The feeling is this year’s team is “way behind last year’s” I pressed for anything about areas of improvement from returning players, and got nothing. “No, nothing stands out at all”
The new transfers have both had good moments. Multiple people said that Jayden Gardner is “as expected”. He brings the physicality and interior scoring presence that was missing. Armaan Franklin was off the court for a while this Spring with a minor injury, but is back to full activity. He’s passing the early eye test too, especially shooting the ball well.
Freshman guard Taine Murray was described as “gritty” and a “very crafty scorer” Early indications are he’ll be an immediate contributor. “He’ll get minutes for sure”. But one source said while all the newcomers have shown good things, they’re still finding their way “playing too tentatively”.
Above all else, everybody is just happy to be in the gym back to work without all the precautions of last summer. Coaches are never satisfied with what they see in June. It’s only the starting point.