Unless you’ve been awol, you already know the big news of yesterday. 2022 Poca (WV) guard Isaac McKneely will announce his college choice on Saturday. Crystal balls are flooding in. 100% Virginia. You get the picture. Nothing is for certain until he says it, but odds are we’ll all be in a good mood shortly after 2pm Saturday. He’s the guy Tony Benentt has wanted most from the get-go. Those players usually work out pretty well.
They probably could have gotten him to commit a long time ago, as far back as summer. He wanted a chance to go through the process, such as it is under the circumstances, so they gave him a little room to do that. Once the offer came last month, that was sort of Tony saying it’s time to get serious. I think the tipping point is that he and the coaching staff see the opportunity for him to help with other recruits, specifically Isaac Traudt to start. More on him in a minute.
So where does this leave St. Anne’s Belfield guard Justin Taylor? In limbo for now. UVA will probably still be an option when the dust settles, but it’ll be somewhat dependent on how things play out during this Spring’s late recruiting cycle. And a big part of it is how much he wants to stay home. If McKneely is on board, it’s a crowded backcourt. Others will offer a much clearer path. The equation will have changed for him, that’s for sure. We’re hoping to have him as a guest on the Locker Room Access podcast with Mark Jerome soon.
Grand Island (NE) forward Isaac Traudt picked up an offer last week. They’re very hopeful about him. In fact, there was mild disappointment that he didn’t say yes on the spot. Bennett is pushing hard. They don’t want this to drag out and turn into a blue-blood affair. One UVA source compared it to Kyle Guy’s recruitment for that reason. It’s important to get it done early. They’d also like some clarity on their long term needs ahead of the Spring cycle. Even though they didn’t get an initial knockout, there seems to be confidence it could come in the next few months.
As of now, they’re essentially evaluating and planning to recruit around Traudt. That’s how serious it is. The search is on for a complementary big man. Athleticism and rim protection at a premium. Westtown (PA) center Dereck Lively is a definite candidate. Watch out for Calvary Christian (FL) PF Taylor Hendricks. The coaching staff has been asking around about him a lot down there. And Blue Ridge PF Maliq Brown is a bit of a mystery. He could reclassify up to 2021. I’m not sure how serious UVA is with him right now or if he’s seen as a fit with Traudt, but they’re involved. Mark Jerome is working on booking him on the pod too.
Despite the lack of offers, a point guard is on the 2022 agenda with Kihei set to graduate. There’s a little concern over not yet identifying firm targets. Along with trying to close out Traudt, that’s the urgent priority right now. They like Austin Nunez out of Wagner (TX) a lot, but it’s unclear how attainable he is. Anyone that’s followed recruiting under Bennett knows he is super picky about his floor general. He wants to be out there in-person evaluating these kids. I expect we’ll keep seeing names pop up until they settle on one or two. Seth Trimble obviously has their attention. Watch out for Oak Hill sophomore Caleb Foster too as a potential reclass up.
On the 2021 marathon front, Paul VI guard Trevor Keels is a long shot at this point. It’s become purely about his immediate role and UVA just doesn’t have the setup. They’re still involved, so there’s always that chance his mindset changes. For now, it’s bleak. And forget Efton Reid. UVA is not in the picture there, really haven’t been for a long time. Mostly by choice. He’s trending to Pittsburgh.
I’ve said this before, but buckle up for a wild late recruiting cycle when the season ends. That’s a consistent theme I’ve heard all around. They’ll be in the market for a plug and play power forward or center. A long term big man or wing would be of interest, part of why they haven’t fully engaged with similar 2022 recruits yet. And they’ll chase the right bucket getting guard too.
A final non-recruiting note. I’ve heard the one postponement they’re making every effort to reschedule is the home game vs Virginia Tech. Expect a return date for the Hokies in JPJ.