There’s not a lot out there as far gossip about Virginia’s involvement with transfers right now. They’ve mostly been trying to figure out who’s returning from the current roster. And I think there’s some potential transfers they’re waiting to hit the market too before fully diving in with anyone. That’s been hinted a few times.
The other factor is that Bennett is all about developing a plan and sticking to it. Before losing anyone, they intended to add a bucket getting guard and an Akil/Darion type power forward. Exactly what’s in line with most of the transfers they’ve contacted. Casey’s departure doesn’t impact that at all. Losing other players could.
There’s more than just next year’s roster taken into account. They’re also looking at keeping everything in line for 2022. I keep seeing people mention how many scholarships are available for next year. That’s irrelevant. It’s the 2022 number that matters. Right now they have room for one multi-year transfer while keeping the ideal five scholarships envisioned for the 2022 reload. For every underclassman that leaves, it opens room for one more multi-year guy. Something to keep in mind if we see them reach out to head scratching grad transfers. That’s their best option for additional depth.
UNC transfer big man Walker Kessler is the one there’s a little buzz about. It sounds like his family took the initiative and reached out to his preselected choices before officially entering the portal. Not much in terms of specifics. Just that there’s some optimism. Everybody says Gonzaga is the favorite, and I don’t doubt that. But I’ll remind people of this with Walker. He was very slippery last time. Everything people, including the coaches recruiting him, believed about his leanings turned out to be wrong at every turn.
The strange thing is I don’t believe that UVA is actually planning to recruit a transfer center. Walker is just a special case. Maybe Tre Mitchell would be too. I haven’t gotten anyone to answer that.
Davidson grad transfer guard Kellan Grady is obviously a big yes if they could somehow pull it off. Indiana guard Armaan Franklin and Boston College forward CJ Felder are both “takes”, but I haven’t heard anything to suggest they’re going after them with urgency yet. I think Cincinnati forward Tari Eason would be too, but probably a dead end.
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Nobody at UVA expects to get Trevor Keels, but they don’t know that for sure. Villanova doesn’t seem to expect to get him either. They’re actively searching for guards. Not just Grady but there’s others they’re rumored to be eyeing. That leaves Duke. But he hasn’t told anyone apparently. So we’ll find out on April 4th.
For those that missed it, things have quietly gotten warm with 2022 PG Austin Nunez. He and his family visited UVA in late Feb on their own. Shaka Smart moving to Marquette is a new plot twist. I think UVA is in the driver’s seat regardless, as long as they stay the course… But it opens up the door for potentially a new coach at Texas who already has a relationship with Nunez. Eric Musselman (Arkansas) or Dana Altman (Oregon) could be a problem. They would be more of a threat than Shaka as a lame duck.
It’s since gotten back to me that Nunez’s dad has been reaching out asking questions to people who’ve been around the UVA program. They’re thoroughly researching it, while waiting out the late signing period and coaching carousel madness. Some scouts believe he could prove to be overrated though. So it’ll be interesting to see how he performs on the EYBL this summer, along with all these 2022 kids. They’re completely unproven by the usual standards.
Identifying 2022 center targets will be a theme next month when the shoe circuits get going. Maybe a small strategic shift, fitting with what they’re seeking in a transfer, is they seem open to more of a skilled big man. Kyle Filipowski (MA) i and Ben Middlebrooks (FL), both names we’ve heard before, have seen an uptick in contact. That probably doesn’t bode well for local product Maliq Brown, but we’ll see. These plans often get shredded in the Spring chaos.