In just two more days, coaches will back on the road for the first time in what seems like forever. Five of the next six weekends are live periods. Things are going to get real busy around here, at least for me.
Secrecy from the UVA side is at an all-time high, and that’s saying something under Bennett. There’s surely things going on that we’re not aware of. And we’ll probably be in for some surprises in the weeks ahead. But that’s the beauty of in-person recruiting being back. They have to come out of the dead period closet and show their hand now. We’ll learn which recruits are important to them and who they’re truly interested in.
I think everybody gets the picture with Isaac Traudt, His visit was a smashing success. The whole recruitment has been that way. It’s an easy fit. I don’t get the feeling there’s much concern if it drags on for a while either. A lot of recruits are determined to wait until the Fall because that’s what they’ve been told is the right way to handle it. Usually guys that take off early like Traudt get tired of all the activity and realize there’s no point in continuing. These 2022 kids haven’t had that chance.
In a way, there isn’t any competition for Traudt right now. Nebraska thinks they’re next in line and that’s probably right. But the only decision within these next three months is whether he’ll commit to UVA or let coaches into the living room in September. I’d bet on him being back at UVA this Fall as a commit with McKneely helping recruit other classmates.
2023 guard Reed Sheppard was in town on Monday. That’s all I know for sure. He and Isaac McKneely will play at separate events in Kentucky this weekend. It’s convenient for Bennett to slide through for both. I’d guess those are his first stops on Friday. Their game schedules set up well for it. Sheppard is an interesting test case for whether UVA will go ahead and offer scholarships to’23 kids or wait as we saw with 2022. The excuse of not seeing them won’t fly this time.
Established 2022 Recruits
The time is coming where UVA has to either go all in on Wagner (TX) PG Austin Nunez or risk letting him get away. He put things on hold this Spring, took no visits. It’s been ours to grab. Bennett is supposed to see him play in Texas next weekend. It won’t surprise me if he commits shortly after. It also won’t be surprising if they back away entirely.
I’m a little skeptical of their involvement with Westtown ¶ guard Jameel Brown. Obviously, UVA is interested. But he could be overstating things a bit. We’ll find out how urgent it is to Bennett soon enough. Westtown will be in action each of the next two weekends. At the Hun School in New Jersey this weekend. Someone from UVA should be there. Not just for Brown but also 2023 Phelps ¶ big man Isaiah Miranda. UVA and everybody else is anxious to get a look at him.
Despite the lack of an offer, Virginia is actively recruiting Wauwatosa East (WI) wing Leon Bond. Involvement with him has intensified over recent weeks. He’s essentially the top wing target I believe. He seems to have pulled back on things a bit though, canceling some visits. Slowing it down with all the new interest coming in. He still has an official visit scheduled to Marquette in early July. It’s a transparent attempt by Shaka Smart to try to close him out just before other coaches get to see him. Assuming that doesn’t happen, UVA will be a factor.
Others to Watch For
TACA Storm (TX) PF Robert Jennings will get his chance to be seen by the boss next weekend. I think he’d be hard to pull away from the region, but first things first, deciding whether to go after him. We haven’t heard much about Dorman (SC) big man Noah Clowney since early Spring when he broke out. He’s playing these next two weekends, expect UVA to check in. Dumont (NJ) PF Dominick Barlow is of definite interest. As far as I can tell, he isn’t playing until the AAU periods though.
They haven’t contacted that many guards that I’m aware of, which probably bodes well for Austin Nunez. Denver Anglin out of Gill St. Bernard’s (NJ) is one to look for. Sharpshooting combo had a blowup spring. It might turn out to be too late, but UVA will check him out. He’s in Philly this weekend.
Lots of wings on the radar. Definitely will be seeing Christian Watson from St. John’s (DC) these next two weeks. Ven-Allen Lubin out of Orlando Christian is a blowup waiting to happen. He’s in GA this weekend. So is Pace (GA) wing Josh Reed, but I get the feeling he doesn’t fit what they want. BB Knight from Tompkins (TX) has suddenly gotten popular. He’ll get a look
To me, these live periods are the best part of recruiting. I’m really excited about it, especially for July. But I’m also curious if UVA gets back to some kind of normalcy with the way they approach recruiting. The last few years, they’ve been extremely reluctant to offer scholarships. Hopefully now that coaches can see kids play live again, they’ll loosen up and let it fly a little. That’s always been Tony Bennett at his best this time of year, trusting his own eyes.