Notes: Important Offseason Underway For Virginia

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Last week’s transfer news leaves the Virginia men’s basketball program with four available scholarship spots in the 2017/2018 season. How will Coach Tony Bennett use them? First, let’s take a look at what the 2017/2018 roster currently looks like in terms of scholarship players.

Point Guards: Ty Jerome (SOPH)

Wings: Devon Hall (SR), Kyle Guy (SOPH), De’Andre Hunter (RS FR), Marco Anthony (FR)

Posts: Isaiah Wilkins (SR), Jack Salt (RS JR), Mamadi Diakite (RS SOPH), Jay Huff (RS FR)

There are two immediate needs. One is a quick point guard, preferably one who can break down the defense and score. The other need lies in the post, where Virginia ideally would like to land a top-flight player with inside scoring ability. Whether the latter player is there, either through the graduate transfer or high school markets, is unclear. At the very least next year UVA could use a graduate transfer post who can bring some scoring and add depth down low.

On the graduate transfer front, CBS Sports College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein reports that Marquette guard Duane Wilson “tells me that he’s considering Texas A&M, Arkansas, Nevada, Georgia Tech, Georgia, and Virginia.”

Wilson, who revealed through Twitter that he visited Texas A&M last weekend, is a 6’2”, 185-pound point guard. He averaged 11 points and 28 minutes per game his redshirt freshman and redshirt sophomore seasons before his playing time dipped down to 16 minutes per game in 2016/2017. Wilson would average 4.8 points per contest for the Golden Eagles this season. He would fit the needs at guard mentioned above, however, if he were to choose the Hoos, who recruited him out of high school.

(UPDATE: Multiple outlets report that Wilson will transfer to Texas A&M)

While the focus is adding immediate help, the staff is also looking for traditional transfers who would have to sit out next year but would be able to help beginning in 2018/2019. Virginia loses mainstays Devon Hall and Isaiah Wilkins after this coming season and could address any position through the traditional transfer market.

In the post, Washington’s Noah Dickerson and U-Conn’s Steven Enoch are early names to watch. Each player would have two seasons of eligibility remaining after redshirting, and each player was recruited by UVA out of high school.

In the backcourt, Virginia is reportedly one of several schools to touch base with Bryant University sophomore guard Nisre Zouzoua. The 6’2”, 190-pound shooting guard averaged 20.3 points per game his sophomore year, which included a 22-point performance at Gonzaga, a 19-point performance at Notre Dame, and a 24-point performance at Northwestern.

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello and Scout.com’s Evan Daniels report that Zouzoua has received interest from Arizona State, Boston College, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, NC State, Rutgers and Virginia.

Rice sophomore point guard Marcus Evans, who played his high school ball at Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, VA), has announced his intention to transfer and could be a player to watch. Evans averaged 21.4 points per game as a freshman and 19 points per contest as a sophomore, helping the Owls to a 23-12 record in 2016/2017. He thrived in two seasons under head coach Mike Rhoades, who is now VCU’s head coach.

“Obviously coach Rhoades, me and him have a special relationship and I absolutely playing for him,” Evans told Adam Coleman of the Houston Chronicle in this March 27 article. “But I want to make sure again that I find the right fit and I want to test my options and see where that exactly is. But VCU is definitely still an option.”

In the article, Evans listed Creighton, Florida State, Miami, NC State, and St. John’s as schools that have been in contact. Don’t be surprised if Virginia joins the list.

Class of 2018 News

Coach Bennett and his staff have put a lot of work in recruiting the class of 2018. While there are no commitments to date, the Cavaliers are in the thick of things for some top prospects. Here is the latest on a few of those targets …

– Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) point guard Prentiss Hubb revealed his top six schools on March 26. Virginia, which has been in hot pursuit of Hubb for quite some time, made the list.

– 6’9″ forward Jalen Smith, another top target of Tony Bennett’s, spoke with MadeHoops.com’s Pat Lawless this past weekend regarding his recruitment. In the article, which you can read by clicking here, Smith said the following about Coach Bennett …

“I like the way Coach Bennett coaches his players, he doesn’t overreact and he knows that everyone makes mistakes. He pushes his guys to make better decisions in the future and gives a lot of confidence to his players. He also focuses a lot on defense and I like that.”

Maryland, Syracuse, and Villanova are among the other schools pursuing the Mount St. Joseph’s (Baltimore, MD) product. Smith has been to Virginia at least twice, including once for a game this past season.

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