The Virginia men’s basketball program has five scholarships available in the class of 2018. Coach Tony Bennett wants to fill at least one of those open spots with a top point guard prospect. Having gained serious traction with some of the nation’s best prospects at this position, can the Hoos close with one in the coming months? That is the key question six months out from the 2018 Early Signing Period.
Darius Garland was the first of UVA’s first wave of class of 2018 point guard offers. Coach Bennett offered in September of 2015, before the Brentwood Academy (TN) 5-star’s sophomore season. Prentiss Hubb of Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), Immanuel Quickley of John Carroll (Bel Air, MD), Jahvon Quinerly of Hudson Catholic (Jersey City, N.J.), Rob Phinisee of McCutcheon (Lafayette, IN), Elijah Weaver of Oldsmar Christian (FL), and North Carolina native Coby White all received UVA offers prior to their junior seasons.
White (UNC) and now Hubb (committed to Notre Dame this evening) are off the board and I’m not optimistic regarding Virginia’s chances with Garland and Phinisee. The latter visited UVA unofficially but seems likely to stay in his home state.
Garland told The Sabre in May of 2016 that Coach Bennett is “a great guy. I like coach Bennett a lot. Christian man, faithful.”
This comment is a positive and perhaps Virginia can push to get a visit, but for now I see Virginia being a long shot.
Quinerly, a 247Sports and ESPN 5-star who just released his top seven earlier this week, is in my view Virginia’s best bet of the “first wave” rising senior point guard targets. Arizona, Kansas, Seton Hall, Stanford, UCLA, Villanova and Virginia made the cut for Quinerly, who has spoken highly of Bennett and company and enjoyed an unofficial visit immediately following the 2016 NBPA Top 100 Camp. Bennett has shown consistent attention and has developed a good relationship with the Garden State star.
Immanuel Quickley has also spoken very favorably of the Virginia staff. However, he has also expressed a preference to play in a “fast, uptempo system.” Unless Bennett can convince Quickley that the offense would be more up-tempo with him in the fold, Virginia likely comes up short here.
As for Weaver, Bennett made inroads with the 6’5” lefty during an in-school visit earlier this spring. Now the important thing is getting Weaver on Grounds. If that happens, I do think Virginia has the potential to become a strong contender here.
Look for UVA to continue its pursuit Quinerly, Quickley, Weaver, and Garland. Quinerly and Quickley have been priorities for a long time, and Bennett showed Weaver a lot of attention this spring. He watched Garland on multiple occasions as well. But with landing a prominent lead guard prospect a priority in 2018, Coach Bennett has pursued new targets this year, extending scholarships to Michael Devoe, Devon Dotson, David Duke and Jaelin Llewellyn.
Dotson, who plays for Providence Day in Charlotte (N.C.), is the more recognized prospect nationally of the group. Virginia has some work to do to get into serious contention with him. Personally, I think Devoe would be a nice fit based on what I saw of him in Hampton last month. However, the Florida lefty has not gotten the attention from the staff others have gotten so far this spring.
Of these new offers, it’s Llewellyn, a rising senior at Virginia Episcopal School (Lynchburg, VA), who I think could be the one to watch in the coming months. The Virginia staff expressed initial interest last fall before Bennett offered earlier this month.
Coming Soon: A look at UVA’s wing targets in the 2018 Class