The University of Virginia is in serious contention for another top class of 2016 prospect. Braxton Blackwell, a 6’7″, 220-pound small forward, released his final six schools via Twitter this afternoon. Virginia made the cut along with Alabama, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas and Vanderbilt.
— braxton blackwell (@btwice_11) July 21, 2015
Blackwell is a consensus 4-star recruit, with all four major national recruiting outlets — Scout, ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports — ranking him among the top 60 rising senior recruits in the nation. ESPN rates Blackwell as the no. 37 player in the nation in the class of 2016. Rivals has him at no. 38, 247Sports at no. 41, and Scout ranks the Adidas All-American as the no. 59 rising senior in the country.
UVa’s inclusion in Blackwell’s final six comes as a bit of a surprise. While Coach Bennett has had a scholarship offer on the table since March of 2013, Virginia has never seemed to be a top contender. In fact, when we spoke with Blackwell at the 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp, he did not include Virginia as one of the schools that stood out to him at that point.
There has always been a connection between Virginia and Blackwell, though, and that is his uncle, legendary Cavalier center Ralph Sampson. Blackwell is also good friends with Indianapolis (IN) class of 2016 combo guard Kyle Guy, who of course has committed to the Hoos.
“My uncle Ralph played here. I guess it’s a little bit of pressure to go to Virginia and come back here and basically relive his legacy or something like that, but I like Virginia a lot,” Blackwell said at the 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville. “Coach Bennett’s a great guy. A man of God. He’s kind of like my high school coach, [Christ Presbyterian (Nashville, TN) head coach Drew] Maddox, so it would kind of be like playing for my high school coach in a way. [Bennett] knows how to win. He proved that last year and they’re just going to get better and better.”
Where Blackwell goes from here in his recruitment remains to be seen, but we hope to have an update soon. We do know where he will go for his senior season this coming fall. The 4-star standout has decided to transfer from Christ Presbyterian Academy (Nashville, TN) to Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA), where he will play alongside top UVa class of 2017 point guard target Matt Coleman.
So excited to welcome @btwice_11 to the Oak Hill basketball family. He's a winner in every way!
— Steve Smith (@OHACoachSmith) July 19, 2015