The third and final July Evaluation Period has been underway since 5 p.m. Wednesday night, but the big news as far as the Virginia men’s basketball program is concerned is that Austin Nichols has reportedly scheduled a visit to Charlottesville.
CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, who was the first to report UVa as Nichols’ likely destination, reports that the 6’9″, 225-pound power forward will be on Grounds this weekend for a visit.
While Parrish reports that Nichols is “likely to land at Virginia,” he adds that the former Memphis standout is also considering Kansas. No question, the Cavaliers would love to bring Nichols into the fold this weekend.
The Evaluation Period lasts through Sunday, July 26, at 5 p.m. This is an important time for college coaches to evaluate talent for current and future classes, but Tony Bennett has shown before that he will miss some evaluation time to host a top target. He did this in the spring of 2014, when he hosted point guard Devonte Graham — then a senior at Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) — on an official visit . Unfortunately for the Hoos, Graham ultimately signed with Kansas.
Given Nichols’ talent level and the fact that he would help fill what is now appears to be a major need in the 2016/2017 season, it’s easy to see why Bennett would head back to Charlottesville this weekend.
TRACKING THE EVALUATION PERIOD
Las Vegas is the host city for several major AAU basketball events this week, including the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships and the Las Vegas Fab 48. Coach Bennett began his week at the Adidas event, seeing 4-star class of 2016 forward target Braxton Blackwell in action. The 6’7″, 220-pound prospect has Virginia in his final six along with Alabama, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas and Vanderbilt.
Also on Wednesday night, Bennett watched Team Loaded VA face off against Indiana Elite in the 17U Division. The Indiana Elite is led by Virginia class of 2016 commit Kyle Guy, who had 12 points and four rebounds in a 76-61 loss to Team Loaded.
Team Loaded features top UVa class of 2016 frontcourt target Mamadi Diakite as well as former Cavalier class of 2016 forward commit, Sacha Killeya-Jones. Diakite was credited with 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block in the win. Killeya-Jones has been playing on the Under Armour circuit but is playing in the Adidas event this week.
– On Thursday, Coach Bennett was spotted in attendance for the Massachusetts Rivals versus Team Fast Elite. The Rivals team features class of 2016 forward Wenyen Gabriel, who received an offer from the Hoos earlier this spring. A number of other schools have offered, including U-Conn, Texas and Villanova, while Duke and Kansas are among those expressing very serious interest.
– UVa was represented in attendance for the 15U Team Loaded VA versus Indiana Elite game on Thursday. Class of 2018 wing Keldon Johnson, who plays for Team Loaded, earned an offer from Virginia this past weekend. Georgetown, Cincinnati and Virginia Tech have also come through with offers for the Park View (South Hill, VA) standout.
Norfolk Academy (Norfolk, VA) class of 2018 center David McCormack, also of Team Loaded, reportedly has an offer from NC State.
– Bennett made his way to the Fab 48 Thursday night. There, he was one of many coaches on the sidelines for Philly Pride versus 1 Nation.
Per Jerry Meyer of 247Sports, MacArthur (Irving, TX) class of 2016 shooting guard Andrew Jones lists UVa as one of the schools recruiting him the hardest at this point. Virginia offered the 6’4″, 185-pound prospect following the Nike Peach Jam. Arizona, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech have since followed suit.