Virginia Basketball Recruiting Notes: During Exam Break, Coaches Hit The Road

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Virginia basketball players have been on exam break since falling 68-61 at West Virginia on December 5. While the players have been busy studying, the coaches have taken to the recruiting trail.

So what’s Virginia’s current recruiting focus? Coach Tony Bennett addressed this topic on his Coach’s Corner radio program on December 11.

“We’re looking at a lot of 2019s, some 2020, those players that are juniors and sophomores,” Bennett said. “We have some scholarships available if we wanted to add something in 2018. There’s so many things that happen now at the end of the year, with coaching changes, international players, transfers. All those things take place. Sometimes there’s some late bloomers, too, with some guys who are in their last year of high school or at a prep school, a postgrad year, where they’re really developing. So, you just keep your eye on it and see where your team’s at, the needs, and then other situations. But it’s mainly the 2019 Class. That’s the focus, but then you’re keeping your eyes on some of the younger ones and working hard to establish relationships and evaluate. A lot these tournaments, you go and you watch. You say, ok, do I like what I see? Are guys improving? Then we’ll watch them in the spring and the summer and go through that cycle.”

The projected Cavalier depth chart (scholarship players only) for the 2018/2019 season looks like this:

Point Guards (2): Ty Jerome (JR), Kihei Clark (FR)
Wings (4): Kyle Guy (JR), De’Andre Hunter (RS SOPH), Marco Anthony (SOPH), Kody Stattmann (FR)
Posts (4): Jack Salt (RS SR), Mamadi Diakite (RS JR), Jay Huff (RS SOPH), Francesco Badocchi (RS FR)

A Division 1 program is allowed 13 scholarship players each season, meaning Virginia currently has three scholarships still available to use next season. The Hoos have four available scholarship spots in total in the class of 2019.

“We were real active over the past couple of days recruiting and trying to watch some of the high school games or high school tournaments that are taking place,” Bennett said on December 11.

Bennett was spotted at the National Hoopfest in D.C. on December 10. More specifically, he was spotted in attendance for the IMG Academy (FL) versus St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) contest. IMG Academy, which is now coached by former Benedictine (Richmond, VA) and St. John’s head coach Sean McAloon, features class of 2019 wing Josh Green, who reportedly picked up an offer from the Cavaliers in early November of 2017.

Green and his teammates defeated a St. John’s squad led by junior shooting guard Casey Morsell, who scored 16 points in the loss. Washington Post reporter Jesse Dougherty, who tweeted that Bennett was in attendance last Sunday, reports that the entire Virginia coaching staff stopped by St. John’s to see a workout earlier this fall. Clearly, Morsell, who recently was offered by Florida, is high on UVA’s 2019 wish list.

La Lumiere (La Porte, IN) post Isaiah Stewart (Virginia offer) and Norcross (GA) guard Kyle Sturdivant (no Virginia offer) are other class of 2019 prospects the Cavalier staff reportedly watched last week. Duke is one of many, many other schools to offer the coveted Stewart. Sturdivant reportedly holds offers from Auburn, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami and Ohio State, among others.

As far as class of 2018 prospects are concerned, Coach Bennett discussed “late bloomers” at the high school or postgraduate level. Bennett reportedly has reached out to 6’6” wing Connor Crabtree, a 2017 graduate of Orange High School (Hillsborough, N.C.) who now attends Hargrave Military Academy.

Big Shots reports that the former UNC-Asheville commitment — Crabtree opted for a postgrad year over enrolling at UNC-Asheville — has taken official visits to Ohio, Tulane, William & Mary and Wofford. Boston College, Butler, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Illinois, Marquette and Virginia are among the interested parties.

Where Virginia’s involvement goes from here is anyone’s guess; however, in light of Bennett’s contact, Crabtree is certainly a player to monitor in the coming months. Check out his high school senior season highlights below.

On the class of 2020 front, Virginia has offered Paul VI (Fairfax, VA) point guard Jeremy Roach. Paul VI is another program that took part in last weekend’s Hoop Fest tournament. MadeHoops.com has this report on the talented sophomore, who discussed his recruitment, Virginia, and more.

UVA Signee Clark, Taft Off To Fast Start

Future Virginia Cavalier point guard Kihei Clark has Taft Charter off to a 10-0 start to the 2017/2018 season. ~ Photo courtesy of Clark’s Twitter account.

Future Virginia Cavalier point guard Kihei Clark has helped the Taft Toreadors (Woodland, CA) to a 10-0 start to the 2017/2018 season. The 5’8” senior was named MVP of the St. Monica tournament and poured in 42 points in a 73-69 win over Windward, which features UCLA-bound guard Jules Bernard.

Clark and 6’6” wing Kody Stattmann of Australia make up Virginia’s 2018 Class. Rivals.com analyst Corey Evans gave UVA’s class a C+ grade following the Early Signing Period. 247Sports Composite ranks Virginia’s class 10th in the ACC.

Clark is rated a 3-star recruit by 247Sports Composite and ESPN. He is currently unranked by Rivals.com. Stattmann, who played in the Adidas Nations event each of the past two years, is a Rivals 3-star, a 247Sports Composite 2-star, and is unranked by ESPN.

Looking To The Spring Of 2018

Bennett states the class of 2019 is the primary focus right now. By our count, the Cavaliers have offered scholarships to 13 high school juniors with the focus being post players (7 offers) followed closely by wings (5 offers). (Check out our Scholarship Picture Page for the latest breakdown.)

Bennett also mentioned the possibility of continuing to evaluate the high school senior and postgraduate market as well as regular and graduate transfers who become available next spring. By position, here is my take on where the coaches could potentially go this coming spring.

Point Guard – Jerome and the true freshman Clark are on the scholarship depth chart right now. Clark will probably need some time to develop from a physical standpoint, and with Nigel Johnson working out very well as Tony Bennett’s first graduate transfer at Virginia, I think UVA would absolutely be open to adding another grad-transfer point guard for next season. I wouldn’t rule out another high school prospect if the right one becomes available.

Wing – Adding another class of 2018 wing who could add immediate depth makes sense. Stattmann is a slender 6’7”, and obviously Virginia isn’t shy about redshirting players. It wouldn’t shock me to see him redshirt to gain strength and gain experience playing the college game. If this situation comes to fruition, it would be beneficial to have a ready-to-play wing behind Guy, Hunter and Anthony next season.

Post – I do see a need in the post. However, I could see Virginia play the 2018/2019 season with post rotation of Salt, Diakite, Huff and Badocchi. Virginia has been in pursuit of west coast talent JRaan Brooks since last summer. He committed to USC but has since reopened his recruitment and intends to sign next spring. Virginia doesn’t appear to have gained much traction here of late, but he’s still a name worth remembering. I have my doubts if Bennett would pursue a grad-transfer big. Even if they did, a grad-transfer could find the opportunity for playing time daunting with Salt, Diakite and Huff returning experienced players. It’s more likely, in my opinion, that Bennett would take a high school senior or postgrad or a regular transfer, if he takes on at all.

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