Virginia Basketball Lands JUCO All-American Guard Tomas Woldetensae

Junior college All-American guard Tomas Woldetensae has verbally committed to the University of Virginia, multiple sources led by Eurohopes reported Wednesday morning (May 8). Indian Hills Community College (IA) head coach Hank Plona has since confirmed the pledge.

Woldetensae (pronounced Wole-deh-ten-sigh), a 6’5”, 195-pound prospect, spent three years of high school in his home country of Italy before transferring to Victory Rock Prep (FL), where he spent two years that included a postgraduate year. He enrolled at Indian Hills Community College in 2017. As a freshman, the lefty averaged 8.8 points (43% FG, 39.4% 3PFG, 89.3% FT), 3.1 assists, 1.4 turnovers and 1.2 steals per game in 34 games. This included 16 starts on a team that compiled a 33-1 record.

As a sophomore this past season, Woldetensae emerged in a major way, averaging 17.3 points (46.7 FG%, 47.6% 3PFG in 210 attempts, 88.8% FT), 2.5 assists and 1.4 turnovers per game in 28 games. He started 27 contests; however, he missed the Warriors’ final four games with a broken bone in his wrist. The National Junior College Athletic Association pegged Woldetensae as 1st Team All-American for his performance in helping the Warriors to a 27-7 record in 2018-19.

Woldetensae made an official visit to Illinois last month and drew attention from many other Division 1 programs, including Arizona, Central Florida, Maryland and Oregon, before Virginia began its pursuit within the past several weeks. Since leading UVA to its first ever men’s basketball national championship, Cavalier head coach Tony Bennett has seen his top three players – guard Kyle Guy, guard/forward De’Andre Hunter and point guard Ty Jerome – declare for the 2019 NBA Draft. All three plan to stay in the draft, leaving the Hoos with a major and immediate need for ballhandling and scoring in the backcourt.

With three definitive scholarship spots open for next season and a clear backcourt need, Bennett vigorously pursued the Indian Hills CC standout in recent weeks, persuading him to make an official visit to UVA this past weekend. Woldetensae, who will have two years of eligibility remaining, helps address the Cavaliers most pressing and immediate needs in the backcourt. Scoring-wise, he leaves Indian Hills as one of the schools best 3-point shooters all-time as well as the program’s all-time leader in free throw shooting percentage.

“This is a heck of a way to cap off an outstanding 2-year career at Indian Hills,” IHCC head coach Hank Plona tweeted. “So excited for Tomas Woldetensae to have the opportunity to play at Virginia, and looking forward to watching him have continued success!”

In the school’s preseason media guide, Plona described Woldetensae as a “joy to coach” with “a chance to be one of the best players in the country. He cares about being the best he can be at whatever he does, and I look forward to coaching him and watching him finish up a great career as a Warrior.”

Coach Plona expects Woldetensae to sign a letter of intent with Virginia “today or tomorrow.”

In addition to the JUCO All-American, Virginia is expected to welcome three true freshmen – guard Casey Morsell, small forward Justin McKoy and post Kadin Shedrick – to the program this summer. The Hoos still have at least two and maybe three scholarships available for next season, depending on Mamadi Diakite’s draft decision. Bottom line – don’t be surprised to see UVA add to the incoming group. Marquette traditional transfers Sam and Joey Hauser, a small forward and stretch-4, respectively, could be possibilities. Per Jeff Goodman and Jon Rothstein, the talented brothers will be on Grounds on Thursday (May 9) to start official visits. In addition, California native and 5-star guard Johnny Juzang will announce his college choice this Friday, May 10. Virginia is a finalist along with Kentucky, Kansas and Oregon.

UVA’s 2019-20 Scholarship Projection (Including Woldetensae and Mamadi Diakite)

Point Guards: Kihei Clark (Soph)

Wings: Tomas Woldetensae (Jr), Kody Stattmann (Soph), Casey Morsell (Fr)

Combo Forwards: Braxton Key (Sr), Justin McKoy (Fr)

Posts: Mamadi Diakite (RS Sr), Jay Huff (RS Jr), Francesco Badocchi (RS Soph), Francisco Caffaro (RS Fr), Kadin Shedrick (Fr)