Virginia Basketball Recruiting Notes: Cavaliers Looking To Impress Jabri Abdur-Rahim

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After participating in the 2019 NBPA Top 100 Camp at John Paul Jones Arena earlier this month, consensus 4-star wing Jabri Abdur-Rahim returns to Charlottesville this weekend for an official visit at the University of Virginia. Head coach Tony Bennett has made the 6’7”, 205-pound Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.) star a priority in the class of 2020.

“They’ve been on me really, really hard, especially these last couple months,” Abdur-Rahim said while being interviewed at the 2019 NBPA Top 100 Camp at John Paul Jones Arena earlier this month. “I really like how they played in the championship game. They’ve definitely been one of the more consistent schools to reach out to me on a more consistent basis. They’ve just been telling me I can come in and be an elite defender, and that’s what he sees me, kind of filling in a De’Andre Hunter type role, so I really like what he’s saying.”

Virginia will be Abdur-Rahim’s first official visit destination. He had one to Michigan set for late May; however, the visit was postponed when John Beilein bolted to the NBA. Michigan has since re-offered Abdur-Rahim under new head coach Juwan Howard, and the talented wing told Adam Zagoria that he “probably” will take an official visit to Ann Arbor “at the end of the summer.”

If a decision is imminent, Abdur-Rahim isn’t saying so publicly. He tweeted earlier this week that a top 8 is coming soon and told reporters at the Top 100 Camp that he wants to “take my time with the recruiting process and not make any rash decisions really early based off impulse.” He said something similar in the Zagoria report mentioned above.

Still, Virginia only has one scholarship spot remaining in the class of 2020, and although he is high on the Cavalier wish list Abdur-Rahim could miss out if he decides to wait. How this weekend goes will likely be very important in where both Jabri and Virginia go from here.

To me, the Virginia coaches seem content with where they are in recruiting for that final spot in the class of 2020. There are three main targets we know of – Abdur-Rahim, Henry Coleman III and Keon Johnson. I believe Bennett really likes all three and would take the first one to commit. Of course he will continue to eye other wing/combo forward types – this seems to be the type of player UVA wants with the final 2020 spot – and more scholarships could be extended if Bennett likes what he sees and/or the current targets are perceived to be headed elsewhere.

This weekend all eyes are on Abdur-Rahim, who Sabre Editor Kris Wright watched at the Top 100 Camp. Wright made the following report on the 4-star wing in an “Observations” report:

Abdur-Rahim is listed as being 6’7” and that seems about right (maybe a shade shorter). The first thing I noticed when watching him during workouts and games at the Top 100 Camp on Wednesday was his athleticism. He’s light on his feet and bouncy. With his frame and athleticism, the potential is certainly there defensively. He could be a multi-positional defender in the Hunter mold. Offensively, he didn’t receive many touches in the first game but played better in the second, finishing around the basket with a nice contested reverse and knocking down a perimeter shot (I didn’t watch the entire game). Abdur-Rahim, who averaged 15.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game at Blair Academy last season, has had several offensive explosions for the Playaz Club (N.J.) on the Nike EYBL this spring. He scored 40 or more points three times.

UVA’s recruitment with Abdur-Rahim has been picking up steam this spring and into the early summer, matching what has been steady progress in his performances on the travel circuit. He’s been turning in increasingly impressive outings according to recruiting analysts and he followed that up by leading the Top 100 Camp in scoring at 17.3 points per game over six games. He finished second in the event with 14 made 3-pointers, while also making 28 free throws so this is someone that can score on outside shots or going to the rim. He ended camp shooting 47.7% overall, 50.0% from 3-point range, and 84.8% at the free throw line.

At 6’7” and 205 pounds on the Top 100 roster, Abdur-Rahim looks long and lean among his peers with what’s reported as a 6’9.5” wing span. In other words, this is the prototype wing in the NBA and in the college ranks if you’re looking for a versatile player that can play bigger in small ball lineups but still hold down a traditional perimeter spot in other lineups. He really eats up ground going to the rim as his long strides cover territory quickly and that leaves opponents behind with bad angles; he appears to throw defenders off with his long limbs and movements. He appeared to be comfortable working quickly in isolation when windows opened and could create his own shot. On top of that, Abdur-Rahim showed really strong catch-and-shoot form from the old college 3-point line and a good hop step pullup jumper out to 3-point range as well. He hit an on-the-hop 3-pointer to tie the game late in one session.

If you’re looking for areas with less polish, Abdur-Rahim logged just 5 assists in six games (0.8 per game) and averaged 2.7 rebounds during camp. He can do more in both of those categories with his skill set. Every now and then, he was a little high with his dribble and that look like it slowed his first step at times as well.

Still, here’s the part that really makes Virginia look like a good fit: he gets it done defensively and looks like he wants to play on that end. In the same game he hit that 3 to tie, he also pinned a shot on the glass to save the go-ahead bucket as a help defender in the final 20 seconds. Abdur-Rahim has the versatility to switch onto defenders across at least three positions and likely could push that to be able to cover all but true centers with strength and quickness gains that are coming in college.

Long story short: if you’re looking for something that looks like a plug-and-play future option in the De’Andre Hunter mold, this is your guy in this class. It’s not hard to picture him in those spots at all.

Johnson Making An Official; Coleman III Nails Game-Winner

Speaking of Virginia’s other primary wing/combo forward targets besides Abdur-Rahim, super-athletic wing Keon Johnson of Webb School (Bell Buckle, TN) is on an official visit at Ohio State this weekend. The 6’6”, 180-pound rising senior took official visits last fall to his other two finalists, Tennessee and Virginia. He is expected to announce his college choice on August 6.

As for Coleman III, the 6’7”, 238-pound rising senior out of Trinity Episcopal (Richmond, VA) nailed the game-winning shot in a contest last Sunday at the VISAA Live Period Shootout. He made the shot right in front of Bennett and Cavalier assistant coach Brad Soderberg.

Coleman III told reporters at the Top 100 Camp that he plans to narrow his list to seven schools by the end of July. He’ll then take official visits with an eye towards a final decision in October or November.

Another High School Evaluation Period This Weekend

Coach Bennett and company were on the road last week (June 21-21) to evaluate prospects as certified high school events such as the one at Blue Ridge. Bennett watched Cavalier commit Carson McCorkle play for Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) at an event in North Carolina last Friday, saw Abdur-Rahim at an event at Blair Academy last Saturday, and then headed to Blue Ridge School last Sunday.

Another round of high school events takes place this weekend (June 28-30). Bennett will obviously be busy hosting Abdur-Rahim on an official, but you can expect a Cavalier assistant or two to be on the road again evaluating. Adam Zagoria reports UVA will be represented this Sunday to watch 6’5” guard Niels Lane.

As I mentioned above, no doubt Virginia has other class of 2020 wing targets on its radar. If they really like someone else and/or feel they will lose out on the current targets, more offers could be extended. Otherwise, I think the bulk of the evaluations will be on class of 2021 and beyond, so I expect more 2021 offers to go out in the coming weeks/months.

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