Virginia basketball is still in search of its first commitment in class of 2021 recruiting, but there have been some development with rising senior targets this week, as well as news on the recruiting calendar.
Dead Period Extended
Because of coronavirus concerns, the NCAA has extended the Recruiting Dead Period through September 30.
“The dead period has been in place since March and is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the NCAA said in a statement found here. “The Council took feedback from coaching associations in making its decision, and most coaching groups recommended the extension through at least Sept. 30. The full Council will consider the dead period again in September.
“No in-person recruiting or evaluations can occur in the dead period.”
This news means another month goes by without official or unofficial visits. Prospects can visit schools on their own but cannot have face-to-face interaction with coaches while on those visits.
Evaluation-wise, this news impacts September workouts coaches would attend in a typical year. Health is paramount, of course, but no doubt college coaches are looking forward to the day when they can evaluate prospects in person once again. The coronavirus wiped away an entire AAU season … head coach Tony Bennett discussed the ramifications of missing out on a summer of evaluations in a recent Q&A with VirginiaSports.com’s Jeff White.
“Just go back with me. I saw Malcolm Brogdon in July going into his senior year [of high school]. I saw De’Andre Hunter in the last weekend in July in Las Vegas [before his 12th-grade year]. Those guys would not be UVA players if it was a summer like we just had, because I would have never seen them,” Bennett said. “I just happened to uncover them. Kihei Clark, same thing. I think there are going to be a lot of hidden gems that go uncovered. Again, there’s just no substitute for watching a guy in person. You can watch a lot of film, and that helps, but it’s so hard to see the competition or really get a feel for their athleticism and their size and the things they do when they’re off-camera, how they react when maybe they just got yanked out or they’re not playing as well. You see body language. You see parents in the stands. You can’t judge those things off film, so you have an incomplete evaluation, but you’ve just got to make it as complete as you can, based on what you have. You’re like a private investigator. You’re trying to get as much information as possible through video, through conversations, through what people know. But the old eye test is a hard one to pass up, and you just don’t get that.”
Click here to read Jeff White’s full interview with Coach Bennett.
Class of 2021 Recruiting Updates
Four-Star Warley Off The Board
As expected, Westtown (Norristown, PA) 4-star combo guard Jalen Warley announced his commitment to Florida State last Sunday. Leonard Hamilton and company currently boast the top class of 2021 recruiting class in the country according to 247Sports.com and Rivals.com.
Warley becomes the fifth rising senior with a Virginia offer to commit elsewhere, joining guard Max Christie (Michigan State), guard Jordan Longino (Villanova), combo forward Kendall Brown (Baylor), and forward Caleb Furst (Purdue).
Taine Murray Names Final Three, Signs With New Zealand Breakers
Taine Murray, a class of 2021 guard prospect out of New Zealand, told 247Sports this week that he has narrowed his list to three schools: Maryland, Stanford, and Virginia. The 6’5” standout made more news when he signed on with the New Zealand Breakers in the Australia-NBL as a development player for the 2020-21 season.
Murray’s NBL news is especially important to Virginia’s chances, as he was considering enrolling in college this coming January. Had Murray taken the early enrollment route, Virginia would be eliminated because the Hoos have no scholarships available for the 2020-21 season.
ESPN Australia/New Zealand writer Olgun Uluc, who covers the NBL, summed up Murray’s signing with the Breakers.
Taine Murray is the best junior prospect in NZ, so it’s good for the Breakers to keep him around their program. I’m told Murray will be an unpaid DP, so he’ll keep his NCAA eligibility for 2021; he’s narrowed his college decision to 3 schools: Virginia, Stanford, and Maryland.
— Olgun Uluc (@OlgunUluc) August 12, 2020
247Sports reports that Virginia has offered a scholarship to Murray, who attends Rosmini College Secondary School (Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand). The Hoos recruited center Jack Salt out of Westlake Boys High School in Auckland and hired Kirk Penney, who also attended Westlake, as Director of Player Development/Coaching Staff Consultant in August of 2019.
Sports Illustrated’s Maryland site, All Terrapins, wrote a report detailing the Terrapins’ pursuit of Murray. Click here to read that article. Highlight videos of the promising wing from NBL and high school competition are embedded below.
Virginia’s Wing Recruitments
In addition to Murray, Virginia has offers out to at least three other wing prospects: Paul VI (Fairfax, VA) 5-star guard Trevor Keels, Hamilton (Sussex, WI) 5-star guard/forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Montverde Academy (FL) 5-star guard/forward Caleb Houstan. The latter recently reclassified from the class of 2022 to the class of 2021.
Virginia has three scholarships available in the class of 2021. I could see the Hoos taking two wing prospects as well as a frontcourt target in this class.
Keels has been a longtime top target of Tony Bennett’s. He and Murray represent UVA’s best chances at this point. Who else might be emerging as an offer candidate? Well, StockRisers.com reports that West Nassau (Callahan, FL) standout Dallan Coleman, a 6’6”, 205-pound combo guard, had a Zoom meeting with head coach Tony Bennett on Thursday (August 13).
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) August 13, 2020
Coleman, who goes by the nickname of “Deebo,” is rated a 4-star shooting guard by Rivals and 247Sports and boasts scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Memphis, Mississippi, North Carolina A&T, and Ohio State. His father, Ran, serves as West Nassau boys varsity basketball coach.
Frontcourt Recruiting: Gregg Announces Decision Date
Center Efton Reid and power forward Trey Kaufman are the only known uncommitted class of 2021 frontcourt targets Virginia has offered. Coach Bennett has been keeping in close contact with Clackamas (OR) 6’8” standout Ben Gregg, who revealed this week that he will announce his college decision on September 9.
I will be committing on my moms birthday. She’s always been my biggest fan, and I couldn’t think of a better way to thank her for all she’s done for me❤️ pic.twitter.com/CtOV00TsbE
— ben gregg (@bengregg20) August 13, 2020
Gregg praised Tony Bennett in this July 30 article by The Oregonian, saying, “Tony Bennett is an amazing coach. He’s probably one of the coolest coaches I’ve talked to. He’s so humble, down to Earth. They are coming off a national championship and you wouldn’t know that. He’s a humble guy. This conversation was a little bit more about basketball, but the last one was about our faith. He talked about his love of God and we talked about my family’s faith.”
If a decision has been made already, Virginia is probably not the pick. To our knowledge Coach Bennett has not offered Gregg a scholarship, and as of July 30 he had yet to take a visit to UVA. Going by The Oregonian piece, Arizona and Oregon appear to be the favorites, but it will be interesting to see if Bennett offers between now and September 9.