The Early Signing Period for Division 1 men’s basketball’s class of 2021 has come and gone. As expected, the University of Virginia men’s basketball program received a signed letter of intent from 6’5”, 200-pound guard Taine Murray of New Zealand.
“We are excited to add Taine into the Virginia men’s basketball family,” Bennett said. “Taine is a skilled and versatile guard, and he and his parents value a degree from the University of Virginia. We look forward to him joining our program next fall.” – Coach TB 🔶⚔️🔷 #GoHoos pic.twitter.com/mvfQytkUHL
— Virginia Men's Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) November 11, 2020
None of the three uncommitted prospects with Virginia offers signed early. Paul VI (Fairfax, VA) guard Trevor Keels, IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL) post Efton Reid and Hamilton (Sussex, WI) forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. remain on the board. I don’t think Virginia has much of a chance with Baldwin Jr. and at this point it looks like Reid is headed elsewhere too. Most feel Keels is either leaning towards Villanova or Duke, but UVA remains interested in the 5-star.
What lies ahead for UVA men’s basketball recruiting? Before exploring the options, lets look at the projected scholarship situations for the coming two seasons.
(A note regarding the scholarship projections. At this point I am not factoring in the free eligibility season of 2020-21. The NCAA has ruled that this year will not count towards the eligibility of any men’s basketball player. Hypothetically, every scholarship player on the roster could have an extra year at Virginia if they wanted to. However, I’m not sure how Coach Bennett/Virginia will handle this situation, nor do we know what players would choose an extra year if given the opportunity. This is certainly something to watch out for, especially when it comes to class of 2022 recruiting, but the scholarship information below does not take this eligibility issue into account.)
2021-2022 SEASON SCHOLARSHIP PROJECTION
Point Guards: Kihei Clark (Sr), Reece Beekman (Soph)
Wings: Kody Stattmann (Sr), Casey Morsell (Jr), Jabri Abdur-Rahim (Soph), Carson McCorkle (Soph), Taine Murray (Fr)
Combo Forwards: Trey Murphy III (R-Jr), Justin McKoy (Jr)
Posts: Papi Caffaro (R-Jr), Kadin Shedrick (R-Soph)
2022-2023 SEASON SCHOLARSHIP PROJECTION
Point Guards: Beekman (Jr)
Wings: Morsell (Sr), Abdur-Rahim (Jr), McCorkle (Jr), Murray (Soph)
Combo Forwards: Murphy III (R-Sr), McKoy (Sr)
Posts: Caffaro (R-Sr), Shedrick (R-Jr)
Virginia has two scholarships available for the class of 2021, and four for the class of 2022.
Although Coach Bennett would take a commitment from Keels, Virginia has plenty of backcourt players in the 2021-22 season. If Keels choose Duke or Villanova and UVA decides to offer other high school seniors, the focus probably will be on combo forwards (think De’Andre Hunter or Braxton Key) or a post rather than another wing.
An issue for Virginia with high school seniors and high school juniors is that the NCAA has extended the recruiting dead period through April 15. This means no in-person scouting for Bennett and staff until next spring at the earlier, although things could change depending on what happens with the coronavirus. If the timeline holds, though, I think the likeliest scenario is that Virginia does not extend new offers in 2021. Instead I see UVA waiting on Keels and possibly still pursuing Reid, and then seeing who is available the college transfer market in the spring. With the lack of evaluations, this coming spring’s transfer market may be more important than ever.
“It has been a big impact,” Coach Bennett said of the impact of the pandemic on recruiting. “One, you just don’t get to see guys to really evaluate them because so many these players, unless you’ve been on them for a while, you uncover especially the younger guys that are in the class of ‘22. I go back and I talked about this too you know from De’Andre [Hunter] to Malcolm [Brogdon] to many of our players. We saw them in the summer of, they’re going into their senior year, so there wasn’t that this year. I wouldn’t say we didn’t know about them, but we weren’t involved really, and so you know you missed those opportunities. And I think one of the best things we’ve got going is, when people can come and again same thing you can see them eye-to-eye you can show them around they can interact they can see your workout see your facilities be on Grounds. Their perspective, they can kind of sense, hey this place is real, and those guys enjoy being here. You just don’t get that. You can sell anything on Zoom, you know you kind of get a feel for but it’s just not the same as when you’re in person. So, I think you lose some advantages of the beauty of the facilities and the interaction, but you know you try to think outside the box and be creative and, you know, thankfully we got a good group of guys. That’s been a difference the evaluation piece. And then their ability to make decisions. To come here and see it where I think we’re at our best, and then again just to be around them.”
Looking ahead to 2022, the frontcourt – there are three projected seniors at the combo forward and post positions – and point guard – Beekman is the only point guard projected on the roster – are the most obvious areas for Virginia to target. The Hoos could add another wing as well, perhaps a combo guard-type. A prospect who fits this mold is Isaac McKneely, a 6’4” junior out of Poca (W.V.). McKneely has not been offered by UVA as of yet, but Bennett is in close contact. The 4-star guard seems very high on the Hoos if an offer does come.
McKneely has revealed a top eight. The list includes three schools that have not yet offered – Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky.
Top 8… pic.twitter.com/Ctxz065Cap
— Isaac McKneely (@IsaacMcKneely) November 15, 2020
Virginia has yet to extend a scholarship offer in the class of 2022. Click here to see a rundown of those prospects UVA contacted in June, when Division 1 college coaches were first allowed to have unlimited contact with rising high school juniors. McKneely and St. Anne’s-Belfield (Charlottesville, VA) wing Justin Taylor are among the class of 2022 prospects who have spoken with Bennett, a sign of strong interest from UVA. Taylor discussed his standing with the Hoos in this EDGE report from last summer.
Early Signing Period Roundup
– Taine Murray’s current ranking per 247Sports is the no. 74 prospect in the nation and the no. 12 shooting guard. 247Sports ranks him as a 4-star prospect. So does Rivals.com, though Rivals has no national or positional ranking for the New Zealand standout at this point.
Furst took an official visit to UVA in the fall of 2019, while Kaufman toured the Grounds this September. Furst had a final three of Michigan State, Purdue and Virginia. Kaufman had a final list of Indiana, Indiana State, North Carolina, Purdue and UVA before committing to the Boilermakers on October 30.
– Per 247Sports, Duke (2) and Florida State (1) signed at least one 5-star prospect. Louisville (4), Florida State (2), Miami (2), North Carolina (2), NC State (2), Wake Forest (2), Georgia Tech (1), Syracuse (1) and Virginia (1) signed at least one 4-star prospect.
According to Rivals.com, Duke (2), Florida State (1) and Syracuse (1) signed at least one 5-star prospect. Louisville (3), Florida State (2), Georgia Tech (2), Miami (2), North Carolina (2), NC State (2), Wake Forest (2) and Virginia (1) signed at least one 4-star prospect.