Virginia Basketball Notes: Tony Bennett Addresses Offseason Decisions On ‘Coach’s Corner’

The regular season finale and postseason play still remain for the Virginia basketball team, but during his latest ‘Coach’s Corner’ radio show, Cavalier head coach Tony Bennett was asked to comment on next season’s roster makeup, in particular the possibility of some seniors returning to Charlottesville next year.

Will Jayden Gardner return to Virginia next season? Tony Bennett hopes so. ~ Photo by Michael Ingalls

Show host and UVA football and men’s basketball play-by-play announcer John Freeman asked Coach Bennett to address “the topic of all the guys and the decision process” in terms of who may be returning to Charlottesville next season. Freeman specifically mentioned senior forward Jayden Gardner, but fans have also been speculating about the status of point guard Kihei Clark. Both players have an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA because of the COVID year of 2020-21. Senior wing Kody Stattmann has an extra “COVID year” too.

“With this COVID year, these guys have an extra year, and who can say for sure,” Bennett began. “Jayden Gardner, some people say, ‘Why didn’t he walk on senior night?’. Well, the one thing, and we’ve talked about this, in coming to UVA, it’s hard to get credits to transfer. When we get transfers that aren’t either a graduate transfer or they’re not a first year, they have to come in and take … for example, Armaan and Jayden had to take – I don’t think I’m speaking out of school – but 12 credits in the summer to get eligible. It’s just the school protects its degree at UVA, so you don’t get as many transfer credits in. There’s certain numbers. And then it’ll take them an extra year to get a degree. So even though he came in as a senior, he’s going to need to be here another year to get his degree. So, unless obviously there’s something out there that was so ideal from a professional playing career, I would hope that he would strongly consider and would be coming back. But I don’t pretend to know anything. Kihei’s got his degree, Kody’s … they’re going to have their degree. Armaan, definitely, he needs a couple more years to get the degree. So again, the degree still matters. You’re not going to play forever.

“My hope is that the majority of our team is coming back, but again with the one-time transfer portal I guess you never know,” Bennett continued. “You’ll have those conversations at the end of the year. You don’t want to assume anything. But this team has improved, and it has a lot of work to do to continue to keep building. We knew coming in this year it would be a different kind of year with the newness of it, so hopefully with this experience that so many of these guys have gained we’ll capitalize on that into next year. Kihei, he’ll have a decision. My assumption is he’s probably in his last game, but there are always who knows. You kind of revisit stuff and certain guys make these decisions. So, I just don’t know for sure. We’ll have those conversations when the time’s right.”

Including Franklin but not including Clark, Gardner or Stattmann, Virginia has two open scholarship spots in the 2022-23 season. The projected scholarship breakdown is as follows:

Point Guards: Reece Beekman (Jr)

Wings: Armaan Franklin (Sr), Carson McCorkle (Jr), Igor Milicic Jr. (Soph), Taine Murray (Soph), Leon Bond (Fr), Ryan Dunn (Fr), Isaac McKneely (Fr),

Posts: Papi Caffaro (R-Sr), Kadin Shedrick (R-Jr), Isaac Traudt (Fr)

Tickets On Sale For 2022 Las Vegas Main Event

Next year’s Cavalier team is scheduled to play in the 2022 Las Vegas Main Event, which takes place November 18 and 20 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tickets went on sale on Monday (February 28), and for more information be sure to click here.

Joining UVA in an exceptional four-team field are 2021 National Champion Baylor, Illinois and UCLA.

“We are excited to bring our team to the Main Event in Las Vegas,” Coach Bennett said in this press release. “The highly competitive field will challenge us and provide quality experience during the non-conference season.”

Traudt’s Storied Career Comes To An End

The Grand Island Senior (Grand Island, NE) boys varsity basketball team fell to Lincoln Northeast in the District A-6 semifinals Monday night. The loss ends the Islanders’ 2021-22 season and the high school career of consensus 4-star forward Isaac Traudt, who will leave Grand Island as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

Grand Island lost to Lincoln Northeast by two points in the regular season matchup. In the rematch, Traudt exited early with an ankle injury. He would return (at far less than 100% per reports) and finished with 13 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Islanders (10-13) lost by 10 points (47-37).

Below are some tweets from last night regarding Traudt, whose next stop is Charlottesville and the University of Virginia.