Virginia Basketball Recruiting Notes: Early Signing Period Begins November 11

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The Early Signing Period for Division 1 men’s basketball begins Wednesday, November 11, and runs through Wednesday, November 18. The University of Virginia men’s basketball program’s lone commitment in the class of 2021 is guard Taine Murray. Barring a surprise, the New Zealand native will make his commitment official and sign with the Hoos during this early period.

The 6’5”, 190-pound Murray is rated a 4-star prospect by 247Sports and He chose the Hoos over Maryland and Stanford as well as scholarship offers from California, Colorado, Creighton and Purdue.

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Of the high school seniors who have been offered by Virginia, only three remain uncommitted.

Trevor Keels, Guard, Paul VI (Fairfax, VA)

Keels, a 6’5”, 210-pound 5-star guard, narrowed his list to Duke, Villanova and Virginia on September 9. Though there have been rumblings of a decision a few times since, Keels has not given any public indication of when he will commit or even if he will sign in November, but because he has had his list narrowed for so long, there is reason to keep an eye out for a decision within the next two weeks.

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett and associate head coach Jason Williford have been in hot pursuit since extending a scholarship offer in early 2019, but the consensus seems to be that Duke and Villanova are the frontrunners. If Virginia does land Keels, he would be the first Paul VI (Fairfax, VA) product to sign with the Hoos in the Bennett era. Bennett has offered multiple prospects from the talent-rich program in his Cavalier tenure.

Patrick Baldwin Jr., Forward, Hamilton (Sussex, WI)

The consensus 5-star forward has narrowed his list to Duke, Georgetown, Kentucky, Michigan, Milwaukee, North Carolina, Northwestern, UCLA, Virginia and Wisconsin. He has not said definitively if he will sign early, but, as is the case with Keels, an early decision wouldn’t come as a surprise. However, of the three uncommitted targets, my guess is UVA’s odds are furthest with Baldwin Jr.

Efton Reid, Center, IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)

Seven-footer Efton Reid, who graduated from Steward School (Richmond, VA) and is now enrolled at IMG Academy (FL) for a postgraduate year, likely will not sign early according to this article by 247Sports National Basketball Recruiting Analyst Eric Bossi.

Coach Bennett was very active in his pursuit of Reid from the summer of 2019 through the spring of this year. Reid, who has not disclosed much in terms of possible favorites throughout his recruitment, took an official visit to UVA. Admittedly I have been less optimistic about Virginia’s chances since Reid headed to Florida for his final year of high school, and at this point I’m still on the pessimistic side, but this recruitment may not be done for a while.

COVID-19 Impact On Recruiting

Virginia has two scholarships available in the class of 2021 and four in the class of 2022. However, Coach Bennett has not extended a new scholarship in 2021 for months and currently has no offers extended in the class of 2022. Part of the reason for this could be the lack of opportunities for Bennett and company to conduct in-person evaluations because of the coronavirus, which has prompted the NCAA to institute a dead period – no in-person contact or evaluations, and now official visits – basically from the spring through December 31.

Coach Bennett discussed during media day how COVID-19 has impacted recruiting.

“It has been a big impact,” Bennett said. “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.”

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