Elijah Saunders, San Diego State Transfer, Commits To Virginia Basketball

After a quiet start to the transfer portal season, the Virginia men’s basketball team roared into the new week. San Diego State’s Elijah Saunders became the second commitment of the day on Monday and the third in the last three days for the Hoos.

Saunders made the announcement on social media, joining Florida State’s Jalen Warley and and Duke’s TJ Power as the newest Wahoos.

Like Warley, Saunders brings experience into the fold for Virginia. He played in 53 games at San Diego State, including 21 as a starter this past season. He played in 16 games as a true freshman on the Aztecs’ Final Four team. As a sophomore in 2023-2024, Saunders averaged 20.2 minutes, 6.2 points, and 3.6 rebounds. He shot 32.2% from 3-point range (39-121), 57.1% from 2-point range (44-77), and 96.0% from the free throw line (24-25).

A surprise entry into the transfer portal on April 29 per local media reports, Saunders appeared to be a potential starter again for San Diego State. Instead, he decided to search for other options, which included Washington and Virginia as he made visits to both schools this past weekend. After his UVA visit, however, he made the choice for the Hoos.

As a high school recruit in the Class of 2022, Saunders received a 3-star rating from 247 Sports, who also listed him as the No. 13 prospect in Arizona where he played for Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix. He earned earned back-to-back Conference 6A Player of the Year honors in high school. Before choosing San Diego State, he had offers from Virginia Tech, Miami, Notre Dame, UNLV, San Diego, South Carolina, and others.

For Virginia, the 6’8”, 225-pound Saunders offers lineup versatility. He should be able to play either front court position and could potentially slide up to the wing in some specialized lineups. Like UVA, San Diego State is generally considered a tough and physical team with defense-willing players so that should translate across the country.

Offensively, Saunders brings a face-up option out of stationary catches, can post up, and can step out to take some 3-pointers. He played both as a screener and as a screen recipient for the Aztecs. Saunders finished 65.9% of his shots at the rim last season on 44 attempts, which would put him behind only Ryay Dunn’s percentage in that category last season.

Highlights for Saunders can be found in a YouTube videohere and on his Hudl profile here.

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  1. Eli Saunders is a tough kid. Like his effort at both ends. Betting Tony Bennett is feeling better about ‘24-‘25 squad! And UVA fans will calm down!

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