Head coach Tony Bennett and staff signed five high school seniors last November, but they weren’t finished. Today, the Virginia program scored a verbal commitment from Billy Baron , a 6-1, 185-pound guard who is in a postgraduate year at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts. Baron originally committed last fall to the University of Rhode Island, where his father, Jim, is the head men’s basketball coach.
An all-state performer as a senior at Bishop Hendricken (Warwick, R.I.), Baron, looking to earn a major Division 1 scholarship offer, decided on a postgraduate year at Worcester. He performed well on the AAU circuit last summer, showing well enough to intrigue ACC and Big East programs before enrolling at Worcester.
< ?php include(getenv("DOCUMENT_ROOT") . "/sabreincludes/adTags/boxArticles.html"); ?>“In September, he broke the thumb on his left hand pretty severely,” Worcester head coach Ed Reilly said. “He sat out the September and October evaluation periods and that set him back a bit. It hurt him in the eyes of the people that wanted to look at him.”
In October, Baron committed to Rhode Island but did not sign a letter of intent.
“I think he went into basketball season feeling good about URI,” Reilly said. “He had always had aspirations of playing for his dad. He was infatuated with that and liked the idea, but the prep season he had validated that he is a higher-level player. I think he was open to something else potentially developing.”
Virginia was one of the interested schools last summer, though at the time there was no concrete offer. Led by Tony Bennett and Jason Williford, the Virginia staff continued to evaluate. Baron would receive an offer in December and follow up with an official visit to Charlottesville for the home game against UAB.
“I loved it,” Baron recalled. “The facilities are amazing. The school is great. The coaching staff is great. They are all great guys. I can’t wait to get to work.”
Baron held off on making a decision on his college future until after Worcester’s season, which ended this past weekend. In the end, the opportunity Virginia offered was too much to pass up.
“I feel good,” Baron said of the choice he made. “I feel relieved. A lot of hard work has paid off. The job is not done, but one of my goals is accomplished....
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