Bennett Seeks Big Things From Big Class

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Virginia coach Tony Bennett brings in a six-person recruiting class next season, and has not eliminated the possibility of adding a seventh player.

When Virginia coach Tony Bennett secured a commitment from Billy Baron as the sixth player to the 2010 recruiting class on March 2, discussions began about how next season’s men’s basketball roster would be handled. At that point, Bennett appeared to have eight scholarship players returning to the squad; adding those to the six newcomers, there were a minimum of 14 candidates for 13 scholarships. Many wondered who would draw the short straw.

Bennett, it turns out, was several steps ahead of those speculators. It was no accident that he landed one more scholarship-worthy player than he had scholarships available. Unexpected attrition, he figured, is a reality of college basketball, and likely would solve the problem for him. He was right.

“Every year I’ve been an assistant or a head [coach], we’ve always had anywhere from one, two, or three guys that leave for a variety of reasons,” Bennett said. “I don’t think there was a point in time where we said, ‘Yep, this is absolutely going to happen.’ But there’s a lot of things – some known, some unknown to the outside – of issues that you’re program’s dealing with. Protecting yourself if someone’s going to decide to go pro. There’s academic issues. There’s players that probably are going to consider leaving if they think there’s better opportunities elsewhere, there’s not a fit. There’s a lot of scenarios that you look at, and that’s something that always, as a staff, you never can assume everything will be in place at the end of each year, because that hasn’t happened.”

Bennett was protected from one lost player, but not necessarily from two. With Sylven Landesberg leaving the program to seek professional basketball and Tristan Spurlock