Virginia Basketball Recruiting Strategy Session: Coronavirus Concerns Create Holding Pattern

Virginia basketball coach Tony Bennett and staff have been unable to watch and evaluate prospects this spring and summer.

The NCAA extended the Recruiting Dead Period through July 31, resulting in the cancellation of both Division 1 basketball July Evaluation Periods – an AAU weekend on July 9-12 and NCAA College Basketball Academy July 21-26. All seven scheduled Division 1 basketball evaluation opportunities this spring and summer (three AAU weekends, the NBPA Top 100 Camp, two high school events, and the Academy) have been wiped away due to coronavirus concerns.

“The committee is committed to reviewing the dead period again in late June or early July,” Pennsylvania Athletics Director and Division 1 Council Coordination Committee Chair M. Grace Calhoun said in a briefing on NCAA.org.

The statement adds that the “committee will regularly evaluate the dead period, continuing to be guided by medical experts.”

Virginia basketball Associate Head Coach Jason Williford has discussed the challenges the coronavirus cancellations have had on recruiting, noting evaluation of rising high school juniors in particular.

“I think the biggest challenge is not being able to see guys play and compete, especially on the AAU circuit where you get to see the better guys go against each other,” Williford said. “So you miss that opportunity.”

“Luckily, we had a little bit of a head start with some [class of] 21s,” Williford said. “I think the biggest challenge will be the class behind them. We can start contacting [class of 2022 recruits] on June 15. Not being able to see those guys [play] and have a feel for their game, it’s going to be difficult but everybody’s got the same handicap and we’re just going to have to make the most of watching a ton of film.”

Evan Daniels of 247Sports reports that the NCAA and the National Association of Basketball Coaches are considering new evaluation periods in the months of August, September and/or October (click here for Daniels’ article). What that would look like remains to be seen. What we do know is that the Nike EYBL circuit will not be part of the action as Nike has already announced the cancellation of the 2020 EYBL season.

“This was not a decision taken lightly, but the health and safety of our athletes, families, fans and employees is our top priority,” officials wrote in a statement posted on the EYBL website. “We look forward to bringing the EYBL back in 2021.”

Neither Adidas nor Under Armour have made any announcements with respect to their AAU leagues.

Recruiting In A Holding Pattern

The latest scholarship update for the class of 2021 is 10 scholarships used, 3 scholarships open. This reflects UVA’s addition of Rice University transfer Trey Murphy III, who will be eligible to play in the 2021-22 season after he redshirts in 2020-21. I have slotted the 6’8” Murphy III as a “combo forward,” which is how Coach Williford described him in April.

“When he became available, to my surprise he grew to 6’8”,” Williford said of Murphy III. “So he’s now 6’8”, 200 pounds. He will bring a ton of versatility. He can shoot the 3, put it on the floor. He’s more of a combo guard/forward now with his size. Obviously, he’ll have to sit so I think what will be beneficial for him is getting in the weight room, attacking the physicality, putting on some weight, and having Coach Curtis really do what he does best, which is develop guys physically. When he comes back, I think his versatility, especially offensively, but what he’s going to be able to do sitting out, learn our defense, work on those things are things that were attractive for him about us. He actually loved

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