While we as a nation are in uncharted territory in the worst of ways, Head Virginia Men’s Basketball Coach, Tony Bennett, is finding himself in uncharted territory in a more positive sense. After striking out with a number of five-star recruits in what seemed like hopeless battles, Tony Bennett and the Virginia Men’s Basketball program could be finding their recruiting groove with the recruitment of national five-star prospects, Trevor Keels and Efton Reid.
Hoo faithful have watched and waited eagerly as the recruitments of Michael Porter Jr., Jahvon Quinerly, Johnny Juzang, and others dragged on, and ultimately left us heartbroken as the glamorous stars chose flashy one-year destinations. Regardless of the stars next to their names, some of these misses were to be expected. Recruiting is cyclical: there are stronger classes that are intended to carry the future of the program (2016), and oftentimes, the following classes see a talented young roster ahead of them, and we end up with role players (2017 and 2018). However, one national championship and one lottery pick later, the Hoos are on track to hit pay dirt for the third straight year with a potentially stellar class of 2021.
Tony Bennett has never had success with recruiting big names, and part of that is the big ego that frequently comes with lifelong national exposure. This go around, however, may be different. Trevor Keels and Efton Reidboth have serious game that jumps out at first sight, but each carries himself modestly. Keels, a five-star guard playing at Paul VI in Fairfax, keeps his head down and works on being the best player he can be on the court, while maintaining a low profile off the court and on social media. Efton Reid, a Richmond native, keeps it even more quiet. He does not announce or even confirm scholarship offers on social media, though he’s rumored to have dozens of them. Additionally, Reid opted to stay closer to home at the smaller Steward School in Richmond, rather than play in the spotlight of national powerhouse prep school. Keels and Reid, as well as fellow former five-stars Porter, Quinerly, and Juzang all have star power to make a coach drool, but their demeanor may but what separates the 2021 duo as primo Tony Bennett recruits.
At 6’5” and 210 pounds, Trevor Keels fills the role of “big guard” that was perfected by Malcolm Brogdon. If TK is driving the lane, defenders brace for impact and pray he doesn’t collect another easy and-1 opportunity. But Keels isn’t just here to play bully ball; much like Malc, he can play on and off the ball, and is just as comfortable bombing home threes as he is terrorizing driving lanes. Trevor’s driving ability and outside-the-gym range may be what catch most coaches’ eyes, but for Tony Bennett’s staff, it may be his incredible feel for the game that keeps them coming around. Keels has already been on an Official Visit to Virginia, and Virginia has collected an early 247 prediction to be his future home. In addition to Virginia, TK holds offers from Duke, UNC, Villanova, Michigan, Ohio State, and more.
Efton Reid may get the least press of any five-star in the country, and that’s exactly how he wants it to be. While landing Reid would be an unprecedented grab in terms of talent, his demeanor is something most Wahoo fans would find somewhat familiar. Efton “shows what he needs to” to get a win; on occasion, he’ll step out and hit threes when defenses forget about him, but the 6’11” Richmond native may be best known for the bevy of throwback post moves and near flawless footwork he uses to uproot opposing teams’ trees. Efton isn’t afraid to bang bodies with anyone, and can provide instant scoring inside and out. Regardless, Reid’s humility is a big reason why his teams always seem to come out on top. Reid has taken an Official Visit to Virginia, as well as sitting in on numerous games throughout the year (most recently attending senior day against Louisville). Efton has interest from a horde of schools, including Ohio State, UNC, Georgetown, Louisville, and NC State.
Inking either Keels or Reid would mean breaking new ground for Virginia recruiting, both would prompt a full out Wahoo frenzy. 2019 was strong- UVA brought in WCAC co-player of the year Casey Morsell, top stock-riser Kadin Shedrick, and high-profiletransfers Sam Hauser and Tomas Woldetensae. 2020 was the full on reload that’s set to replace the 2016 class that vaulted UVA basketball into the champions’ ring- Reece Beekman is one of the most efficient PG’s in country, Carson McCorkle takes on the fearless sniper spot that UVA fans can’t get enough of, and Jabri Abdur-Rahim is a poet with the ball in his hands. Now, if the Hoos can add the prodigious talents of Keels and Reid… the 2021 class would be nothing short of nuclear. Whether it’s a national championship, or new found NBA spotlight, Tony Bennett is on the precipice of something truly incredible in Charlottesville.