Fans are antsy, and that’s an understatement. Class of 2021 recruits are flying off the board. 15 of the 247Sports Top 100 committed in July, with several more setting announcement dates. Meanwhile, Virginia is entering August without a pledge for just the third time (2015.2018) under Bennett. There are extenuating circumstances obviously, and this was always going to be a challenging year on the heels of back to back strong classes. Still, other programs are finding a way in the same environment.
The good news is the top targets we’ve been talking about since Spring, or last Fall in a couple cases, are still on the board. The bad news is they’re about all that’s left. College coaches have taken different approaches to the dead period. Virginia has been extremely conservative. So far, they’ve only offered scholarships to players that we know Tony Bennett has seen play in-person. That could end up being the right way to go, as others are taking risks on prospects that perhaps aren’t properly evaluated. There’s also the theory that they’re maximizing dead period secrecy by keeping Virginia’s name away from offer lists. Whether that’s entirely true or not, it’s fair to assume there is activity with players that we’re not aware of.
Resetting the stage. Virginia has three scholarships available for the 2021 class. They seem set on adding a big Brogdon-style guard, and a skilled forward.
Westtown (PA) point guard Jalen Warley set an announcement date yesterday for August 9th. If the whisper train is on the right track, he’ll arrive at Florida State next year. It would be a little disappointing if that’s the case. Virginia has seemingly been very close, certainly among the top three. They did the Zoom thing with him a couple times. There were signs of momentum. The hurdle, as with nearly any 2021 guard, is the three guys sitting our 2020 class. Other top contenders, FSU and Michigan, both offer a crystal clear path to a large role. A long time ago, I said we have to aim high or find our guard late this year. Warley was a mixture of both in a way. Maybe he’ll surprise us. Either way, it was smart targeting in a difficult situation.
Speaking of aiming high, Paul VI (VA) guard Trevor Keels is still the top dude on the board. Bennett was all-in on him when he visited in September and has never wavered. That’s all we know for certain. Virginia is in it. Who leads? When might he decide? Your guess is as good as mine. He’s always said that he’d like to take more visits. Well, that’s probably not going to happen in any normal fashion this Fall. It’s part of why players are rushing to commit now. Assuming Warley goes elsewhere, it’ll be very interesting to see if Bennett offers anyone new. As for Trevor, don’t believe anything you hear. They’ve kept a tight circle. Chances are that rumor in your DM is bunk. For what little it’s worth, my guess is he chooses Virginia in the next month or so.
Let’s start with a guy that hasn’t been offered because that’s how weird this year has been. Ben Gregg out of Clackamas (OR) says he’s deciding soon. There’s an unofficial final three of Oregon, Arizona, and your Hoos. He’s had a pair of virtual meets with the staff recently and said some great things about Coach Bennett in that bold link. To be real honest, I don’t know what to make of it. We confirmed that he doesn’t yet have an offer, which I found surprising considering all the activity. Surely, they’re not doing that for nothing. I tend to believe they’d take him, and he certainly seems to have that impression. Oregon has to be the favorite. Arizona is already crowded at his position, not to mention that nasty FBI scandal. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if UVA gets the call, assuming they answer.
Indiana player of the year Trey Kaufman is the top forward target. He’s raised his profile this summer by dominating limited AAU action. North Carolina jumped in with an offer this week. A lot of these recruits say they’ll hold off to take visits. Trey might be the rare specimen who really will do that. The UNC offer is a big trophy, but I don’t think they’ll be much of a threat. Indiana remains the favorite, just not by the margin Hoosier fans would like to believe. Among the offers, I still think it’s a two team race with Virginia. We probably need to get him to Charlottesville somehow to pull it off. Watch out for Kentucky. lurking. They’ve been in contact all the way and Lexington is as close to home as Bloomington.
The other forward offer is to recently reclassified Caleb Houstan. His recruitment is just starting. We think Gonzaga is probably the early favorite. Not that it means much at this point. There’s a lot of talk with him and Duke, but I don’t see him going there if they’re able to get Patrick Baldwin. UVA will have a hard time because of Trey Murphy, not that we’re complaining. Caleb isn’t looking to split time or wait his turn. From the outside looking in, UVA doesn’t seem to have much urgency with these forwards. Maybe Gregg will change that, but I think they’re content to play it out with these guys for a while. There’s probably another or two out there they’re quietly eyeing for later.
We should lump Efton Reid in the same category with these guys. I doubt UVA will be able to get him along with a forward already offered, maybe a different one though. His recruitment is very messy. Rivals analyst Corey Evans recently ranked the contenders, with UVA all the way down at #5. I think that’s accurate, although perhaps a little misleading. The key point is it’s a volatile picture. While others could continue recruiting him through his flirtation with reclassifying, UVA was shut out. Just remember he’s essentially already turned down most of those schools once by not enrolling for 2020. Michigan is still trying. Right now, odds are he won’t end up at Virginia. I just expect another shakeup before it’s over.