September is usually the month we gain clarity on which juniors will be recruited. The coaches fan out to visit high schools, sprinkling offers earned from the summer AAU season along the way. Obviously, this year is very different. None of that is taking place. The dead period has now been extended through December. It’ll be a while before there’s any of that normal activity, and they’ll have a lot to catch up on.
Virginia along with Duke are the only two high-major programs in the country that haven’t yet extended a scholarship offer to the class of 2022. I could write about when and how that might change, but why not turn directly to the coaching staff for the answer. Associate Head Coach Jason Williford talked about exactly that subject on the latest episode of The JWILLY Show.
“I’m pretty sure in the next month or two we’ll turn the corner on ’22, and there will be some kids that we decide we need to throw offers out to…..And quite honestly, a lot depends on what we end up with in ’21 determines who and what direction we go in ’22.” -Jason Williford
There are several things we can reasonably infer from those statements. He expects decisions from key class of 2021 targets, Trevor Keels and Trey Kaufman, within the next month or two. That would align with the early signing period, which runs from November 11th through the 18th. Considering there won’t be any evaluation opportunities before then, it sounds like there are 2022 recruits that essentially have already earned scholarship offers. But whether they receive those offers, as well as the type of players considered going forward, depends on the upcoming 2021 verdicts.
Let’s take a look at how each scenario would impact 2022 recruiting. As always, this is only one person’s opinion. The coaching staff could view individual players far differently.
Trevor’s addition would make for a ridiculously talented and deep backcourt. Once the euphoria subsides, I think they would quickly focus in on a point guard with what would probably be the lone available guard spot in the ’22 class. Reece Beekman, will be the only true floor general, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be around four years. It’ll be time to find the next guy to groom for the job.
The most smoke is around Austin Nunez. Being from Texas has been an advantage this summer. They’ve had a pretty full AAU schedule, all streamed online for college coaches. The UVA staff has tuned in frequently. He’s Zoomed with Coach Bennett already, and told Stockrisers.com that they’ve built a good relationship.
There’s no shortage of other potential candidates linked to Virginia. DMV lead guards Rodney Rice and Devin Dinkins have caught Bennett’s eye. Coach Vandross has been working Tre Holloman out of Minnesota. There’s communication with coveted in-state recruits Dug McDaniel and Jayden Epps. The west coast has a representative as well in Aidan Mahaney.
Missing out on Keels would leave three scholarships for the ’22 class, making room for a second guard. One of the great things about UVA commit Taine Murray is his versatility. He can fill multiple roles. That’s going to allow them to consider a wide range of players instead of the narrow search we sometimes see under Bennett.
A pair of sharpshooters have gotten the most attention. Poca (WV) combo guard Isaac McKneely has visited multiple times. They seem to be very high on him. STAB wing Justin Taylor is another strong possibility. There’s a lot of familiarity with both those guys. They’ve been racking up offers all summer.
There’s three categories of players they can consider. With Keels off the board, guys like Philly guard Justice Williams, who Vandross has visited, make more sense. There hasn’t been much talk about legacy Donald Hand Jr, but he could rise as a potential target in that scenario. They both fit into the Brogdon-style mold. They could also pursue an athletic wing like Alphonzo Billips out of Richmond. Chris Bunch, who frequently mentions UVA interest, could fit the same role. . Let’s not leave out Noah Batchelor or Gradey Dick, both players that Bennett already has a relationship with.
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This scenario is relatively simple. They need a skilled forward and a true big man by 2022. If they get the forward in Kaufman, a center is left on the agenda. Caffaro and Shedrick will both be upperclassmen. Bennett prefers to ease big men into the fire rather than wait until there’s an absolute need. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional center, just someone capable of defending the position.
There isn’t anyone right now that I’d feel confident saying has an offer waiting. If they wanted to take a shot at future one-and-done stud Jalen Duren, who they’re very familiar with, that could be a possibility. Other than something like that, there will probably be further evaluation needed.
North Dakota center Joe Hurlburt has mentioned UVA quite a bit. He’s played some AAU ball this summer, so they’ve at least had that opportunity to watch via stream. Favour Aire out of Bishop McNamara will surely get a look. I’ve mentioned Kyle Filipowski before. And while Maliq Brown isn’t really a center, they could opt to go that Akil Mitchell route too.
Should Virginia not sign a forward in November, the picture could get messy for a while. Here’s the thing to keep in mind, they will still want either a forward or a center in ’21. It just might not come until next Spring. Efton Reid would still be a possibility for one. There’s no indication right now that he’ll sign during the early period. In the meantime, they would recruit both types of players for ’22. If progress is made with the right player, that could impact how they approach late ’21 recruiting.
Isaac Traudt has skyrocketed up the charts after a strong summer of AAU play. He did the virtual visit thing recently. He’d fit that skilled forward spot perfectly. Actually with his positional versatility, UVA might be a player even if Kaufman comes our way. Don’t forget in-state stud Tyler Nickel either. He’s more of a true combo forward, but that works too.
Mark Mitchell, a 5-star guy out of Kansas, is a definite candidate. Colin Smith has had a huge summer, and mentions UVA. Cam Whitmore is another name to know. National rankings haven’t caught up to how good he good he is yet.