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Virginia Men's Basketball

Right Back Where We Started

October proved to be more trick than treat on the class of 2021 recruiting front. Two targets that included Virginia as finalists chose other destinations this week, while the wait continues on another pair of long pursued prospects. Just 10 days from the start of the early signing period, New Zealander Taine Murray is the lone Virginia commit. Let’s dive into the latest news, and look at whether November could offer extra reason to give thanks.

Double Dose of Friday Bad News

Silver Creek (IN) forward Trey Kaufman is headed to Purdue. The official announcement release was a bit anticlimactic after it was accidentally played on live radio during recording the night before. A couple weeks ago, the Boilermakers would have seemed like a surprise. The noise pointing their way grew louder in the lead up, suggesting he had probably let them know of his decision beforehand. I think everyone, myself included, had this race handicapped all wrong. Purdue was likely always the preferred in-state choice, not Indiana.

Caleb Houstan took everyone by surprise by naming finalists three weeks ago. He did it again on Friday when he committed to Michigan. It was always somewhat mysterious on our end what was going on with him, which didn’t bode well for UVA’s chances. There was hope in some corners that we could pull this out in time, mostly based on his strengths fitting well into Bennett’s offense. In the end, I think his decision boiled down to the best immediate opportunity. Michigan has a very clear path for him to get maximum minutes as a freshman, all within a reasonable drive from his Ontario home.

Barring a major surprise, UVA will not sign a forward during the early period. I believe they still fully intend to bring on another frontcourt player for the 2021-22 season. Expect them to continue to evaluate and search for options through next Spring. With the probable rule change allowing immediate eligibility to first-time transfers, there should be plenty of talent available. In the meantime, the focus will shift to the class of 2022.

Back Where We Started

The only two serious class of 2021 targets remaining are the same pair all the focus was on a year ago, Trevor Keels and Efton Reid. It goes against everything we’ve historically seen under Bennett to be in this situation, but that’s the kind of year it is.

Paul VI (VA) guard Trevor Keels has been down to a top three of Virginia Villanova, and Duke since early September. There’s very little concrete intel of what’s transpired since. People I trust believe UVA and Duke are the two major players. I know UVA coaches remain in persistent contact with him, and there’s general optimism. That said, no one has a great feel for where things stand. Frankly, this is the kind of recruitment Duke usually wins. All parties involved expected it to be over by now. The hope is he’ll make the call before the early signing period ends on November 18th. At this point, there’s no guarantee it won’t drag past.

The recruitment of big man man Efton Reid, now at IMG Academy (FL), seemed to stall after he decided to stay in the 2021 class. As time has gone on, it’s become apparent that wasn’t just for UVA. He backed away from it entirely. That’s changed recently, as he’s been more responsive While it’s still unlikely he’ll sign this month, there’s hope that things are progressing forward again. Kentucky receiving a commitment from big man Daimion Collins might have helped with that. Another theory is that he’s weighing options while considering early enrollment for the second semester, possibly at Michigan. The Wolverines along with Ohio State are the perceived favorites among current options.

New Names for 2022

We’re still waiting on the first offer to the class of 2022, but activity is definitely picking up as they prepare to turn the corner. The coaching staff reportedly hosted three potential targets on virtual visits this week.

Wing Camden Heide out of Minnesota Zoomed with the staff on Wednesday. A high-level shotmaker with good size at 6’6, he brings some positional versatility. He’s been a hot commodity for college coaches this summer racking up offers from the likes of Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, Arizona, among others. There were reports of UVA reaching out on the first day allowed in June, so it’s not a new interest. They’ve had opportunities to watch him on AAU streams this summer, and obviously were impressed enough to crank up contact

On Monday, it was a pair of teammates from Texas. Point guard Noah Shelby and big man Lee Dort, both of the Greenhill School near Dallas. Shelby’s father is actually Dort’s guardian, so they’re very close. Shelby has really shined in AAU play this summer, picking up offers from Kansas, Auburn, and Texas along the way. Dort, originally form Haiti, is rated as a 5-star prospect. Naturally, competition for him will be stiff.

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