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Men's Basketball

New Keels Contender, Top Recruit Updates, and Point Guard Candidates

In this edition of the Recruiting Rundown, we look at what a late entry into the Trevor Keels marathon signals. Updates on future Hoos and our top 2022 target. And I profile some of the leading candidates for point guard offers.

Final Three No More

Yesterday brought a new twist in the marathon recruitment of Paul VI (VA) guard Trevor Keels.  He picked up an offer from Kentucky.  They’ll now be considered along with his previous top three of Virginia, Duke, and Villanova.

In a strange way, this is a somewhat positive sign.  Recent rumblings have been that perceived favorite Duke is slipping in the race.   The Kentucky offer lines up with that narrative.  John Calipari wouldn’t jump in late unless he has a legitimate shot, which means none of the original three is firmly in the driver’s seat.  In other words, everybody is alive here. Virginia’s chances aren’t great, but they are real.  Keels will probably wait until after the season to decide, to have a better idea of next year’s rosters.

Future Hoos Ready for Action

UVA’s lone 2021 signee Taine Murray is spending this season with the New Zealand Breakers of the Australian NBL.  He’s only appeared in one game so far, without recording any stats.  That’s to be expected for a teenager in a high level professional league.  He’ll take a short break next weekend to join the New Zealand national team for an Asia Cup qualifying game against Australia.

Fresh class of 2022 commit Isaac McKneely is still waiting for the season to tip off in West Virginia.  We look forward to tracking Isaac and his Poca Dots, starting with their opener on March 5th.   Mostly, I just wanted an excuse to post his commitment video again.  Best in Virginia Basketball history.  Granted, we haven’t had many.

Monster Traudt

Virginia’s top remaining 2022 target, forward Isaac Traudt of Grand Island (NE), had himself quite a night on Monday.  He tied the Nebraska Class A single-game scoring record with a 57-point performance in a 76-74 Grand Island overtime win.   That’s not a typo.  Fifty-Seven points.  He converted 20 of his 35 field goal attempts, and was 14-20 from the foul line.

Traudt is a unique talent.  He’s a guard in a forward’s body, perfect for the modern game.  As he continues to gain exposure, his rating will keep rising.  College coaches already recognize him as an elite prospect, Bennett included obviously.  Virginia is in a good spot.  Among the leaders, if not head of the pack.  Creighton did just pick up the first Rivals prediction since his ascension this past summer.  Oklahoma and Louisville are often mentioned.  Gonzaga recently got involved, and could certainly become a factor too.

Point Guard Candidates

A lesson of this past year is that we shouldn’t wait until offers go out to pay attention to recruits.  Bennett has changed the way he does things.  Offers are sometimes closer to the final stage than the start.  We know a point guard is on the agenda for 2022, despite the absence of offers.

Greenhill (TX) PG Noah Shelby included Virginia in his top 10 announced yesterday.  An elite shooter, he’s had some big scoring games this season, including a 44-point performance.  Coach Bennett and the staff hosted him on a virtual visit a couple months ago and have kept in regular contact.  There’s a potential package deal here too.  He and teammate Lee Dort, a highly ranked big man, would like to go to school together.  Virginia is involved with both.

Another Texan, Austin Nunez, is the point guard that’s received the most attention from UVA.  He’s done multiple Zoom calls with Coach Bennett.  They’ve been heavily involved with him since the summer.  Texas is seen as the team to beat, with a pair of predictions over at 247Sports.  Arkansas is mentioned a lot too.  He’s missing this high school season over eligibility issues after switching schools, but he’s turned heads in some showcase events.

UVA has a point guard from Wisconsin.  Maybe the next one could be too.  Menomonee Falls (WI) floor general Seth Trimble is becoming a hot name in recruiting circles.  Coach Bennett Zoomed with him last month.  His offer list is surprisingly modest so far.  That’s sure to change in the near future.  He’s having a terrific high school season, turning his explosive athleticism into consistent production.  A little bit of a Wahoo connection too, as he plays for Reece Beekman’s old AAU team.

There are candidates closer to home too, starting with Devin Dinkins out of Gonzaga (DC).  He actually visited last year for the Duke game.  A rare familiarity in today’s dead period environment.  He listed Virginia, Georgetown, and Tulsa as the schools most involved last month.  In limited action this year, he’s making a strong case for even more involvement.   He had 28 points against Trevor Keels and Paul VI on Thursday.

How about a legacy?  Donald Hand Jr. is mentioning UVA more lately.  There’s not the level of involvement as the others above yet, but there’s hints of smoke building.  He’s having a pretty terrific shortened season, with 30+ point showings in the last two regional tournament games.  Coach Williford actually got to see Hand in person recently at a showcase event his son Austin was invited to.  He’s a little more of a combo guard at this stage.  Showing he can be that floor general is probably the key to earning an offer from his dad’s alma mater.

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