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Virginia Men's Basketball

Isaac McKneely is Pushing #IsaacSquared as He Hopes to Build a UVA Dream Team

After Isaac McKneely committed to Virginia back on January 30th, the Wahoo coaching staff has turned its focus to a number of other highly rated 2022 recruits as they look to build a dream class similar to the 2016 one that carried the program to its first National Championship. 

As the staff has been doling out offers to their top targets, they’ve tasked McKneely with an interesting task. McKneely notes that, when he committed, Tony Bennett “told me that I was going to be one of the lead recruiters [for the 2022 class].”

“It’s been pretty cool,” says McKneely’s father, Dan. “He’s definitely embraced that role.” Isaac’s close friend and trainer Christian Kezmarsky echoes similar sentiments, noting that “that’s the thing with Isaac. He wants to do that. Some kids might not because ‘hey there’s only so many minutes in a game’ but Isaac wants to do it.”

Kezmarsky adds that McKneely’s impact won’t be limited to the 2022 high school class. “I think you’ll see Isaac as the leader recruiter for these other kid,” he says. “For years to come, too. He’s going to want to be the guy taking [recruits] on visits. That’s just who he is as a person.

Isaac McKneely’s push for #IsaacSquared

Virginia and McKneely’s first target is another top-60 prospect in the 6’9” wing, Isaac Traudt. With offers from a number of schools including Kansas, Creighton, and Louisville, Traudt is a likely blow-up candidate for this upcoming spring and summer. 

Traudt is a potential centerpiece of UVA’s 2022 class alongside McKneely and the potential pairing of the two has gained steam on social media. My fellow co-host of the Hoops on Grounds podcast, Joe Boxley, named the potential pairing of Traudt and McKneely as #IsaacSquared. That moniker fits perfectly since, while each player is incredibly gifted they could exponentially increase their value by playing together. 

McKneely is well aware of social media buzz surrounding the potential pairing of #IsaacSquared and has even taken to both Twitter and Instagram to push the #IsaacSquared hashtag. 

Of course, his recruitment of Traudt extends passed the annals of social media as they’ve established a good relationship. In fact, the two of them already got to know each other before the Poca native committed in late January. McKneely says that they “had a previous relationship because we had offers from some of the same schools. Virginia being one of them.”

McKneely understands just how good he and Traudt could be together. He emphasizes that “I really like the way he plays and I think we could complement each other really well.” He’s relayed those thoughts to Traudt but also notes that “I’m not pushing him too hard. I’m just letting him know that I really want to play with him.” 

The desire to nab a massive commitment from Traudt quickly is absolutely there. But, it’s clear that the Nebraska native will be taking his time with his recruitment. McKneely mentions that “[Traudt] said he really likes Virginia but that he’s going to take the process slow and wants to go on visits [this summer before committing].”

Filling out the dream team

With Traudt as the biggest fish left on the market, point guard Austin Nunez is a close second. Bennett offered Nunez on the 16th of February. Shortly thereafter, Isaac McKneely reached out to the guy who could be his point guard down the road. While it’s only been a little over a week since Nunez got the offer, but McKneely emphasizes that “we have a little relationship.”

With a class of Austin Nunez, Isaac McKneely, and Isaac Traudt, UVA would be mirroring the 2016 group of Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter, and Jay Huff that is chalk full of offensive talent and, most importantly, shooting. Of course, one can’t forget the Wahoos’ most recent offer to the Swedish wing Bobi Klintman who has compared himself to Hunter. 

McKneely, for one, is very excited about what the program could do with a roster built around that class. “That could be a special group,” says McKneely. “You can’t forget about [UVA’s lone 2021 commit] Taine Murray either. I’ve watched plenty of stuff on him and he looks like a great player who I want to play with. With him in the mix as well and maybe [Kadin] Shedrick will still be there along with some of those bigs. I think that’s a really good team offensively and defensively that could be one of the best in the ACC.”

Big picture

While UVA has endured its fair share of struggles of late with three straight losses on the books, the Wahoo faithful should be ecstatic about what could be coming down the pike. With at least four scholarship slots open for the future, Bennett and UVA have the chance to build their most dynamic class yet.

Undoubtedly, Isaac McKneely will continue to be essential throughout this entire process and should be for years to come as he and the staff look to propel the program even further into the national spotlight.

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