Things move fast during this late recruiting cycle. It’s early, but Virginia hasn’t yet reeled in transfer recruit to plug the holes in their roster. Several they’ve been connected with have committed elsewhere and a few new names have emerged along the way. That turnover will continue to be the pattern in the weeks ahead, only hopefully with some good news sprinkled in for the Hoos. There’s a couple key targets we should expect verdicts from soon. it’s a fluid picture, but we’ll keep you updated as best as possible.
In part because he entered the portal fairly early, Armaan Franklin has probably received the most attention from the UVA staff. The 6’4 sophomore had a breakout year for Indiana, scoring 11 points per game while shooting 42% from three-point range. He’s known as a good defender too, fitting the well-rounded package Bennett wants in a big guard. His recruitment seems to be ready to wrap up at any time. Illinois and Louisville are in serious contention along with Virginia. There’s also a very real possibility the Indianapolis native decides to remain a Hoosier.
Phlandrous Fleming of Charleston Southern isn’t only a member of the all-name team. He was first team all-conference in the Big South, and also the league’s defensive player of the year. The senior averaged over 20 points and 7 rebounds. He’s looking to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility at the highest level. Virginia and NC State are believed to be top contenders with Texas A&M and a few others in the mix. Decisions of others, including Franklin, could play a factor.
East Tennessee State freshman Damari Monsanto has Virginia in his just released top 6. The Southern Conference freshman of the year was originally recruited by Steve Forbes, now head coach at Wake Forest. That likely makes the Deacs a heavy favorite, but there’s definitely some UVA activity going on here. Bennett is familiar with Monsanto from his AAU days. I kept track of him myself after Bennett coincidentally saw the Florida native shine against players Virginia was recruiting at the time.
Also in contact…..with Florida junior Noah Locke. Virginia recruited the Maryland native his first time around. There’s a lot of programs mentioned with him. No reason yet (key word) to believe the Hoos are seriously involved.
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Off the board….The Trevor Keels long-running drama ended with little suspense. He moved his announcement up a few days and picked Duke as expected. Auburn transfer Justin Powell committed to Tennessee. It never was clear how involved UVA was with him.
East Carolina junior Jayden Gardner hit the Zoom circuit running. Tony Bennett got the first call in last week. Since then NC State, Miami, Pitt, Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, and several others have had turns. He’s said he’ll name a final five soon and expects to decide within a couple weeks. Actually, he told me it probably won’t take that long. In his three seasons at ECU, the powerfully built Gardner has averaged 18 points and nearly 9 rebounds. He’s in demand for good reason.
Eastern Washington’s Tanner Groves gained fame during the NCAA Tournament when he scored 35 points against Kansas. He’s kept his recruitment quiet since entering the portal, but Virginia is among the schools in contact. The Big Sky Player of the Year averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds. He can step away from the basket too, a career 37% shooter from behind the arc. I think Gardner is the primary focus for now along with still holding out some hope of Walker Kessler, but Groves is an intriguing possibility to keep an eye on.
Freshman Jordan Geronimo met with the coaching staff on grounds in the Fall of 2019 shortly before he committed to Indiana. His sister is a student at UVA. They never offered him a scholarship, but obviously there’s a relationship present. And now that he’s available, Virginia is on the list of programs in contact. I don’t think they’re in pursuit of him yet, but it’s another to watch. He has a ton of potential even if it might time take time to reach. New Jersey is home for Geronimo, so Seton Hall is a factor. He has friends at Providence, also involved.
Still involved….with UNC big man Walker Kessler, UVA is in the fight even if a bit of a longshot. Penn State forward Seth Lundy has gone quiet. No real indication UVA is heavily involved but they did contact him.
Off the board… Boston College forward CJ Felder is headed to Florida. We barely had time to learn about Furman transfer Noah Gurley before he released a final 8 without the Hoos.