(Image: Grant Traylor)
The Virginia coaching staff hit the road this weekend for the first of two scholastic live evaluation periods. It’s the first time Division-1 coaches have been able to watch potential recruits in-person in over 15 months. During these two weekends, players participate with their high school teams. Not every state holds events. Every recruit isn’t available. But after all the layoff, the Virginia coaching staff made the most of the opportunity.
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Reed is for Real
Tony Bennett’s first stop on Friday was in Shelbyville, Kentucky. His purpose there was to see Reed Sheppard. The 2023 North Laurel (KY) guard was fresh off an unofficial visit to UVA on Monday. Bennett stayed long enough to see him play twice. Sheppard put on a show too, proving himself worthy of all the attention.
Virginia hasn’t offered Sheppard a scholarship yet, or anyone else in the 2023 class. But, get used to hearing his name. What Bennett did this weekend was stake his claim. He put all other coaches on notice. If they’re going to recruit Sheppard, they’ll need to match UVA’’s effort.
Bennett spent Friday night in Ashland, KY where he got to check out 2022 commit Isaac McKneely. He didn’t disappoint. The Poca star had 21 points in the half that I watched on stream, hitting shots that probably had his future coach blushing.
Saturday in the DMV
Bennett was at two events around Washington, DC on Saturday, primarily DMV Live at DeMatha. There’s no coincidences about where head coaches show up during live periods. They plan everything out, and any detour has a good reason behind it. Two prized recruits in particular seemed to have been on his agenda.
Archbishop Spalding (MD) wing Cam Whitmore was maybe the weekend’s biggest stock riser. He had an absolute monster event, averaging over 30 points in the two games Bennett attended. North Carolina and Alabama just offered. Villanova and Maryland were already seriously involved. It won’t be surprising if UVA joins the list soon. They’re in the market for an athletic wing, and he certainly fits the description.
The first game Bennett saw there featured Bishop McNamara (MD) big man Favour Aire. He had a great weekend as well, and has mentioned UVA interest in the past. Bennett and staff right now are searching for an athletic big man who’d potentially fit with top forward target Isaac Traudt. This weekend suggests Aire is under consideration.
St. Anne’s-Belfield was also in action at DeMatha. Bennett took in two of their games. Star guard Justin Taylor has talked about visiting UVA before deciding. That window seems to be closing soon though. North Carolina in particular is pushing hard. Syracuse and Indiana are the other major players in his recruitment.
It was 2023 big man Carter Lang that was a standout for STAB, averaging 21 points on the weekend. I mentioned him among the Early Names to Know for 2023. He certainly helped is chances of earning a Virginia offer by playing well in front of Coach Bennett.
Assistants Working Hard
We don’t always know what assistant coaches are up to. They don’t get the same fanfare as their boss. But they’re the ones doing the most valuable work during live periods, especially these weekends after the long layoff. There are a lot of potential recruits to sort through.
it was the first time out, at least at UVA, for newly promoted assistant Kyle Getter. He joined Bennett at the two Kentucky events. In addition to Sheppard and McKneely, he watched 2023 George Washington III, a guard from Louisville that UVA has been connected with. Getter was spotted again in North Carolina on Sunday checking out Cannon (NC) with 2022 wing DJ Nix and 7 footer Christian Reeves. Later, he saw Burlington 2023 big man Michael Nwoko.
Orlando Vandross spent the weekend at two events in New Jersey. He was seen there watching 2022 Westtown (PA) guard Jameel Brown in the first game on Friday. Brown has mentioned UVA a lot lately, saying he’d like to visit in the Fall. Phelps (PA) big man Isaiah Miranda was another of interest there this weekend.
Coach Williford was all over the place in DC, both at DeMatha and The Maret School. St. John’s (DC) wing Christian Watson was one UVA had been wanting to see. Williford checked in him on Friday. Bennett actually saw him too on Saturday. John Carroll (MD) guard Tyson Commander has mentioned UVA interest. Williford got a chance to see him. Along with quite a few 2023 recruits Virginia is considering.
They’ll be back out again on Friday. We’ll have it covered on Locker Room Access.