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The third and final AAU live period of the year ended on Sunday. Virginia coaches have been out and about all weekend. It was their last chance to see most 2022 recruits before they start moving forward with their decision making.
Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett made stops in four locations. He started off in Indianapolis for Under Armour Finals and the nearby Prep Hoops 2K21. Augusta was the next stop for Nike Peach Jam. Followed by trips to independent events in Atlanta and finally Atlantic City.
Once again, Bennett started his week off for Issac Traudt at Under Armour Finals in Indianapolis. He spent all of Friday there, seeing Traudt play twice. It’s been that way each of the three live periods. Always his first stop, for at least two games. Coach Getter was on duty there all weekend.
Of the other schools visited by Traudt in June, Michigan State is the one who appears to be working hardest. Tom Izzo has been around frequently, including several games this week. Newcomer Texas is trying to make a late charge. Chris Beard has been in regular attendance the past two weeks. Gonzaga is still lurking too. Virginia invested more of their July in Traudt than anyone by far.
Wing Brice Sensabaugh and forward Malik Reneau were both offered scholarships this week. Bennett saw each of them play at Peach Jam in Augusta on Saturday morning. Williford and Vandross were in attendance for their other games. These recruitments will be sprints, not marathons, decided over the next few months. Sensabaugh plans to put out a trimmed list next week.
Leon Bond sat out this week with an injury. He let coaches know ahead of time so that they wouldn’t make the trip.
Bennett also made a point to see his top 2023 targets, ,Reed Sheppard and Caleb Foster, on Friday in Indianapolis.
Get to Know Him
Any time a head coach makes a special trip for one player, it grabs my attention. That was the case for Ryan Dunn. Bennett was at the Jersey Shore Jam Fest in Atlantic City on Saturday night just to get a look at Dunn. I assume he didn’t disappoint because Bennett stayed to see him play twice more on Sunday.
Dunn is a 6’7 wing from New York. He’s the ultimate rags to riches recruiting story. The classic summer blowup. No offers until May, now nearing a dozen from power conferences alone. Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Oklahoma State among them. Signs suggest Virginia is likely to join the list soon.
He’s already a graduate of Long Island Lutheran (NY), planning to do a prep year at The Perkiomen School (PA).
One Last Look
Bennett also made a special trip to the Power 24 event in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. I think he only stayed for one game. It featured two players he’s seen frequently this month, wing Ven-Allen Lubin and big man Ernest Udeh. They’re both hot commodities right now. I’ll be surprised if at least one of them doesn’t receive an offer from Virginia. Coach Williford was in to see them again on Sunday.
They were definitely eying Daniel Skillings in Indianapolis this weekend. Bennett watched the Roman Catholic (PA) wing once. Getter a couple more times. He’s another summer sensation that’s climbing the charts.
Usual disclaimer, this has almost nothing to do with how players perform. I’m just reading into the activity of coaches.
This is more cumulative from the full month than just this week. They’ve been consistent with him throughout July. UVA coaches have been at his games more than anyone else by a wide margin. Bennett’s first stop every week. I know that’s something he places a lot of importance on. They don’t seem particularly concerned with finding alternatives either. There are other legitimate contenders and no guarantee, but Bennett is clearly very confident of his standing.
It was one thing last week when they offered Sensabaugh. He was someone they were always going to evaluate. The special trip for Dunn this week is a different story. That was out of the way. Even the attention to Skillings was telling. They were searching for candidates. Looking at the hot names. .They were planning to go to Orlando to see Bond this weekend if he had played. It’s very possible he picks Virginia, but they don’t seem to expect it.
Coaches will have one more chance to see recruits play at an abbreviated version of NBPA Top 100 Camp in Orlando on Wednesday and Thursday. Isaac McKneely and Isaac Traudt have both been invited.
The next time they go out after that will be on September 9th when the recruiting period opens. Coaches will visit high schools, attending open gyms. The focus turns to 2023. They’ve been sort of a side story this summer, a coming attraction. In September, the actual recruiting begins.
Visits are allowed again starting on Monday. That will especially heat up when we get into football weekends. Evaluation time is over. They’ve identified their targets. Now it’s time to get them on Grounds and close the deal.