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Virginia Men's Basketball

Leon Bond Commits to Virginia

Leon Bond announced his commitment to Virginia today.  The 6’6 wing out of Wauwatosa East HIgh School in Wisconsin chose the Hoos over Cincinnati and Marquette.  Currently rated as a four-star prospect and the #42 overall player by 247Sports, Bond joins guard Isaac McKneely in Tony Bennett’s class of 2022.  

Leon Bond’s Recruitment

Bond came on during his junior year, showing an improved skillset, then saw his recruitment explode this spring playing with JH1 Elite on the AAU circuit.  Virginia was involved from the start though.   He was on their early contact list last summer.   Despite not having a scholarship offer at the time, he made the trip to Charlottesville for an official visit in June.  Coach Bennett saw him play in-person at the first opportunity during the July live periods, and quickly extended the offer. 

Without the long dead period, his recruitment probably would have ended earlier.  He had already taken his official visits to all three contenders in June, and said he would decide by early August.  Essentially ruling out newcomers.  He just gave coaches the chance to see him play first, leaving the window open for Virginia to offer before deciding.  

Marquette, only a short drive from Bond’s home, was the primary competition.  New coach Shaka Smart went to great lengths, practically camping out at his games during the live periods.  Judging by all the other wing players UVA looked at and offered in recent weeks, the coaching staff were not counting on this verdict going our way.  Bond definitely played his hand close to the vest.  

What does Leon Bond Bring

He’s a phenomenal athlete whose skill level is quickly catching up.  Long and agile, Bond has all the physical tools and the mentality to become a lockdown perimeter defender.  That’s the key trait Bennett was searching for in this spot.   

The “wing” label gets blurry.  Bond is a big guard, to be clear.  That’s the development that’s gotten him here.  He’s transformed himself from being more of an undersized power forward into a skilled perimeter player. It’s still a work in progress, particularly perimeter shooting.  He has a nice stroke, but needs to continue to extend his range to become a reliable three-point threat. That’ll be the biggest key to reaching his offensive potential in college.

Bond has the potential to be almost a hybrid of Justin Anderson and DeAndre Hunter.  He’s a little smaller than Hunter, but brings similar length and lateral quickness that should allow him to become a great defender.  Like Anderson, he possesses explosive athleticism.  This guy will absolutely have JPJ rocking from thunderous dunks and highlight chase down blocks.  

We may need to be patient.  He’s rapidly improving.  It’s hard to project how ready to contribute he’ll be on arrival.  Long term, his upside is incredibly high.  He has elite physical talent and the desire to maximize it.  That combination under the Virginia coaching staff tends to produce great things.  

Virginia’s Recruiting Going Forward

With Bond’s commitment, Virginia has nine scholarship players projected for the 2022-23 season.  They’ll look to add at least one more, maybe two, by November’s early signing period.  

The focus will be on the frontcourt now to finish out the 2022 class.  We’ll see how they choose to handle things with the other recently offered wing recruits.  Brice Sensabaugh out of Lake Highland (FL)  could still be a possibility.  He and Bond, while positionally similar, fill very different roles.  Swedish wing Bobi Klintman is still a remote possibility too. But most likely, it’ll be all about the big guys now.  

Grand Island (NE) forward Isaac Traudt remains the top target on the board.  Bennett and staff spent the July live periods shadowing him.  They’ve been in hot pursuit since offering over the winter, and saw him again this week at Top 100 Camp in Orlando.   He’s talking about taking more visits before deciding within the next few months.  They’re in a good spot with him.  We’ll just need to let it play out.  

Malik Reneau, ,a forward out of Montverde (FL), was offered in July.  That’s too new yet to gauge where they stand.  He’s already visited Miami and Memphis, and plans to see Florida this weekend.  I don’t know how realistic it is to get both him and Traudt, but UVA would love to do that.   

They’re probably not done offering scholarships yet either.   With Top 100 Camp this week, they’ve barely had time to reflect on all the players they’ve seen over the last month. 

The Wrap

Bennett clearly wanted to add athleticism on the wing, and he just landed one of the most athletic players in the country.  It’s a sneaky big recruiting victory too.  Bond could have had offers from a lot of other major brands around college basketball if he had stayed open to it. With the sights now set almost exclusively on finishing it off with a quality addition up front, such as Isaac Traudt, they’re very close to an enormously successful recruiting cycle.

The basketball arena at Tony Bennett’s alma mater, Wisconsin-Green Bay, sits on Leon Bond Drive. Coincidence for sure, but it almost seemed like destiny.

(Image: Isaac Dennis)

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