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Virginia Men's Basketball

Isaac Traudt Commits to Virginia

Isaac Traudt announced his commitment to Virginia on Saturday morning.  The 6’10 forward out of Grand Island Senior High School in Nebraska is the third member of Tony Bennett’s 2022 class, joining guard Isaac McKneely and wing Leon Bond.  Currently ranked as the 55th overall player in the 247Sports composite, Traudt chose the Hoos from an impressive list of offers that included Michigan State, North Carolina, Gonzaga, and Kansas. 

Isaac Traudt’s Recruitment

Traudt emerged last summer, catching the attention of the Virginia coaching staff along the way.  He received a scholarship offer in January.  They did that without having seen him in-person, which speaks volumes about how the UVA boss felt about him.  It was clear from then, he would be a very important recruit.   As his stock kept rising and bigger brand names joined the race, Bennett never seemed to blink.  Traudt was one he was determined to get.  

They finally got him on Grounds when the dead period was lifted in June.  That was part of a round of visits he took that also included trips to Creighton, Nebraska, Michigan State, and North Carolina.  His official visit coincided with Isaac McKneely’s.  Their friendship was clearly helpful to the cause. It was still a battle though.  The whole coaching staff went above and beyond during the July live periods to turn out for Traudt, making a statement that he was most wanted in Charlottesville.  

(Image: Holly McKneely)

We weren’t sure if it would end here or if there would be another round coming in September.  There was talk of a visit to Gonzaga after they recently offered.  The stiffest competition probably came from Creighton.  They were involved very early and had a strong relationship.  In the end, Traudt went ahead and made the call.  I know it was a difficult decision for him and his family.  

This was a maximum investment recruit for Tony Bennett.   It’s an enormous win for him and the coaching staff.  

What Isaac Traudt Brings to Virginia

Traudt might be the best offensive prospect Bennett has had at Virginia.  He’s ultra skilled and versatile, scores inside and out.  Very high IQ player too.   Just as importantly, his skillset fits perfectly with what Virginia does.  We’ll call him a power forward, but he has the tools to slot in at either forward spot or center.  He’s an absolute match-up nightmare.  

He’s one of the best shooters in the class, standing at 6’10.  That alone makes him a serious weapon.  But what truly separates him from other skilled big men is that he’s also dangerous off the bounce.  He’s more of a guard in a forward’s body.  In fact, he often brings the ball up the court and initiates offense for his high school team.  It’s a very rare skill package.  

It was Traudt’s defense that pleasantly surprised me while watching him this summer.  He handles himself really well when switching onto smaller guards.  Very agile.  That’s crucial in today’s game, especially with all that’s asked of frontcourt players in Bennett’s packline defense.  Like with most recruits, continued physical development will be key for him.  He needs to get stronger and more explosive to deal with the physicality of the ACC.  

I expect Traud to make an immediate impact at Virginia.  He’s a special talent with valuable skills that translate to the college level.  Even more exciting, there’s still a lot of room for growth.  Bennett’s prize catch is a safe bet to become a Wahoo star.  

Virginia’s Recruiting Going Forward

With Traudt’s commitment, Virginia has 10 projected scholarship players for the 2022-23 season.  That doesn’t include potential returning seniors, who all have an optional extra year of eligibility.  We’re in bonus territory at this point, but I do expect they’ll try adding one more by November’s signing period.

No one comes off the board.  They really weren’t targeting anyone that interfered with Traudt.  All that changes is it frees up the coaching staff to focus energy on other recruits.  And it clarifies things.  Recruiting under Bennett is always sort of a puzzle, one recruit has to fit with the next. 

Perkiomen (PA) wing Ryan Dunn is the one to watch closest.  He recently included UVA in his top eight. Things should heat up with him now.  It’ll be first come though for what is in all likelihood the final spot available.  Five-star Link Academy (MO) forward Julian Phillips is still in play.  As is Swedish forward Bobi Klintman, who’s now at Sunrise Christian in Kansas. 

Even while they’re putting the possible finishing touches on the 2022 class, the primary focus will shift to 2023.  When coaches are allowed back out on September 9th, that’s where most of the action will be.  There will probably be some new offers, and we’ll begin to learn what the field really looks like for top targets in that class like North Laurel (KY) guard Reed Sheppard.  It’s the start of a new cycle.  Recruiting never stops.  

The Wrap

When recruiting for the 2022 class got underway, we were in the middle of what turned out to be a year-long dead period. Virginia was very conservative during that time. The first scholarship offer didn’t go out until December, the latest of any power conference program. There were a lot of people who questioned the way they handled it. Now, they have three prized commits before September. All will be highly ranked. More importantly, all three are players the coaching staff are thrilled to have on board.

They might not be done. Time will tell. By any reasonable measure, the 2022 class is already a huge success for Tony Bennett.

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