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Virginia Men's Basketball

Mailbag: Transfers, Super Seniors, 2023 Recruits, and More

(Image: UVA Athletics)

Lots of fan questions about the future makeup of UVA’s roster in this edition of the Locker Room Access mailbag.

Expectations for Kihei and Kody after this season. Are they gone? @bhc3

For those that haven’t kept up with all the recent rule changes, super seniors are now a thing in college sports. Due to the irregularities of last season while dealing with covid, everyone was granted an extra year of eligibility.

That of course means current Virginia seniors Kihei Clark, Kody Stattmann, and Jayden Gardner could suit up for the Hoos again next year if they choose.

There won’t be any kind of definitive verdict from players until after the season. But no, I don’t expect Clark or Stattmann back. There was a time in the offseason when they were clearly planning for Kihei to use his fifth season. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

Jayden Gardner is probably the one to watch. I think there’s a good chance he’ll exercise the option.

Without names, of course, how do you see transfer out-in market for the Hoos after the season considering the big class coming next year. @fresh11_d

I really don’t expect them to take much of a hit. In today’s environment where transfers no longer need to sit out, it’ll be rare to go a a year without losing at least one. And UVA, like every team, has a player or two that could choose to move on without it disrupting things much. Maybe that happens, but I’m hopeful this spring could be relatively quiet on that front.

Right now, they have a full roster for next season. Unless there’s a surprise departure that opens up a clear immediate opportunity, I doubt they’ll aggressively search for an incoming transfer. Now if the right guy comes available, an impact player they have a relationship with like Braxton Key or Sam Hauser in the past, yeah sure why not.

What will our record be in the ACC? @KeepingUpWithG8

UVA’s conference schedule is very backloaded this year. They’re sitting at 7-5 right now with some big upcoming opportunities against the teams at the top of the league. I’ll predict they finish 11-9, which is actually kind of optimistic considering the schedule. The Miami game on Saturday could be pivotal. With a win, you can start to see a realistic path to climb into the top third of the league. A loss probably means they’ll settle in the middle of the pack.

They still deal with inconsistency, but they’ve quietly improved a lot over the course of the season. I expect we’ll see close competitive games just about every time out from here. And the tough schedule gives them a chance to climb back into the NCAA Tournament picture if they can win enough. Never count a Tony Bennett coached team out.

Including LJ, which of our ‘22 recruits are ready to step into immediate playing time? How do you see the 2022-23 rotation shaking out? @Wahooze

I think Isaac McKneely has a chance not only to play but be a difference maker next season. He has a bit of an advantage over most first-years in that his high school system is nearly identical. And he brings a skill that’s badly needed, shooting. He’s a good enough athlete that I expect he’ll adjust well too.

Earning time in the frontcourt will be a little more challenging, but I’d bet on Isaac Traudt carving out a good role for himself too. It might take time for his full package to translate in college, but the way he can stretch the defense is just too valuable to keep off the floor.

I’m not even going to wager a guess at the rotation. It’s going to be very competitive for minutes. We’ll probably see a little deeper rotation, but there’s still bound to be a player or two left out who isn’t expecting it.

London Johnson – what do we know? When’s he gonna announce? He gonna reclass? @Mason_Bryan

We’ve been waiting for a while on a college announcement from Class of 2023 Norcross (GA) point guard London Johnson. Virginia is in his final six along with North Carolina, Clemson, Southern Cal, Alabama, and Georgia. He’s alluded to it coming on several occasions going back to October right after his visit to UVA, but hasn’t happened yet.

His recruitment doesn’t appear to be active, and hasn’t since back in the Fall. Meaning, he seems to have had his decision made and the coaches from the schools involved have known whether they’re getting him. And UVA, badly in need of a point guard, isn’t looking for one. It’s not over until he publicly says it is, but connecting those dots paints a very favorable picture for the Hoos.

When he announces is up to him. Recruiting picks back up with the live periods in April. Coaches would want it known by then, and I expect it will be. He can reclassify if he chooses, and that’s a good possibility. It’s not a snag that’s holding up his announcement though. From what I understand, he’s had the green light to enroll in 2022 for some time now.

If London commits, who are our main targets to fill out the 2023 class? Would you agree that front court depth (specifically an athletic 4/5 type in the Akil/Atkins/Diakite mold) would be our biggest need? @Aaron_Barham

The only other recruit UVA has been in full pursuit of besides London Johnson is Ridge View (SC) forward Gregory Jackson. Getting him would be a very long shot to say the least. However, he does fit that general mold.

Frontcourt recruiting has changed a little. They’re not quite as willing to sacrifice skill as in the past, but athleticism is the key trait they’re looking for in a 2023 recruit. Someone to complement incoming forward Isaac Traudt in the years ahead.

it could be a 4/5 like you described or more of a true center. They’ll need a pair of big men by 2024 to replace Francisco Caffaro and Kadin Shedrick.

What would constitute a successful 2023 recruiting class? @wshawver

Same as always, getting players the coaching staff really wants. Whether that’s the guys we’re talking about now in this early stage, or the ones they discover later in spring and summer evaluations. They’re after a point guard, hopefully London Johnson of course. A frontcourt player like I discussed above. And potentially another guard, depending on roster numbers in spring.

Other than the point guard spot where they have a really obvious early opportunity, recruiting could be hard this year. That’s the price of recruiting well. Doesn’t mean they can’t still get great players. They’re just less likely to be guys who were identified early on and heavily recruited for the last year. The ones that come later can be every bit as good, and usually aren’t as concerned with who else is on the team. Comes down the same thing, picking winners through evaluation.

Any in-state recruits high on the Hoos’ radar? @guyncville

There’s no 2023 recruits that come to mind. Maybe one will emerge this summer. In the class of 2024, The Highland School in Fauquier Count has a pair to watch. Wing Isaiah Abraham and big man Patrick Ngongba are both tracking as high major recruits. Coach Williford has already been there to check them out. They’ll certainly get a long look this summer as the process gets going for that class.

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