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Virginia Men's Basketball

Virginia Staff Eyes New Targets During Live Weekend

(Image: Impact Sports Network)

In the middle of all the transfer portal chaos, attentioned turned back to high school recruits for a few days.  The Virginia coaching staff took to the road this weekend for the first of two spring evaluation periods with the objective of identifying new recruits in the class of 2023.  

As is usually the case, the three major AAU circuits sponsored by shoe companies were the main attractions. This weekend’s Adidas and Under Armour events were both held in Indianapolis, while Nike’s EYBL was in Orlando.  Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett spent the first two days in Orlando before moving to Indianapolis, while UVA had assistants stationed in both locations.  

London

Norcross (GA) point guard London Johnson is the only 2023 recruit that Virginia has been in serious pursuit of.   He spent the week in Portland taking part in the Nike Hoop Summit.  It’s a USA vs The World format featuring elite high school players.  He represented his Jamaican heritage as part of The World team.  College coaches weren’t allowed to attend that event. 

London pushed back his commitment date previously set for last Friday.  He now plans to announce his choice this coming Thursday, April 14th.  The Virginia staff didn’t noticeably spend any time this weekend looking at other point guards.  Of course, there’s still another evaluation weekend coming up if things should go awry.  But their actions this weekend seem to show a very high level of confidence in Thursday’s outcome.  

Spring Forward

Other than London, Virginia’ top priority is a frontcourt addition for 2023.   That was the overriding theme of the weekend.  The majority of Bennett’s time especially seemed to be spent evaluating players for that forward spot.  Two in particular received in-depth reviews from the UVA boss, both in Orlando.  

Nobody had a better weekend than Zayden High.  And Tony Benentt was courtside for most of it.  The 6’8 forward from Texas was consistently dominant, while showing the type of versatile skillset on both ends coaches search for.   He was lightly recruited coming into the week, only a few high major offers.  About a half dozen have jumped in just in the last two days. They’re only the first ripples of a coming wave.   

The UVA coaches had seen Milan Momcilovic before, going back to last summer.  The sharpshooting stretch-four from Wisconsin lit up the nets this weekend in Orlando.  Bennett was there to witness multiple times.  He was a little more of a known commodity.  Marquette has been in full pursuit.  They’ll have a lot more competition soon.  

Those are the two that stood out, but they looked at quite a few 2023 forwards this weekend.  Bennett and Williford looked in on Arrinten Page, another breakout power forward from Atlanta.  And assistants were spotted watching a pair of already familiar players from last summer, big man Xavier Booker from Indiana and athletic forward Alassane Amadou from Phadelphia. 

Guards Too

While the frontcourt is clearly Virginia’s top priority, they’re also potentially in the market for a second guard in the class.  

Bennett’s last game of the week on Sunday, he was spotted watching Illinois Wolves guard Cam Christie. Assistant coach Kyle Getter was also seen watching him earlier in the weekend.   You might remember UVA recruiting his brother Max, now a freshman at Michigan State.  A lot of the Big Ten schools are involved with Cam as well.  He had a good weekend, his recruitment should only grow.  

UVA has been involved with RJ Jones for a while.  A sharpshooter out of Texas, they’ve had some zoom meetings and that sort of thing with him.  This weekend was the first time Coach Bennett got to see him play in-person.  

And there’s something going on between UVA and Pryce Sandfort.  More of a wing at 6’6, he’s one of the best shooters in the country.  From Iowa, his brother is a freshman for the Hawkeyes.  But he seems open to leaving home. Virginia assistants were spotted at his games several times this weekend.  I expect we’ll hear more about him going forward.  

Early Trio

These spring live periods are when college coaches, especially assistants, start to look at rising juniors.  There are three of those that already standout as far as UVA involvement.  

The only member of the 2024 class with a Virginia offer is Jarin Stevenson, the highly-ranked Seaforth (NC) forward.  Coach Bennett was courtside for one of his games on Friday.   He’s already visited UVA several times.  North Carolina is seen as the favorite, but it’s all very early.   

Gaston Christian (NC) guard Jahseem Felton visited during the season.  He scored 30 points on Friday night in front of assistant coach Kyle Getter.  Bennett was in the building on Sunday, and may have seen him as well.  

Isaiah Abraham, a wing from The Highland School (VA), also visited during the season.  He had a great weekend in Orlando.  Coach Bennett was at least one of his games.  

All three of those are shaping up as very high-end prospects in their class.  Early rankings don’t always do justice.  They’ll all be way up there.

Spring recruiting is heating up. Activity with incoming transfers should start to move quickly over the next few weeks. And there’s another live period coming up on the weekend of the 22nd. We’ll have it covered step by step as always on Locker Room Access.

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