The Virginia coaching staff was back out on the road this weekend for the second spring live evaluation period. The 2023 class is in their sights.
Head Coach Tony Benentt started off Friday night in Spartanburg, South Carolina for the Adidas circuit event. His next stop was at the Nike EYBL in Indianapolis, before finishing up Sunday with the Under Armour Association in Kansas City. Assistant coaches were sprinkled at each location.
Making The Rounds
Usually this time of year, UVA has at least a few recruits they’re already seriously involved with. That means they have to spend time at their games. Not the case at all now. The only player they’re actively recruiting in the 2023 class is Cam Christie, and he was just offered two weeks ago after the first live period.
Without any established recruits they had to be seen by, it’s freed the coaching staff up to evaluate more players. With a couple exceptions, Bennett only saw players once each. That means there were a lot of players of interest that got their chance in front of the UVA boss over these two live weekends, certainly more than usual.
UVA has done a nice job of building a pipeline into Tony Bennett’s home-state of Wisconsin in recent years. Saturday’s commitment from Ben Vander Plas being the latest example. Signs suggest they may have a next target in mind.
For both live weekends, the Virginia coaches have been regularly in attendance to see 2023 Pewaukee (WI) forward Milan Momcilovic. They were at all four of his games this weekend, including Tony Bennett twice. At this point, that looks more like a recruitment than an evaluation.
Momcilovic has been one of the best players on the Nike EYBL, playing for Team Herro. He has added a few offers over the last couple weeks, but his recruitment seems poised to go to an even higher level.
One of the few players in the 2024 class that Bennett took the time to see, guard Nick Janowski, happens to be a Pewaukee teammate of Momcilovic too.
After things fell apart with London Johnson, Virginia needs to find a new point guard recruit. There was a little of that going on this weekend. Honestly, not as much as I expected though.
The one guy that there’s a little smoke around is Silas DeMary out of Combine (NC). Particularly the last couple weeks, he’s mentioned interest from Virginia. Coach Bennett was courtside to watch him on Sunday in Kansas City, actually going head-to-head with Rolling Meadows (IL) SG Cam Christie who they recently offered.
Freddie Dilione, another NC guard, is one of the hottest recruits in the country. Bennett saw him on Friday in Spartanburg. He’s more of a scoring combo guard than a true point. But he’s really good, among the top scorers on the Adidas circuit.
Those two were clearly on Bennett’s agenda. There were a couple others that may have been coincidental viewings, but sometimes that doesn’t matter. Wheeler (GA) point guard Isaiah Collier and New Church (PA) guard Elmarko Jackson were both looked at last summer before London Johnson emerged. Bennett was courtside for each of them this week.
This has clearly been the theme of these spring live periods for UVA. They’re looking at a lot of frontcourt players. Of all varieties. That continued this weekend. Some recycled names, and some new ones.
The most intriguing might be Tafara Gapare, a New Zelander who attends South Kent (CT). He’s a very high level athlete who’s shown nice developing offensive skills as well. They were there for several of his games this weekend, including Bennett on Saturday.
Atlanta power forward Arrinten Page was among the holdovers from the first weekend that Bennett saw again. As was Villages (FL) forward Sam Walters, and Brewster (NH) big man JP Estrella. Long familiar name Alassane Amadou from Philadelphia continued to get Bennett’s attention as well.
Worcester (MA) skilled forward TJ Power was a new one. Bennett saw him on Saturday in Indianapolis. And he saw a pair of interesting under the radar players in Kansas City on Sunday. Blake Buchanan, a big man from Idaho, had the UVA boss courtside twice. And versatile forward Thomas Haugh, a high school teammate of UVA commit Ryan Dunn, seems to have caught their attention.
This was their last chance to evaluate in-person until the June scholastic periods, and in the case of many players the July AAU periods. These two April weekends are the basis for deciding which players to recruit. There should be some scholarship offers trickling out soon. And then they’ll try to get them on grounds for visits over the next few months.
As always, we’ll have it covered every step of the way on Locker Room Access.
(Featured Image Credit: UA Rise)