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Virginia Men's Basketball

Power Play, Momcilovic Contenders, and Summer Sensations

We’re getting into the heat of summer with 2023 recruiting now, as coaches have been out this weekend for the first of two scholastic live periods.  One key recruitt is closing in on a decision.  Another is stirring up a little drama. Meanwhile, Tony Bennett was making a strong play for his top target this weekend.  

Power Play

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett spent the majority of the weekend in Connecticut for the New England Prep Showcase.  While there was a wealth of talent there for him to scout, the reason he spent so much time there was undoubtedly for TJ Power.  The Worcester (MA) forward emerged as a top target for the Hoos this spring, and recently was in Charlottesville for an official visit.  

The other programs recruiting Power were represented at the showcase as well. Indiana’s head coach was there for one game. Notre Dame had an assistant there all weekend. Those are the two other schools most talked about with him. Bennett was courtside for all three of Power’s games, Saturday and Sunday.

A head coach’s time is precious during these live weekends. It was a statement from the UVA boss.  Both showing Power who really wants him most, and letting the competition know they’ll need to match Bennett’s effort.   

Maybe Not Just Yet

The recruitment of Bishop Ireton (VA) wing Jamie Kaiser has been a bumpy ride so far. He recently released a top nine list with Virginia included.  In a series of interviews that followed, he said he’d make a decision by the end of June.  He’s taken official visits this spring to UVA, Maryland, and Wisconsin.  Those were thought to be the contenders.  Maryland had picked up several crystal ball predictions following his visit there.  

This weekend, he said he may take more time before deciding so that newcomers could be considered.  There’s been reports of interest from Kentucky among others.  Attendance by coaches at his games over the weekend line up with an open recruitment.  Coaches from schools that are on his list but haven’t received visits were there to see him.  Meaning they believe they’re still in the race. 

Tony Bennett was on hand for Kaiser’s first game on Friday night.  UVA’s Jason Williford saw him play twice on Saturday.  So UVA is still in pursuit here for sure.  But the equation is a bit more complicated than it appeared before.  

Decision Mode

We do expect a decision in the coming weeks from Pewaukee (WI) forward Milan Momcilovic.  He released  a top six over the weekend of Virginia, Michigan State, Minnesota, Iowa State, Louisville, and UCLA.   A verdict could possibly come before the next round of AAU live periods begin on July 6th.  

This seems to really be a three team race.  Virginia ,Iowa State, and UCLA.  He’s taken visits this month to UVA and UCLA, after receiving offers from both following the April live periods.  If anyone has a slight edge it might be Iowa State who recruited him hard from the start, but any of the three won’t be a surprising choice.  

The recruitments of Momcilovic and TJ Power are intertwined. UVA almost certainly won’t be able to get both. It’s kind of an interesting chess game going on right now. Coaches won’t be seeing Momcilovic during these June scholastic live periods,  His Pewaukee team isn’t playing.  

Popular Attraction

Virginia was way in front of the pack in offering Lake City (ID) big man Blake Buchanan this spring.  It was his first offer from a high-major program.  And remained his only such offer until this week.  Iowa and Washington State have officially entered the race now.  And more are surely coming. 

Since UVA offered and helped raise his profile, this was the weekend everybody else had been waiting on to get their chance to see him.  His Lake City team participated in the Section 7 event in Arizona.  He drew quite the crowd, and didn’t disappoint.  Gonzaga and UCLA are the two programs in particular that are talked about with him.  They were both in attendance.  

Virginia assistant Kyle Getter was on hand as well.  The Hoos figure to be a major factor in his recruitment regardless, but it looks like they’ll have some brand-name competition soon. 

On Deck

A cool aspect of these June live periods is that some of the players that go on to become the popular summer recruits start to reveal themselves over these weekends.   There are two in particular on UVA’s radar that are clearly on the path to being summer sensations.  

Hudson Catholic (NJ) guard Elijah Gertrude’s recruitment is regional right now.  Rutgers, Seton Hall, and St. John’s are all in pursuit.  Everything points to UVA joining soon.  He was dominant at Jersey Live on Saturday, with Coach Vandross in attendance for both games.  I expect Bennett will see him next weekend.  If they decide to extend an offer, Gertrude is already planning to visit soon after.  

Nobody is rising up the recruiting charts faster than Etowah (GA) point guard Brandon Rechsteiner.  Until the last month or so, he was a mid-major recruit.  Coaches from power conferences are lining up to see him now.  The floodgate of offers seems to have broken over the weekend.  Northwestern and Kansas State offered on Saturday, with undoubtedly more on the way.  UVA has been in contact.  He’ll get his look soon, possibly next weekend.

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