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Virginia Men's Basketball

Takeaways From The Summer’s Final Live Period

The Virginia coaching staff is finishing up another five-day long live evaluation period on the road, the last of the summer.  It’s been a hectic week, as the coaches move around to see all of their top targets while searching for new ones along the way.  

Head Coach Tony Bennett spent the majority of his time at Nike Peach Jam in Augusta.  He made a trip to the Under Armour Finals in Chicago on Thursday to see UVA commit Blake Buchanan among others.  Assistants were in both locations, as well as the Adidas event in California.  

All Business

Two weeks ago during the first AAU live period, Bennett spread his attention around fairly even by seeing everyone they’ve been recruiting.  This time out, that wasn’t the case.  He focused on what was most urgent, a few key recruits and evaluating new ones. 

All of the events were tournament format, which meant fewer games and fewer opportunities to see most players.  It forced coaches to make decisions, to show their hands.  As a result, we learn quite a bit about what they’re up to and which recruits are most important to them.  

Priority Trio

Ideally, UVA would like to add three more recruits to their 2023 class to go along with committed big man Blake Buchanan.  This week, there were three current targets that still had Bennett’s full attention, while he only saw the others once or not at all. 

All in for TJ

I told our subscribers back in April that Worcester (MA) forward TJ Power was the top overall target on UVA’s board.  That has held true all summer.  I believe UVA coaches have been courtside for every one of his games through four live periods going back to June.  The first game Bennett saw this week was TJ’s, and the last game he saw was also TJ’s.  Assistants were there for his two games in between.  

His recruitment is a completely different equation than it was a couple weeks ago.  Duke and North Carolina are now in full pursuit.  It’ll almost certainly be extended into the fall, with another round of visits.  That’s obviously not what UVA wanted.  But they’re clearly not backing down at all.  

UVA has looked at a few other forward candidates in July.  We’ll see if any offers come in the weeks ahead, but none jump out to me.  

Zeroed in on Gertrude

Hudson Catholic (NJ) shooting guard Elijah Gertrude is scheduled to start his official visit on Thursday.  UVA coaches have been all over him in July.  That continued this week.  Bennett saw him twice, while Williford was at his other games.  

Gertrude has been a major summer stock riser.  Kansas recently offered, and could be a factor.  But schools in the northeast like Rutgers and Syracuse are more likely to be the challenge.  He plans to make more visits in September before coming to a decision.  

A potential new candidate to watch for is Davin Cosby.  The guard from Richmond has suddenly become a hot commodity, piling up offers.  Bennett saw him during the first week, and Coach Getter kept tabs on him this week in California.  

Eyeing Elmarko

UVA was one of many to offer South Kent (CT) point guard Elmarko Jackson in June.  Right now, he appears to be their clear top priority for that spot.  Bennett saw him a couple times this week in Chicago.  

His recruitment is wide open.  The competition is stiff.  Michigan, Villanova, and Kansas are among those in the long line. It’s really only starting for him.  He’ll take a round of visits in the fall.  UVA is fighting to get their chance right now.  

I’ll get into it below, but the search for point guards has been the top story of July.  

Others

UVA coaches continued to show up this week for everyone they’ve offered a scholarship. But there was a wide divide between those three and the level of attention the others received.  While no one is being written off, it’s very probable that anyone UVA gets with a current offer will come from that group of three.  

Point Guard Search

The point guard search has been the story of July, and it only accelerated this week.  It’s their most urgent need, and the coaching staff’s actions reveal that.   They’ve looked at a lot of them, but there were four this week they clearly focused attention on.  Two already familiar names, and two new ones.  Bennett saw them each play multiple times.  

Vasean Allette, a score-first lead guard out of Canada, had Bennett’s full attention in Chicago this week.  And for good reason.  He’s been incredible.  In the two games Bennett saw, he poured in 28 and 32 points.  Expect a lot of new offers to come his way, with Virginia very likely to be part of that.  

Jaland Lowe was the breakout player of Peach Jam.  A smooth lefty out of Houston, he is the purest point guard of the four.  He more than proved himself this week on the biggest stage against some of the best in the country.  His recruitment is about to skyrocket.  

Trey Green, a Charlotte native who attends Link Academy (MO), has mentioned UVA interest for a while.  He was terrific this weekend at Peach Jam.  While undersized, he’s one of the better shooters in the class and tenacious on the defensive end.   Miami and Xavier seem to be the top contenders right now.  

And last but not least, Silas DeMary Jr. from Combine Academy (NC).  They’ve been looking at him since April.  He keeps getting better.  Bennett took in two of his games in Chicago.  UVA will need to jump in with both feet if they want a chance.  Tennessee and NC State are moving on him hard.  

2024 Plan Takes Shape

Everything right now with 2024 recruiting is sort of preliminary.   Which players they seriously pursue will depend on what type of recruits they get in 2023 and even on redshirt decisions with the current freshmen.  But we can see their initial blueprint taking shape now for what they expect to be doing this fall.  

Another guard is certainly on the agenda.  The two that have received the most attention both fit a certain mold, sharpshooters who can play on or off the ball. Ty Davis, a point guard from Alabama, once again had Bennett courtside this week.  As did Pewaukee (WI) combo Nick Janowski.  

A wing seems to be in the plan. Isaiah Abraham from Paul VI (VA) visited during the season.  He received a long look this week.  Wisconsin Lutheran wing Kon Knueppel was fantastic at Peach Jam.  And Rakease Passmore, an electric athlete from Combine (NC), has had UVA’s attention all month. 

They seem to be after an athlete in the frontcourt.  Bennett saw Seaforth (NC) forward Jarin Stevenson, still the only player in the class with an offer.   Sidwell Friends (DC) combo forward Caleb Williams visited recently.  Bennett saw him play twice.  And  Mount Carmel (MD) big man Luke Bamgboye had a monster week in Chicago.  Bennett made a point to see him.  

Moving Forward

That’s it for summer evaluations.  There will definitely be some scholarship offers soon, perhaps to both classes.  For the 2023 class, it’s a full cycle. They’ll be looking to trim their lists and plan fall visits now.   UVA will have Elijah Gertrude on grounds this week.  There could possibly be others in August, but most will wait until football weekends to take their visits.  

The next time coaches are allowed out is for the start of fall recruiting on September 9th.  They’ll be visiting recruits at their schools.  That’s when the 2024 class will start to become the main focus, as they’re hopefully wrapping things up for 2023. As always, we’ll have it covered on Locker Room Access.

(Featured Image credit: Jamie Shaw/On3Sports)

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