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Virginia Men's Basketball

Elijah Gertrude Commits to Virginia

Elijah Gertrude announced his commitment to Virginia on Wednesday, following a recent official visit. The 6’3 guard out of Hudson Catholic in New Jersey chose the Wahoos from a final five that also included Kansas, Rutgers, St. John’s, and Seton Hall.  Ranked as high as the 36th overall player in his class by 247Sports, he joins forward Blake Buchanan in Tony Bennett’s 2023 class. 

Elijah Gertrude’s Recruitment

Gertrude emerged on the scene during AAU play in April.  He collected his first high-major offers after those evaluation weekends. That was also when he caught the eye of Virginia assistant coach Orlando Vandross.  At their next opportunity to see him play in June, UVA coaches were out in full force.  A scholarship offer followed in late June.  

He immediately became a priority recruit for the Wahoos, with Tony Bennett frequently courtside at his games through the summer.  Meanwhile, his stock kept rising as new offers poured in from Kansas and Syracuse among others. UVA hosted him on the first of two official visits in late July.  The next week, he named the five finalists.  

Although UVA seemed to be a solid favorite, it appeared his recruitment would last well into the Fall.  He had upcoming visits scheduled to three of his other finalists.  The most recent visit to Charlottesville on the weekend of September 3rd nearly didn’t happen.  He was going to reschedule it for later, then mid-week decided to go ahead and make the trip now.

It’s a sneaky good recruiting win for UVA.  There was initially some worry whether he’d be willing to go away from home.  And anytime you hold off Kansas is nice.  Recognizing him a little before things blew up was important.  Assistant coaches Jason Williford and Orlando Vandross deserve a lot of credit, both were heavily involved.  

Interesting note. Gertrude is the first recruit to make two official visits to Virginia before committing.

What Gertrude Brings to Virginia

Gertrude is an electric athlete.  He’ll be the most athletic player on Virginia’s team from the time he arrives. He has all the makings of a lockdown perimeter defender, while already showing solid offensive production against top competition. 

Elijah averaged over 12 points per game this summer for City Rocks on the Nike EYBL circuit.  In an efficient manner too, converting over 50% of his field goal attempts. He’s very aggressive, loves to use his quick burst to get downhill and attack the paint.  His outside shot will need to become more consistent.  He was streaky from behind the arc, knocking down 33% overall this summer.  

While he’s unlikely to ever be the primary point guard in college, Gertrude is a reliable secondary ball handler who could see spots minutes at the point. As his skillset continues to refine, he should develop into a real bucket-getter. The type of player Virginia hasn’t often had, with the ability to create on his own.  Combined with what he’s capable of defensively, it’s a promising package.  

There’s going to be some highlight moments at JPJ courtesy of Elijah Gertrude.  He’ll bring energy, that’s for sure.  I expect him to compete for playing time as a true-freshman.

Virginia’s Recruiting Going Forward

With the addition of Elijah Gertrude, Virginia has nine projected scholarship players for the 2023-24 season.  They’ll want to add at least two more. Transfer recruits next Spring could be part of that though, as the roster is already weighted toward underclassmen.

There aren’t many 2023 recruits left on the board. And Virginia isn’t considered the favorite for any of them right now. It’s possible this could be it for November’s early signing period, They’ll continue to take their swing at those that are left, and new ones could emerge as well. The hope is to get one more high school recruit.

South Kent (CT) point guard Elmarko Jackson is at the top of the wish list. He’ll probably visit at some point this Fall. They’re one of four or five schools in serious contention. He visited Miami last weekend, and has an upcoming trip to Kansas scheduled. Villanova is after him hard too. Coach Bennett was just up there to see him on Tuesday.

They’d like to add more shooting too. Jesuit (CA) wing Andrej Stojakovic is a possibility. He has UVA in his Top 6.  They’re still trying for Word of God (NC) guard Davin Cosby Jr. Bennett was in Raleigh to see him on Friday.  And there’s interest in former Ohio State commit George Washington III.

The 2024 class is about to become the main focus. While it’s very early, there are three in particular in that class with offers so far to pay attention to.  Forwards Jarin Stevenson of Seaforth (NC) and Caleb Williams of Sidwell Friends (DC) have both received a lot of attention.  As has Paul VI (VA) wing Isaiah Abraham, who recently visited for the second time.

The Wrap

This year has been a real challenge on the recruiting trail for Virginia. Nothing has come easy.  That’s to be somewhat expected after the big haul in the current freshman class. But the coaches kept grinding, and now have managed to pull in two really good players for fans to be excited about.

Gertrude should pay big dividends for the Hoos in time. He has definite star potential. This was an important commitment for the coaching staff, one they had to have.   It’s also nice to get some momentum as they head back on the road in search of the next one.   We’ll have all the action covered as always on Locker Room Access

(Featured Image credit: NJ.com)

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