Intel Report 7/21/23: Early 2025 Recruiting Takes Shape
With the dust from July’s live periods starting to settle, I look at where things stand with UVA’s top recruits and a deep dive into the 2025 recruiting picture in this edition of the Locker Room Access Intel Report.
Key Upcoming Dates
July 24-27. NCAA Academy Camp in Memphis. There’s still this one evaluation period left next week. It’s only the second time they’ve held the camp, and the first try was a colossal failure. Very few high major recruits attend. Last time, UVA sent an assistant for one day. They did change the format, however, now involving AAU teams. There should at least be some younger players of interest.
July 28-Aug 5. Recruits can visit during that window. If there are any for Virginia, it would likely involve the 2025 class.
Aug 6-20. Dead period. No visits or any other in-person recruiting activity.
Aug 21. Open for visits. It stays that way through the entire fall with only brief exceptions.
Sept 9. The start of fall recruiting. That’s sort of opening day for 2025 recruiting, when they become the main attraction. Coaches will be out regularly in September visiting recruits at their schools or homes. Note, the 9th is an approximate date. They haven’t released the new calendar yet.
Going The Distance
As you know by now, 2024 Wisconsin Lutheran wing Kon Knueppel has scheduled an official visit to UVA for September 14th. It’ll be sandwiched between official visits to Alabama and Duke. Very significant development obviously. It’ll be his second official visit to UVA, after visiting in February. Uncommitted recruits do not often take multiple official visits to the same school. Virginia has only had it happen once before, with current freshman guard Elijah Gertrude.
I used to always say that Tony Bennett doesn't do marathons. Well, this is his first ever at UVA. He’s had recruits go the distance, but never one like this in which Bennett has been in consistent pursuit from the starting line last fall to the finish a year later.
Kon originally was only going to visit Alabama and Duke in the fall. Those were the two latest offers, the only schools involved he hasn’t visited. Tony Bennett then asked for another visit, and got it. So it’ll be squeezed in mid-week, unusual for the fall, and then he’ll leave directly for Duke. Whatever was said on that call, the UVA staff came away more optimistic. It led to Bennett spending the entire final live period watching Kon in Milwaukee.
His decision will probably come down to Virginia and Duke. However, UVA sources believe Marquette is still a very viable threat as well. And although Duke has other recruits they’re after, specifically VJ Edgecombe and Kon are being recruited for the same spot, we probably won’t be bailed out like that. He’ll need to choose UVA over all the other options.
Virginia extended a pair of new scholarship offers to 2024 forwards recently. But from what I gather, St. Rose (NJ) forward Matthew Hodge is still at the top of Bennett’s wish list. And the UVA side seems to feel pretty good about their chances with him. They’d gladly take any of the three. Bennett has spent the most time watching and getting to know Hodge though, and that’s who he’s most comfortable with and where he’s focusing more effort.
Recruits can have unlimited official visits now. Hodge intends to take advantage of that. He has six planned, starting with Villanova next weekend. UVA’s visit will be his fifth, on Sept 21st. Hodge added a trip to VA Tech to the list, scheduled for the weekend after on the 28th. Maryland and Villanova seem like the main competition. There’s a long way to go, but it looks good for our side right now.
The two other forwards offered in July, David Punch and Jacob Cofie, both said in recent interviews they’re considering waiting until after November’s early signing period to decide. While I doubt that actually happens, and certainly won’t if they chose UVA, it does work to our side’s advantage for now. Ideally, UVA would like to take their full swing at Hodge and still have those guys in play later if it doesn’t work out.
Jacob Cofie is a popular Pac-12 recruit. Washington, Oregon, and Southern Cal are all heavily involved. He’s the one that things could get tricky with, where UVA might need to move sooner. Despite the talk of waiting, he’s already further along in his recruiting process having taken visits to Washington and Oregon.
David Punch was a summer riser whose recruitment is only starting. He’s mentioned wanting to visit UVA along with VA Tech, Xavier, TCU, and Penn State. There will probably still be more offers coming his way. His picture isn’t nearly as settled yet.
2025 might be a small recruiting class for Virginia. They can only guarantee having two open scholarships right now. So that’s what they’re working with early. Everybody they’ve offered so far fits neatly into two stacks. If they get two more 2024 recruits as hoped and there’s no roster turnover, there will already be 11 projected players on the 2025-26 roster.
So far, it looks like they’re concentrating on the two types of players they know they’ll be in the market for. A versatile guard and an athletic forward. It’ll be interesting to watch if that expands in the weeks ahead.
For Bennett standards, this has been a busy week of scholarship offers. Four of them out for 2025 so far, making a total of six extended to that class. The thing to keep in mind, this is all just table setting and it’ll continue. There are often players who receive early offers that aren’t seriously recruited. The telling part comes in the fall when Bennett makes his rounds.
St. Anne’s-Belfield (VA) guard Chance Mallory was offered in late June. He’s the one 2025 recruit that UVA has spent real effort on actually recruiting so far, not just evaluating like the others. Chance also doesn’t fit the same mold as the other two big combo guards they’ve offered. He’s small at 5'9'' . And while we label him a point guard, he’s more known as an off-ball shooter.
As the hometown school, Virginia is very much considered the favorite for Mallory. It would be interesting, however, what happens if UVA gets Kon Knueppel. There’s at least a possibility of them tilting away from Mallory under that scenario. Otherwise, UVA is in a great position with Chance. He could also potentially reclassify to 2024.
Gonzaga (DC) combo guard Derek Dixon was offered following Peach Jam. He’s had a huge summer of AAU. The UVA staff is very familiar with him, as he plays on Austin Williford’s Team Takeover squad. I don’t really expect UVA to be a serious contender for him. But as with most 2025 recruits, it’s way too early to judge and will depend on how much effort they put in.
And on Thursday, La Lumiere (IN) guard Darius Adams announced his scholarship offer. He’s already a highly ranked popular recruit. Coach Vandross has some connections, knows his family. He and Bennett were courtside to watch Adams at Peach Jam. Another recruitment that makes sense, fits the type they're looking for. But as with Dixon, it should be a very competitive field.
Bottom line with the guards, there’s Mallory and then there’s two really good big guards that they would need to work hard for in order to be in contention next spring or summer. And Knueppel’s decision could potentially play a role in which avenue UVA takes.
Bennett dished out three scholarship offers to forwards in the 2025 class this week. He’s after athleticism, someone that will complement the skilled forward they plan to get in 2024.
No surprise that Grayson (GA) forward Jacob Wilkins was offered. He is the son of NBA legend Dominique Wilkins, and more importantly the half-brother of our own Isaiah Wilkins. Great athlete with a ton of upside, very much fits the mold of what they’re looking for. Bennett watched him play a couple times, going back to the April live periods. I’ve heard he’ll probably come up for an early official visit. Expect UVA to be a serious player in his recruitment.
Western Reserve (OH) forward Nikola Bundalo was offered on Wednesday. Bennett took notice of him at Top 100 Camp in June. Assistants tracked him during both July live periods. He’s shaping up as a big time prospect who’ll probably attract blue-blood offers soon.
And the real surprise offer went to St. Thomas More (CT) forward London Jemison. It’s his first high major offer. Bennett and assistants regularly watched his team in July, but I had assumed it was about his more popular teammates. He fits into that Akil Mitchell type mold. There’s rough edges, but a lot of potential and the tools to be elite defensively. He’s also an original 2024 recruit, making him a prime reclass-to-redshirt candidate.
Good group of early forward targets so far. Given the family ties, Wilkins will obviously be a big storyline in 2025. They’ll have stiff competition for Bundalo. And Jemison is very intriguing, especially since UVA was the first high major program to offer. It’ll be interesting to see who Bennett focuses on.
There won’t be much actual activity for the next month or so. August is typically one of the quietest off-season months for recruiting. Sort of the quiet before the storm as we build up toward the September action, both with visits and coaches on the road.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to get further clarity on what to expect with key recruits. Potentially more fall visits scheduled and undoubtedly additional 2025 scholarship offers to come. Hope you’ll stick around. As always, thanks for subscribing to Locker Room Access.