Mailbag: Isaacs, Depth, Redshirts, & Lots of Recruiting
The Locker Room Access mailbag is back, and filled with fan questions about recruiting and UVA's upcoming season.
Which incoming 1st year will get the most PT this season? @beachwahoo
That would be Isaac McKneely. It's just about the perfect situation of a well-prepared freshman on a team in need of his best skill. I expect him to be a big part of things this season. It's not only his shooting either. He can be a dependable secondary ball handler, which I think allows Bennett to feel more comfortable with only one of Clark or Beekman on the floor at a time.
I also think Isaac Traudt will earn a bigger role over the course of the season than some people may expect. The frontcourt is more crowded, especially with the addition of transfer Ben Vander Plas. But Traudt's skillset is just too valuable to keep off the floor. They'll figure out a way to get him in there.
Based on the games in Italy, which is all we have at this point, what is the chance that CTB expands his rotation from 7-8 to 9-10 this coming season? @guyncville
Seems pretty likely that Virginia will have a deeper rotation this season. That was one of subjects Bennett harped on when last season ended. He wanted more quality depth. I think he has it now.
I expect they'll go 9 or 10 deep early in the season, all getting substantial time. But eventually, roles will start to cement and the minutes will shrink for a couple of them. I think Bennett's ideal rotation is 7 or 8 guys that get consistent time, and then 1 or 2 more that are used situationally. In the end, it'll probably evolve into something like that.
Expectations for this upcoming season? @ACCWatch2
Fairly high. It should be a much more cohesive team this year with all the experience. That means a lot with Bennett-coached teams. And newcomers address some of the key weaknesses, shooting and versatility in the frontcourt. I also think both returning juniors, Reece Beekman and Kadin Shedrick, are primed to make big leaps.
If I were voting in the ACC preseason poll, I'd have UVA in the top two behind North Carolina. With the star power the Tar Heels have returning, it's hard to pick against them. But yeah, love the Hoos to have a great year.
Who will redshirt this season? @KeepingUpWithG8
It's nearly a sure bet that at least one of UVA's freshmen will redshirt this season. Forward Leon Bond and wing Ryan Dunn have both been talked about as candidates. On paper, Bond makes more sense just because he's younger. Dunn did a post-graduate year, but he's also coming off of a broken ankle that kept him out of action through the early summer.
I would lean toward Bond. It's also possible they both redshirt. Those decisions won't be made until just before the season starts. There are a lot of factors that are taken into account. Both of them have bright futures ahead at UVA in any case.
What are the odds TB takes both Gertrude and Cosby or is it a matter of who commits first? @allen_bridge
Virginia is seriously involved with two shooting guards in the 2023 class. Elijah Gertrude out of Hudson Catholic in New Jersey was in Charlottesville this past weekend, his second visit. And Word of God (NC) sniper Davin Cosby Jr, a Richmond native, visited over the previous weekend.
UVA would gladly take them both, but the reality is that won't happen. Once the first commits, it'll essentially rule the other out. First come, first served.
With Power off the board, who are some names to watch for as late ‘23 pickups? @BeekMode
Worcester (MA) forward TJ Power announced his commitment to Duke on Wednesday. He had been very much a priority recruit for UVA in the 2023 class. Truthfully, it's a short list of remaining targets. And while it's possible new ones emerge, the main focus will soon shift to the 2024 class.
Besides Gertrude and Cosby, there are only two more realistic 2023 recruits left with offers. They'll both be very hard to get too. South Kent (CT) point guard Elmarko Jackson has the Hoos in his Top 11. And Jesuit (CA) wing Andrej Stojakovic, Peja's son, is still in play. He included UVA in his Top 6.. They're trying to get both of them in for visits this Fall.
Coach Bennett and staff were obviously prioritizing TJ Power. Who did Virginia miss out on because TJ Power was leaning Virginia (before Duke got involved)? @toJamesConnor
No one as far as I know. They also recruited Milan Momcilovic. He could have taken that spot, but chose Iowa State back in July. I guess you could argue that because they felt good about Power, they didn't devote as much time to evaluating others. But there's not a player I could point to and say they would have recruited him if not for Power.
Bennett is always a bit of a gambler on the recruiting trail, in my opinion. He'll use every evaluation period to search for a player he loves before considering a player he only likes. That mindset is why UVA has had some of their best players, but it does occasionally result in getting no one. And now with the transfer portal, there's less reason to settle.
What is the likelihood of the hoos landing one of the recent decommits in Gibbs, GWIII, or Clemmons? @allen_bridge
Virginia has been mentioned with three different 2023 guards, all of them recent decommits from Big 10 schools. Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn previously committed to Purdue, George Washington III had pledged to Ohio State, and Chase Clemmons to Nebraska.
The only one of the group I'm paying attention to is Washington. He visited last Fall before committing early to Ohio State. While I'm not sure they'll really go after him, there's genuine interest. He can play some point guard, obviously a need. And he's a really good shooter. There's a long list of schools interested. And his dad is on the women's staff at Dayton.
PG targets any for 23 or are we gonna wait till 24? @cavfantx
Point guard is UVA's most urgent need, but the search in 2023 has been an adventure to say the least. Elmarko Jackson is probably the only one worth following right now. It would be a major upset if they pulled it off. They're just fighting to get one of his five visits. So far, he's scheduled trips to Miami and Kansas.
There's been an uptick in activity with 2024 point guards ahead of the recruiting period opening on Friday. They just offered Dedan Thomas out of Las Vegas. And Mountain Brook (AL) floor general Ty Davis is one to keep an eye on. That's the direction this is probably headed in. And we could also see them shop for a transfer addition in the Spring.
Beyond a PG, what’s the most important position/type of player we need in the 2024 class? @zanchema
That's a good question. Assuming there's no late find in 2023, I would say a modern forward like they were pursuing in TJ Power. Two of them in 2024 have received a lot of early attention. Sidwell Friends (DC) combo forward Caleb Williams has visited twice already. And of course Seaforth (NC) power forward Jarin Stevenson was the first player offered in the class.
Most of the activity in 2024 will be at guard though. They could be looking for up to three more by then.
Why do I torture myself with following UVA recruiting so closely? @WesNance4
Following the recruiting of your favorite team isn't so different than following the actual team. You can't fully appreciate the highs without suffering through the lows. It's tough at times for sure. I think it's important to keep the losses in perspective. Recruiting evens out in the long run. Missing out on one player only makes it easier to get the next.
The only reward in the end is knowing the story of each player's journey. You can read someone else's version after it's over, but that's not the same as riding the roller coaster in real time.