Former 5-Star TJ Power Commits To Virginia Reading Transfer Forward Elijah Saunders Commits To Virginia Next UVA Spring Sports Roundup 5/08

Transfer Forward Elijah Saunders Commits To Virginia

Transfer Forward Elijah Saunders Commits To Virginia

After a slow start, Tony Bennett is finishing the transfer recruiting season strong.  Virginia landed another key piece on Monday night when San Diego State transfer Elijah Saunders announced his commitment.  The 6’8” forward from Phoenix averaged 6.2 points and 3.6 rebounds this season, while starting 21 games for the Aztecs.  He’ll have two more years left to play at Virginia.  



Saunders is Virginia’s third transfer addition of the spring, all coming since Saturday.  He joins former Florida State guard Jalen Warley and Duke transfer forward TJ Power

How His Recruitment Went Down

Saunders committed to Virginia on Monday while on an official visit. He was only in the portal for a little over a week.  Options were quickly sorted through, and visits set.  He visited Washington first then came directly to Charlottesville.  There was also a Clemson visit planned, which is now canceled following his commitment.  

Out of Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix,  he originally chose the Aztecs over scholarship offers from Miami, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and other power conference programs.  Saunders played for one of the nation’s top AAU teams, Compton Magic.  Virginia looked at him a little bit too, as he had become a popular recruit during the summer before his senior year.  

What Saunders Brings to Virginia

Virginia was very thin at the power forward position.  Both transfers that were added Monday, Saunders and TJ Power, will help fill that hole.   However, they’re multi-positional players who complement each other well.  That’s the key.  Saunders is more of a traditional power forward who could even be used at center at times.  

After being lightly used as a freshman on SDSU’s Final Four team, Saunders became a staple in the rotation during his second season.  He started 21 games, playing 20 minutes per contest.  His season averages aren’t eye popping, 6.2 points and 3.6 rebounds, but he was an important contributor for a team that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.  

Saunders brings a nice blend of skill and physicality.  He’s a three-point threat, hitting 32% on fairly high volume for a forward.  And his career 84% from the foul line indicates that he’ll likely develop into an even better long range shooter.  While his offensive game has been more perimeter oriented during his first two years, he’s a strongly built young man at 225 pounds.  There’s obvious potential for him to become a force in the paint. 

Virginia is getting a player with a high floor, a proven commodity who they can count on to be a solid contributor at a position of need.  But also a developing prospect with a lot of upside.  I think this is a very underrated addition for the Hoos.  

Virginia’s Recruiting Going Forward

With the addition of Saunders, Virginia has 12 scholarship players for the 2024-25 season.  They still have one open scholarship to play with.  

Kansas State transfer guard Dai Dai Ames visited on Monday.  The last open spot would be his if he wants it.  If that doesn’t pan out, it’s unclear if they’ll continue searching for another transfer.  At this point, UVA has everything they need.  Any further addition is a luxury. 

Attention is about to swing back to the high school ranks, specifically the class of 2025.  The first live evaluation period takes place on the weekend of May 17th.  I would expect if UVA intends to pursue any more transfers, it will happen very soon so the coaches can take a breather before turning the page.  

Closing Thoughts

Now that most if not all the results are in, there was a big change in Virginia’s transfer recruiting from a year ago.  All three additions come from major programs, two of them were former prized recruits who Virginia wanted badly out of high school.  They’re players who should have an easier adjustment than last season’s transfers experienced.  

The coaches were out celebrating last night, deservedly so.  It's been a bumpy ride this past month, but they pulled it together pretty well.  There’s a sense of relief, no doubt shared by many fans. 

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(Featured Image Credit: SDSU Athletics)

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