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Intel Report 7/18/24: New Offers
Category_Virginia Men's Basketball

Intel Report 7/18/24: New Offers

Intel Report 7/10/24: Weekend Preview
HoozGotNext

Intel Report 7/10/24: Weekend Preview

Intel Report 7/01/24: Priority Recruits
Category_Virginia Men's Basketball

Intel Report 7/01/24: Priority Recruits

Intel Report 7/18/24: New Offers Category_Virginia Men's Basketball

Intel Report 7/18/24: New Offers

By Kevin Cook

New recruits are emerging.  What to know about Virginia’s latest scholarship offers.  Where things stand with all the top targets left on the board.  And this weekend’s hot spots as coaches head out for the summer’s final live period. 

New Offers

Tony Bennett handed out three new scholarship offers following last weekend’s live evaluation period.  All to recruits in the class of 2025. 

Matthew Able was the breakout recruit of the week.  The 6’5” shooting guard out of Sagemont Prep (FL) averaged better than 22 points and shot over 50% from behind the arc through six games in Rock Hill.  He had already been on the rise, but his recruitment has officially blown up now..  Bennett called with an offer immediately after watching Able, something he hadn’t done in years.  It was a no brainer.  

Able has picked up a bunch of new offers. Baylor, Miami, Auburn, and Michigan to name a few.  There will surely be more on the way, as other coaches flock to see him this weekend in Atlanta.  He had set a few official visits to the schools that were previously recruiting him.  One of those being Boston College, where his dad played.  But everything has changed for him now.  We’ll have to see where UVA fits in when July’s dust settles.  

The next offer went to Utah Prep point guard JJ Mandaquit.  UVA clearly went into the weekend planning to give him a long look.  Bennett and/or Ron Sanchez were there every time he played.  He’s long been a popular recruit, ranked around the top 50.  Stanford and BYU seem to be the programs most seriously involved so far.  He’s also talked about Louisville and Creighton.  

Mandaquit is 6’2” pure point guard.  It shows the coaching staff is open to different types of players for the one spot they have available for a guard in the 2025 class.  I asked a UVA source about their thought process.  His answer was “We just want a really good guard.”  

On Wednesday, Jack McCaffery claimed his offer.  A 6’8” forward out of Iowa City West HS, he’s the son of Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery.  The sharpshooter has made it known that he won’t be playing for his dad in college, so it’s a wide open recruitment.  The UVA offer is a big one for him.  Butler is seriously involved.  He has other offers from Utah, Wake Forest, and VCU.  

McCaffery is a skilled prototypical stretch-four type.  Shooting is his best attribute.  Bennett hasn’t seen him play yet.   Presumably, Ron Sanchez did last week while in Atlanta.  After his performance last week and the new offers, he should be a popular attraction for coaches this weekend at the Under Armour Finals. 

I expect Virginia to be a serious contender for JJ Mandaquit.  The coaches had been in contact with him for a while and already felt out the terrain.  It’s more wait and see with the other two.  There’s no guarantee they’ll get a foot in the door with Matthew Able,  and Jack McCaffery hasn’t been evaluated as thoroughly yet.   

The main takeaway from these new offers is that UVA won’t sit around this fall waiting endlessly for recruits to decide.  Not surprising, as Bennett usually takes this approach.  Look for them to try to get the newly offered players for visits.   The ideal scenario is to schedule them as a second wave, around late September into early October.   That way earlier targets like Derek Dixon, Chance Mallory, and Nate Ament have a reasonable opportunity to accept before the door opens to others.   

Other Guards 

Gonzaga (DC) guard Derek Dixon has received a heavy dose of the coaching staff’s attention all summer, and that will continue this weekend at Peach Jam.  Of the current targets, he’s the best bet to decide first.  That could happen anytime after his scheduled visit to North Carolina in early September. He’s already taken officials to the other contenders, UVA, Pitt, and Syracuse.  The thing to watch is whether he schedules more visits, potentially stretching his decision out further.  

St. Anne’s Belfield (VA) guard Chance Mallory has already named his final six.  Virginia, VA Tech, Miami, Clemson, Tennessee, and Villanova.  He’s planning to visit all of them, with UVA getting their turn on the weekend of September 13th.  A UVA source said this week that they feel like they have a legit shot, but confidence in getting him isn’t very high.  And with Chance determined to wait until late October to decide, the spot could get filled before then.  

Davidson Day (NC) guard Isaiah Denis is planning to trim his list down to probably around seven soon after Peach Jam.  UVA has been coming around regularly to see him during these live weekends.  I would guess the Hoos make the list, but it’s not a given.  Actually landing him is shaping up as a longshot.  He’s already set September official visits to Pitt, Michigan, and Ohio State.  

Forwards

It appears Virginia will get the first official visit from Highland School (VA) prized forward Nate Ament, tentatively scheduled for the weekend of September 1st.  He’s planning a lot of visits though, maybe up to 10 of them.  The race could go on for a good while. He hasn’t ruled out taking it past the November signing period.  

A source close to Ament said the three schools he believes are at the top right now are UVA, Duke, and Louisville.  On3’s Jamie Shaw reported a similar group that also included Kentucky.  We all understand the odds when those schools are involved.  At the same time, UVA is clearly a very serious contender.  The new offer to McCaffery signals Bennett won’t sit around and wait forever, but he’ll take his best shot in September and then see where things stand.  

Largo (MD) forward Cam Ward is putting on a show at Peach Jam, averaging 27 points so far.  He was in Charlottesville for an unofficial visit last month.  I’ve heard that Bennett has loved what he’s seen from Ward this summer.  Whether or not the Hoos have a real shot is another matter.  His recruitment is all over the place.  He mentions different schools in every interview, with only Marquette and Michigan State as the constants.  There’s a list cut planned after Peach Jam, so we should at least get some clarity.  

Bennett watched Mason Blackwood for the first time last weekend.  The New Hampton (NH) forward was offered following the spring AAU period.  UVA is still figuring out whether they'll seriously pursue him this fall, so I think that’s what’s happening right now.  He has an early September official visit scheduled to Penn State.  

Live Weekend

This weekend is the last live evaluation period of the year.  Coaches will be out from Friday through Sunday attending AAU events, checking on their top targets and evaluating new ones.  

Nike Peach Jam in Augusta takes center stage this week.  The coaches will probably spend most of their time there.  Top guard target Derek Dixon looks to lead Team Takeover to the championship.  As I mentioned, Cam Ward is having a great week.  Those two are sure to get lots of UVA attention. Isaiah Denis is back after missing last weekend with an injury.  And we’ll see whether Bennett continues eyeing Mason Blackwood.  Even more interesting will be if any new players of interest emerge, as the coaches have kept track of the happenings there this week. 

Nate Ament will be in Atlanta, so Tony Bennett is sure to follow.  There are two events of interest in town. The Adidas All-American Camp for standouts from the Adidas circuit.  And the nearby independent Power 24 event features many top teams from throughout the south.  UVA will want to see both newly offered guards as well.  JJ Mandaquit will be at the Adidas camp, while Matthew Able is playing at Power 24.  I’m not sure yet if Ament is participating in the camp or playing with Team Loaded at Power 24, but he’ll definitely be in Atlanta.  

The Under Armour Association Finals in Chicago is a major draw for coaches.  UVA is sure to be on hand, especially with the new offer to Jack McCaffery.  I’ll be curious if Bennett makes that out of the way trip to get his first look at McCaffery.    

Then from Tuesday through Thursday, coaches can attend the NCAA Academy in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  That’s mostly an opportunity to evaluate 2026 recruits.  I’ll get into the details on the forum next week if you’re interested.  

What’s Ahead

Over this next month, 2025 recruits will figure out their plans moving forward.  We’ll be talking a lot about list cuts and who’s visiting where on what weekend this fall.   The in-person activity dries up until September, when we ease into the heart of commitment season as official visits get underway.  

There’s an August recruiting lull, actually a big portion of the month is a dead period.  During that time, I plan to see what sources have to say about how the current team has looked in summer practices.  That’s the upcoming VIP itinerary.  Finish up the July live periods, summer practice reports, then back into fall recruiting.  Appreciate you all for sticking with us.  Thanks for subscribing to Locker Room Access.

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Intel Report 7/10/24: Weekend Preview HoozGotNext

Intel Report 7/10/24: Weekend Preview

By Kevin Cook

After a short break, Tony Bennett and the Virginia coaching staff head out this weekend for the first of two July live evaluation periods.  I preview the hot spots and names to know in this LRA Intel Report.  

Fall Visits

UVA’s schedule of fall visitors is taking shape a bit early this year.  September and October are the busiest months for visiting high school recruits, and commitments for that matter, ahead of November’s early signing period.  Once the upcoming live weekends are over, 2025 recruits will start naming finalists and setting visits.  Some are already doing so obviously.   

St. Anne’s Belfield (VA) guard Chance Mallory has scheduled official visits to all six of his finalists, from early September through late October.  He’ll visit VA Tech, UVA, Clemson, Villanova, Tennessee, and Miami in that order.  The UVA visit is on the weekend of September 13th.  Mallory’s plan is to announce his choice on October 30th, his dad’s birthday.  And I would expect him to stick to that.  He’s had his plan from the start and hasn’t deviated.  

Top forward target Nate Ament out of Highland School (VA) has also said he will likely take his UVA official visit on the same weekend, September 13th.  It’s yet to be determined which other schools he’ll visit.  It’s sure to be a prestigious group.  UNC and UConn for sure, probably Kentucky, and maybe Duke.  

Largo (MD) forward Cam Ward intends to come back for an official visit in the fall as well, following his recent unofficial visit.  No date is set yet.  He’s already taken officials to Notre Dame, Florida State, and Marquette.  Others in the running include Michigan State, Maryland, and Mississippi State. 

Add in Gonzaga (DC) guard Derek Dixon, who visited in April, and it sets up well for UVA to have a realistic chance this fall with each of what seem to be their four top targets in the class as things stand.  Dixon has already visited Pitt and Syracuse along with UVA.  He has a UNC visit scheduled for early September. 

Live Weekend

Coaches will be on the road from Thursday through Sunday for the first of two consecutive AAU live evaluation weekends.   All of the relevant action is bunched together this weekend, in South Carolina and Georgia.  Convenient for coaches, as they can easily hop between locations.  

The 2025 class is still the main focus.  However, activity involving 2026 recruits starts to pick up from here.  We should see Bennett show up this week to evaluate some of the rising juniors his assistants have identified. 

Rock Hill

This weekend’s main event is the Adidas 3SSB Championships in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  That’s probably where Tony Bennett will start off, watching Nate Ament on Thursday.  There’s no other obvious 2025 recruits of interest there, but we shall see.   Plenty of potential 2026 recruits though.  

2026 John Marshall (VA) big man Latrell Allmond, Ament’s AAU teammate, already holds an offer from UVA.  Bishop O’Connell (VA) point guard Darius Bivins visited for a game this past season. Bennett will surely check on Wisconsin guard Josh Manchester, another unofficial visitor last fall.  And Carmel Christian (NC) forward Cody Peck turned heads during last month’s scholastic live periods.  

Atlanta

The Under Armour Association event will be held at Lake Point, just north of Atlanta.  With Chance Mallory out injured, there aren't any current UVA targets playing there.  They may want another look at St. John’s (DC) guard Omari Witherspoon, one of the hottest recruits in the country of late.  There’s already a relationship with him.  He visited for a game late in the season.   

Another attraction in Atlanta is the NBA Academy event, featuring top overseas talent. Someone from UVA usually drops by to browse.  The name to know there is Oscar Goodman, a 2025 forward from New Zealand.  He’ll have a lot of eyes on him after a really good showing last week at the U17 World Cup.  

Augusta

Most of the players UVA is recruiting are in Augusta for Nike Peach Jam.  It doesn’t begin until Saturday though.  They’ve changed the format, so that Peach Jam occupies both live period weekends.  Tony Bennett will undoubtedly be there later this weekend and then it’ll be ground zero for coaches when they go back out next week.  

Prime targets Derek Dixon and Cam Ward should once again get a heavy dose of Bennett’s attention.  It’ll be interesting to see if the coaching staff starts to devote more energy toward the recruits that were offered in spring.  Bennett was on hand in June for Davidson Day (NC) guard Isaiah Denis.  He’s yet to see New Hampton (NH) forward Mason Blackwood and Cathedral (IN) forward Brady Koehler

2025 guard Legend Smiley from Seattle will get a look during Peach Jam. He caught Ron Sanchez’s attention in June.  And guard Courtland Muldrew, an Arkansas native now attending Oak Hill Academy, has been mentioning UVA interest since spring.    

There will be a lot of 2026 evaluation work at Peach Jam too.  Grace Christian (NC) wing Michael Phillips really impressed in June.  There’s serious interest in Putnam Science (CT) guard Imahri Wooten.  And the UVA coaches are already familiar with the Bishop McNamara (MD) guard duo, Prince-Alexander Moody and Qayden Samuels

These AAU weekends are a lot of fun.  Come join the discussion on the forum, where there will be frequent updates.  As always, thanks for subscribing to Locker Room Access.

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Intel Report 7/01/24: Priority Recruits Category_Virginia Men's Basketball

Intel Report 7/01/24: Priority Recruits

By Kevin Cook

After Tony Bennett and his staff spent the last two weekends on the road, Virginia’s 2025 recruiting board has been whittled down and reshaped.  

Still a Chance 

St. Anne’s Belfield (VA) point guard Chance Mallory named his Top 6 last week.  He’s down to Virginia, Clemson, Miami, Tennessee, Villanova, and VA Tech.   Mallory suffered a broken ankle recently.  Since he’ll be out of action for the remainder of the summer, likely keeping him from earning new scholarship offers, he went ahead with the list cut. 

Other than knowing the competition, it doesn’t change a lot.  Mallory had delayed taking any official visits.  He’s scheduling those now, probably starting in September.  It’ll be a fall decision as he always planned.  

Mallory was actually at UVA for practice on Thursday.  The Hoos are definitely active in his recruitment.  There are two hurdles with him.  Style of play.  They’ll need to convince him that there are real offensive changes coming.  And maybe a bigger issue at this point is the roster situation, already having two young point guards.   Bennett sees things more in terms of skillset than position with guards,  and believes there’s still a good opportunity for Mallory.  

UVA isn’t counting on getting Mallory. That’s apparent with all the other guard recruiting.  But unless they get another guard first, the door will stay open.  There’s a very real possibility that after examining his options, he’ll decide to stay home.  I’ve heard Clemson will be a serious contender.  He likes their coaching staff and the opening at point guard.  But every team on the list has a shot.  It'll come down to how he sees things after taking visits.  

Moving On

Status check was the title of the last intel Report. That’s exactly what happened over the last two weekends with coaches on the road for the scholastic live periods.  Their actions provided clarity.  It’s obvious now that Virginia is no longer pursuing quite a few of the recruits they had previously offered. 

We can take Sidwell (DC) point guard Acaden Lewis off the board.  UVA has clearly bowed out now.  There’s no involvement at all with Bullis (MD) guard Adrien Stevens.  He’ll probably decide soon between Marquette and Villanova. The Hoos have passed on Southern Durham (NC) wing Jackson Keith.  And we hardly got to know Greenfield Central (IN) sharpshooter Braylon Mullins.  No one from UVA bothered to see him in June.  

Bennett’s absence in New England this past weekend signaled the end of any serious effort for St. Thomas More (CT) forward London Jemison, an early priority target.  The same is true for Brewster (NH) wing Dwayne Aristode, who never bought into UVA’s idea of using him at forward.  

Guards

Gonzaga (DC) combo guard Derek Dixon has to be considered the top overall recruit on UVA’s board right now.  Every time he took the court in June, someone from UVA was there.  In Philadelphia this past weekend and in DC the week before.  More times than not, Tony Bennett himself was courtside.  It required some special trips.  That’s what a priority recruitment means this time of year.  

UVA hosted Dixon on an official visit back in April.  He’s also taken officials to Syracuse and Pittsburgh.  Those had been the three contenders, then North Carolina offered this spring.  He’s planning to visit Chapel Hill in early September.  UVA had ground to make up, and perhaps still does.  But as we’ve seen in the past, Bennett is very capable of doing that when he turns up the heat like this. 

Recently offered Davidson Day (NC) guard Isaiah Denis definitely passed the status check.  UVA coaches saw him both weekends, including a visit from Bennett on Saturday night.  His recruitment is still taking shape after piling up scholarship offers this spring.  There are already September official visits scheduled to Pitt, Ohio State, and Michigan.  Expect NC State and Clemson to be in the mix too.  

Guard recruiting cleared up nicely.  Those two along with Chance Mallory are the only guards being pursued right now.  The hope is to get one.  

Forwards

UVA is taking their best swing at in-state prize Nate Ament.  The five-star rated forward out of Highland School (VA) has moved even further up recruiting charts this spring, collecting every blue blood offer along the way.  Bennett saw him both weekends in DC, and assistants were around at other times. 

Sources have told me UVA is squarely in the mix with Ament.  They’ve recruited him from day one, and he’s been down for several unofficial visits.   North Carolina and Kentucky are coming hard, UConn will be one to watch too.  Duke offered early then wasn’t very active with him, and are now trying to work their way back in.  

The most surprising development of June has been UVA’s resurgence in the recruitment of Largo (MD) forward Cam Ward.  He was offered back in November, but there wasn’t any sign of life until Bennett made a quick side trip to check him out last weekend.   That was followed by Ward coming to Charlottesville for an unofficial visit on Thursday.  And Bennett once again was courtside to see him this past weekend in Philly.  

There doesn’t seem to be a favorite for Ward.  That’s why UVA is making a move.  He just took an official visit to Marquette last week.  Michigan State, Maryland, and Mississippi State are all involved.  Shaka Smart and Tom Izzo were there along with Bennett to watch on Sunday.  

Assistants kept tabs on other forward recruits.  Ron Sanchez was in Arizona last week for Harvard Westlake (CA) forward Nikolas Khamenia.  He may visit this fall, but there’s very little hope of actually getting him.  Coach Vandross saw New Hampton (NH) forward Mason Blackwood at the New England event.  He just took his first official visit to Rutgers.  And although UVA wasn’t on hand for Cathedral (IN) forward Brady Koehler, it’s too early to write him off.  

Christ School (NC) forward Zymicah Wilkins doesn’t have an offer from UVA yet.  It’s possible that could change soon.  Coach Vandross had been eyeing him, then Bennett was courtside to see him play on Friday in DC.  Wilkins has become a popular recruit of late.  

While the forward recruiting picture isn’t as neat as it is with guards, these last two weeks have provided some clarity.  They’re in full pursuit of Nate Ament and Cam Ward.  At the same time, they’re doing enough to hang around with other potential targets and evaluating new ones.  

It’s July

The only recruiting activity that takes place in July are the AAU live evaluation periods.  There are two of them, sorta three.  The first live period, July 11-14, is the big one.  All three major shoe circuits hold their championship events that week.  There’s another short live period the next weekend, July 19-21, one last chance to evaluate 2025 recruits.  Then that’s followed by the NCAA Academy, July 23-25, mostly relevant for 2026 recruiting. 

Everything else shuts down.  There won't be any visits, possibly not until football season.  If you only care about commitments, check back in a couple months.  July is when the sausage gets made, not delivered.  It’s a fun time of year though.  New recruits will emerge.  Nearly every class under Bennett has included a player offered during the July before their senior year.  And several of those went on to be all-time great Hoos.  

The 2025 recruiting picture is a lot clearer now.  That’s always a good sign.  Next week, I’ll get into the specifics of what’s coming up and any developments in the time between.  As always, thanks for subscribing to Locker Room Access. 

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