Virginia coach Tony Bennett is probably hoping Roy Williams and UNC stay away from 2013 target Anthony Barber (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
With the 2011 season behind us and the 2012 recruiting class complete, it's time for Tony Bennett and Virginia to focus its energy on the 2013 recruiting class. Almost all of the talk about Virginia basketball lately has been about which transfers UVA was targeting, and how they would fit into Jontel Evans is the only scholarship senior departing after the 2012-13 season, and with Anthony Gill now in the fold, that brings Virginia's available scholarships down to a few for 2013. Barring a rash of transfers, don't expect Virginia to take a lot of commitments in the 2013 class.scheme. Although several transfer targets remain, there does not appear to be an answer for Virginia's biggest need, point guard. With both guard spots being major needs for Virginia, the 2013 recruiting class will be important, even if it isn't very big.
Here's a look at Virginia's top 2013 targets, in alphabetical order.
BeeJay Anya (Hyattsville, MD): The Dematha big-man has a bunch of offers from big time programs, Virginia among them. With offers from Georgetown, Maryland, Florida, Texas and others, Anya will be a tough one for Virginia to pull out of the DC area. That won't stop the UVA staff from trying, however. The Virginia staff stops by Anya's school to check in on him and several other players from time to time, in hopes of having staying power in his recruitment. Virginia's hope now is just to get Anya on campus and try to position themselves to be a player down the stretch. It's going to be a challenge though.
Anthony Barber (Hampton, VA): Barber would be the real prize of the 2013 class for Virginia. Point guard is obviously UVA's biggest need, and Barber is one of the best point guards out there. Barber has good size for a point guard, with elite quickness and playmaking ability. Obviously with his proximity to Charlottesville, Bennett and the Cavaliers have been on Barber for some time now. Barber, who goes by the nickname "Big Cat," was AAU teammates with 2012 Virginia signee Justin Anderson, and that certainly doesn't hurt. The 6'2'' guard currently holds offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, NC State and Providence. Seth Greenberg's departure in Blacksburg is helpful to Virginia's position, because the two in-state schools seem to be in the driver's seat for Barber at the moment. An offer from UNC, Duke or Kentucky could doom the Cavaliers' pursuit of Barber, as it has with many other UVA targets in the past.
Troy Caupain (Midlothian, VA): The in-state guard holds offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech and Richmond so far. Although Virginia has offered, it is not clear at this point how hard the staff is recruiting him, and Caupain could be seen as somewhat of a backup option for the Cavaliers. If UVA loses out on some other shooting guard targets like Stanford Robinson and Matt Thomas, expect Virginia to up its interest in Caupain. For now, it's hard to get a read on where Caupain will end up, but Virginia is at least involved at this point.
Corban Collins (Woodstock, VA): The 6'2'' point guard does not currently hold an offer from the Cavaliers, but the coaching staff is keeping tabs on him at this point. Like Caupain, Collins could be a backup option at the position he plays, and Virginia may target Collins if they lose out on guys like Anthony Barber and Tyler Ennis. Virginia Tech had shown some interest in Collins before Seth Greenberg was fired this week, and it remains to be seen how the new staff will go about pursuing Collins. As for now, it's a wait and see approach with Collins' recruitment, at least until Virginia offers him.
Tyler Ennis (Newark, New Jersey): Tyler Ennis would be another great addition at the point guard spot. Ennis, who is originally from Canada, is the younger brother of recent Virginia transfer target Dylan Ennis, who recently chose Villanova. Like Anthony Barber, Ennis has solid size for a point guard, and a nice shooting touch to go along with it. Tyler has too many offers to list them all, but in addition to Virginia, schools like Kansas, Arizona, Georgetown, Villanova, NC State, and Villanova have offered. With that level of competition, Ennis isn't going to be easy to pull. Tony Bennett has been pursuing Ennis hard though, and Virginia's need at point guard could be enough for Ennis to give UVA a serious look.
Kennedy Meeks (Charlotte, NC): Virginia is just one of a long list of schools that have offered the 6'8'' forward, including Florida, Florida State, Wake Forest, and many others. Meeks has shown some interest in Virginia at times, but not consistently. I would file Meeks in the long-shot category for now, but one worth keeping an eye on.
(Memphis, Tennessee): Virginia seemed in play for Nichols, until Duke offered over the weekend. That one can often spell doom for Virginia. Many of the kids who would be interested in playing for Tony Bennett at Virginia would also be good fits for Duke (Interest in Academics, ACC basketball, playing within a system, good shooters, etc); so when both schools offer, Duke usually holds the upper hand. In addition to Virginia and Duke, the 6'8'' power forward holds offers from Butler, Cincinnati, Florida, Tennessee, Louisville and others. We'll see where it goes from here. The longer this goes without a commitment to Duke, the better it is for Virginia fans. I wouldn't hold my breath however. With a lot of solid competition for Nichols, Virginia is going to need to get Nichols on campus, and then blow him away, in order to make a move with him.
Stanford Robinson (Fairfax, VA): Here is another in-state target that the Cavaliers have been seriously pursuing. The Paul VI guard stands 6'4'', and would probably play the two-guard spot in college. Robinson's recruitment has taken off in the last year, and he holds offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, NC State, and Pittsburgh among others. There is also reported interest from Georgetown, Maryland and Indiana as well. The interest between Virginia and Robinson seems mutual, and the UVA staff has put themselves in a solid position to land the Fairfax native.
Jaren Sina (Gladstone, New Jersey): The former Alabama commit re-opened his recruitment in 2011, and Virginia was a player from the start. Sina visited Charlottesville earlier this year, and the visit seemed to go well. Virginia hasn't been mentioned in connection with the Jersey point guard recently, and of course that can be cause for concern. Sina has a bunch of offers at this point, including ones from Virginia, Alabama, Butler, St. Johns, and more. At this point, don't expect Virginia to gain a commitment from Sina, unless something major changes.
Brandan Stith (Brunswick, VA): Stith's younger brother B.J. is committed to Virginia for the 2014 class. It probably goes without saying, but the Stith brothers are the sons of former UVA and NBA player Bryant Stith. As for now, Virginia has offered Brandan a scholarship for the 2014 class, after having him prep for a year in 2013 to develop his game further. We will see if Virginia changes their approach to this, but as for now, consider Stith a member of the 2014 class, at least as far as UVA is concerned.
Matt Thomas (Onalaska, Wisconsin): Thomas would be a major get for Virginia. In the system that Bennett runs, good shooters are always a commodity, and Thomas is certainly that. The 6'4'' Wisconsin native holds offers from Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Marquette, Minnesota, and many others. Virginia is right in the mix for Thomas, and he plans to visit at some point in the next few months. Virginia will need to overcome the close-to-home option in Wisconsin, who runs a similar style to Virginia. UVA will rely on Thomas having a great relationship with Tony Bennett and his staff, and the willingness to travel far from home for college.
Troy Williams (Hampton, VA): The only reason Williams is included in this list is because he is an in-state target that people will want to know about. Well, he has narrowed his choices down to Kentucky and North Carolina, both of whom have offered. Turn out the lights, the party's over.
As you can see through this list, the Virginia staff is putting a premium on guard play in the 2013 class. The Cavaliers are searching hard for both a point guard and a dead-eye shooter in this class. As of now, these are Virginia's most likely targets for this recruiting cycle. Things can change, however, and some prospects that aren't on this list may be in play for the Cavaliers down the road. The most likely prospect on this list to commit to Virginia is probably Matt Thomas, followed by Stanford Robinson. This is not counting Brandan Stith, who, as we said above, Virginia is trying to add to its 2014 class. Anthony Barber and Tyler Ennis are the best shot that Virginia has to add an elite point guard, and either of them would be huge to the development of the UVA program.
As this recruiting cycle unfolds and commitments occur, stay tuned to Streaking the Lawn for all the latest hoops recruiting news and analysis.