The secret is out! The third member of Virginia basketball's 2014 recruiting class is Jack Salt, 6-foot-10 center from New Zealand.
Last week, whentold prized recruit Martin Geben that UVA was out of scholarships, fans knew something was up. After all, the Hoos had 4 free ones to use on next year's class, with just two claimed (by BJ Stith and Isaiah Wilkins). Bennett had previously claimed to be looking for a big man and a guard, and half of that equation was solved this morning, as first reported by Cavs Corner.
Mystery no more: #UVa has received a commitment from 6-foot-10 center Jack Salt of New Zealand.— CavsCorner (@Cavs_Corner) September 18, 2013
While Jack Salt was clearly highly coveted by Coach Bennett, his recruitment was extremely private, as is often the case with under-the-radar foreign players, and information is scarce. The 17-year old Salt plays with New Zealand's national team, the Tall Blacks (a play on the "All Blacks" rugby team), and attends Westlake High, described by New Zealand's "Stuff" as a "high school hoops factory."
Over the summer, the lefty center was on tour throughout Oceania and Asia, while also emphasizing his studies and prepping for the SAT. Though he has worked as a "development player" for a New Zealand Basketball League squad, he ultimately decided to play college ball in the United States rather than going pro, which he admitted was a difficult decision.
He's also been snapped up as a development player for the New Zealand Breakers' next Australian NBL season, and spent weeks agonising over one of those tricky life choices - whether to commit his future to the champion club, or go the US college route.
For the record, he chose the latter, but admits it was not an easy decision after all the work that has already been put into his development by the Breakers.
That he stands a towering 2.09m - just under 6ft 10in in the old money - and is still growing, helps. The height comes from his maternal grandmother's side of the family, he thinks, and it's all come on rather quickly, as he's grown a foot since starting high school.
He's tall timber, and in the basketball world there's always room for height - and someone who moves as comfortably as this youngster around the court.
Though specific scouting information is largely unavailable, one thing is clear to the most untrained eye: Jack Salt is a big, big guy. He'll likely need some seasoning to adapt to the American game, but Coach Bennett obviously likes his potential to learn and fit into the defensive system.
Whitey Reid reported that St. Mary's, Boise State and Pitt all also expressed interest.
I'm told Salt's other suitors included St. Mary's, Boise State and Pitt.— Whitelaw Reid (@WhiteysWorld365) September 18, 2013
The 6-10 Jack Salt joins BJ Stith (6-foot-5, 4* Rivals) and Isaiah Wilkins (6-foot-8, 3* Rivals) in Tony Bennett's 2014 class. Wahoo fans can expect one more commitment at the guard spot. All eyes will first be on Robert Johnson, who will announce Friday - he is deciding between Indiana, UNC, Virginia, and Florida State.
We'll have more to add as more information emerges, hopefully including thoughts from the elusive Salt himself.