Freshman power forward Isaiah Wilkins is already a lock for STL's "best hair" on the Virginia Men's basketball team superlative, and the Georgia native is looking to make an impact on the court in his first season in Charlottesville.
Stepson of for former NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins, Isaiah arrives on grounds with plenty of fanfare in his own right. The 6-7. 224 pound Wilkins averaged 18.5 points per contest last winter, and led Greater Atlanta Christian to a perfect 32-0 record, and a state championship. It was the Spartans' second consecutive state title, as Wilkins collected AA State Player of the Year honors in 2013 and 2014.
Wilkins boasted over two dozen Division I offers in addition to Virginia, including Clemson, Florida State, Miami, VCU, and Mississippi State among others. The 2014 Georgia Gatorade State Player of the Year committed to the Cavaliers on an official visit last September, and was 100 percent Wahoo ever since. In fact, Wilkins had visits planned to both Miami and SMU, but loved Charlottesville so much, that he decided to commit to UVa, and cancel the other visits.
Wilkins is everything that you are looking for in a ‘stretch' four. The incoming freshman can shoot, he can pass the ball effectively, and can have the offense run through him in the high post. Wilkins has active hands on defense, and his speed and long wingspan allows the talented freshman to defend multiple positions. An active defender, Wilkins has seemed to adjust nicely to the new hand-check rules that were enforced on the high school level last season as well, and is a more disciplined on defense than even before.
While Wilkins has the offensive skillset to compete, the freshman needs to add bulk for the college game. Fortunately, for Wilkins, head coach Tony Bennett has plenty of experience of turning undersized big men into stars. Five years ago, Akil Mitchell arrived in the UVa program weighing just 215 pounds, but the Charlotte native added size and strength each season without sacrificing any speed. Many expect Wilkins to follow the same developmental path, as the explosive freshman has the type of body that can take on more weight, and still maintain the same level of athleticism.
Wilkins will look to earn minutes in a crowded UVa frontcourt this season. Established veterans Anthony Gill andDarion Atkins will get the lion's share of the minutes at the four position, as the duo will look to compensate for the loss of Mitchell. The defensive stopper led all post players in minutes, playing nearly 26 per contest last season. Look for Gill and Atkins to fill the gap left by Mitchell, and for Wilkins to compete for whatever minutes are left.