Virginia head coach Tony Bennett is as good as it gets at building relationships on the recruiting trail. So good, that even if Bennett strikes out with a kid originally, the door is never completely closed (Justin Anderson says hello). Bennett and UVa originally lost out on Marial Shayok to Marquette last year, but when the explosive wing decided to re-open his options, Virginia was right there waiting.
Shayok decommitted from the Golden Eagles following then-head coach Buzz Williams’ departure to Virginia Tech. and the talented wing received plenty of suitors. Name programs such as Indiana, Florida, and Michigan all tried to get involved in the Shayok sweepstakes, but the three-star wing gave assistant coach Ron Sanchez one heck of a birthday present, committing to the Wahoos on May 22nd.
A native of Ottawa, Canada, Shayok played his final two seasons of high school basketball at Blair Academy in New Jersey, the alma mater of center Mike Tobey. The 6-5, 207 pound athlete was a model of consistency at Blair, averaging 15 points and six rebounds per contest in both his junior and senior seasons. Shayok has international playing experience as well, representing Canada in the 2012 U17 World Championships, and in the 2012 Nike Global Challenge.
If you are a fan of Anderson, then you will love Shayok’s game. Shayok is a high-energy player that brings plenty to the table on both sides of the court. His 6-5 frame and long wingspan allows him to guard positions 1-4, similar to the way Anderson was used in his first year in the program. Shayok’s handle has improved tremendously over the years, and he is not afraid to take it to the rack when needed. The freshman’s offensive game goes way beyond (literally) the lane, as Shayok is a streaky shooter from the outside. In high school, Shayok displayed terrific passing ability, averaging four assists per game his junior season, and three the year following.
The starting wing positions are spoken for this year, with Malcolm Brogdon at the two, and Anderson holding down the three. In addition, Devon Hall will become eligible this winter, and is a good bet to be backcourt’s top reserve for the time being at least. Despite having talented and experienced wings in front of him, Shayok brings a new dimension to the Virginia offense and defense. While his role will be determined during the course of the 2014-15 season, Shayok’s athleticism alone will be enough to keep him in the DEEP UVa rotation.