When Tony Bennett took the mic for his preseason press conference, there were two overarching themes he professed excitement for with this year's roster. One was the length and athleticism of Virginia's perimeter players. The other was the number of guys who had been able to take a redshirt year after a year of playing college basketball.
If one is good, then two is better, and Darius Thompson fits both categories.
A 6'5, 200 pound combo guard, Thompson brings size to the Cavalier backcourt. He was rated as the #4 combo guard in the country coming out of high school and—stop me when you've heard this about a Bennett player before—is the son of a coach. As a freshman at Tennessee, he played in 37 games, averaging a little under 17 minutes of playing time per game. His career-high outburst was 16 points against Wake Forest, 9 of which came at the charity stripe. Despite playing limited minutes, he led the team in steals and was second in assists while posting a positive assists-to-turnover ratio.
Like Anthony Gill before him, and like Austin Nichols will be after him, Thompson has had the benefit of a silent year under Coach Bennett's tutelage. Forced to sit a year by NCAA rules after transferring, he's had time to internalize a complex system that demands a lot of its guards at both ends of the floor.
Don't expect to see Thompson dislodge either London Perrantes or Malcolm Brogdon. But if either of them gets into foul trouble or—god forbid—gets slowed by injury, Thompson will be in strong contention for one of the first spots off the bench. Thompson's length and quickness will help swallow opposing guards while Perrantes and/or Brogdon take a breather.