It is hard to believe, but big man Mike Tobey is entering his last season as a Wahoo.
Let that sink in.
Maybe it's that Malcolm and Anthony, as redshirt "seniors", seem like they've been at Virginia for a Rod Hall amount of time. Maybe it's because Tobey still looks like the fresh-faced 17 year old that showed up on Grounds three seasons ago.
Either way, this is Mike's last chance to show Virginia fans, critics, and NBA scouts what he's made of. Last season, Tobey started 11 games and played in 34 en route to 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. His performance off the bench behind Darion Atkins and Anthony Gill led the ACC coaches to name him the ACC Sixth Man of the Year, but this year he'll be making an impact from the first whistle.
While Tobey has had some fantastic performances over the past few years, his career thus far has been marked with inconsistency and a lack of toughness. For a player with such a smooth and silky shot, his confidence is often affected by the first attempt of the game. Make that one...he's golden. Miss? Well...it's probably going to be a long game for Mike. When he's on, though, look out (ask Harvard).
Expectations for Tobey are off the chart this season, and if the fall is any indication, Mike is ready to perform. In his time under strength coach Mike Curtis, Tobey has packed on about 55-60 pounds, and is now hovering around 10% body fat. According to VirginiaSports.com's Jeff White, this year's version of Tobey is the most mentally and physically prepared that Coach Bennett has seen him. Shortly after last season ended in disappointing fashion, Tobey returned to school and dedicated himself to train and prepare as he had seen his teammate Darion Atkins do the season before.
This season, the Hoos need Tobey and his fellow big men to step up to help ease the loss of Atkins. Jack Salt will be of assistance on the defensive end of the court, and Tobey has shown he is adept around the rim. The ceiling is limitless for Mike, and he has the opportunity to become one of the elite big men not only in conference, but in the country.
So far, all the hubbub around Tobey this fall has has been positive. In the practice videos, he was not only finishing around the rim with authority, but calling for alley oops a la Syracuse last season. Virginia played a closed door, super secret scrimmage with VCU this past weekend, but some intel leaked:
I'm begging my source to release information about the final score. I'm hearing UVA's Tobey and VCU's Johnson went off. No word on a final.— VCU Insider (@VCUInsider) November 1, 2015
The past couple years, the Virginia big men have experienced some epic seasons to close out their careers.
Mitchell in 2014.
Atkins in 2015.
Tobey in 2016?