Today is November 7th and there are now just 6 days remaining until the Hoos tip off against Morgan State. For this day, we're taking a look in the rear-view mirror and Tony Bennett's first recruiting class at Virginia, which was dubbed the "Six Shooters", because there were 6 of them.
That recruiting class was highly touted and featured 4 top 150 recruits, including KT Harrell, the #30 player in the nation according to Rivals. The 5 other players were (in alphabetical order) Billy Baron, Joe Harris, James Johnson, Akil Mitchell, and Will Regan.
One reason the class was so highly thought of was that they were so well-rounded. Both as individuals and as a class. There were 3 backcourt players (Baron, Harrell and Harris) and 3 frontcount players. They came from all 4 corners of the country, from Joe Harris in Washington state and James Johnson in San Diego to KT Harrell in Alabama and Billy Baron in Massachusetts. There were shooters (Baron and Harris) and there were bangers (Mitchell and Regan). There was a scorer (Harrell) and an uber-athletic big man (Johnson).
As it turned out, only 2 of the 6 players really had an impact for the Hoos. Of the other 4, there were a total of 6 transfers and only KT Harrell really ended up having much impact after leaving Virginia. Still, the 2 recruits who stayed at Virginia ended up helping to lead the Hoos resurgence into the national picture.
Let's take a quick look at each of them, and how they turned out both for the Hoos and beyond.
Joe Harris: OK, we all know how this turned out. Joe became the best player on the Hoos for two years before being drafted in the 2nd round by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Joe is 2nd all-time in 3 pointers made for the Hoos and shot over 40% from downtown for his career. He's also 11th all-time in scoring for the Hoos. Right now, he's still a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, although he doesn't get much playing time. He's played 11 minutes total throughout the Cavs first 5 games of the season, and has scored 3 points. In 11 games with the Canton Charge of the NBDL, he averaged 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per game.
Akil Mitchell: Again, we know how this one turned out. Mitchell, like Joe, became one of the team leaders of the Hoos in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, he averaged 13 points and 9 rebounds and was named 3rd team All-ACC. In 2014, for a better and deeper Virginia team, his offensive contributions dropped, but he was named to the ACC All-Defense team as he helped led the Hoos to the ACC Tournament Title and NCAA Sweet Sixteen. He was undrafted, but played in the 2014 summer league for the Houston Rockets and the 2015 summer league for the New Jersey Nets. He's currently playing in France for Olympique Antibes.
K.T. Harrell: Played over 20 minutes per game as a freshman for the Hoos, averaging 8 points per game and shooting 42% from behind the 3 point line. After some early season struggles as a sophomore, Harrell announced his intention to transfer. He ended up at Auburn, where he had 2 very successful seasons. As a junior in 2013, Harrell averaged 18 points per game along with 4 rebounds and 2 assists. He shot 36% from behind the arc and 87% from the line. Last year, as a senior, he put up similar numbers, though he shot the ball better. The team was worse and his assist numbers fell off. Harrell played with the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer league this year. He is currently playing in the Turkish Second Division for Akhisar Belediyespor.
Billy Baron: Baron played in 17 games for the Hoos as a freshman, averaging just over minutes per game. For a shooter, he struggled with his shot and averaged just 3 points per game. He opted to transfer to Rhode Island, where his father was the head coach. After one season there, his father was fired and then hired at Canisius. Billy followed his father and then had two very good seasons for the Golden Griffins. He shot the ball well, making over 40% of his 3s in those two years, and became a better all-around PG. He averaged over 20 points per game and over 5 assists per game. He is currently playing in the Belgian league for Spirou Charleroi.
Will Regan: After playing sparingly for the Hoos as a freshman (just 6 minutes per game in 20 games) and scoring just 25 points and grabbing 18 rebounds, Regan transferred to Buffalo. During his first two years there, Regan was a starter and averaged about 10 points and 5 rebounds. He played as a "stretch 4" and shot nearly 40% from behind the arc. As a senior, Regan started about half of the team's games, and averaged about 23 minutes per game (down from about 30 the previous 2 years). He didn't shoot the ball very well and averaged just 6 points and 4 rebounds.
James Johnson: Probably the saddest case of the entire class, Johnson was one of the more hyped players in the class. A 6'9" 220 pound PF with tremendous athleticism, Johnson was very raw when he got to Cville. After a redshirt year to built up his upper body and develop his skills, he played in just 6 games for the Hoos for a total of 37 minutes as a freshman. He scored 9 points and had 8 rebounds. He also had 8 fouls and did not make a shot from the field. Shortly after KT Harrell announced his intention to transfer, Johnson followed suit. Johnson would play two years at his hometown San Diego State. He didn't fare much better there, playing just 207 minutes in 30 games during those two years. He scored 45 points. Finally, he transferred to Liberty after graduating from SDSU and played there last season. He started 23 times for the Flames and averaged 5.8 points and 3 rebounds per game. He also continued to have problems with turnovers and fouls.
While Tony's first class was, perhaps, the most hyped he's had to date, they didn't end up panning out. His recruits since then have fared much better. Hopefully, Tony's similarly hyped 2016 class ends up staying together and leading the Hoos to new heights.