Thursday morning, ESPN re-released their “Way-Too-Early Top 25,” now simply called the No-Longer-Way-Too-Early Top 25, and you may recognize one of those top five teams.
Eamonn Brennan has Virginia at No. 5 in his rankings, which may come as a shock to some of the casual fans out there. After all, you’d expect the Hoos to take a hit after losing second round draft pick Malcolm Brogdon (Milawaukee), Anthony Gill, and Mike Tobey.
“Not so fast, my friends.” – Tony Bennett (maybe).
Ok, so Tony didn’t really say that, but Coach Bennett has the Wahoos ready to contend in the 2016-2017 season thanks to the combination of senior leadership, instrumental transfers (or redshirts), and new blood.
Fourth-year London Perrantes returns for his final season, coming off of a brilliant junior year in which he averaged 11 points per game, converting 48.8% of his attempts from three point land while dishing out 4.4 assists and committing just 0.5 turnovers per game. Additionally, you have the likes of Isaiah Wilkins, Devon Hall, Marial Shayok, and Darius Thompson returning for Virginia, all of whom averaged at least 15 minutes a game last season.
Memphis transfer Austin Nichols, a 6-9, 234-pound forward, is poised to have an All-ACC type year. His success at Memphis was well documented with him averaging over 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks a game. Now, he has a year of learning the pack line under his belt, and people are taking notice.
On top of all that, the Hoos welcome their most talented incoming class of Coach Bennett’s tenure at Virginia. Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter, Jay Huff, and redshirt Mamadi Diakite all join the fray, and several could be ready to contribute right off the bat.
The ACC is well represented in ESPN’s No-Longer-Way-Too-Early Top 25 with No. 1 Duke, No. 6 North Carolina, No. 14 Louisville, No. 17 Syracuse, No. 25 Florida State, and honorable mention Virginia Tech.
On top of the already-tough ACC schedule, the Hoos play No. 4 Villanova, No. 19 West Virginia, and honorable mention Cal.
Virginia’s season tips off on November 11 at UNC-Greensboro.