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Virginia Basketball Countdown: Breaking down the 2018 recruiting class

Hoo committed and Hoo is still on the board?

Miami v Virginia Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images

In this edition of the Virginia Basketball Countdown we’re going to take a look at the UVA basketball program’s mercurial recruiting year. In case you missed it, we previewed the 2017-18 Virginia Pack Line Defense and walk on Austin Katstra in the last couple days. Today, we will look back at recruits the Cavaliers landed, who they missed out on and who is still on the board for the 2018 class.

So What are His Statt(s)mann?

Tony Bennett’s first get in the 2018 class came by way of, Australia native, Kody Stattmann. Stattmann is as unheralded a recruit as Tony Bennett has brought to Charlottesville but that doesn’t mean the kid has no game.

Stattmann’s skill set has a few interesting traits to can add to the Virginia system that jump out just from watching what few film clips are available of him.

1.) He can shoot the lights out

At 6-7, and potentially still growing (he was 6’3 in 2016), Stattmann has blossomed into a sniper from beyond the three point line. For the sake of comparison, let’s look at his stats from the 2016 FIBA U17 Oceania Championship vs. the same event in 2017.

2016: 3.7 ppg, two rpg and .3 apg – Granted, Stattmann only played 75 minutes over seven games but he still looked for his shot plenty as he got up 33 shots and got to the line eight times

2017: 31 ppg, four rpg and 3.4 apg – Over four games Kody shot 59% from the field including 23/43 from three point land, he led the event in scoring and 3PT percentage as well as total 3PTs made. This is a stat line that looks the same as any elite United States shooting prospect.

2.) He can pass the ball

Due to his terrific shooting stroke, Stattmann has an effective pump fake, one-dribble, step-by move that he uses to take advantage of overly aggressive defenders. He’s shown a proclivity to make this move, draw the help side defender and make the right pass to an open teammate for a bucket. I’m not saying he’s the same player, but this is a similar skill set we saw Cavalier great Joe Harris display in Charlottesville for many years.

As Corey Evans from Rivals mentioned in an interview with Streaking the Lawn, Stattmann is certainly not the greatest athlete nor is he very strong. Thankfully, the Virginia coaching staff has been able to convince a few of the leaner (read: skin and bones) recruits to red-shirt over the past few years so they can become best friends with Mike Curtis and the weight room. This seems like the most likely option for Kody as the ‘Hoos will still have a solid rotation of backcourt players when he arrives next year.

Kihei Can Play

The most recent addition to the 2018 recruiting class is 5-9, 145 pound, point guard Kihei Clark from Woodland Hills, California. Clark’s commitment came as a surprise to most people following his recruitment as the Taft High School guard was being recruited lightly throughout the summer before his senior year and had previously been verbally committed to UC Davis from July to August of 2017.

Kihei burst onto the Power 5 recruiting scene following his performance at the Nike Peach Jam in Atlanta, Georgia during July. He was named a Peach Jam Breakout Performer and after the championship he received the ESPN Game Most Valuable Player award as he led his squad to a win against the highly touted Team Takeover, where he outperformed former UVA shooting guard recruit, Brandon Slater.

On October 2nd, it was reported that Clark had received a scholarship offer from the Cavalier coaches and, in a rapid series of events, he announced his commitment the very same day. Cavalier fans and recruiting experts alike were surprised by this offer but I implore all the doubters in the peanut gallery to stop worrying for a couple minutes and watch this kid play.

It’s apparent from watching what film is available of him that he has a certain swagger and sneaky quickness that makes him tough to defend. What also jumps out is how fierce and aggressive of a defender he is. While he might only by 5-9, it looks like he plays with a confidence and leadership of a guy much taller. My favorite part about watching his film is that his jump shot looks a little like another UVA and California guard (hint – it’s London Perrantes).

Those are the two guys that the Cavaliers have landed for 2018, so far.

Hoo went elsewhere and Hoo is still out there?

Over the course of the last few weeks there was a story that broke regarding the sleazy underbelly of big-time, college sports recruiting. Virginia’s top target, point guard Jahvon Quinerly was not specifically named in the report but was all but called out for allegedly being given around $20,000 by the University of Arizona.

While those facts are still in question, this breaking news seemed to give Cavalier fans a sense of relief from the irritation many had felt over the 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes. It appears now that at least one, if not more, former UVA targets received money to play elsewhere following, hopefully, Tony Bennett’s refusal to get down in the dirt with college basketball’s worst characters.

Streaking the Lawn’s own Paul Wiley wrote a great article about how the investigation and resulting sanctions will effect UVA basketball going forward. Since that article a couple former UVA targets have reopened their recruitment. It is not clear yet which recruits took money or why they de-committed but it does put a few interesting names back on the board for the Cavalier coaching staff.

1. Anfernee Simons

The 6-3 combo guard was the first player to commit to Louisville and the first player to de-commit following the FBI announcement. UVa was never a serious contender for Simons but with his recruitment re-opening, maybe he will want to find a program with a clean reputation to eradicate whatever filth he was exposed to in Louisville.

2. J’Raan Brooks

The four-star, Seattle native was previously committed to the University of Southern California prior to the FBI probe. Brooks announced he was reopening his recruitment and according to a conversation with 247 Sports, Virginia is still in the hunt for the 79th ranked player in the country. Brooks is the most likely of the players reopening their recruitments to come to Charlottesville as he was a priority target for Bennett and Co. throughout the summer and the Cavaliers made Brooks’ final five schools prior to his USC commitment.

Other names still available in the 2018 class include:

Jared Butler: The Louisiana based point guard has been closely linked with Alabama throughout the summer, however the Virginia staff has made a concentrated effort to build a relationship with Butler. He took an official visit to Charlottesville on August 31st and Tony visited Butler in Louisiana two weeks later.

Butler announced today via Twitter that he will be announcing his commitment tomorrow.

Filip Petrusev: The 6-10 Serbian will more than likely end up at Gonzaga but Virginia has shown it has a good relationship with foreigners in the recent past.

Cavalier fans should expect at least one more commitment in the 2018 class before National Signing Day arrives on April 11th of next year. Hopefully it will be one of the names listed above, but with what we’ve seen over the past few years, names we haven’t heard yet are always in play. We will continue to keep you updated on the finalizing of this year’s recruiting and provide insight into 2019 targets and commitments.

Tomorrow, the countdown continues as we’ll look at redshirt second year Mamadi Diakite!