The Virginia Basketball season kicks off THIS Friday as the Hoos host UNC-Greensboro at JPJ at 7pm. With five days till tip-off, we look at the guy (sorry, had to) wearing #5 for the Hoos: Kyle Guy.
Isaiah Wilkins is arguably the most important guy on the court for Virginia this season as things just run better when he’s out there. The most important player on the court for the Hoos offensively, however, is Guy. A former McDonald’s All-American and Mr. Basketball for Indiana, Guy is one of the most talented and pure offensive players Virginia coach Tony Bennett has had at his disposal. His jump from first year to second year will have to be marked on both ends of the court.
For the first time in Bennett’s tenure in Charlottesville, the Hoos don’t return a player who scored in double digits the season prior. London Perrantes, the lone player who broke double digits last season (12.7 ppg), has of course graduated and is on a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. At times last year, the Hoos seemed to defer to Perrantes when points were needed. This year, Guy will have to step up.
“He knows we need him to be assertive. We’ve made little adjustments in our offense, he’s gotten stronger...” Coach Bennett said of Guy at the ACC’s Operation Basketball.
Last season, Guy played in all 34 of Virginia’s games, starting six. He averaged 7.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in just under 19 minutes per game and shot 43.9% from the field. Beyond the arc, Guy was lights out as he shot 49.5% from three for the season.
Guy believes in his ability, but knows that this season they’ll have more of a points-by-committee approach.
“He [Perrantes] definitely did what he had to do to keep us in games, and he was phenomenal at it.” Guy stated. “This year I definitely think...I think it’s going to be a lot more balanced scoring, and some nights I might have 20, and some nights Ty [Jerome] might have 20, or Devon or whatever it is. Whatever it takes to win the game is what this team is about.”
This season, the Hoos have seemingly more offensive threats with Guy, Jerome, Devon Hall, Jay Huff, De’Andre Hunter, and graduate transfer Nigel Johnson.
“I think we’re going to be able to run more, probably score a little bit more - if we’re all on the same page. Individually i just want to be a little more consistent this year and a little more assertive and aggressive offensively. Defensively, just take the next step like I think I have and keep getting a little better every day.”
Guy led the team (or shared the lead) in scoring nine times last season, hitting 20 points twice and registering games of 17 (twice) and 19 as well. His shot got him on the court at times, but the only thing that kept him off of it at times was his defense. That, he says, shouldn’t be the case this year.
“I felt like I got a little better every game last year, and the only way you learn is through repetition and experience,” Guy said at Virginia’s media day. “Now that I have that, I think that I’ve taken the next step in the defense and hopefully that I’ll be a little bit better defensively.”
Guy has packed on 10 pounds in the offseason, up to 175 this season, something that should help him significantly on both offense and defense.
“He needed to get stronger and physically add some weight and he’s done that. He’s a little thicker and stronger.” Bennett commented.
“He’s not ready to enter the Mr. Universe contest just yet, but he’s added that,” said Bennett. “He’s going to be important for us. He’s worked hard in the off-season and seems more mature physically and emotionally - or mentally - as a player...I’ve seen a step in both of those areas.”
All of that showed in Virginia’s Pepsi Blue White Scrimmage in October where Guy scored 25 points (unofficially) in a variety of ways.
“I did like how aggressive Kyle was and how he hunted catches and shots, put it on the floor, floaters.” Bennett said. “He’ll get guarded hard.”
While you’ll see a lot from Kyle that you recognize, there will be one big difference: his hair.
“Much, much happier.” Guy said of his mother’s view of his new, shorter ‘do. “Two thumbs up from her.”
His mom isn’t the only one who is pleased, however.
“I love it. I think it’s wonderful,” Bennett said with a huge grin. “His mom and I talk...he doesn’t know it, but he was getting schemed on.”
Apparently, according to Bennett, he and Kyle’s mom, Katy Fitzgerald, collaborated to get rid of the signature “Guy Bun” Kyle sported last season. Knowing her son, Fitzgerald knew the key was to keep it low key and not push the issue.
“He doesn’t know it but he was duped.” Bennett stated with a hearty laugh.