It’s November 9th, so that means just one thing: VIRGINIA BASKETBALL SEASON STARTS TOMORROW. Our month-long countdown continues with a player profile for Francesco Badocchi, the first year forward from Italy.
Badocchi, who likes to go by Frankie even though he has an incredibly awesome name like Francesco, comes to the Cavaliers from Bishop Miege High School in Kansas. At Bishop Miege, Badocchi averaged 13.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game as he helped lead the team to the 2016-17 Class-4A Division I basketball championship. The championship was their second straight, and Frankie was named to the Class-4A All-State first team for his performance.
Prior to enrolling at Bishop Miege, Badocchi lived in his home country of Italy. He was born to an American mother (from Kansas) and an Italian father in Milan, where he lived before moving to Mission, Kansas in 2015.
“We had no idea what we had here,” Badocchi’s high school coach, Rick Zych told the Kansas City Star back in May. “We knew he played a little bit of international ball, but we didn’t know how good he was. He’s a very skilled basketball player. ... Recruiters all liked his athleticism and the fact he could cover a 1 to a 5. He’s extremely intelligent, well-mannered and a down-to-earth young man. They all know he’s going to work hard for them.”
“Francesco is a talented forward with good length and athleticism.” Coach Bennett said when Frankie signed his letter of intent. “He and his family value education, and I know Francesco’s excited about playing at UVA and competing in the ACC.”
Virginia fans will have to wait a year to see anything from Badocchi, however. A recurring knee injury led to a surgery over the summer, so he will be redshirting this season as he recuperates and begins the learning process of the defense. He’s been enjoying his recovery time maybe a little too much so far, though.
“I was chewing out Marco [Anthony, Virginia’s other first year player] in practice one time.” Bennett told the press with a smile at Virginia’s media day. “He was a little behind in some issue, and I caught it out of the corner of my eye. Frankie was smiling, kind of. I said, ‘You’re going to get yours.’ I said, ‘This guy’s out here with all these guys who have the experience,’ and I said, ‘You just got ice on you and you’re over there smiling.’ I said, When you get in there, it’s going to be your turn.’ It’s a big adjustment.”
The Hoos will graduate big man Isaiah Wilkins after this season, leaving a big hole in the Wahoo front court. The “springy” Italian has the same build as Wilkins (minus some pounds), but can he bring as much to Virginia going forward? Only time will tell.