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2018 Virginia Basketball Player Profiles: Jay Huff

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Can the redshirt second year become a bigger piece for the Hoos this season?

NCAA Basketball: Lehigh at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The start of the Virginia Basketball season is right around the corner, and we are counting down the days until the Hoos welcome Towson to John Paul Jones Arena on November 6. The season starts in 30 days, so today, we’re looking at Jay Huff, the guy who wears No. 30.

Jay Huff. The Unicorn. Jay Hasselhuff. Ok, I made the last one up, but the rangy second year has become one of the most enigmatic members of the Virginia Cavaliers basketball team. Coming into Charlottesville, he was a highly rated and recruited player out of Durham. Rated a four star by 247Sports, Huff was 6-11, but only 190 pounds when he showed up at Virginia. After redshirting his first year, he saw limited action in 12 games last season.

Fans often lamented Coach Bennett’s reluctancy to play the rangy forward with the soft touch, but Huff was little more than a reserve as defense remains a non-negotiable for the Cavalier head coach. His off-season improvements will be one of the biggest questions heading into games this fall.

Jeff White of VirginiaSports had this to say about Huff from the first practice of the season:

Huff remains a tremendously gifted offensive player. During a series of drills Tuesday, he hit a variety of shots, ranging from dunks to 3-pointers. How much he plays, however, is likely to depend on how he defends and rebounds, two areas in which he’s struggled at times.

Depth will be one of the major—and frankly, only—concerns for the Hoos this season. Mamadi Diakite and Jack Salt are the known quantities in the front court, and will likely both start. After that? Virginia has redshirt freshman Francesco Badocchi and Huff. Obviously, the plan will be to use De’Andre Hunter at the 4 as another option in the “front court”, but Virginia has to get production out of their reserves in order to be successful.

He shot 68% from the field last season (17-for-25), and just under two rebounds per game.

Huff’s already a fan favorite, so the next step is to become an asset for the Hoos in 2018-19.

Strengths

Huff is offensively gifted. He’s got a gorgeous shot, and has range all over the court. His presence on the court adds makes the Hoos more dynamic on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he can dunk, make threes, and pull up from midrange. Defensively, his length makes him an asset around the basket.

Weaknesses

Defense. Defense. Defense. The pack line defense is notoriously difficult to learn, and this isn’t a knock on Huff’s ability to pick it up. The same can be said for Salt, Diakite, and big men that came before Huff. Unfortunately, if that defense isn’t there, we won’t see the offensive explosiveness. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Huff has bulked up by about 45 pounds, but his ability to go up strong and rebound (on both ends of the court) is also something that has been discussed as needing improvement.

Best 2017-18 Game

Huff’s debut came against Austin Peay in Virginia’s second game of the season and he went off to the tune of 16 points in 24 minutes. He showed his “unicorn” potential as he went 7-for-8 from the field (including 2-for-2 from three), grabbed four rebounds, and swatted five blocks in the dominating 93-49 win.

Best 2017-18 Play

Against Lehigh, Huff played 12 minutes and had five points in a 75-54 victory. Two of his points came off of a Lehigh turnover that led to a transition bucket. This is just so pretty...

The Stats

Height: 7-1

Weight: 232

Points per Game: 3.4

Rebounds per game: 1.9

Blocks: 14

Year: Redshirt Sophomore

Nickname: The Hoonicorn