Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett announced at Media Day on Thursday that redshirt freshman forward Francesco “Frankie” Badocchi is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the program to tend to an unspecified medical issue.
Badocchi, a 6-7 forward originally from Italy, did not dress for the preseason scrimmage on Oct. 13 and said afterward to a small group of fans that he was sick but okay. In a prepared release, UVA said that Badocchi is still enrolled at the University during his time away.
It’s unclear whether this is related to an injury or an illness; Badocchi had surgery on his right kneecap in the summer of 2017 to fix a nagging problem. He wasn’t cleared to practice until December.
Basketball is secondary in this situation, but it’s worth mentioning the on-court impact Badocchi’s loss might have. It’s unclear exactly how much playing time Badocchi would have received, with a nine-man rotation of Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter, Braxton Key, Mamadi Diakite, Jack Salt, Jay Huff, Marco Anthony, and Kihei Clark virtually locked in. His length and athleticism could have allowed him to slot in as a reserve wing to spell the likes of Hunter and Key. As it stands, those two will be the go-to players on the wing with Bennett aiming to use his arguably most versatile and talented lineup yet to finally take Virginia to its third Final Four.