TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT. The No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers open the 2018-19 basketball season tonight against the Towson Tigers. We’ve previewed the game with everything you need to know, and if you somehow missed any of our amazing content over the course of the last 35 days, you can find everything you need to look super smart right here.
The Hoos bring back a lot of talent (like A LOT), but there will also be some newer faces. There are three first years and a redshirt first year on the squad this season, so let’s get to know them a little better.
Kihei Clark, Guard, First Year
At a generously listed 5’9 on the roster, Clark is the latest Virginia point guard hailing from the sunny state of California. He’s the product of Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills, CA, where he scored 19.4 points, 7.2 assists, and 2.9 steals per game as a senior. Many fans didn’t know what to expect from the quick guard, but early reports have been glowing.
“Clark ran point for the blue team and looked good doing it,” Ron Counts of the Daily Progress said of Clark’s inter-squad scrimmage performance. “In the second live period, he fed Huff with a no-look pass on the big man’s second 3-pointer. He also fed Huff on a layup in the opening period.”
Coach Bennett has praised Clark’s defense, dubbing him “a pest” and saying his on-ball defense is something that will benefit the Cavaliers. If Clark can be trusted to run the point, that allows for more freedom lineup-wise, and makes it easier for the Hoos to run a small, guard heavy lineup.
If his defense is as good (or good enough for Coach Bennett), Clark could see upwards of 12-15 minutes per game. According to reports out of practice, he once annoyed Ty Jerome so much that Jerome threw a basketball at him. In addition, he’s shown to be creative getting to the lane, and having that kind of quickness can only help the offense.
Clark is enjoying his time on Grounds, especially his classes. When asked his favorite class by UVA Today, Clark said, “A physics class called, ‘How Things Work.’ I’m a math and science guy, not an English and history guy, so I like the science of it and the experiments intrigue me a lot.”
Kody Stattmann, Guard, First Year
We already had a Kiwi, now we have an Aussie. The 6’7, 185 pound wing has a sharp-shooter’s touch and is the type of player that blossoms under Tony Bennett. Stattmann played for the Australian U17 Emus last summer at the FIBA Oceania Championships, helping his squad win the gold medal and leading all players with 31 points per game.
There’s a chance Stattmann still redshirts this season, but if he doesn’t he will bring another strong shooter to the mix. With the depth at wing with Braxton Key receiving his eligibility, it’s possible that we won’t see him. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but defense could be an issue, so an extra year could be beneficial and — assuming De’Andre Hunter is gone after this season — open up more minutes for him on the court.
Fun Fact: Stattmann hails from Cairns, where recent Virginia graduate Devon Hall is playing for the Taipans.
Francisco Caffaro, Center, First Year
This is a player that is definitely going to redshirt for the Hoos as Caffaro had surgery before the season and is still recovering. At 7-feet, Caffaro will be a strong replacement for Jack Salt, who will graduate after this season. Virginia fans should be happy to know that Caffaro shows more of a knack for the offensive side of things, and was named to the All-Tournament team of the FIBA U18 Americas Championship due to his 16.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
El mejor quinteto del torneo tiene sabor universitario:— Esperando Marzo (@esperandomarzo) June 17, 2018
Quentin Grimes (Kansas)
Andrew Nembhard (Florida)
Coby White (North Carolina)
Francisco Caffaro (Virginia)
Cole Anthony (Undecided) pic.twitter.com/fGQyN9C2eC
Francesco Badocchi, Forward, Redshirt First Year
Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing Frankie for awhile. Coach Bennett announced at Virginia’s media day that Badocchi, a 6’7 springy forward, will miss an indefinite amount of time due to medical issues. Our thoughts are first and foremost with Frankie, and hopes the issue is resolved quickly!