Now that the dust has settled and we can all turn the page on the stunning loss to UMBC in the NCAA Tournament, it’s time to turn our sights to Hoos for next season. There’s no reason to believe that with the crop of players Virginia is returning, that they won’t once again be a fixture atop the ACC and national rankings. Beyond that however, there are significant question marks. As Streaking the Lawn’s Matt Trogdon points out, the 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes left a little to be desired after Tony Bennett was able to land a stellar class back in 2016. But there is time, and if we know anything about the Virginia coaching staff, it’s that they have an eye for and can develop talent when other don’t see it.
Here’s a look at a five year breakdown of those with scholarships, and the one commitment for the 2019 High School Class.
UVA Basketball Roster Outlook
|Guard||Ty Jerome||Ty Jerome|
|Guard||Kyle Guy||Kyle Guy|
|Guard||Kihei Clark||Kihei Clark||Kihei Clark||Kihei Clark|
|Wing||Deandre Hunter||Deandre Hunter||Deandre Hunter|
|Wing||Marco Anthony||Marco Anthony||Marco Anthony|
|Wing||Braxton Key||Braxton Key||Braxton Key|
|Wing||Kody Stattmann||Kody Stattmann||Kody Stattmann||Kody Stattmann|
|Big||Mamadi Diakite||Mamadi Diakite|
|Big||Jay Huff||Jay Huff||Jay Huff|
|Big||Francesco Badocchi||Francesco Badocchi||Francesco Badocchi||Francesco Badocchi|
|Big||Francisco Caffaro||Francisco Caffaro||Francisco Caffaro||Francisco Caffaro|
|Open||Casey Morsell||Casey Morsell||Casey Morsell||Casey Morsell|
The 2018-2019 staring lineup will be one of the most stacked of any in the ACC and in the country. The backcourt tandem of Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy both broke out last season and are stars in the ACC. De’andre Hunter is a favorite for ACC Player of the Year and isn’t long for College Basketball having caught the eye of NBA scouts late last season. Mamadi Diakite continues to improve, and while Jack Salt isn’t the greatest offensive threat, he knows his role on this team better than anyone and is a stalwart down low in the Virginia defense. After the starting lineup however, there are serious questions. Here’s a position by position breakdown of what to expect in 2018-2019 and beyond.
Guy and Jerome each have two years of eligibility left and aren’t likely to leave the court this season. Unlike last year when Devon Hall could run the point or play the two, there isn’t necessarily anyone able to step up and give these two a breather. Casey Morsell who won’t be on grounds until 2019 could be the future, but the stepping stone to him won’t be easy. Kihei Clark is small in stature, but doesn’t lack for game. Virginia coaches were on him early, so while his recruiting ranking isn’t lofty, part of that could be because he was still ascending when he committed and the recruiting services didn’t pay him much attention after he committed. Clark is likely going to have to take a year to get stronger and learn the Pack Line defense, so expecting anything out of him this year is probably a reach.
All eyes this season are going to be on Hunter and for good reason. From the mid-point of last season on he was Virginia’s most important player. The versatility he shows, being able to play inside, outside, and run the offense from the top of the key presents matchup nightmares for opposing teams. However, with all that talent comes the strong probability that he’s not going to be in Charlottesville much past this season. Waiting in the wings however will be Braxton Key, the transfer from Alabama. Key will have two more years of eligibility after sitting out this season and looks to be a capable replacement for Hunter should he leave after next season for the NBA. But for 2018-2019, Marco Anthony will be the first wing off the bench to spell Hunter. Anthony played sparingly in 2017-2018, but did pop in the home win over Louisville. In addition, Kody Stattmann from Australia, joins the fold this summer. Stattmann is a three point assassin, but all indications are he might not be ready to contribute right away.
At first glance, I thought the front-court would continue to be a weakness for Virginia. But after further review, I’m actually somewhat optimistic with this unit. The past two years, lack of depth has really hurt the Hoos, as well as a lack of low-post scoring threat. I‘ve always felt Virginia‘s offense was like a football team who had to throw on 4th and 2 because their running game wasn‘t capable of falling forward for two yards. With the lack of low post scoring, the Hoos become too dependent on jump shots. And just like in football where a running game is vital to sustaining drives, being able to create and convert low post scoring opportunities is a key to avoiding scoring droughts on the hard wood. So while neither Anthony Gill, nor Mike Tobey are walking through that door, Mamadi Diakite showed improvement over his freshman campaign and is a candidate for a jump we saw from Virginia bigs of the past Akil Mitchell, Darion Atkins, and Isaiah Wilkins. But the big wild card continues to be Jay Huff. Clearly, Huff’s defensive acumen kept him from getting playing time, but given an extra year to learn and develop, one has to think he’s primed for a more prominent role this season. And if he can get more minutes, he will assuredly have an impact at the offensive end. Whether it’s his ability to score from the outside or just the ability to draw a defender to the perimeter, creating space for Salt or Diakite to work down low. After Huff and Diakite come Francesco Badocchi. After a redshirt season last year, it’s dificult to gauge what to expect from the big man from Italy. Finally, there’s Francisco Caffaro. The Argentinian has turned some heads this summer with his play at the FIBA Americas Championship. Like Clark, he might need a season in the weight room, but once he’s ready, he could be that prototypical big man Virginia has been looking for the last two years.
With only one scholarship for the 2018-2019 season, and one more for the high school class of 2019, don’t expect to see many splashes on the recruiting trail. We’ll keep you updated on any developments, but in the meantime look forward to seeing Virginia with a stellar lineup this season, with several players who could develop into stars down the road.