Last week we brought you a preview of the projected starting lineup. In that piece, Pierce gave us five potential starters and a +1 off the bench. Now we turn to Virginia’s depth. Tony Bennett has a multitude of options that at the very least provide a significant increase in offensive weapons. How many players fit into the eventual rotation is to be determined as well as how the NCAA’s decision for players not to lose eligibility this season affects Bennett’s tendency to redshirt players. The following is a breakdown by position group with my projection of who’s most likely to get the most playing time.
Reece Beekman - 6’3 Freshman
Beekman, along with Jabri Abdur-Rahim, highlights a stellar recruiting class and figures to get plenty of playing time in his first year. As long as he can pick up the defense, his biggest contribution is likely to come in the form of relief for Kihei Clark who played a whopping 92% of minutes at the point last year. Anything more than that will be a bonus and an indication that this team can be really good. Given his frame and skill set, I see a scenario where he plays off the ball with the ability to handle a la how Ty Jerome was used in 2017 alongside London Perrantes.
Kody Stattmann - 6’7 Junior
Entering his third year in the program, Stattmann saw his minutes rise to 42.3% last year, spelling Braxton Key at the three. If his photos are any indication, he must have had access to a weight room during quarantine as he appears to have grown from 12 years old in his first to year to a full grown man now in this third. After coming to Charlottesville with a reputation as a three-point shooter, he’ll look to improve on his 27% career mark from deep. That being said, he has proven himself a capable defender with a paltry foul rate of 1.9 a season ago, so there’s no question he’s still going to get plenty of playing time.
Carson McCorkle - 6’3 Freshman
Color me intrigued but Carson McCorkle could be a very interesting player for the Cavaliers this season. If nothing else, he should fill a major void from last years’ squad, a dead eye shooter who can catch and let it fly from anywhere. It’s also very possible that McCorkle could get limited playing time giving him a chance to acclimate himself to the college game and take over for Tomas Woldetensae as the go-to three point threat next season. The three-star recruit out of Greensboro shot 55% from three his senior year and was named 2019 News and Record Private School Player of the Year.
Trey Murphy III - 6’9 Junior
It’s still to be determined as to whether Trey Murphy, the transfer from Rice, will sit out this season or not. It was the plan when he transferred in April, but given players won’t lose a year of eligibility this season, there seems to be little downside in having him in Bennett’s arsenal. He’d still have to apply for and receive a transfer waiver, though the NCAA has seemingly given those away unless your name is Ronnie Walker. Murphy presents a matchup nightmare for defenses, standing 6’9 and able to beat his defender off the dribble, all while shooting almost 40% from three for his career.
Chase Coleman - 5’9 Sophomore
I’ll be honest, I was surprised we saw much of Chase Coleman at all last season. Most of his run came in the non-conference as he spelled Clark in spots at the point. Not much of a threat on the offensive end, Coleman was a dog on the defense. Quick and aggressive, the defense didn’t skip a beat when Clark needed a breather.
Jayden Nixon - 6’3 Junior
Jayden Nixon returns for his third season after playing in 14 and five games respectively during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The hope is that the walk-on from Charlottesville sees more action than in 2020, a season that saw the Hoos play eleven games decided by three points or less.
Malachi Poindexter - 6’2 Freshman
A native of nearby Mineral, Virginia, Malachi Poindexter attended St. Anne’s-Belfield where he averaged 13 points, four rebounds, and five assists en route to All-Prep League First Team honors in 2020. He’s a preferred walk-on who turned down offers from VMI, Howard, Christopher Newport, Manhattan, and Maryland Eastern Shore to play for the Hoos.
Francisco Caffaro - 7’0 RS Sophomore
After a redshirt freshman year where he saw limited minutes, Francisco Caffaro looks to be a potential breakout player in the 2021 campaign. He’s a big body reminiscent of Jack Salt with a little more offensive potential. He’ll be a nice counter to Jay Huff as he’ll be much more physical. He could also give the Hoos a different look if they decided to go big and move Huff to the four. He had his biggest games of the season when he went toe to toe with the bigs of UNC scoring 14 points and notching eight rebounds in two matchups with the Heels.
Justin McKoy - 6’8 Sophomore
After averaging nine minutes in each of the first nine games of the season, Justin McKoy registered a DNP in 16 of the final 21 games. That should change this season with the Hoos needing depth at the four with the departure of Mamadi Diakite. McKoy presents another solid defender with good rebounding skills. His highlight of the season came in a 17 minute effort during the win over UNC where he and Caffaro managed to bottle up UNC’s stud bigs, Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot, holding them to a combined 17 points and ten rebounds.
Kadin Shedrick - 6’11 RS Freshman
At 6’11, 216 lbs, Shedrick used his redshirt year to put on some weight, something that will help his game immensely. He’s another big body who based on his high school profile can run the floor, rebound, and shoot from three on occasion. The four-star recruit figures to be a complement to both Huff and Caffaro’s game and should compete with McKoy for minutes.
Austin Katstra - 6’6 Senior - Forward
The senior from Charlottesville is a three year letter winner for Virginia and has seen action in 22 games in this Virginia career. Like Nixon, Katstra hopes to see more action this year as Virginia should be able to empty the bench a little more often at the end of games.
Virginia kicks off their season Wednesday November 25th in Uncasville, Connecticut when they face the Towson Tigers at 1:30 PM. The game will be streamed by FloHoops.