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Virginia basketball making early moves in the transfer portal

UVA has been hosting visits from two high-end transfers over the last few days.

Saint Bonaventure v Virginia Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

After the unfortunate news of losing two players to the transfer portal in Carson McCorkle and Igor Milicic Jr. and a likely 2023 commitment from point guard London Johnson, the Virginia Cavaliers are back on the front foot. With potential transfers Ben Vander Plas and Sean McNeil visiting in short order, UVA is focusing on adding to its roster for the 2022-2023 season.

Ben Vander Plas

Transferring from Ohio, Vander Plas was reportedly visiting Grounds on Friday. The name should be familiar for UVA fans as the graduate transfer scored 17 points against the ‘Hoos in the first round of the NCAA Tournament back in 2021.

Of note, Vander Plas’ full name is Bennett Vander Plas since he was named after Dick Bennett — Tony’s father — as Vander Plas’ father was coached by Dick at Wisconsin Green-Bay. So, obviously there’s an established relationship there.

As a player, Vander Plas is an interesting prospect. Standing at 6’8” and weighing 232 pounds, he’s a skilled big man who can shoot the ball from deep and play out on the perimeter. He’s capable as a passer and is tough on the defensive boards. He also has sneaky good hands defensively, posting a 3.5% steal rate which was good for second in the MAC in the 2021-2022 season.

The knock on Vander Plas would be his mobility, particularly defensively particularly in the packline defense. Hedging out on ball-screens would likely be a bit foreign for him and a front-court of him and Jayden Gardner would be a questionable fit.

That also begs the question of how he’d fit into UVA’s rotation. Gardner will have a firm grasp on the starting minutes at power forward, and both Kadin Shedrick and Francisco Caffaro had stretches of game-changing play this season. Vander Plas would be a bit of an odd-ball to throw into the mix, but Virginia is looking to add depth in the frontcourt and the shooting that Vander Plas could add would be a welcomed relief. He’d undoubtedly be a good get, it may just take time for him to grow comfortable in the Wahoo system.

As of now, Virginia is one of six schools on Vander Plas’ list alongside Wisconsin, Iowa State, Ohio State, Illinois, and Virginia Tech.

Sean McNeil

Transferring from West Virginia, McNeil has been on a visit in Charlottesville today and yesterday. His list of schools includes the Wahoos, Ohio State, Louisville, Cincinnati, Indiana, and Texas Tech.

As a 6’3” guard, McNeil would provide much needed backcourt shooting. He’s a career 36.8% shooter from beyond the arc. He has a slightly wacky release, but it gets the job done and he’s capable of putting the ball on the floor and moving into a better shot. He’s not necessarily one to drive the hoop to the basket or create for others, yet he’s built enough that he’s got the size to fight his way to the paint.

McNeil also doesn’t make many mistakes. His 11.3% turnover rate was fifth in the Big 12 last season, while his 93% free throw shooting was first in conference play. He’s a sound player who would make sense in the UVA program.

Another grad transfer, McNeil spent one year at Sinclair Community College Dayton before playing the last three seasons for Bob Huggins in Morgantown.

Each of these transfers would be a quality add for Virginia next season. Neither would likely change UVA’s ceiling, but they’d provide established, known quantities in favor the incoming freshmen or returning unproven young players. Each would add much needed shooting, experience, and high-IQ play. Stay tuned to Streaking the Lawn as UVA continues to be involved in the transfer portal.