With the Virginia Cavaliers and Tony Bennett reeling in their first basketball commit of the 2023 recruiting class on Sunday in Idaho native Blake Buchanan, UVA secures a high floor, high ceiling player. Notably, this takes some of the pressure off the Wahoo coaching staff this summer as the focus can squarely shift to filling other spots with an early July commitment.
Today, we’re taking a look at what makes Buchanan the player he is, what he should be able to do in the orange and blue, and what his commitment means for the program’s future roster outlook.
Breaking down Buchanan as a player
Buchanan is a particularly interesting player to evaluate. His defense is what immediately draws attention to his play — it’s what Tony Bennett saw before anybody else and arguably what determined Buchanan’s commitment to UVA. His shot blocking ability is incredible as he boasts great anticipation and pairs that with fantastic mobility for a 6’10” guy.
Additionally, his footwork is impeccable. Buchanan should be quite versatile in ball screen coverage, able to disrupt the ball handler with a hedge and recover, well versed enough in the fundamentals to drop and utilize his length to contain, or even switch onto a smaller guard and stay in front to neutralize the opponent’s offense.
He could be susceptible in the low post against bulkier players. But as he grows stronger in his solid frame and fits into the help-heavy UVA defense, those concerns should be put to rest.
On offense, Buchanan oozes with potential, but with emphasis on potential. He has all the tools to be an all around offensive weapon in the Virginia offense. But the question marks arise regarding whether he can put the pieces together.
The Idaho native is a decent shooter, yet his form is a bit wonky as he has a fairly slow release with a motion that stretches across the left side of his face as a righty shooter. He has range but it’s not a sure thing that said form will hold up consistently from the college three-point range. Additionally, Buchanan knows how to finish over a defender with a hook shot and has the footwork to be effective in the post. But how will he fare when opponents are as tall and stronger than him rather than shorter and weaker?
Granted, his mobility and engine translate on offense as well which add to his offensive floor. Buchanan can help to space the offense as a rim runner as he’ll stretch defense’s vertically like Jay Huff did so effectively in his last two years in Charlottesville.
Again, all the tools are there for Buchanan to develop into a scoring big man. But there are unknowns that will only be answered in time.
Altogether, Buchanan is a good way to start off the 2023 class for Bennett and company. He fills a need and projects to be at least a rotational piece and solid defender with potential for more in his time at Virginia.
Recruiting impact and roster outlook
As for how Buchanan’s commitment impacts UVA’s recruiting and future roster outlook, securing a true big man was a necessity in this class. Buchanan is the first true big to commit to UVA out of high school since Kadin Shedrick in the 2019 class. That means that when he arrives in Charlottesville in the fall of 2023 he should get playing time opportunities — specifically the next season in 2024-2025 when Shedrick is gone.
In regards to the rest of 2023 recruiting, the ‘Hoos are likely looking to still add three more players. For starters, forwards TJ Power and Milan Momcilovic are the two players that Bennett is currently recruiting for a spot to fill next to Buchanan in the front-court. Then Virginia is potentially in the market for two guards, one in particular that needs to be able to run the point.
Elmarko Jackson and Freddie Dilione are two highly sought after guards that UVA is interested in bringing in to play the point, while Jamie Kaiser and Elijah Gertrude are names to watch as complementary guards.
Stay tuned to Streaking the Lawn for more recruiting news and analysis regarding the players UVA is targeting this summer.