As summer basketball recruiting action edges into the fall with players narrowing down their lists and making official visits to schools, the Virginia Cavaliers are in contention for a few different top 2023 recruits. With center Blake Buchanan having committed in early July, UVA is still in the market for three additional players including a point guard, shooting guard, and power forward.
Elijah Gertrude, SG
The prospect that UVA appears to be best positioned for, Gertrude has been a high riser this summer as his recruiting ranking truly doesn’t depict his potential as a player. At 6’3”, he’s got plus athleticism with good length and explosive speed which make him perfectly suited for a slasher role on offense. Gertrude is down to five finalists with Virginia the apparent favorite alongside Kansas, Seton Hall, Rutgers, and St. Johns.
Part of what makes Gertrude so elusive is that he’s not only quick but is also adept at changing both speed and direction on a dime and utilizing different speeds to lull defenders into a false sense of security. He’s a good finisher at the rim and has the hops and strength to finish through contact. Additionally, Gertrude has the chops to be a pure scorer in college as his pull-up jumper game is pretty and his ability to stop quickly creates space for him to get off a smooth jumper.
The New Jersey native will likely need to put more emphasis on three-point shooting merely from a volume perspective but he’s got the form to transition into being a solid shooter in college. Especially considering he often tends to rely too much on analytically unfriendly midrange jumpers, simply putting in additional effort to shoot the ball more from deep will be a priority for a player who is so dynamic off the dribble.
Defensively, it’s obvious that Gertrude cares about his effort. He has good footwork and his athletic gifts translate well. He has good hands and projects to be a plus defender at the college level although he’ll likely need to learn to be more disciplined. But the aggression and desire to be great defensively is there and with the mold he has, that’s sometimes all it takes.
Gertrude does toe the line between shooting guard and point guard. He doesn’t quite have the mindset to play point yet still surveys the court well. His ability to change pace is oddly reminiscent of former UVA point guard, Ty Jerome. Yet he’ll need to develop as a passer when the competition catches up and is able to collapse on his drives more violently. Additionally, while his handle suits his play style, to not be turnover-prone in college the Jersey City resident will need to clean up his ball handling skills.
Landing Gertrude would make UVA’s 2023 class solid. While neither Buchanan or Gertrude are currently ranked or rated too high, that’s more a result of recent developments not quite reflecting in the rankings of national experts that are spread too thin. Each will require some polishing of their respective games. But starting the 2023 group with those two would be a real success especially with how stacked UVA’s 2022 class is.
TJ Power, PF
One of the most sought after players in 2023 recruiting right now, TJ Power also recently trimmed his list to five schools with UVA, Duke, UNC, Boston College, and Iowa listed. All reports point to this being a toss up heading into the fall, but with the Virginia staff still putting effort into his recruitment for the time being.
Power is a scorer at the power forward position. At 6’8”, he would fit into a Sam Hauser type of mold for the Wahoos. He can shoot the ball incredibly well all over the floor and knows how to abuse defenses merely by working to open space when he’s off-ball.
What sets Power apart from a player like Hauser, though, is his ability to get to the rim himself. He can attack defenders off the dribble which poses matchup nightmares considering he is also capable of playing with his back to the basket and simply shooting over and driving through the smaller, quicker players who could keep up with him on the perimeter. Additionally, he knows to keep his head up and look to find his teammates when the help comes.
Power would fit the Virginia system like a glove. His intentional and intelligent off-ball movement goes underrated in comparison to his other talents and would work really well in UVA’s sides offense. The Massachusetts native is also built well with the frame to put on more bulk and has the quickness and foot speed to be a decent defender if coached the right way.
The other couple guys to keep an eye on for UVA in 2023 are point guard Elmarko Jackson and shooting guard David Crosby. The ‘Hoos should be in competition for both, with Crosby announcing that he’ll be visiting Charlottesville on August 26th and Jackson looking set to make his visits in the fall as he hasn’t trimmed down a final list yet.
Those are the two notable remaining names for UVA’s 2023 recruiting. Point guard and power forward prospects that Bennett and company were previously interested in have fallen by the wayside leaving Jackson and Power as the two realistic options to commit before the spring.
Stay tuned to Streaking the Lawn for additional breakdowns of Crosby and Jackson along with a broader look at 2024 recruiting as it has started to kick off this summer.