Getting more players into the NBA isn't the main goal of the Virginia basketball program, but it would certainly be a welcome development. When recruits sit in Tony Bennett's office, he'd surely love to point to successful UVA alumni making names for themselves in The League. Unfortunately, Virginia hasn't had much of a presence in the NBA during the last...oh...decade. But with Mike Scott (Atlanta Hawks) joining Roger Mason Jr. (New Orleans Hornets) in the pro ranks, and the possible NBA return of a favorite Virginia point guard, things may be looking up.
Scott's rookie NBA season started slowly. He played 17 minutes total in the entire month of November and took a short trip to the NBDL in early December. But things have turned around in the new year. Scott has played in five of Atlanta's last six games and had a career-high 11 points, 7 rebounds and 22 minutes in Atlanta's 104-96 win over Minnesota on Martin Luther King Day. While he hasn't become a consistent rotation player just yet, he's certainly meeting expectations.
Mason Jr. has continued to be a steady league presence. After being waived by Washington last April following a season-ending finger injury, he caught on with Hornets and has split time as backup shooting guard. The Hornets have won seven of their last ten, and Mason Jr. has contributed nicely during that run. His season was highlighted by a 17-point, 16-minute effort in a win against Houston earlier in January. He's averaged 19 minutes per game so far and is shooting around 45%.
The off-the-radar story surrounds former Cavalier point guard Sean Singletary, who's been excelling in the NBDL for the Texas Legends. Singletary got some press recently after a 14-point, 11-assist effort in a win on January 7 and topped that with a 38-point performance in a loss Tuesday night. He hasn't been called up to the NBA yet, but he's doing all he can to make the case.
If Singletary were able to make it back to the big leagues, it would be a significant moment for the Virginia program. Virginia hasn't had three or more alums in the NBA simultaneously since 2000-2001. John Crotty, Bryant Stith and Olden Polynice were in the twilight of their careers then, and Jamal Robinson joined them with a 6-game stint for the Miami Heat. Imagine, then, how thankful Tony Bennett would be to be able to point to some relevant success stories. Most recruits these days have no idea who Crotty or Polynice were, but they've heard of Singletary, Scott and Mason Jr.
Virginia has a long way to go before it becomes a hotbed of NBA talent. But if this trio of Hoos can keep up their momentum, it will only help as the Cavalier brand continues to rebuild and prosper.