A Virginia basketball program that has played short-handed in recent memory will suddenly find itself with a great deal of playable depth next season. The Cavaliers lose only one player to graduation in 2013 (point guard Jontel Evans) and will add four players to the depth chart next fall. True freshmen Devon Hall and London Perrantes will join sophomores Anthony Gill and Malcom Brogdon to give Tony Bennett's team 13 scholarship players. But the flock of new players may have some unwanted roster ramifications down the road. Virginia will feature seven sophomores next year. If that class stays in tact, it will leave quite the roster hole when it graduates.
Before we go further, let's look at Virginia's projected roster by graduation year.
2014: Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell
2015: Paul Jesperson, Darion Atkins
2016: Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, Evan Nolte, Justin Anderson, Taylor Barnette, Teven Jones
2017: London Perrantes, Devon Hall
2018: B.J. Stith (verbally committed)
In the most extreme case, Virginia's current roster construction could leave Tony Bennett with only six scholarship players come the 2016-2017 season. That might not be a worry at the moment, but no coach wants to lock his program into a rebuilding year if he can avoid it. The Cavaliers have built momentum each year under Bennett, but he would be the first to tell you that their margin for error is thin. The addition of perennial powers like Syracuse and Louisville will only make his job tougher.
Of course, it's possible that Virginia's roster will undergo some attrition that makes this a moot point. Bennett's tenure at Virginia has seen a great deal of it already. But a couple of strategic redshirts might also ease the problem. It's hard to imagine Taylor Barnette seeing an increase in playing time this coming fall. Would Barnette be worth a redshirt to bump him back a year? What about Evan Nolte? With Anthony Gill entering the fray next season and Justin Anderson beginning to blossom, where does that leave the sharpshooter from Georgia?
As Virginia moves into the off-season, there will be a number of storylines to watch before next year. This roster anomaly probably won't be solved immediately, but it will be interesting to see if Bennett makes any moves.
UPDATE: Since this story's release, media outlets have reported that Virginia guard Paul Jesperson will be transferring. This will leave Virginia with 12 scholarship players for the 2013-2014 season. The impact of Jesperson's transfer is not immediately apparent, though it may make a Taylor Barnette or Evan Nolte redshirt less likely. Stay tuned to Streaking The Lawn for more information on the changing basketball roster.