If there is one thing that we have learned in the Tony Bennett era, it is that the recruiting season is never over until well into the spring.
On Monday night, Bennett and the Cavaliers landed former Tennessee guard Darius Thompson, on the heels of a weekend visit to Charlottesville.
The former Volunteer announced his intentions to leave Knoxville following the departure of head coach, Cuonzo Martin, and selected UVa over Purdue.
Thompson is yet another new arrival who was once a recruiting target of the Wahoos. The 6-5, 181 pound point guard was a Virginia target, before committing to Martin and the Vols back in March of 2013.
The Murfreesboro, TN native averaged 16.8 minutes per game in freshman season at UT, while splitting time with senior, Antonio Barton. Thompson is a facilitator first, averaging 2.4 dimes per game, including an assist to turnover ratio of 2.56. The transfer guard is not an excellent shooter, averaging just 2.6 points per outing, off 19 percent shooting, but managed to hit 74 percent of his free throws.
Thompson was Tennessee's top defender in his limited minutes, recording 36 takeaways in 2013-14. The biggest learning curve with any UVa transfer is adjusting to Bennett's pack-line defense, and he will have a year to develop in the system and learn his role in the scheme. Thompson has the ability defend positions 1-3, and his 6-5 frame will add even more size to an already lengthy Cavalier backcourt.
More importantly, Thompson's pledge further demonstrates Tony Bennett's ability to connect with kids, and maintain the relationship, even if he decides to go elsewhere. In the 2012 recruiting cycle, Bennett initially lost out on Justin Anderson, but was able to reel in the talented wing when he decided to re-open his recruitment. The following August, Bennett landed South Carolina transfer and former target, Anthony Gill. More recently, former Marquette pledge, Marial Shayok was granted his release from his letter of intent by Marquette, and the Virginia head coach welcomed in the Canadian swingman, who was high on the Cavaliers from the start.
Virginia now has six members of the class of 2018, including Thompson, Shayok, redshirt freshman, Devon Hall, UVa legacy, B.J. Stith, Gatorade Player of the Year in Georgia, Isaiah Wilkins, and 6-10 big man, Jack Salt. Thompson will sit the 2014-15 campaign and have three years of eligibility left beginning the following season. Playing time will be tough to come by at first, but this class will be the foundation of the next era of Virginia basketball. In two years following the departure of the Gill/Anderson/Mike Tobey/Malcolm Brogdon/Evan Nolte, this next crop will be juniors, along with point guard, London Perrantes, who will be a fourth-year.
Thomson's transfer officially puts "The Inn" at capacity, as all 13 scholarships are spoken for next season. The Cavaliers recently hosted Ukrainian wing, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, but there have long been questions as to whether the 16-year old phenom would elect to play professionally in Europe rather than coming to college in the United States.
Here is a brief Tennessee profile:
Here is a link to his senior highlights from high school:
(This article was written by Drew Goodman, special to Streaking The Lawn.)