Given Virginia’s shockingly excellent season, and Friday’s most recent bombshell in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball, it’s fair to wonder if the recruiting landscape — not just at UVA, but across the ACC and nation — could be about to significantly change.
Though former Cavaliers star and 2016 ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon’s name came up in the new Yahoo! report, the $64 meal days before his eligibility expired may or may not have technically been a minor violation NCAA rules; it is safe to say those with offices inside John Paul Jones Arena aren’t sweating at the same rate rivals at, say, North Carolina State are today.
Yet, it will be interesting to see exactly how Virginia’s recruiting shakes out in the coming seasons. This clearly isn’t the first time Tony Bennett’s teams have finished first in the ACC and been well on the way to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, the Cavs haven’t seen a large influx of blue chip talent.
In the pipeline
For next season, Virginia is adding a pair of under-the-radar guards in Kody Stattman and Kihei Clark.
Stattman is a promising Australian shooter, but was little known in the United States before committing to the Cavaliers. Clark, a guard from California, was ranked No. 364 in the nation when he committed.
Several factors played a role in Virginia finishing with a class that will barely register with the recruiting ranking services. First, Bennett has and always will recruit to his system more than rankings. The Cavaliers were also finalists for a few 5-star recruits, but lost out other top programs, meanwhile UVA should return three starters plus De’Andre Hunter next season, meaning playing time could be a concern.
But it’s also important to remember Virginia was coming off something of a down season and wasn’t ranked in the Top 25 to start the season. At this point, the Cavaliers have more than proven the program will continue to thrive in the post-Brogdon era, but that might not have been clear in the eyes of top recruits last summer.
Among the highest-rated recruits Virginia chased last year was point guard Jahvon Quinerly, and people around the program had high hopes he would pick the Cavs right up until he committed to Arizona. Quinerly was then caught up in the FBI probe as an alleged recipient of a payout.
An opportunity for UVA
With more of the realities of the recruiting world coming to light and the NCAA vowing reform, perhaps Virginia can feel more confident about its ability to land more players such as sophomore guard Kyle Guy, who not only fits the system, but also was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school.
If changes in perception could simply help the Cavs land Richmond products Armando Bacot and Isaiah Todd in the next two classes, it would be a huge sign that UVA is prepared to become the next sustained ACC juggernaut.