Few college basketball programs have accomplished as much in the last two years as Virginia. Despite going out in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, the Cavaliers finished the 2014-15 season with a 30-4 record, posting their second consecutive 30-win season.
Leading the way for UVa has been first-team All-ACC standout Malcolm Brogdon, who has been the team’s leading scorer each of the last two seasons.
And here’s a scary thought: Brogdon will be back again next year.
It’s rare to see such a talented player stick around for four years — or five in Brogdon’s case — but Tony Bennett could have two such players next season. In fact, if Justin Anderson returns to school, UVa’s starting lineup will have a combined 21 years of experience at the college level.
That experience is even more meaningful when taking into account that those same players have won two ACC regular-season titles and an ACC tournament championship in the last two years. Virginia has won a lot, and NCAA tournament losses aside, it has done so at important moments.
Looking forward to next season, not much will change in the Cavaliers’ backcourt. London Perrantes and Brogdon will fill the guard spots with Marial Shayok and Devon Hall coming off the bench. B.J. Stith could see more minutes as a sophomore, but Darius Thompson is a player who could really shake up the situation at guard. The former Tennessee point guard sat out this season as a transfer, but it’s possible he could eat into Devon Hall’s playing time.
Guard: London Perrantes (Jr.)
Guard: Malcolm Brogdon (Sr.*)
Guard: Justin Anderson (Sr.)
Forward: Anthony Gill (Sr.*)
Forward: Mike Tobey (Sr.)
Guards: Marial Shayok (So.), Devon Hall (So.*), B.J. Stith (So.), Darius Thompson (So.*)
Forwards: Evan Nolte (Sr.), Isaiah Wilkins (So.), Jarred Reuter (Fr.)
Centers: Jack Salt (Fr.*)
* – redshirt
Darion Atkins – F
With Anderson still undecided on his NBA future, the 3 spot could go a few ways. If Anderson comes back, he’d obviously be a projected starter. If the junior bolts, then Bennett will have a decision to make. Evan Nolte filled in this season for much of the time Anderson was out, so it’s possible he’d settle into that spot if Anderson leaves. Isaiah Wilkins is another player who would see more time in the scenario that Anderson declares.
While Darion Atkins is graduating, the frontcourt should have even more depth next season. Forwards Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey will be the frontrunners to start, and freshman center Jack Salt will be available after redshirting this season. Incoming freshman Jarred Reuter will provide another body down low.
With a chance to return 12 of 13 scholarship players, Bennett’s group will be in excellent shape for the 2015-16 season. Regardless of whether or not Anderson comes back, Virginia should be a preseason top-three team in the ACC.
UVa’s last two teams were among the best in program history. Look for next year’s squad to be just as strong.