I think it's a little early to be doing this, but I'm excited for my school's basketball team this year, so here's the third iteration of "Projecting Your College team" and my assessment for the University of Virginia's upcoming basketball team.
Although last season was expected to be a rebuilding season for UVA after the departure of NBA'er Mike Scott, UVA had a very solid season, highlighted by an upset win over Duke. With wins over Duke, Wisconsin, and NC State, fans were hoping for an NCAA Tournament berth, but had to settle for an NIT Elite Eight appearance.
Despite the disappointing end to last season, expectations are still very high for this team. The only scholarship players they are losing for this season are starting point guard Jontel Evans, who disappointed with an early injury and poor play, shooting guard Paul Jesperson, who also had his struggles, and reserve point guard Doug Browman, who was a former walk-on who was granted a scholarship for his last semester in college. These losses will be offset with the additions of sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon, who was sidelined last year with a foot injury, and former South Carolina forward Anthony Gill, who had to sit out due to transfer rules.
Here is how I see the depth chart playing out:
PG: Teven Jones, Malcolm Brogdon, London Perrantes, Taylor Barnette, Devon Hall (possible redshirt)
SG: Joe Harris, Malcolm Brogdon, Taylor Barnette
SF: Justin Anderson, Evan Nolte, Malcolm Brogdon
PF: Akil Mitchell, Anthony Gill, Evan Nolte Darion Atkins
C: Mike Tobey/Akil Mitchell, Darion Atkins
My projected starting five have all started at some point last season, and a fair share of the reserves have gotten starts in the past as well. Here's an in depth look at the team:
PG: Teven Jones RS SO: Point guard appears to be the weak spot for the Cavs this season. Teven Jones has shown flashes of being a solid point guard, but will need to improve upon his consistency and decision making. While Teven's offense is questionable, he is a good athlete that can provide solid on-ball pressure.
SG: Joe Harris SR: One of the favorites to win ACC POY next year, Joe Harris is arguably the most versatile offensive player in the conference. He is an elite shooter, as he hits a high percentage of his shots from deep and mid-range. He is also more than capable of beating defenders off the bounce with his craftiness and strength and is a solid finisher around the rim. If he plays like he did in February last season, look out!
SF: Justin Anderson SO: A fan favorite because of his energy level and highlight reel plays, he still has some work to do in improving his overall play. His ball-handling is mediocre at best, and he is really inconsistent with his jump-shot. With his high level of play in the NIT Tournament, it's not a stretch to believe that he'll take a big step forward in his sophomore year.
PF: Akil Mitchell SR: He's a projected 2nd round pick by this site and it's not hard to see why. He has solid size (although undersized last season playing center) at 6'8 230, has pretty good athleticism, and is does a lot of the dirty work. He can improve a bit on his post work and shot blocking, but he is nonetheless a solid player and figures to provide a solid number of double doubles next year.
C: Mike Tobey SO: I'm hoping for big things for the 7 footer next year. There aren't many players in the country with his level of size and skill. He has pretty good touch on his hook, and has shown that he is more than capable of facing up and hitting a mid-range jump shot or even the occasional three. Hopefully he adds on some more weight, so he can defend and rebound better (only averaged 2.9 in 13.9 minutes).
Taylor Barnette SO, PG/SG: The shooting guard may be undersized and unathletic, but he proved in his freshman year that he can be a great shooter off the bench. He shot 43% from deep last year and figures to get some run due to that alone.
Malcolm Brogdon RS SO SG/PG: He might be the starting point guard next year, but I figure with his versatility he'll play a do it all role off of the bench and play both guard positions and maybe even some small forward.
Evan Nolte SO SF/PF: He started last year very well, hitting a very high percentage of his threes, but fell off a bit down the stretch. He served a lot of time last year as a stretch four, and he'll reprise that role and figures to get some minutes at his natural position, small forward, too.
Anthony Gill RS SO PF: I've only seen high school highlights of the former Gamecok, but he seems like a fairly athletic and skilled power forward. I'm not sure the role he'll play next year. The Cavs may decide to start Akil at center again and start Gill at power foward, otherwise, he figures to provide some solid scoring punch for the frontcourt off the bench.
All in all, this figures to be a very deep and talented team. However, this team is pretty young for the most part and has a big question mark at arguably the most important position in college basketball at point guard. As far as predictions go, I think this team is certainly capable of a top 3 finish, although I see them likely finishing 4th or 5th in the conference, and go to the tournament as a 6 or a 7 seed. I foresee UVA clinching it's first tournament win since 2007, and having an outside chance of making it to the sweet sixteen.
i agree with u 100% especially about harris, he somehow always seems to make the play... no matter what, hes a good player to watch.
Hopefully he can finish next season strong. With so much resting on his shoulders, he can't afford to have a poor March like had the last two seasons.
I was disappointed in Justin Anderson this year I hope he takes the next step next year going back to the way he played at Montrose like using his NBA body instead of playing soft like last year until the NIT
I'm from C-ville so I love seeing posts from Wahoo on here. First, lets take a realistic look back on last season. To me, their season should be viewed in three parts. To start the season, their senior pg Jontel Evans was hurt. Now he definitely isn't elite, or even an average ACC point guard in my opinion, but he was experienced and he makes good decisions (except when he shoots the ball). But without him, they went with a committee of freshman 3-star Teven Jones, Doug Browman and Taylor Barnette at the point. Not surprisingly, that lead to a 1-2 start with losses to George Mason, and then Delaware at home. When Evans came back again he was able to lead UVA to wins on the road versus Wisconsin and at home versus Tennessee. Evans only played in 3 games before sitting out another 4 (in which they lost one at home to Old Dominion), but during the 3 game stretch that he did play, he totaled 11 assists against 3 turnovers. So without Evans, the Cavs were 7-3 (10-3 if you count the 3 games they won in the middle of his two stints being out). Then the second part of the season, to start ACC play, the Cavs went 8-3 which was way better than expected. Even winning 7 out of 8 games against the likes of UNC, FSU, NCSU, and MD. Then the third part of the season, where UVA simply crumbled down the stretch, going 3-5 in their last 8 games. They have to be more consistent. Last year it seemed like if Harris didn't give them 20 plus, UVA had no one that could create a shot on their own other than Anderson at times.
Moving forward to this season:
I agree with Wahoo in that pg is by far the biggest concern that they will have this season. I think you are also right about Jones being able to guard a lot better than he can run the team at this point. I haven't seen much from the two freshman they have coming in yet, so I wait on those two guys.
Joe Harris is a beast. He plays the right way and it seems like he grew as a player so much last year. 36 at Duke and 27 at UNC. He plays hard, makes the extra pass, shoots well, and can get into the paint. He is hard no to like as a player.
Justin Anderson is the kind of player UVA has needed for years. A guy that could've went pretty much anywhere he wanted, and not like most of the players UVA gets ( 3 stars choosing between Hofstra or Marshall or UVA). These are the kind of athletes it takes to win in the ACC. But can they keep it up?
Mike Tobey is going to have a monster year. He is just so solid. I like his footwork around the basket and he does have a nice touch. I hope he makes the U19 team this summer.
Mitchell is on some mocks for next season and he averaged 9 boards a game this past season. He works really hard too and his inside scoring was a pleasant surprise last year.
The biggest changes as I see it (other than the loss of Evans) will be the arrival of Anthony Gill from South Carolina, where he was either freshman of the year or first team all freshman in the SEC the year before. He sat out last year so he is ready to go, and Malcolm Brogdon who started some games two years ago, but battled injuries last season.
I think a top 4 finish in the ACC is hindered by the arrival of Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame, but they will be good if they can get enough from the pg position. The real question is can Tony Bennett keep up the good work on the recruiting trail and put a few strong classes together? I think they make the tournament and possibly the sweet sixteen though. They play defense and they can shoot. Two things that can make and break you come tourney time.