With the addition of Sam Hauser along with one of the best freshman classes in school history, Virginia basketball is ready to make another run at a National Championship.
It can be a little slow. Sometimes it’s ugly. And with all due respect to Wahoo Nation, occasionally it’s boring. Nonetheless, Tony Bennett has built Virginia Basketball, brick by brick, into one of the best college basketball programs in America. Don’t forget, they are the defending national champions heading into the 2020-21 college basketball season.
The 2019-20 version of Virginia basketball, however, was largely different from the 18-19 National Title team. While the defense led the country in scoring for the third consecutive season, the offense was statistically one of the worst in the country.
In 18-19, when the Cavaliers conquered the college hoops world the offense was flanked by Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter, and Ty Jerome and was the nation’s fourth rated offense. Those scoring threats just did not exist a season ago in Charlottesville, and still, Virginia won 23 games, finished second in the ACC and was a legitimate threat to make another run in March.
What significant changes will shape the 20-21 Virginia Cavaliers?
Mamadi Diakite (13.7 Pts, 6.8 Reb, 0.6 Ast) and Braxton Key (9.9 Pts, 7.4 Reb, 1.8 Ast) were lost to graduation and they take 40% of Virginia’s rebounding with them. On the glass is where these departures hurt the most, but neither were gifted at scoring the basketball, which is the area that Bennett’s bunch must improve. From 18-19 to 19-20 the Cavs scoring decreased by 14 points per game.
The additions to the roster are strategically designed to do improve that very area.
Sam Hauser was probably the best sit-out transfer on any bench in the nation a season ago. In his junior season at Marquette, he averages 15 points a game while shooting 45% from the 3-point range. Virginia was the third-worst 3-point shooting team in the ACC last year.
A trio of highly touted freshmen also join the fold and two of them will be expected to contribute immediately in Jabri Abdur-Rahim (No. 37 ranked by 247) and Reece Beekman (No. 66 ranked by 247). Carson McCorkle, a top 150 recruit is also an interesting prospect but is coming off of a foot injury that shortened his senior high school season.
Bennett also landed a big-time transfer out of Rice in Trey Murphy. Murphy’s 14 points a game as a sophomore and dynamic slashing ability will be huge for this offense once he’s eligible, but that won’t be until 2021-22.
This is a team with a really good chance to make another run at a national championship if it can boost its offensive production. Let’s take a detailed look at what the Virginia roster and depth chart look like heading into the 2020-21 college basketball season.