Isaiah Wilkins: The glue that binds #5 Virginia

isaiah wilkinsIsaiah Wilkins had another Isaiah Wilkins game for #5 Virginia in its win over Oakland Wednesday night.

Four points in 25 minutes, put up just four shots from the floor. If you weren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t have known the 6’8” sophomore was out there, practically.

And then you’d look deeper into the stats. Led the Cavs with eight rebounds. Had three assists, two blocks, two steals.

Your eyes were on Anthony Gill (17 points, 6-of-8 shooting), Mike Tobey (16 points, 7-of-8 shooting, seven rebounds), Malcolm Brogdon (12 points, five assists).

There’s a reason Wilkins is on the floor, though, and it’s indicative in the one stat that basketball stole from hockey, the plus-minus.

Wilkins’ plus-minus last night was +16, tied for best on the team with point guard London Perrantes.

Using the advanced Box Plus-Minus rating, Wilkins’ 14.6 BPM is tops on the 2015-2016 Cavs (Perrantes is second at 12.1).

This is all a long way of saying that Wilkins, averaging 4.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 2015-2016, is the glue guy for this Cavs team, much like Darion Atkins was last year, and Akil Mitchell was two years ago.

“Whatever it takes for us to win, whether that’s me playing 30 minutes or five minutes, our goal is to win.”

That was Wilkins after being asked about his increased playing time. He’s been tabbed to start the last three games, ahead of Tobey, who on paper (7.3 ppg, 59.4 percent FG) is the better option.

But Tobey came off the bench a good bit last season as well, getting 11 starts in 34 games en route to being named the ACC Sixth Man of the Year while backing up another glue guy, Darion Atkins.

Wilkins said he learned a lot from Atkins, whom he considers a mentor.

“The way he plays, the way he rebounds, he’s a tough kid. I feel like I can learn from him and bring my energy, and do whatever it takes for us to win,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins knows very well his role on the team heading into ACC play. He learned from the best.

“From Darion to Akil, picking little things up, watching film with them, that’s helped me so much. And I really appreciate that,” Wilkins said.

– Story by Chris Graham

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is now available at a special pre-sale discounted price of $20. The book is expected to ship by May 15, 2019, and expected to retail for $25.
Pre-order for $20: click here.


The book, with additional reporting by Scott Ratcliffe and Zach Pereles, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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