Home Transfer target Joshua Jefferson thinks he can ‘speed up’ Virginia’s tempo

Transfer target Joshua Jefferson thinks he can ‘speed up’ Virginia’s tempo

Chris Graham
uva basketball
Photo: UVA Athletics

Saint Mary’s transfer Joshua Jefferson told CavsCorner, summing up his visit to Virginia over the weekend, that he thinks he could help Virginia “speed up the game a little bit and push the ball up the floor.”

Which is to say, this Jefferson kid seems to think he can do the impossible.

I broke down Jefferson’s game in a column last week, and it’s clear that the 6’8”, 220-pound sophomore would be a great fit at Virginia, on both ends of the floor.

Starting with Jefferson’s counting numbers in his sophomore season at Saint Mary’s, which went 26-8 in 2023-2024, earning a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, before being bounced out by Grand Canyon in a first-round upset, the numbers were solid: he averaged 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, shooting 46.9 percent from the floor and 26.7 percent from three.

I should point out here, Saint Mary’s also plays at a slow tempo – the Gaels averaged 62.5 possessions per game, ranking 357th nationally, per numbers from KenPom.

Virginia’s 60.1 possessions per game ranked 362nd, dead-last, per KenPom.

Drilling down from the counting numbers, Jefferson is pretty good, borderline very good, around the basket, shooting 65.8 percent (25-of-38) on cuts and 50.0 percent (21-of-42) on post-ups.

Jefferson’s shooting numbers from three could be, clearly, better, but he has shown, at least, that he is willing to take, and can make, perimeter jumpers, which will keep defenders honest when he sets screens, which in Bennett’s mover/blocker will be often.

On the defensive end, Jefferson rated as “excellent” by Synergy Sports, holding opponents to 32.0 percent shooting and 0.695 points per possession.

That last figure, I’ll note here, would have been the best on the UVA roster in 2023-2024, ahead of ACC Defensive Player of the Year Reece Beekman (0.714) and defensive wunderkind Ryan Dunn (0.697).

So, let’s go ahead and project Joshua Jefferson to be a good fit.

Jefferson feels like a good fit, from what he told CavsCorner.

“I think I would fit in well. I was able to watch them a little bit this year, and I think a player like myself would fit in well,” Jefferson said, summing up what he called “a great visit” to Virginia.

Before you put your order in for a new #5 Jefferson in the road blue or the home white, I’ll note that he still has two visits on his schedule, with TCU and Iowa State, both of which are coming up this week.

One other note: both play at significantly faster tempos – TCU at 69.8 possessions per game, Iowa State at 67.2.

If it’s speeding up the game that Jefferson wants, either is a good option there.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].