Projecting the 2020-2021 ‘Hoos: Deep, talented roster, to say the least

Looking ahead to the 2020-2021 UVA basketball season, can you say … eight four-stars in the rotation?

Get used to it.

The incoming freshmen will include small forward Jabri Abdur-Rahim (No. 28 in the ESPN 100), point guard Reece Beekman (No. 40) and four-star shooting guard Carson McCorkle.

Sam Hauser, a four-star from the Class of 2016 (No. 86 in the ESPN 100 that year), will be your stretch-four, a 6’9” guy who can shoot the heck out of the ball (45.9 percent from the floor, 40.2 percent from three-point range and 92.4 percent from the free-throw line at Marquette in 2018-2019).

The Class of 2019 has another pair of four-stars – point guard Casey Morsell (No. 57 in the ESPN 100) and power forward Kadin Shedrick (No. 70).

The ’19 class also has a JUCO All-American shooting guard, Tomas Woldetensae, the first guy that we’re talking about here who isn’t a four-star.

Which is probably OK, because (and former ESPN) writer Andy Katz thinks of Woldetensae as one of the five most important players in the ACC in 2019-2020.

The other non-four-star: Kihei Clark, the diminutive (5’9”) point guard who worked his way into averaging 33 minutes per game in the NCAA Tournament as a freshman, which is to say, he’s a building block, no matter what the star system might have to say.

Jay Huff (No. 73 in the ESPN 100 in 2016) will be a redshirt senior and anchor at the five, alongside four-star 2018 center Francisco Caffaro.

So, there you go: eight four-stars, a JUCO All-American, and a kid who played himself into a big role on a national championship game, who will by 2020-2021 be an upperclassman.

That’s 10 guys, obviously, and, doing more math, you might need to realize that coach Tony Bennett prefers to go with a tighter eight-man rotation.

To wit: this year’s national-title team had seven guys averaging at least 16 minutes a game, with Jay Huff eighth in minutes, at 9.4 per game.

This is why I’ve glossed over talking about the likes of Kody Stattmann (three-star in the Class of 2018) and Justin McKoy (three-star in the Class of 2019).

Practices should be intense, to say the least, considering the competition for minutes hanging over everybody’s heads.

It’s way, way early to be thinking this far ahead, you know, considering, for instance, that there’s a 2019-2020 season to play through first, and all, but thinking ahead to 2020-2021, here’s how I see things shaking down.

First, Hauser is an important guy, as a stretch-four, a 6’9” guy who can shoot from the perimeter. Hauser gives Bennett incredible lineup flexibility with his ability to contribute offensively from the perimeter and also defensively with his size in the post and on the boards.

This year’s team won a national title because Bennett was able to go four-guard right at 75 percent of the time. Hauser will give the 2020-2021 ‘Hoos similar flexibility.

Abdur-Rahim and Woldetensae, at 6’5”, also give you size on the wings.

Then you have Morsell, Beekman, McCorkle and Clark at one and two.

That’s seven guys, not including Stattmann and McKoy, competing for the 160 minutes a game you have to divvy up one through four.

Huff, Caffaro and Shedrick are left to battle for the 40 minutes at the five.

That’s a damn deep team right there, is what I’m getting at.

You’ve got an elite scorer in Abdur-Rahim, big-time shooters in Hauser, Woldetensae and McCorkle, NBA prospects at the point in Beekman and Morsell, loads of experience in Clark, size and talent in the post in Huff, Caffaro, Shedrick.

This is how you cash in on a national title, folks.

The future is bright.

Story by Chris Graham


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