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UVA’s Williford talks how COVID-19 lockdown impacting college basketball recruiting

The impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns on college basketball recruiting aren’t so much on the Class of 2021, according to UVA assistant coach Jason Williford, but on 2022 and beyond.

“Luckily, we had a little bit of a head start with some ‘21s, but I think that the biggest challenge will be the class behind them,” said Williford. “You know, we can start contacted ‘22s on June 15, but not being able to see those guys and having a feel for their game, you know, it’s going to be difficult.”

It won’t be any harder on UVA than anybody else, of course.

“Everybody’s got the same handicap, and we’re just going to have to make the most of watching a ton of film. I’m really sick of watching film, to be honest with you,” Williford said.

Yeah, there with you on that, bud.

It’s not something that you think about all that much – how far ahead coaching staffs have to be in thinking about recruiting.

I only know what I do because I was the unofficial media liaison for a postgrad basketball program several years ago, and in that role saw how often big-name college coaches would drop in unannounced for mid-week afternoon practices and games that you had no idea how they fit into their schedules.

You tend to just think coaches, you know, coach their teams, but recruiting is a priority basically 24/7/365, in-season and out.

It’s not a job for homebodies, in other words, though for the past six weeks, we’ve all been homebodies.

“Yeah, obviously we’re handcuffed,” Williford said. “I think the biggest challenge is not being able to see guys play and compete, especially on the AAU circuit, where you get to see the better guys go against each other. And so, you miss that opportunity.”

Like the rest of us who have the good fortune to be able to remain employed via telecommuting, technology is proving to be invaluable to hoops coaches.

Williford said the staff at UVA is doing more with Zoom and FaceTime to create face-to-face opportunities with prospective recruits.

“That’s been a unique challenge, but different, and I think the positive with all it is that they can put faces with names, and they see us, and my kids are jumping in sometimes on the Zoom calls and saying hi to the recruits. So, it’s actually been pretty neat. But not seeing them compete and play has been been the most difficult thing,” Williford said.

Story by Chris Graham