#28 Virginia Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Virginia Cavaliers
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #28
Conference Rank: #6 ACC
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Virginia opened last season as a preseason top-ten team for the third straight year, but they failed to win at least 29 games for the first time since 2012-13. The Cavaliers will enter this season with lower expectations than usual. The top two scorers from last year have departed, and Tony Bennett will have his youngest roster in some time. Virginia will continue to have one of the top defenses in the nation, but they will need someone to step up as a bucket getter. The ACC is always a tough conference, but Tony Bennett should have enough talent to keep the Hoos in contention.
2016-17 Record: 23-11, 11-7
2016-17 Postseason:
NCAA Tournament
Tony Bennett
Coach Record:
188-83 at Virginia, 257-116 overall
Who’s Out:
Virginia will be without their scoring leader and the heart and soul of the team, London Perrantes. Perrantes was named to the All-ACC second team last season behind 12.7 points, 3.8 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game. Perrantes graduated as the school’s all-time leader in starts and games played. Perrantes’ departure will leave a major void at point guard for the Hoos. Marial Shayok, Darius Thompson and Jarred Reuter all elected to transfer away from Virginia this offseason. Shayok was second on the team in scoring as a junior with 8.9 points per game. Shayok had arguably the best game of his career in the NCAA Tournament when he scored a career-high 23 points against UNC Wilmington. Thompson spent two seasons at Virginia, making 25 starts in his Cavalier career. Last year, Thompson averaged 6.2 points and 2.2 assists. Lastly, Reuter transferred after averaging 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game as a sophomore.
Who’s In:
Tony Bennett added to his roster with a grad transfer, two redshirt freshmen and two true freshmen. Nigel Johnson joins Virginia as a grad transfer from Rutgers. Johnson averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists last season. Johnson will give the Cavaliers some much-needed backcourt experience. Jay Huff and De’Andre Hunter will see playing time this season after redshirting their first year at Virginia. Huff is a seven-footer who was a four-star, top-100 recruit a year ago. Huff can stretch the floor as a shooter while giving Virginia size on defense. Hunter was also a four-star, top-100 recruit, and he gives the Hoos another scorer on the wing. Two true freshmen, Marco Anthony and Francesco Badocchi join the Cavaliers this season. Anthony is a 6-6 combo guard who will add depth to the Virginia backcourt. Badocchi is a 6-8 forward who was born in Italy. Freshmen usually don’t get much playing time under Tony Bennett, but both players could grow into useful players for Virginia.
Who to Watch:
Virginia returns a group of supporting players that will have to step up in bigger roles this year. Devon Hall is the leading returning scorer after averaging 8.4 points as a junior. Hall started all 34 games last year and could be the best candidate for a breakout season as the Hoos’ best player. Another candidate would be sophomore Kyle Guy, who had two 20-point games as a freshman. Guy averaged 7.5 points on the season, but showed flashes of top scorer potential. Isaiah Wilkins is back after being named to the All-ACC defensive team last season. Wilkins led the team in rebounding (6.0), blocks (1.3) and steals (1.0). Wilkins missed the second round game against Florida, which was a big reason Virginia struggled so much in that contest. Ty Jerome could be in line for a big sophomore year. Jerome played just 13.9 minutes per game as a freshman, but he was a four-star recruit and will take over Perrantes’ starting spot. Mamadi Diakite is in a similar position as he appeared to be dripping in potential, but never put it together as a freshman. Diakite averaged 3.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 14.0 minutes per game. Jack Salt will be a junior after starting all 34 games at center and averaging 3.7 points and 4.1 rebounds last year.
Final Projection:
Virginia enters 2017-18 in a bit of a rebuilding year, but they should still find themselves competing in the ACC. The Cavaliers won’t have the same talent level as their recent 30-win teams, but Tony Bennett always finds a way to get the most out of his players. Last season’s blowout loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament left a bad taste in Virginia’s mouth, and they’ll be out to avenge that loss this year. The Cavaliers will be relying on mostly unproven players, but several of the players have potential to be a top scoring option. Virginia will ride their always-tough defense to another NCAA Tournament, but an improved offense could take the Hoos even higher.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Ty Jerome, Sophomore, Guard, 4.3 points per game

Kyle Guy, Sophomore, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Devon Hall, Senior, Guard, 8.4 points per game
Isaiah Wilkins, Senior, Forward, 6.8 points per game
Jack Salt, Junior, Center, 3.7 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.1 (313th in nation, 15th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 56.4 (1, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.0 (87, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.8 (14, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (222, 12)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.5 (33, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.9 (149, 9)
Rebound Margin: 2.9 (90, 5)
Assists Per Game: 13.9 (140, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.5 (3, 2)