No other team in the ACC returns a higher percentage of minutes than Virginia, and it is not even close. 87.8% of their minutes and 90.7% of their possession minutes return. That includes their top six scorers. After an uncharacteristically down year, the Cavaliers will look to rebound this season.
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Preseason College Basketball Rankings: #21 Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia is coming off their worst season in a while. They missed the tournament for the first time since 2013. The main problem was that they were not playing Virginia-level defense. They finished ninth in the ACC in defensive efficiency, which was their worst finish in that category during Tony Bennett’s tenure as head coach. However, that should not carry over to this season.
Kihei Clark and Reece Beekman are an elite defensive backcourt and one of the nation’s most unselfish duos. Despite his small size Clark might be the Cavalier’s best shooter and is the leader of this team. He brings a ton of experience as a fifth-year senior, having started 108 of 128 games played in his collegiate career. Beekman is also a good shooter. He also led the ACC in steals. Armaan Franklin also returns in the backcourt.
Power Forward Kadin Shedrick and Center Francisco Caffaro both return in the post. They are both very similar players (Although Shedrick is a much better shot-blocker.) and therefore are fairly interchangeable. Either one of them could start on a given day. Shedrick started 19 games last year and Caffaro started the other 16. Expect a similar split this year. Jayden Gardner is the number-one returner for this team. After three years starring at ECU, he transferred to Virginia. His numbers dipped a little last season in his first year at UVA but he still played very well.
Virginia brings in the nation’s 14th-ranked recruiting class. The class features four four-star recruits, three of which rank in the top 70. PF Isaac Traudt and combo guard Isaac McKneely are the two that will have sizable roles right away. Leon Bond probably won’t have a significant role as a freshman but is good depth. The one transfer that Virginia brings in is Ohio’s Ben Vander Plas. He is a fifth-year senior who is a good scorer and will be of help to this offense.
PF – Kadin Shedrick (6.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.2 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.9 BPG)
SF – Jayden Gardner (15.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG)
G – Armaan Franklin (11.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG)
G – Reece Beekman (8.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.2 APG, 2.1 SPG, 0.7 BPG)
PG – Kihei Clark (10.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 4.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG)