Roster Needs: 3-Year Outlook
Previously: Part 1 - Roster Construction Philosophies
Welcome back to our short series kicking off the summer 2018 recruiting session. Over the next few months, the staff will be all over the country working hard to stock the roster with talented, high character young men to wear the orange and blue. Of course, to properly appreciate what our staff is targeting in their recruiting efforts, it's important to understand where our needs are. In Part 1, we laid out some general philosophies on constructing a roster. In this section, we'll look at the projected roster over the next three seasons to break down what our recruiting needs are, both short- and long-term.
We ended Part 1 with an ideal, targeted roster of 4 guards, 3 wings, 4 big men, and the rest developmental or transfer redshirts (or rewarded walk-ons!). When discussing needs in this article, we're looking at bringing the depth chart as close to the targeted roster as possible.
For the graphics below, we identify a player as "Ready" (green) if we're reasonably confident they can be trusted with a starting position if called upon. For "Question Marks" (yellow), we deem those players ready to be a part of the rotation, but not necessarily on a consistent basis, as they may still need more development or find some opponents to be particularly bad matchups. Players tagged as "Likely Limited" (red) may play, but we expect those to be primarily in the non-conference warm-up games, with only spot minutes coming in competitive play. These are all educated guesses at best.
We'll address how these needs will be met in Part 3 in the next installment (which includes the who and then when); for now we just want to identify what those needs are.
The roster for this upcoming season is almost complete. We've got an effective starting rotation (likely Jerome, Guy, Hunter, Diakite, and Salt), with some gently proven backups (Huff and Anthony). There's your Top 7. After that, we've got three newcomers to address.
Badocchi - Based on the extremely limited feedback we get from inside JPJ, we're optimistic the Italian forward will be a meaningful contributor next year. He may not log a ton of minutes, and there are certainly a number of questions, such as how well he can defend in space (if tasked to guard a small-ball 4), or score in different ways, especially away from the basket. But at a bare minimum, I think he can give us some meaningful bench minutes similar to what we saw out of Wilkins' freshman year, especially once he gets up to speed through the non-conference.
Clark - Seattle Hoo is a Kihei Clark believer, and therefore I'm inclined to be so too. His size is always going to be a concern against certain opponents, especially on defense when facing bigger guards, so as a freshman he's probably a spot contributor. The long-term value is there, but because of his size he's going to have to max out in other areas to be effective, mostly in terms of his IQ and execution, and that's just going to take time to get down. We've got him as more of a role player in later years, but for 2018-19, we're conservatively listing him as only a minor contributor.
Stattmann - Based on feedback we got from scouts at the Basketball Without Borders camp in Los Angeles in February, where Stattmann competed against some top international prep competition, we're predicting he redshirts. He's got a lot of physical development still to do to be ready for D-1 competition, in addition to work needed on his handle and the general adjustment to the speed of the US game.
This effectively translates to a Top 9, which is shallow by at least a body by our count. The 10 man rotation this past year was obviously adequate, though we were also fortunate our starters stayed healthy enough to play all year long. So there's a need to add at least one additional player for next season, though I wouldn't blink at two guys if they were the right two guys.
The primary need is for a bigger guard or a wing with plus ball skills who can (a) run the point to give Jerome a rest or let him play off-ball and (b) eat up enough back court minutes to make Hunter available to slide to the 4 for long stretches.
2018-19 Needs Summary: 1 guard/wing needed.
We've got openings across the board in 2019-20.
First, the obvious hole that needs plugging is right in the middle of the paint, and that's Jack Salt's role as the big, physical true center. While Mamadi, Huff, and Badocchi all to varying degrees play the role of a rangy forward, none are bangers, and there's a need to bring in a physical presence to play an immediate role. He must be agile enough to defend effectively in space on the hard hedges, of course, and in the interest of scoring balance he must be an upgrade over Salt offensively.
At the wing, while it's showing three players currently projected for three spots, we still feel there's a very real need for a least one big wing, for two reasons. First, De'Andre Hunter is getting enough NBA Draft buzz that we need to prepare for the likelihood of his departure. Second, we're skeptical that, even with a redshirt year under his belt, Stattmann will be ready to be a major contributor in 2019-20; our contact at Basketball Without Borders estimated his third year in Charlottesville (2020-21) would be his first dependable season. So that leaves only the undersized (for a wing) Marco Anthony as a wing option for this year, and if Dre leaves, none who are suited for the small-ball 4 role. Finding a combo forward for the 2019-2020 season is a must.
The guard spot got addressed nice and early with the April committment of DC combo guard Casey Morsell, who looks to be just what the doctor ordered in a number of aspects; he's versatile enough to play on- or off-ball, high IQ and crafty, tenacious defender, and by all accounts will be a seamless fit into Virginia's Five Pillars culture. From a pure need perspective, Morsell wraps up the position. If the staff were to add more, it would be because it was a "too good to say no to" type of player, and would probably lean towards a bigger guard with some 2/3 versatility defensively.
Bring these three-to-four (counting Morsell) on and you project ~12 depending on Hunter's pro prospects, which at first glance is a little high until you assume Kody is essentially in his second redshirt year that year.
2019-20 Needs Summary: 1 banger post needed, 1 physical combo forward wing needed, 1 additional guard a nice-to-have.
At this point the roster is basically wide open. We see Kyle, Ty, and Mamadi graduate, and Hunter and Huff as moderate-to-high risks to be early NBA entrants depending on health and production. After them, there are only five projected players in the rotation, and time will tell how ready they are to inherit the reins. And that doesn't even consider the risks to attrition that accrue with each offseason. So at this point we're only looking at two guards, two wings, and one or two posts on the roster, meaning that by this point we need to add another 5-6 players (many of which will be filled in prior cycles, but still...) across all position groups. Some of these will be filled with transfers this summer and class of 2019 commitments; the rest will be addressed next summer with additional inbound transfers or 2020 freshmen.
2020-21 Needs Summary: 2-3 posts needed, 1 wing needed, 2 guards needed
Stay tuned for a preview of how the staff will spend the spring and summer filling all of these needs...