Virginia basketball’s 2022 class arrives on Grounds with high expectations

With summer work soon beginning for the Virginia Cavaliers men’s basketball team, the freshman class arrived in Charlottesville with plenty of hype about the four of them and their potential over the next two years. Ranked as Tony Bennett’s top recruiting class since the 2016 group that led UVA to its first National Championship, it’s easy to see why these four are considered the next primary group to lead the ‘Hoos to the national competition.

All the excitement with this talented group is justified by their individual talents and successes, but it also comes after a number of bad years of UVA employment in high school. In fact, seven of the 13 players from UVA’s five recruiting classes dating back to 2017 have either moved into the program or left it. Granted, UVA has made great use of the transfer portal. But high school hiring remains the path toward enduring national discord adding to how important this 2022 batch is to Virginia.

First commitment of the class, Isaac McNeely hails from Boca, West Virginia, a two-time Gatorade State Player of the Year with the state championship from his first season to complete his impressive roster of high school awards.

As a player, the 6’4″ McKneely is truly a go-to keeper. He’s the shooter that turns off the lights on away from the shoot or goes off the dodge and boasts a bit of Kyle Gu’s ability to modify the body with the shot away. But, perhaps a talent Jay lacks, McNeely can also make his own shape either in isolation or using a ball screen.

He’s a typical shooter of size, power and sporting performance to reach the edge and finish through contact while also being a mid-range shooter and obviously from the depths. McKneely has great footwork and isn’t afraid to cross his defender and step back to land a hand in his face. He’s also a decent passer – especially in front of a big screen – and should have developed that ability in his time in Charlottesville.

On top of all that, McKneely played in the literally Tony Bennett-built high school system at UVA. In fact, his head coach spent time in Charlottesville with the UVA crew learning the blocker attack and package line defense, so Boca’s best team spent four seasons learning how to play in basic UVA defense and offense.

Joining McKneely as a second member of #IsaacSquared, Isaac Traudt is a similarly attractive prospect. McNeely also won the Gatorade Player of the Year award in West Virginia this year, which Trout won in Nebraska after a dominant major season.

Probably the most diverse skill set to ever commit to UVA under Bennett, Traudt is another great three-point shooter who can do crazy things with a basketball in his hands, standing at 6’10. He has a legitimate perimeter game and knows how to take the ball to the edge on the outside. His potential in ball screens is incredibly high as he will create a lot of space like a popper but can also be as deadly as a reel in a basket looking to finish through contact.

Traudt’s defense should be solid in UVA. He has good mobility along with solid height which means he can influence the game as a blocker at times while also learning how to play in a defensive system that requires a lot of top players. It might take some time, but Traudt could easily be the best player in this four-man class.

Outside of Wisconsin where Tony Bennett lives, Leon Bond is a 6’5 inch striker who should shine more on the defensive side of the ball as his ridiculous wing span, strength, ability and basketball intelligence should make up for what he’s little lacking in height. When attacking, Bond can play a slasher and handle the ball slightly with passing in mind. It was also developed as a mid-range shooter and should continue to grow as an offensive weapon with more work in that area.

Meanwhile, Ryan Dunn is the fourth UVA commitment in the class, a winger who records 6’7 inches and has the handles and shooting ability that could make him an NBA type player. It lacks strength, but makes up for it with transformation and explosion. It will probably take time for him to catch up with his college playing pace. But, if and when it does, Dunn could be a pure goalscorer with similar high potential as a defender if he buys the Virginia System and Evolution.

These four are definitely the future of UVA basketball as there is no ceiling to what all four can achieve in Charlottesville. Each player brings a beautifully diverse set of skills to the table as the four of them must fit incredibly well together in orange and blue.

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