November 16, 2013

Packlines: Triplethreat (TM pending)



Thursday was the start of the early signing period for basketball, and Tony Bennett reeled in an interesting trio of recruits.

The press release:

Virginia men’s head basketball coach Tony Bennett has announced the signings of center Jack Salt (Auckland, New Zealand/Westlake Boys High School), guard B.J. Stith (Lawrenceville, Va./Oak Hill Academy) and forward Isaiah Wilkins (Lilburn, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian School) to National Letters of Intent with the Cavaliers.

“We are certainly pleased and excited about welcoming Jack, B.J. and Isaiah into the Virginia men’s basketball family,” Bennett said. “All three of these student-athletes will bring a lot of intensity, skill, athleticism and character to our program. They are well-rounded student-athletes, who understand the worth of a degree from the University of Virginia. We are looking forward to their arrival next fall.”

The 6-10, 240-pound Salt tallied 14 points and 16 rebounds as the Westlake Boys High School Premier Team recently defended its New Zealand School Boys AA title. Salt earned all-tournament honors and earned Westlake’s Loe Family Trophy as its Most Improved Senior player. Salt earned all-tournament honors as a member of the North Harbour U17 Team, which participated in the 2013 New Zealand U17 National Championships.


Jack Salt
The 6-5, 205-pound Stith helped lead Brunswick High School to three straight Virginia High School League Division 3 State titles prior to enrolling at Oak Hill Academy for the 2013-14 season. Stith was named all-state and all-region after averaging 16 points, six rebounds and six assists per game to lead the 2013 state champion Bulldogs. Stith is ranked No. 48 on Rivals.com’s 2014 Prospect Ranking list. Stith, who was also a state champion track athlete, is the son of former Virginia star and NBA player Bryant Stith.

B.J. Stith
The 6-8, 205-pound Wilkins averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game for Greater Atlanta Christian School in 2012-13. Wilkins led Greater Christian to the Georgia AA State championship and was named the AA State Player of the Year and Region 6-AA Player of the Year. He blocked 158 shots, including a single-game school record 15. Wilkins is ranked No. 107 on Rivals.com’s 2014 Prospect Ranking list.
Isaiah Wilkins


If you're hungry for reading more about the Triplethreat hoops recruiting class, here are some choice nugs:






I've never seen any of these kids play, but 've done a lot of reading about them and I followed their recruitments closely.  Here are my thoughts on what each will bring to the Hoos during the course of their UVA careers.

B.J. Stith
Okay, so let's get this out of the way.  Bryant Stith is my favorite Cavalier ever, from any sport.  I'm a total and unabashed fanboy when it comes to all things Stith.  So imagine my giddiness when I learned that B.J. (the more talented of Bryant's two sons) had decided to matriculate at the University of Virginia.


Stith has some point guard skills, but is more of a true shooting guard or wing.  I'd say his game sounds very similar to that of Malcolm Brogdon, with maybe a bit more lateral mobility (and thus, defensive potential earlier in his career), but a little less physicality.  Stith's perimeter shot is still developing, but his mid-range game is already there.  That hearkens back to the thing I liked best about K.T. Harrell before he turned yellow and ran away to Auburn -- mastery of the lost art of the mid-range jumper.

At UVA, B.J. will likely be a part of the rotation as a freshman, maybe spelling Brog at the 2 and helping to fill minutes at the 3 when Justin Anderson / Evan Nolte aren't on the floor.  I think Stith will play, and play quite a bit.  Brog's senior season is B.J.'s sophomore season, so I'm expecting Stith to start at the 2 as a junior and senior at UVA... and hopefully do all of the things that his dad did for the Hoos 25 years ago.


Isaiah Wilkins
It's important to note that Isaiah DOES NOT possess any DNA from The Human Highlight Film.  However, having 'Nique around to advise him and help him develop his skills can only have helped Isaiah get to this point, and to eventually realize his full potential.


And what is that potential?  Well, as a 6-8 pogo stick 4, the temptation is to make comparisons between Wilkins and Akil Mitchell.  I actually think the two are fairly different players.  It sounds to me that Isaiah has more of a an appetite for the "finesse" parts of the game -- passing from the high post, pick and pop skills, work as a point forward or a stretch-4.  With that 7-foot wingspan, he's a good rebounder and shot-blocker, but maybe those parts of his game could still use a bit of refinement.  It's hard to say what kind of a shooter Wilkins is at this point, but there's no doubt that he's willing, and there's no doubt that that's part of the package Bennett was intrigued with in this kid.

If Mike Tobey sticks around for his junior season, Wilkins will slot in as the 4th man in the frontcourt rotation as a true freshman, where he can get acclimated to the packline and the college game without a whole lot of pressure to perform.  If Tobey leaves, we're going to need some quality minutes out of Wilkins from jump street.  For his UVA career, I'd expect to see Isaiah Wilkins develop quickly (like Akil) and begin challenging for starter's minutes as a sophomore.


Jack Salt
“Rugged, tough player with good upside.”
“He’s raw. He’s a hard-playing competitive big guy.”

Jack Salt is a project big.  Those tend to pan out for Tony Bennett, and if he can do for Jack Salt what he did for Jerome Meyinsse, then we'll be in business.

But the healthy approach here is to expect nothing from Salt until we start seeing something.

"Salt will, funny enough, need some seasoning."  Good one, Whitey.

Salt probably won't play much his first couple of seasons at UVA.  After that, we'll see what we have.




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