The Virginia Cavaliers had a miraculous 2013-14 NCAA basketball season that ultimately ended with a tough loss to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament. While the season ended on a down note and a few of the team’s star players have left, coach Tony Bennett‘s squad should not be forgotten in the upcoming ACC season.
The Cavaliers return the team’s best scorer from last season with Malcolm Brogdon returning for his junior season. Brogdon averaged nearly 13 points per game and has the potential to be a player who could score close to 20 points per game if Bennett allows him to unleash a more aggressive offensive attack. Brogdon has some work to do in refining his overall game. He can shoot the three-pointer (37 percent) and is nearly automatic at the free throw line (87.5 percent), but he was only a 41.3 percent shooter overall. His percentage is low for his position because he tends to take shots out of the flow of the game. If he can figure out when and when not to shoot, he can be a first-team All-ACC player.
Even though Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell have graduated, the team still has the players to fill those roles. Harris was a solid player and was picked up by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA draft. Brogdon’s scoring should improve, and London Perrantes should also see more time and thus have better numbers offensively. Mitchell was a tough and rugged player, so his role will be tough to fill. Forward Anthony Gill posted more than eight points and four rebounds per game. He is a sturdy player at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, but it will be how he reacts to a bigger role that will ultimately decide how well he plays. Center Mike Tobey will also be counted on to pick up his scoring (6.4 PPG) and rebounding (3.8 RPG).
The Cavaliers also have shooting guard B.J. Stith coming in as a freshman who can provide a nice scoring punch off of the bench. Isaiah Wilkins will join Stith on the perimeter. Wilkins is a work in progress, but his electric play style should add some flair to the offense.
The Cavaliers may not have the same team that won both ACC titles last season, but if the rest of the conference sleeps on them, they could sneak up and snatch the championship again.