Tuesday, April 5, 2011

the recruit: Evan Nolte

Name: Evan Nolte
Position: SF
Hometown: Alpharetta, GA
School: Milton
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 195

ESPN: 94; four stars; #14 SF; US #53
Rivals: four stars; #15 SF; US #59
Scout: four stars; #15 SF; US #67

Other offers: Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, Auburn, others

Let's start with a little exercise. Here are some excerpts from ESPN's review of Player A:

A legitimate 6'7 wing who has range out to 25-plus feet; there is no question he stretches the defense better than most ... will be deadly in UVA's structure ... When opponents force him to dribble he struggles to make a teammate better with a drive and kick for an open shot ... His ability to shoot the ball alone makes him a hot commodity.

And another one for Player B:

A long and lean combo wing ... a very good shooter. He has range to 25 feet ... He is not great at creating for himself ... He is a solid prospect that should do well at Virginia as a player that can stretch the defense.

No, they're not technically the same player. But I think it's a tribute to Evan Nolte that Tony Bennett would press for and take a commitment from Nolte (Player A) with Paul Jesperson (Player B) set to arrive next year. Let's take that one step further: According to Nolte's high school coach, he was Tony Bennett's #1 target.

And well he might be. Nolte isn't quite the highest-rated recruit Bennett's brought to UVA (depending on where you look, KT Harrell was rated a little higher) but you won't find a bigger target in Bennett's three years of recruiting. Nolte's Milton team plays in Georgia's 5A classification, the highest level, and not only are they a powerhouse (the 2010 state champion and 2011 runners-up) but Nolte's teammates are going everywhere for college: Julian Royal to GT, Dai-Jon Parker to Vanderbilt, Shannon Scott to Ohio State, Shaquille Johnson to Auburn. Nolte's as high-profile a recruit as we might ever land, and almost every high-major program in the South offered him. Even Duke was interested, and they were close to offering, and it's a good thing they didn't because Nolte grew up a Duke fan. Fortunately, we have meds for that.

Nolte is the second recruit in as many years to come out of metro Atlanta to Virginia, and his school's 5A classification, as opposed to Malcolm Brogdon and Greater Atlanta Christian playing in 2A, mean no questions about inferior competition. (Although, Brogdon earning all-class POY honors from the AJC should help put that stuff to bed as well.) Nolte's guru ratings are amazingly consistent; almost identical, in fact. Which is encouraging since they're so high.

Some fret about the redundancy here, since Nolte is so similar to Jesperson, and Will Regan and Joe Harris also have some overlap in their skill sets. There's much need for a point guard, of course, and this does mean that Bennett will have to be a little more judicious in choosing one. But if you're debating with yourself about whether it's a good thing to have so many of the same kind of player on the team, stop it. It's a good thing to have talent, and Nolte's the kind you just don't turn down. You can never have too many shooters, anyway. Nobody ever said they wanted fewer guys on the court that can shoot. By the time Nolte arrives there should be enough bigs in the program that he won't have to slide down and play the four, the way Joe Harris has had to at times, so a pair of 6'7" small forwards - not to mention the 6'6" Harris at the two - means this will be a big lineup. Other than Jontel Evans, the 2012-2013 lineup currently features nobody smaller than 6'4". That may change depending on the PG situation, but still. UVA will be rolling out some big teams with a lot of shooting range.

There are still two scholarships for the 2012 class if Bennett wants to use 'em. One might go to a transfer player (who would join the team on the court for the 2012-2013 season), and the other, if used, to a point guard. The question is how much Bennett likes the 2013 recruiting class, because if both available 2012 slots are taken then there's room for just one in that class since Jontel Evans is the only senior that year. I lean toward thinking that the most likely course of action is to take a transfer and no more 2012 freshmen, but it all depends on Bennett's evaluations of the available players. Still very much up in the air.

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