Wednesday, April 23, 2014

the recruit: Marial Shayok

Name: Marial Shayok
Position: SF
Hometown: Ottawa, ON
School: Blair Academy (NJ)
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 205

24/7: 89, three stars; #30 SG, NJ #4, US #119
ESPN: 79, three stars; #33 SF, NJ #2
Rivals: three stars
Scout: three stars

Other offers: Marquette, Michigan, Indiana, Boston College, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Providence, Seton Hall, Georgia, La Salle, Rutgers

Marquette fans must be hating the state of Virginia right now.  Their coach departed for VT and took two of their four-man recruiting class with him (and those two instantly became far and away the top two players in VT's incoming class), and UVa became the beneficiary of that choice as well just last night when Marial Shayok flipped to Tony Bennett.

Shayok was a player UVa had pursued heavily last year, in the normal recruiting cycle for 2014 players, and the Hoos essentially finished as the runner-up, so they were a natural contender when Shayok got his release from Marquette.  UVa already had commitments from all three of the other class members when Shayok committed to Marquette, so this is something they'd've done even without the news of Teven Jones transferring; Shayok was a guy they wanted, period.

Quite a few other folks did, too.  The actual complement of Shayok's offer list is fuzzy; various credible sources list schools like Kansas State, Villanova, St. Louis, without any backup from one another; the ones above have multiple sources.  After Shayok's decommitment from Marquette, UVa's competition came from Michigan and Indiana mainly (as well as Marquette again) but UVa seems to be the only place he seriously looked.

A native Canadian, Shayok played his junior and senior years of high school ball at Blair Academy in New Jersey, a noted talent magnet.  Several of his teammates are also headed to D-I schools, either this summer or in the future, and the place is also known for producing NBAers Luol Deng and Charlie Villanueva - and UVa center Mike Tobey.  Shayok arrived there too late to be a teammate of his, though.

At Blair, Shayok was asked to play a huge variety of roles, and he prides himself on his versatility.  He probably won't be playing a lot of point guard at UVa, but he can do most things you ask of a wing and a stretch four.  His shooting is usually mentioned as a weak point of his game, but various descriptions of his strengths combine to give the impression of a player who thrives on constant motion, whether with or without the ball.  He's got that wingspan that coaches are real big on - it's been talked about as anywhere from seven feet to seven-two - and ESPN calls him a college-ready defender right now and others say his potential as a defender is almost limitless.  You can guess what Tony Bennett likes about him.

It's Shayok's versatility - and his bloodline - that make him difficult to project.  If you ever watched Michigan this year (I might have caught a game or two) and saw Glenn Robinson III play, that's the best comparison I can think of; Robinson only ever knocked down a three if it was wide open, but he could do remarkable things with the ball, was an outstanding finisher, and was asked to guard positions two through four (though he wasn't especially suited to the latter.)  Shayok sounds much like a poor man's Robinson in terms of athleticism and abilities on offense, and better on defense.

He's also coming from a basketball-playing family, the respective sizes of which lead some to believe he's not finished growing and could fill out into a true four.  Right now he's a big shooting guard, or a biggish wing, or a skinny-as-hell power forward, but another couple inches and 20-25 pounds (he'll probably put on the weight regardless) and he'll look an awful lot like Akil Mitchell.

Right now we'll call him a three, as he draws a few comparisons to Justin Anderson as well.  However, it's become clear that versatility is one of Tony Bennett's priorities.  I think this is only partly a system thing - that is, an on-court system thing.  I think Tony looks for players who don't fit a positional mold, because really talented players who do fit tend to be fought over by the big-name programs.  Tweeners often get looked at for what they can't do, so a smart guy like Tony figures he'll take them for what they can do and mix and match the combos to cover for the things they can't.  Thus you end up with our roster, which has a bunch of guys more aptly described as 1.5s (Brogdon), 2.5s (Harris), and 3.5s (Nolte) rather than 1s, 2s, and 3s.  Well, that's Shayok, too; whether he's a 2.5 or a 3.5 will depend on where his growth settles down.

This season, there'll now be an even fiercer competition for court time; Shayok is going to join Devon Hall and B.J. Stith as new contenders for Joe Harris's minutes, with Justin Anderson in the mix for more of a role as well and Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes already looming as 30-minute players.  The freshman class got fat all of a sudden, with the late addition and Hall's redshirt; there are now five each in the freshman and junior classes, which presents a recruiting challenge down the road.  There are two 2014 players - Devonte Graham and Sviatoslav Mikhailiuk - that Tony is in hot pursuit of, not really caring that it'll create a six-man class again, but if neither goes with UVa then it leaves two spots in the 2015 class.  Tony would likely try and fill both if for no other reason than to try and spread things out.  The hot competition for minutes might well mean a redshirt for someone, too, and by the way there's no reason it necessarily won't be Shayok.  You know how things are with Tony: it depends on how you defend.  In any case, though, it ought to be a really interesting subplot for next year's preseason.

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