By Jerry Ratcliffe
On the first day of the fall recruiting period, Virginia basketball finally got some good news.
After losing out on some of its top targets for the recruiting class of 2023, there could be some salvation in 4-star combo guard Elijah Gertrude of Jersey City, NJ Gertrude narrowed his list to five schools about a month ago, and according to at least two of the major national recruiting services, UVA is a lock to land the 6-foot-3 guard.
Rivals gave Virginia a 100-percent chance of getting a commitment from Gertrude when he announces later this month. Meanwhile, On3 consensus gave UVA a 91-percent chance of a commitment and only 2.7-percent chance by its nearest pursuer, Seton Hall, which is only 12 miles from Gertrude’s home. Gertrude is supposed to visit “The Hall” next week. Also, 247Sports said its Crystal Ball has a solid prediction that Gertrude will become a Cavalier.
Former Virginia guard Doug Smith, who lives in Jersey City and has watched the Hudson Catholic combo guard a lot over the past couple of years, told us, “We have not seen a player at UVA like Gertrude in the Tony Bennett era.”
Smith said Gertrude is “crazy athletic, just an elite athlete that is starting to come into his own and still doesn’t totally know who he is as a player and will need that guidance at the next level.”
Certainly, Bennett and his staff have proven abilities in helping players define their positions and roles in addition to developing their skills to the optimum.
“Elijah does really hard things very easily,” Smith said. “He’s very Justin Anderson-like at a young age, I’m talking eye-opening raw athleticism.”
Smith’s comparison to Anderson’s athletic ability is impressive because Anderson was one of the most athletic players in Virginia history, a player who improved every season he was in the program.
Last summer, playing for the EYBL circuit for City Rocks (NY), Gertrude averaged 11.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting 55 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc.
Gertrude watched Virginia a lot growing up and described getting an offer from the Cavaliers as “amazing.” A player who takes pride in his defense, he loves UVA’s style of play and believes he can fit in well because he can guard both the 1 and 2 spots, and a little at 3, depending on the physical matchup.
Meanwhile, Gertrude has spent the summer working on improving his jump shot, thanks to some tips from Bennett.
On3’s consensus has Gertrude rated the No. 14 combo guard in the nation, No. 6 overall in Jersey, while Rivals has him the No. 12 combo guard in the country and No. 7 in his state.
Meanwhile, also on this first day of fall recruiting for college basketball, Bennett is in Raleigh to take a look at 2023 shooting guard Davin Cosby Jr., a 4-star who is from Richmond, but plays at Raleigh’s Word of God Christian Academy.
Bennett’s not alone. Tennessee’s Rick Barnes and Alabama’s Nate Oats are also in town, along with Wake Forest for a look-see. Cosby (6-5, 190) made an official visit to Tuscaloosa last weekend. He visited UVA in late August and has an official visit set at LSU on Oct. 22.
He recently cut his list to seven: UVA, ‘Bama, Tennessee, Wake, LSU, Auburn and NC State.
Virginia fans will remember Cosby for saying last month, “Tony Bennett wants me to come in and be that dawg.” He described UVA as his hometown team.
On3 consensus rates him the No. 96 overall recruit in the nation, the No. 21 shooting guard and the No. 5 prospect in the state of North Carolina.
Virginia also reportedly was in DC today to take a look at Class of 2025 point guard prospect Nyk Lewis of Gonzaga Prep. He’s a 6-foot, 175-pound point guard who was also being watched Friday by George Mason, ODU and Howard (see UVA recruiting chart below).