Tony Bennett and Virginia in their home with the class of 2023

Wednesday afternoonTony Bennett And Virginia got a commitment from a four-star shooting guard Elijah Gertrude.

Gertrude joins her fellow four-star Blake Buchanan In the 2023 Cavaliers Recruitment Class and while there are only two members to date, the class is an example of Bennett and his outstanding staff of Jason Williford, Orlando Vandross and Kyle Jeter working to the highest levels on the recruitment front.

Gertrude, a 6-foot-4 senior at Jersey City (NJ) Hudson Catholics, ranked No. 36 of 247Sports. Ranked 67th overall, Buchanan’s is a 6-foot-9 post from Coeur D Alene (Idaho) Lake City.

Now, there may be someone reading this and asking themselves why this is an example of working at the highest level in recruitment? It’s a fair question. It’s not as though Virginia is the only school to have two highly-rated players from the 2023 class. In fact, Gertrude’s addition places UVA at No. 17 according to the 247Sports Composite team ranking. This is a very good class, but not necessarily earth-shattering.

Peel the layers back, though, and you’ll have a greater understanding of what makes this class a perfect example of Bennett and his staff doing what they do best.

Bennett and his staff went to see Buchanan several times during his junior season. Think about it, they spotted a player from Idaho and were the only major program to get into. There were no Pac 12 programs hitting Buchanan’s door, Gonzaga only intervened late and Buchanan broke the national game. Ranking up even after Bennett and his crew made it a priority. Sure, Bennett has ties and connections in the Northwest since his days in Washington State. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Virginia shouldn’t have found Buchanan first. Others—even those in his backyard—knew about Buchanan, but it was Bennett and his staff who did the work and would be rewarded for it.

Buchanan may not have much of an impact as a freshman (it wouldn’t be bad either) but in the long run he has a massive fit. It moves well, it has a great framework to build on, it has some touches and most importantly it’s destined to play in Charlottesville because it is so convinced of the show’s culture and values. Finding a kid like this locally is one thing, but smelling someone from the other side of the country is a real recruiting win.

Well, let’s take a look at the latest addition. While Gertrude now ranks in the top 40 nationally, he didn’t even have a profile on any national website at the start of the 2022 calendar year. Even in a hot spot like the New York/North Jersey area it was somehow flying under the radar. Spring hit and Gertrude began attracting fans for his athleticism, height, and ability to make jumpers from the depths. Do you know who was actually involved before Gertrude started showing up in the national rankings? You guessed it, Virginia.

Not only were they involved, but they had put Gertrude on the hook early on. Even before he received an offer, his enthusiasm about being recruited by Bennett and his staff was off the charts. This was a kid who did his homework on the show and as soon as they showed up, it was just to get everyone on board with Gertrude leaving the nest for college.

Like Buchanan, it remains to be seen how much Gertrude is willing to make a significant contribution as a new student. Especially considering its arrangement. However, make no mistake, he is a player with a lot of upside. In addition to his physical talents and shooting stroke, he can put the ball down, has an above average IQ and is still relatively new to high-level basketball.

Bennett and his staff built one of the best programs in the country and won the National Championship because of intelligence, culture, player development and an incredible ability to identify talents that fit all of their ideals. The 2023 class of Buchanan and Gertrude is a great example of this as Tony Bennett continues to do Tony Bennett’s things.

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