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Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett announced Wednesday that guard Taylor Barnette has applied for a transfer and All-ACC pick Akil Mitchell has a broken hand.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Just when Virginia thought it had some positive men’s basketball developments to present, a Wednesday teleconference turned into a forum for head coach Tony Bennett to discuss his latest player defection.
Earlier in the day, UVa had announced that Taylor Barnette had requested a release from his scholarship after playing in 25 games last season as a freshman.
On top of that, Bennett confirmed that third-team All-ACC selection Akil Mitchell had suffered a broken hand and will be sidelined four to six weeks.
Joe Harris , a first-team All-ACC selection, earlier had withdrawn from United States trials for the World University Games after he was found to have a stress reaction in his left foot.
“I feel bad because I wanted Joe to have that opportunity in the worst way,” Bennett said. “I think he would have had a good crack to make that team, but these guys are going into their last year.
“When they’re injured like that [and] it’s nothing serious, it gives them a chance to refresh their bodies. As long as there aren’t any complications, which we don’t expect, they’ll be ready to go in plenty of time.”
Bennett was caught off guard by Barnette’s decision, which marks the second time in just over a year that he has asked for a release.
Barnette, a 6-foot-3 guard from Lexington, Ky., signed with Central Florida in the fall of 2011 but gained a release that allowed him to play immediately at Virginia.
Barnette’s older sister plays for the UVa women’s team.
“I was kind of surprised,” said Bennett, who earlier this spring had given a release to Paul Jesperson, who had started 33 games. “You’re surprised [but] never shocked in this day and age of transfers.
“He wanted a bigger role in the future.”
Barnette mostly played on the wing but was the starting point guard in UVa’s opener at George Mason, where an injury kept Jontel Evans out of uniform.
Barnette later had two stretches when he did not play in three straight games. In his most memorable outing, he sparked a late-game surge in Virginia’s 68-50 victory over St. John’s in the NIT, scoring 13 points in 13 minutes.
He had three 3-pointers in games against Georgia Tech and St. John’s and his 43.2-percent 3-point shooting was the highest on the team among players with 20 or more attempts.
“I didn’t see [the transfer] coming at all,” said Mike Tobey, Barnette’s fellow 2011-2012 signee. “It was a big surprise. When he told me, I was like, ‘Wow.’ I still don’t think it’s fully hit me because he’s still around. We’re still hanging out. It’s crazy.
“I think he’s had some battles with it. If he’s happy with it, I’m happy with it.”
Tobey returned this week from the Under-19 World Championships, captured by the United States for only the third time in the past 25 years.
Tobey (7 feet, 250 pounds) averaged 4.8 points and 4.8 rebounds, highlighted by a 10-point outing in a 101-67 quarterfinal win over Canada.
“He was anywhere from the 10th, 11th to 12th guy,” said Bennett, one of the assistants to head coach Billy Donovan. “We were so deep and we routed most of the teams, but he did get some good opportunities and he was productive when he was in there.
“He gained a lot from the practices, banging against Darnell Stokes, Jahlil Okafor and Montrezl Harrell. I think it gave him confidence to make that team. In a way, it’s humbling because you can’t get much time, but nobody got huge minutes.”
Bennett cut short his news conference to leave town on a recruiting trip. The Cavaliers have four scholarships to offer after the loss of Barnette, who becomes the eighth player to transfer since Bennett’s arrival April 1, 2009. Six have left since Feb. 3, 2011.
“Guys being the ninth, 10th or 11th guy and being patient and waiting are harder to come by,” Bennett said. “It’s not just here. It’s everywhere. It’s more of the immediate gratification of society nowadays. You hate that.”
Bennett said one of the reasons he came to Virginia was the opportunity to coach at a school where a degree could be an overriding factor.
“You want guys to dream of playing professionally but sometimes that’s not the way it’s going be,” Bennett said. “That’s not a specific indictment of all the guys who transferred from Virginia. It happened for me. I thought I was going to play forever but I got hurt and [Bennett’s career] got cut short.”
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