The Virginia men’s basketball team was selected by media members as the favorite to win the 2020-21 ACC men’s basketball championship on Wednesday.
It’s the first time since 1982-83 that the Cavaliers enter the season as the conference title favorite.
Sam Hauser, a Marquette transfer, earned a spot on the preseason All-ACC first team, and he received the second-most preseason Player of the Year votes. North Carolina’s Garrison Brooks won preseason Player of the Year honors.
Kihei Clark earned one vote for preseason Player of the Year and earned a spot on the preseason All-ACC second team. Freshman guard Reece Beekman earned three votes for preseason ACC Freshman of the Year.
This marks the first time in the Tony Bennett era that the Cavaliers are picked to win the league, even though Virginia has finished first in the conference standings four times during his tenure. UVa enters the 2020-21 season ranked No. 4 in the AP poll’s preseason top 25.
Bennett’s team returns a handful of key contributors from a team that went 23-7 overall and 15-5 in the ACC last year. After a rocky start to conference play, the Cavaliers won 11 of their final 12 games before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season. UVa ended the year on an eight-game winning streak.
Clark and Jay Huff headline the group of returners. Clark enters the year as one of the top point guards in the nation, while Huff possesses NBA potential at the center spot.
Bennett’s team features plenty of depth at guard with the addition of Beekman as well as the return of shooting guards Casey Morsell, Kody Stattmann and Tomas Woldetensae. At power forward and center, Justin McKoy and Francisco Caffaro are expected to log minutes.
Freshman Jabri Abdur-Rahim figures to compete for minutes at the guard and small forward spots. Leading the way at small forward is, of course, Hauser.
The Marquette transfer sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he’s familiar with UVa’s system from last season. At Marquette, he averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in 2018-19. He’s a 44.5% shooter from the 3-point line during his college career, and he shot an impressive 92.4% from the free-throw line in 2018-19.
Hauser and the Wahoos start their 2020-21 season on Nov. 25 against Maine.
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