4-star power forward Kaufman keeps Virginia in top-5 list after visit

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Trey Kaufman (Photo: indystar.com)

After visiting ACC powerhouses Virginia and North Carolina over the weekend, high-profile power forward Trey Kaufman announced a top-5 list of schools on Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-8, 210-pound, 4-star from Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg, Ind., said his choices have come down to Indiana, Virginia, Purdue, North Carolina and Indiana State.

In other UVA basketball recruiting news, 5-star target Trevor Keels is expected to reveal his top three schools on Instagram Wednesday evening (his current list consists of the Cavaliers, UNC, Duke, Louisville, Villanova, Michigan and Ohio State).

Kaufman and his mom toured UVA’s campus late last week, then drove from Charlottesville to Chapel Hill to take a look around UNC. Because it is a recruiting dead period, the blue-chip prospect and his mother were not allowed to contact coaches during their visits to either school.

While both ACC schools got in late on Kaufman’s recruitment, both have attempted to make up ground via numerous Zoom video chats.

UVA’s approach has been comprehensive but focused on one particular aspect that has definitely caught Kaufman’s attention: a comparison to former Wahoo power forward De’Andre Hunter.

“They had a guy like De’Andre Hunter, who’s in the NBA and guaranteed multiple millions of dollars,” Kaufman told Tyler Tachman of Inside the Hall, which covers Indiana Hoosiers basketball. “The fact that [Hunter] was part of their team, a large part of their team and why they won a national championship.

“They say they see a lot of [Hunter] in me. Obviously, you don’t want to put a box over yourself, but at the same time when you have a player that similar to you and is developed and got to the next level, they think they can do the same with me.”

Hunter was a complete player for Tony Bennett, starting all 38 games of the 2018-19 national championship season and averaging 15.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 52 percent from the field and 44 percent from the 3-point line. He was also a defensive stopper that shut down several high-scoring opponents.

Kaufman said he isn’t planning any further visits because his high school practices begin this week and he doesn’t want to be distracted. There is no timetable for his final choice, but the signing period is fast approaching in November.

 

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He has, however, come up with a winning formula in making a choice, as he and his family will weigh several factors among his five finalists.

“I think that the relationships with the coaches as well as the players [are one factor],” Kaufman said. “[The coaching staff’s] ability to develop me being an NBA player. How much playing time I would get, and how much they’re going to win. I think those four things are the big four.”

All four of those factors certainly keep Virginia in the running. Bennett is considered by many as the best college coach in the country and has a solid staff, including strength and conditioning coach Mike Curtis. Bennett has gained a reputation for developing players and has sent several of his players to the NBA, including three off of the national title team: Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy, who was a former “Mr. Basketball” in the state of Indiana.

Ask any former UVA player over the past 11 years about their relationship with Bennett and there will be a consensus of how much they treasured their time under Bennett’s tutelage, and how they still keep in touch with the Virginia basketball family.

Certainly, playing time under Bennett is earned, but a player compared to Hunter shouldn’t have any issues in gaining plenty of court time.

Winning?

Consider that over the past seven seasons, Virginia owns the second-highest winning percentage in major college basketball: 1) Villanova 215-38; 2) Virginia 201-43; 3) Kentucky 207-51; 4) Kansas 201-50; 5) Duke 200-53.

Development?

Also consider that during those seven seasons, Kentucky’s roster has been sprinkled with 34 5-star recruits, while Duke has had 25 and Kansas 11. Virginia and Villanova have had one each.

Some recruiting analysts have predicted that Kaufman is a shoo-in to go to Indiana because Archie Miller has made him a priority recruit, that he’s from Indiana, and that the Hoosiers were on him early.

Kaufman said that’s not necessarily the case during his interview with Inside the Hall.

“Just the fact that [all five schools] are so close (in terms of what the schools offer),” Kaufman said. “Me and my family have been talking and I’ve given them the pros and cons of each school in the top 5 and they really can’t make a decision, knowing that they’re all so close, but I think these five are definitely ahead of the others.

“You wake up every day and you have a different team that you could see yourself [with], and see the pros of this team. There’s not one team that’s in the lead but I think these five teams, every other day I’ll switch and say, ‘Oh, maybe I want to go to this team, or maybe I want to go to that team.’”

Ranked the No. 55 overall prospect in the country by 247Sports (and No. 2 in the state of Indiana), Kaufman averaged 25.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game as a junior for Silver Creek, which compiled a 25-2 record in an incomplete season due to Covid-19.

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