San Diego State’s Saunders visiting UVA this weekend

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: SDSU Athletics

The upcoming weekend will be a busy one for former San Diego State transfer Elijah Saunders, who is visiting both the Washington Huskies and Virginia.

Saunders will stop at Washington on Friday and Saturday before flying to the East Coast for a two-day official visit at Virginia on Sunday and Monday. He will also make a stop at Clemson on Tuesday and Wednesday before returning home.

With two years of eligibility remaining, the 6-foot-8, stretch-4 standout Saunders is looking for a new program after having appeared in 53 games for the Aztecs, going from starter to a reserve role late in the season by Coach Brian Dutcher.

Apparently, San Diego State was stunned with Saunders’ request to transfer, particularly after four-year standout Lamont Butler accepted a six-figure deal to transfer to Kentucky. Saunders was a freshman contributor on the team when the Aztecs made it to the Final Four, and was projected to return to a starting job next season.

He started 21 games before Dutcher sensed the pressure on his sophomore and moved him to a bench position. Saunders was understanding, even relieved by the switch, noting that he had struggled the month of January as a starter. His statistics beared that out.

As a starter last season, Saunders averaged 6.0 points per game and shot 40.4 percent from the field, 29 percent from the 3-point arc. Coming off the bench for the last 16 games of the season, he averaged 6.4 points, and made 44 percent of his field goals overall and 35.6 percent of his shots from the arc.

Saunders has also been contacted by Ohio State, Texas, Miami, Arizona, West Virginia and Arizona State.

“He’s growing,” Dutcher said in February about Saunders’ development. “I can close my eyes and imagine what he’s going to be as a junior and then a senior. He’s on the right path.”