By Jerry Ratcliffe
On the first day of the fall enlistment period, Virginia basketball finally received some good news.
After losing some of his main targets for the 2023 enlistment class, there could be some salvage in 4-star combo guard Elijah Gertrude of Jersey City, NJ Gertrude narrowed his list to five schools about a month ago, and according to at least two of the National Home Recruitment, UVA is a 6-foot-3 guard landing padlock.
Competitors gave Virginia a 100 percent chance of getting a commitment from Gertrude when he announced later this month. Meanwhile, the On3 UVA consensus gave a 91 percent chance of commitment and only a 2.7 percent chance by its nearest stalker, Seton Hall, located just 12 miles from Gertrude’s home. Gertrude is supposed to visit The Hall next week. Also, 247Sports said the Crystal Ball has a strong prediction that Gertrude will become a knight.
“We’ve never seen a UVA player like Gertrude in the Tony Bennett era,” former Virginia goalkeeper Doug Smith, who lives in Jersey City and has watched the Catholic Combo Hudson’s guard frequently over the past two years, told us.
Smith said Gertrude is “a crazy athlete, just an elite athlete who’s starting to come into his own and still doesn’t quite know who he is as a player and will need that mentoring at the next level.”
Certainly, Bennett and his staff have proven their abilities in helping players define their positions and roles as well as develop their skills to the optimum level.
“Elijah does really difficult things very easily,” Smith said. “He’s very similar to Justin Anderson at such a young age, and I’m talking about eye-opening blazing sports.”
Smith’s comparison of Anderson’s athletic ability is impressive because Anderson was one of the most athletic players in Virginia history, a player who is getting better every season he’s on the program.
Last summer, Gertrude played at EYBL for City Rocks (New York), averaging 11.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting 55 percent from the field and 43 percent from outside the arc.
She watched Gertrude Virginia a lot growing up and described getting an offer from the Cavaliers “amazing”. A player who takes pride in his defence, loves UVA’s style of play and thinks he can fit in well because he can protect both points 1 and 2, and a little at 3, depending on the physical match.
Meanwhile, Gertrude has spent the summer working on improving his jump shot thanks to some tips from Bennett.
On3 consensus made Gertrude rank the No. 14 combo guard in the nation, No. 6 overall in Jersey, while the Rivals made him the No. 12 combo guard in the state and No. 7 in his state.
Meanwhile, also on this first day of fall to enlist in college basketball, Bennett was in Raleigh to catch a glimpse of 2023 shooting guard Davin Cosby Jr., a 4-star from Richmond but playing for the Rally World Academy of God’s Christian .
Bennett is not alone. There’s also Rick Barnes of Tennessee and Alabama oats in Alabama, along with Wake Forest for views. Cosby (6-5, 190) made an official visit to Tuscaloosa last weekend. He visited UVA in late August and made an official visit at LSU on October 22nd.
He recently cut his list down to seven: UVA, ‘Bama, Tennessee, Wake, LSU, Auburn, and NC State.
Virginia Cosby fans will remember him saying last month, “Tony Bennett wants me to come and be.” He described UVA as his hometown team.
The On3 consensus ranked him as the 96th Rookie in the Nation, the 21st Shooting Ranger and the No. 5 potential in North Carolina.
Virginia was also reportedly in the capital today to catch a glimpse of 2025 point guard Detective Nick Lewis of Gonzaga Prep. He’s a 6-foot-1, 175-pound Ranger who was also watched on Friday by George Mason, ODU, and Howard (see UVA recruitment chart below).