Virginia got their man. The Cavaliers scouted Durham (N.C.) Voyager forward Jay Huff aggressively during the 2014-15 season, and their early work and continued persistence paid off in a commitment on Thursday evening.
Huff, a 6-10, 185-pound forward, committed to Virginia over interest from multiple high-major programs, but it was the Cavaliers who leapt in with an offer. Duke, Notre Dame, Wake Forest and others scouted Huff this past season, but UVa was willing to delay gratification in order to acquire a player who fits the program’s system almost perfectly.
"We’re really excited about Jay’s decision," Huff's father, Mike Huff — who's also Voyager's coach — told Scout. "They were the first big school that came after him, but more than that, it was the way they went about it. He’s developed a really strong relationship with Coach Bennett and Coach (Ron) Sanchez.
"There’s a lot of schools out there, but he knew in his heart that if they offered there was a very good chance he would go there."
The Cavaliers indeed did offer last week and, rather than entertain a needlessly long courtship, the top-100 big man opted to go ahead and pull the trigger.
The delayed gratification, as indicated by Huff's height and weight above, is that Huff may need several years to develop legitimate college weight. He’s extremely thin and lacks the ability to hold his own physically versus the average post player, including Edrice Adebayo in this past season’s playoffs. While Huff enjoyed early success in that season-ending defeat, he ultimately succumbed to Adebayo’s power and fouled out in limited action.
But his upside is clear. Huff is a very skilled face-up forward who wields a smooth and accurate set shot with easy three-point range. While not explosive, he creates his own offense as well thanks to superb coordination and the ability to drive and pass like a smaller player.
And he and his family understand that he's playing the long game.
"I don't see Jay as one of these guys who steps right in and dominates," Mike Huff said. "He wanted to go to Virginia for four or maybe even five years. Virginia's program is about team and he wanted to be a part of that."
Irrespective of whether he redshirts his freshman season and even given all of his offensive abilities, Huff surprises with his defensive timing as well. He's an ace shotblocker and general defensive menace whose talents should shine even further once he gains his adult male weight. So, while Cavalier fans perhaps should not expect much early, he could make a huge jump as his career in Charlottesville progresses.
Huff gives Virginia four commitments already from the Class of 2016. He joins guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome along with forward Sacha Killeya-Jones — like Huff, a North Carolina native — and offers further proof that the Cavaliers are on their way toward becoming a consistently elite program within the ACC.