6 Things To Know About the UVA Basketball Teams This Season

November 3, 2023 By Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu

Basketball season is back on Grounds.

The University of Virginia men’s team tips off the season on Monday at 7 p.m. when it hosts Tarleton State University at John Paul Jones Arena. JPJ will also be the site of the women’s team’s opener against the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Both programs are coming off seasons of accomplishment. Coach Tony Bennett’s Wahoos won a share of the men’s Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championship for the sixth time in a decade. Women’s coach Amaka “Mox” Agugua-Hamilton, last December, had the Hoos ranked in the UVA Today Coaches’ Poll for the first time since 2010.

Optimism abounds for 2023-24 as both teams return key players and welcome exciting new additions.

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Here are three things to know about both teams:


Year 15

While it might seem hard to believe, Bennett is entering his 15th season at UVA, making him the second-longest-tenured coach in the ACC.

Last season, the 54-year-old passed the late Terry Holland as the all-time winningest coach in Cavalier history. Bennett is now 341-125 at Virginia, with nine NCAA Tournament appearances and the 2018-19 national championship.

With 14 wins this season, he’ll pass Georgia Tech’s Bobby Cremins for the sixth-most victories ever by an ACC coach.

Return of Reece

Perhaps the best news Bennett received all offseason came last May when Reece Beekman, his three-year starting guard, announced he was withdrawing from the NBA Draft process and returning to UVA for his senior season.

Beekman is the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year and is a preseason All-ACC pick for this season. He enters 63 steals away from becoming UVA’s all-time leader in the category.

With the departure of his longtime backcourt mate, Kihei Clark, Beekman is being counted on as the team’s leader.

Faces New and Old

Beekman is one of just three returning Cavalier players who logged more than 10 minutes per game last season, joining sophomores Isaac McKneeley and Ryan Dunn.

The rest of the roster is highlighted by new scholarship players, including transfers Jake Groves (from the University of Oklahoma), Dante Harris (Georgetown University), Jordan Minor (Merrimack College) and Andrew Rohde (University of St. Thomas), and incoming freshmen Blake Buchanan, Elijah Gertrude and Anthony Robinson.

247Sports ranked both UVA’s transfer class and freshman class among the top 25 in the country.

Helping Bennett lead all these new faces is an old friend of the program. Ron Sanchez, a Wahoo assistant coach from 2009 to 2018, is back in that position after serving as the head coach at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte for five seasons.

UVA Women

Buzzing into Year 2

Agugua-Hamilton, who was hired by UVA in March 2022 after an impressive run at Missouri State University, improved the Cavaliers by 10 wins from their previous season.

As she approaches her second season in Charlottesville, there’s a noticeable buzz around the program, as season ticket sales are trending in a direction that hasn’t been visited in a while.

In UVA’s home finale last season against Duke University, the Cavaliers drew a crowd of 6,378 to JPJ, making it the third most-attended game since 2011.

Local Stars

In addition to the improved play, the program’s rise in popularity is a credit to Agugua-Hamilton’s successful courting of talented local players.

Senior forward Sam Brunelle, who transferred to UVA from Notre Dame before last season, was a McDonald’s All-American player at William Monroe High School in Greene County. Freshman guard Kymora Johnson also earned All-American honors in high school at nearby St. Anne’s-Belfield. And freshman guard and Louisa County product Olivia McGhee earned Central Virginia Player of the Year honors from The Daily Progress in 2021.

“They understand what it means to put that Virginia on your chest,” Agugua-Hamilton said. “I say that a lot, but there’s some power to that and they know where this program has been, they understand where we’re trying to get it to go, and where we are currently going.”

Taylor Leads Returnees

The Cavaliers, who finished 15-15 last season, return four starting players, including senior forward Camryn Taylor.

Taylor, who came to UVA in 2021 after two seasons at Marquette University, earned second-team All-ACC honors last season after leading the Cavaliers in scoring (13.9 points per game) and rebounding (6.3 rebounds per game).

Knowing Taylor’s story makes her easy to root for. After losing her mother to cancer two years ago, Taylor took a break from basketball before returning in an inspiring way last season.

“I’m doing great now,” she recently told UVA’s Jeff White on a Wahoo Central Podcast. “I’m in a good mental space. Life still happens, we’re still human beings, we still go through things, so there are things I go through in my personal life, but at the end of the day, I feel like I’m stronger. I’m mentally tougher.”

Taylor said she’s intentional about honoring her mom by “doing everything out of love and being a hard worker.”

Media Contact

Andrew Ramspacher

University News Associate University Communications