With Akil Mitchell entering his senior season, the Virginia Cavaliers could have used another front court body in their 2014 recruiting class. On Wednesday the Cavaliers accomplished that task, as 6-foot-10 power forward Jack Salt verbally committed to attend the ACC school according to Evan Daniels of Scout.com.
Salt, a native of New Zealand, was called up by the New Zealand Breakers earlier this month as the team was dealing with injuries to a couple of its key interior contributors (Salt isn’t expected to play much during the regular season, so as to preserve his college eligibility). And Salt, who is also a standout volleyball player, performed well during his stint with the Breakers. Apparently the team was hopeful that Salt would sign on to play professionally, but ultimately his desire to play college basketball won out.
“It was a really tough decision, as the Breakers have done so much for me, and [New Zealand Breakers academy coach] Judd Flavell has helped me out so much. It took me a long time but I decided it would be best for me to go to college,” said Salt before his [New Zealand national team] debut in July.
The left-handed Salt played last season with the Super City Rangers, averaging 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Salt’s experience at the international level for New Zealand could end up benefitting Virginia when he arrives in Charlottesville next year. With Salt now on board head coach Tony Bennett, who played professionally in New Zealand for North Harbor of the Kiwi National Basketball League, has a four-man rotation at the power forward and center positions.
Darion Atkins (4.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and Mike Tobey (6.8, 2.9) were contributors on last season’s team, and in Tobey’s case he gained valuable experience playing with the United States Under-19 team at the U-19 World Championships this past summer. Add in South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill (7.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg in 2011-12), who is eligible after sitting out the 2012-13 campaign per NCAA transfer rules, and the Cavaliers should have a solid interior group to work with in 2014-15.