Redshirt junior guard Darius Thompson has decided to leave the Virginia men’s basketball program, the third Cavaliers player in two days to transfer. Thompson joins junior guard Marial Shayok and sophomore forward Jarred Reuter, who announced Wednesday that they would be transferring.
“Darius Thompson informed me he has decided to play his final season at another school following his graduation from Virginia,” Cavaliers Coach Tony Bennett said in a statement released by the school. “Although you never want to see young men transfer, I understand this is part of coaching. Darius, Marial, and Jarred feel it’s in their best interests to pursue other options for the remainder of their college careers. I will always appreciate the contributions they made to our program …
“I know Darius, Marial and Jarred have been served well and have also been part of a winning culture during their time at U-Va. As we look forward, we have a strong nucleus of players returning and I’m excited for their continued development. As a staff, we are focused on finding student-athletes who want to be a part of this program and all the University of Virginia has to offer.”
Thompson, originally a transfer from Tennessee, averaged 20.8 minutes in 33 games including 15 starts this season and averaged 6.2 points per game. He started 25 games in total in his two years in Charlottesville and likely would not see an increased role during his senior year, given that the core of players expected to return includes guards Devon Hall, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome.
Thompson’s decision frees up a fourth scholarship for Virginia to use on the transfer market or carry into next season.
The Cavaliers are now left with six scholarship players who have ever seen action in a college game: Forward Isaiah Wilkins, center Jack Salt and forward Mamadi Diakite join Hall, Guy and Jerome. Forward Jay Huff and guard De’Andre Hunter both sat out the 2016-17 season, their freshman year, and incoming freshman Marco Anthony flesh out a thin roster heading into spring.
Bennett and his staff now must make the most of this off-season recruiting period with two priorities in mind. Most pressing is the need for an interior presence after Bennett dismissed Austin Nichols from the program in November, but another shot creator who can work the perimeter like point guard London Perrantes did is a close second.