This spring, two things have become crystal clear in terms of Virginia coach Tony Bennett’s recruiting philosophy.
1) You can never have enough versatile, playmaking guards.
2) Transfers are inevitable, and you may as well use all 13 of your scholarships — especially if there aren’t a lot of players you’re salivating over in the next season’s recruiting crop.
Late Tuesday night, Virginia picked up its second player of the spring signing period, landing Darius Thompson, a transfer from Tennessee.
Thompson, who couldn’t be reached for comment, is a 6-foot-5 combo guard who led the Vols in steals and was second in assists last season.
The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native will have to sit out this season, per NCAA transfer rules, and then will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Virginia is now extremely deep at the guard/wing position. When Thompson becomes eligible for the 2015-16 season, Malcolm Brogdon will be a senior, London Perrantes will be a junior and Devon Hall, B.J. Stith and Marial Shayok will all be sophomores.
Throughout the offseason, Bennett seemed intent on using his last scholarship. Previously, he offered it to former Maryland guard Seth Allen, former Appalachian State commit Devonte Graham (a guard) and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, a 16-year-old from the Ukraine who committed to Kansas on Wednesday.
Mykhailiuk is considered an NBA prospect and probably wouldn’t have stayed in college longer than two years, so, in that vein, Thompson might be the better fit.
Last season, Thompson averaged 2.6 points, 2.4 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per game (mostly as a backup point guard). Thompson shot 38 percent from the field, 20 percent from 3-point range (8 of 41) and 74 percent from the foul line.
No doubt, one of the things Bennett liked about Thompson — a player he recruited hard coming out of high school — was his 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Also, at 6-foot-5, Thompson gives Virginia even more size at the point and makes a tall team even taller. Essentially, Thompson takes the place of 6-foot point guard Teven Jones (who left the program in April). If you don't count Perrantes, UVa doesn't have a player shorter than 6-foot-5 on its roster.
In addition, almost every player on Virginia's roster is capable of playing multiple positions.
Thompson started 10 games last season for Tennessee, which went 24-13 before losing to Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen.
In the Vols’ demolition of Virginia in Knoxville last December, he had two points, two assists and no turnovers in 13 minutes off the bench. Thompson scored a career-high 16 points against Wake Forest.
Thompson elected to leave Tennessee after former Vols coach Counzo Martin left to become the coach at Cal. Tennessee has since hired former Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall.
Thompson, who was majoring in accounting, chose Tennessee over Alabama, Auburn, Butler, N.C. State, Vanderbilt and UVa coming out of high school. His father, Lonnie, played basketball at Middle Tennessee State and is currently the coach at Cumberland University, an NAIA college in Tennessee.
Tyra Jones, the mother of former Virginia guard Teven Jones, told the The Daily Progress that her son is no longer planning on attending Appalachian State and is open to offers from other Division I schools. Teven Jones couldn’t be reached for comment.