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ZACK WAJSGRAS/THE DAILY PROGRESS Virginia's forward Francesco Badocchi (1) looks to shoot during an open practice at Colonial Life Arena on Thursday, a day before taking on Gardner-Webb in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Redshirt sophomore Francesco Badocchi is leaving the Virginia men’s basketball team due to personal reasons, the school announced Monday. Badocchi will remain enrolled at Virginia and complete his undergraduate degree, the school said.

“It is unfortunate that Frankie’s basketball career at UVa has ended prematurely,” Virginia basketball coach Tony Bennett said in a release. “We appreciate Frankie’s contributions to our program and wish him the best in the future.”

After redshirting the 2017-18 season, Badocchi appeared in 11 games last season for Virginia. His final appearance for the Cavaliers came in UVa’s 71-56 win over Gardner-Webb in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Badocchi provided one of the highlights of Virginia’s national championship celebration at Scott Stadium when he played “One Shining Moment” on the keyboard in front of the 20,000-plus fans in attendance. 

Badocchi wrote in a post on Instagram on Monday night that he will turn his focus to academics and his passion for music.

"To all of you who have supported me and followed me during my two years on the Virginia basketball team, it is with regret that I wish to inform you of my decision to not continue to be a part of the team this year," Badocchi wrote. "It was a very difficult decision to make after spending two incredible years with the team but I realize that I need more time to focus on my academic studies and pursue my passion for music which up until now I’ve had to sacrifice in order to dedicate my time almost exclusively to basketball.

"There aren’t enough words to thank Coach Bennett, the coaching staff, the technical and medical staff, the fans and my teammates who have helped make these two years such an incredible experience. I will continue my studies at the University of Virginia in economics and music and will always be supporting the Cavaliers!! Go Hoos!"

A native of Milan, Italy, Badocchi came to the United States to play high school basketball. He was a two-year letterwinner for head coach Rick Zych at Bishop Miege High School in Mission, Kansas. The program went 44-6 and won two state championships during Badocchi’s two seasons. During his senior season of high school, Badocchi averaged 13.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game and earned state tournament MVP honors after scoring 21 points in the state final.

Badocchi’s departure gives the Cavaliers an open scholarship to fill. According to 247sports, Bennett and his staff recently hosted small forward Jordan Geronimo. The 6-foot-6, 195-pounder is a four-star recruit who holds offers from numerous programs, including Boston College, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Penn State, Texas A&M, Utah, VCU and Virginia Tech, per 247sports.

The Cavaliers also were recruiting Richmond forward Henry Coleman prior to filling their 2020 scholarship allotment. Following the commitment of Jabri Abdur-Rahim, which filled Virginia’s scholarship allotment for the 2020 class, Coleman announced that he is still considering Duke, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Ohio State and N.C. State. Whether Coleman would add the Cavaliers to his list of finalists now that they have another open scholarship wasn’t immediately clear.

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John Shifflett is The Daily Progress sports editor. You can contact him at (434) 978-7250, jshifflett2@dailyprogress.com, or @John_Shifflett.

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