Last year, with the help of Sean Singletary, the Cavaliers were able to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.
This year, Singletary turned down the NBA in hopes of building on that success.
The senior point guard was the catalyst for Virginia's success last year, averaging 19.0 points per game with a 1.51 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Third-year head coach Dave Leitao, however, has not come to rely solely on the prowess of his star senior, nabbing two top-20 positional recruits in the offseason.
Point guard Mustapha Farrakhan averaged 20.3 points per game as a high school senior and was an all-state player in Illinois. Jeff Jones, another guard, averaged 22.7 points per game and was Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year.
The successful recruiting season is just more evidence of Leitao's influence on the program through his first two seasons.
"Last year brought us to a point where people understand better what we're doing," Leitao said. "Up until that point we were talking about how to build a program, and it was more of the intangibles. Now I think, when you can do what we were able to last season, it makes things more tangible."
Virginia, however, still faces challenges. The Cavaliers relied heavily on the backcourt tandem of Singletary and J.R. Reynolds to provide the bulk of the offense.
With Reynolds graduating, the scoring role will be placed on Singletary's shoulders. And one player won't be able to carry the entire team in the rugged ACC. Last year's returning role players Mamadi Diane and Adrian Joseph will have to step up and fill the gap that Reynolds left.
Otherwise, a team that can keep the ball away from Singletary will be able to exploit the Cavalier's narrow offensive attack. The lack of a reliable inside scorer will be a problem for the Virginia as well.
But as long as Singletary is playing, the Cavaliers cannot be ignored.
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