College Basketball Recruiting: UNC out for Anthony Gill, Virginia's to Lose?

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IApril 14, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 25:  John Henson #31 of the North Carolina Tar Heels drives against Anthony Gill #13 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during the third round of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena November 25, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. North Carolina won 87-62.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In relationships, you always hear about the "one that got away." That one mysterious partner that could have been your perfect soul mate if circumstances had not gotten in the way.

That tragedy is one that is often left to simply be lamented and pined over. For the Virginia Cavalier basketball team, though, they may get a chance to make things right.

Anthony Gill, a freshman at South Carolina, is one of the hottest commodities on the transfer market.

The laundry list of suitors began with teams like Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Ohio State, Clemson and even the Tar Heels of North Carolina. Now it appears the options have boiled down to two.

If Gill does reject the Cavaliers, it will not be for lack of effort this time around. This past weekend, the young big man came to Charlottesville trying to make amends for overlooking the talented high schooler two years prior.

Gill, a product of Charlotte Christian Academy, was in that same city in the summer of 2010 as part of an elite camp along with his high school teammate Akil Mitchell.

Mitchell would later become part of Bennett's six-man recruiting class, one of only two recruits that remain at Virginia in that class and perhaps the best chance the Cavaliers have at capturing the heart of Gill.

Gill had considered Virginia in 2011, according to the South Carolina website. It was among his three finalists, but the Cavaliers had been so preoccupied with others that they did not work to aggressively pursue the talented 6'8" power forward.

Second chances do not come around often, but the Cavaliers are making the most of this one. On Wednesday night, head coach Tony Bennett and assistant, former Liberty coach Ritchie McKay went down to Columbia, South Carolina according to Cavalier beat writer Whitelaw Reid.

Bennett and McKay know the stakes, a visit with Ohio State looms this weekend and that sales pitch might be hard to ignore. Virginia successfully vanquished one suitor when it was reported that Gill did not take kindly to North Carolina coach Roy Williams's ultimatum to decide whether or not he wanted to be a Tar Heel in 24 hours.

Can Virginia seal the signing before the Buckeyes snatch him away?

Gill finished third on the team in points per game and started 26 of 31 games as a true freshman. Not only did the big man shoot the third-highest shooting percentage from the floor, he shot nearly 40 percent from behind the arc (11-of-28).

For a Virginia team devoid of offense, Gill would be a welcome addition. The Cavaliers had one of the stingiest defenses in the country this year, ranked second in points allowed per game for most of the year.

Yet nine times in the season, the Cavaliers scored 55 points or less. The margin of error was so paper-thin that the pressure on the defense was enormous.

Gill would provide skill on both sides of the ball and bolster a future front line of Mitchell, Darion Atkins and future big men like the son of former Cavalier great Bryant Stith, who committed to Virginia last fall.

Still, despite the logic behind the move, Virginia fans know that what makes sense does not always happen for them.

Whether it was Ronald Curry, Patrick Patterson, the Plumlee brothers or even T.J. McConnell last week, Virginia has gotten their hopes up only to be disappointed before.

With the callers for Gill, Virginia has some stiff competition. Yet it means something to be first on the dance card. This Wednesday night visit also adds to that dedication.

As good as it feels to get the first crack at Gill, Virginia hopes that he saves the last dance for them.