Eagle On Virginia: "These Are Not 5-Star Recruits"

Virginia's players "could have been had by basically any program in the country," Ian Eagle says, but they all fit Tony Bennett's style and system

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 05, 2019 - 10:14 am
Virginia Purdue Elite Eight Kyle Guy Ty Jerome

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Every Final Four offers great storylines, but the 2019 version offers greater than most.

“Start with Virginia,” CBS Sports broadcaster Ian Eagle said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “A year ago dealing with the absolute embarrassment of being the first No. 1 seed to get knocked out of the tournament in the first round, and now flash forward a year later. Tony Bennett handeld that about as well as you possibly could, the majority of that team is back and just a really likable group. Very connected, fun team to watch, well-schooled, well-coached.”

Virginia (33-3), which set a school record for wins, is back in the Final Four for the first time since 1984.

“The fact that they’re back in the Final Four and it’s with this particular group, it just shows you that in college basketball if you do things the right way, you’re patient, you develop talent like they have – these are not 5-star recruits by any stretch,” Eagle said. “All of these guys could have been had by basically any program in the country. But Tony Bennett recruits for a specific type of style, which has really worked for him.”

Auburn (30-9) and Texas Tech (30-6), meanwhile, reached the Final Four for the first time in program history. Auburn did it without its best player in Chuma Okeke (torn ACL), while Tech did it with Jarrett Culver, who helped the Red Raiders to the Elite Eight last season.

“Jarrett Culver is one of the best players in the country,” Eagle said. “He’s going to be an NBA player. Versatile talent. I think they are built for this. They have not shown me any signs of fear or intimidation, and they take on the biggest name left.”

That would be Tom Izzo and Michigan State (32-6), which beat tournament favorite Duke in the Elite Eight. Izzo, with eight Final Fours on his resume, is seeking his second national championship – and his first since 2000.

“He’s got a little bit of everything on that team,” Eagle said. “I’m really impressed with how they came together this year. This is not the most talented team that Izzo has had, but excellent chemistry and a winning formula that seems to show up year after year.”

Click below to listen to Eagle’s interview in its entirety.