Midsummers Minute Pt. 1
A look at Cavaliers making professional rosters
By the time July rolls around, “midsummers” may mean a rowdy party for most students in Charlottesville. But for sports fans, it marks the point when major sports seasons are finally in full swing. With Major League Baseball roaring into the All-Star Break, the NBA in the midst its wild free-agency season, hockey teams hosting development camps for their newly drafted prospects, and the NFL gearing up for minicamps (not to mention a little soccer tournament going on the past few weeks in Brazil), it can be tough to determine the most important events of the summer.
To keep you briefed on all that’s going on this summer, we’re bringing you a new series that will condense, analyze and contextualized all the latest sports developments.
Welcome to the first-ever Midsummers Minute.
For this first week, we’ll focus on Virginia athletes — or rather, those who have since turned in their jerseys to join professional teams.
Hoos at the next level?
Football: All three Virginia players who were selected in April’s NFL draft have been signed to four-year contracts to their respective teams. Offensive tackle Morgan Moses — the 66th overall pick who was drafted by the Washington Redskins — has been moved around between left- and right-tackle during the off season and has a chance to compete for playing time — but likely not the starting job — on a Redskins line that gave up nearly 40 sacks last year.
Sixth round pick Luke Bowanko is in a similar boat, as he signed with the protection-depleted Jaguars, but reports suggest it’s unlikely he will earn the starting job this season. He is, however, a versatile asset for Jacksonville as he is capable of playing both guard positions and center, meaning he could see the field this year if anyone in front of him goes down.
6-foot-7 Virginia rookie Brent Urban, who has been healthy for nearly two months after getting ankle surgery in February, is likely to see get significant playing time this season. Urban was selected by the Ravens, but with Baltimore having just six defensive linemen on its roster, it’s probable the 2013 All-ACC defensive tackle will see the field as a rookie backup on the vaunted Ravens defense.
Baseball: It’s no surprise that Virginia’s roster was highly sought after by professional recruiters this year. The Cavaliers posted a stellar 53-16 record and fell one run short of bringing home the program’s first-ever national title. This historic season paid off (literally) when the MLB Draft rolled around in June, as eight Cavaliers were selected to join professional organizations.
The first Cavalier selected was junior right-handed closer Nick Howard, drafted to the Cincinnati Reds at the 19 spot. Howard officially signed for a bonus of $1,990,500 and reportedly will be developed as a starting pitcher in the Reds’ system. Two other first round selections came from the University: outfielder Derek Fisher and first baseman Mike Papi were taken by the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians, respectively.
Basketball: Everyone’s favorite Hoo, Joe Harris, was drafted 33rd overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Harris is currently playing in the NBA’s Summer League, and just earned a three year, $2.7 million contract — though the third year is not guaranteed. Harris finished his career at Virginia ranked second in both three-pointers made (263) and three-point percentage (40.7), 11th in scoring with nearly 1,700 points, and first all-time in games played with 135.
Harris has played in four games in Las Vegas for Cleveland (he missed the opener with a sore ankle) averaging 7.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. Several scouting reports have said he looks great on defense — something Virginia coach Tony Bennett is all about.
It’s exciting to think about how many open looks Harris can get with the King and Kyrie Irving handling the ball. Speaking of LeBron (we will discuss his signing more in the next installment), let’s take a moment to appreciate how cool Joe Harris’ life is going to be. Learning from the best player in the world by day and hanging out with Johnny Football by night — who would have thought Cleveland was going to be the place to be in 2015?
Lastly, another face the Hoo Crew is going to miss this fall is Akil Mitchell. The 6-foot-9 big man went undrafted but was scooped up by the Houston Rockets to play on its Summer League team. Mitchell — who finished his four years ranked 14th all-time in double doubles with 15 and seventh in rebounds with 798 — has shown some real promise in pro games so far, which may earn him a spot on the Rockets’ roster. On July 17, the two former Hoos met in Las Vegas, where Houston defeated the Cavaliers by a score of 96-90. Unfortunately, Mitchell did not play in the game. Joe who put up 10 points on 3-6 shooting, including 2-2 from downtown.
That’s it for this round of Midsummers Minute — it should be clear we had one heck of a class of athletes walking through Grounds last year.
Click here to read the second installment of the Midsummers Minute, where Matt takes a look at the (inter)national sporting arena this summer.