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Redshirt freshman Leon Bond III enters transfer portal

The former four-star recruit struggled to establish a foothold in Virginia’s rotation

<p>Bond was an impact player for the Cavaliers to begin the season, but his minutes dwindled as the season progressed.</p>

Bond was an impact player for the Cavaliers to begin the season, but his minutes dwindled as the season progressed.

Redshirt freshman forward Leon Bond III entered the NCAA transfer portal early Saturday afternoon, not long after stoking speculation the same day with a telling Instagram story post.

“Thank you Virginia,” Bond wrote. “You will have my heart forever.”

Bond appeared in 24 of Virginia’s 34 games this season, averaging 4.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 12.3 minutes per game. He flashed potential, but he always seemed painfully stuck, too small to be a power forward and too harmless as a shooter or ball-handler to be a small forward or guard.

Excitement percolated at the beginning of the season, as Bond, a rotation fixture during the non-conference schedule, scored 12 points against Tarleton State in the season-opener and 16 versus North Carolina A&T a week later. But his minutes and impact receded as the season progressed, and it culminated with the redshirt freshman seeing a total of three minutes in postseason play.

As of now, Bond is the only Virginia player this offseason to have plunged into the portal. His departure opens up a scholarship spot, perhaps crucial for a program intent on making use of the portal itself. Coach Tony Bennett and his staff will now have somewhere between one and three open scholarships at their disposal, depending on whether senior guard Reece Beekman and sophomore forward Ryan Dunn enter the NBA Draft as expected. 

Bond’s decision to transfer ended what seemed like a good relationship between player and program. Bennett’s program emphasizes a development process, and Bond had committed to it by choosing to redshirt his first year in Charlottesville. A wide smile, in good times and bad, always seemed to crease his face.

But the harsh realities of playing time appear to have tipped the scales. Bond has three remaining years of eligibility, which he will now expend at another program. 


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