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Men’s basketball fills last scholarship, adds Kansas State transfer Dai Dai Ames

Ames joins the Cavaliers after a lone season with the Wildcats

<p>Ames averaged 5.2 points per game for Kansas State during his freshman season in 2023-24.</p>

Ames averaged 5.2 points per game for Kansas State during his freshman season in 2023-24.

Virginia men’s basketball picked up its fifth transfer of the offseason Wednesday afternoon as former Kansas State freshman guard Dai Dai Ames announced his commitment to the Cavaliers. Ames claims Virginia’s final scholarship spot and will have three years of eligibility remaining, having only played one year in Manhattan, Kan. before entering the transfer portal in April. 

The 6-foot-1 guard attended Kenwood Academy High School in Chicago and was the No. 83 ranked player in the 2023 class before committing to the Wildcats. Ames appeared in 31 games for Kansas State last season, starting in just over half of them while averaging 5.2 points and two assists per game.

Ames will be a key piece for Coach Tony Bennett next season, providing an offensive surge that the Cavaliers’ collective guard group lacked in 2023-24. He scored in double figures eight times during his freshman campaign, displaying a burst off the dribble that makes him difficult to defend when paired with his ability to knock down perimeter shots — over 40 percent of his made field goals came from beyond the arc.

While efficiency struggles emerged as the freshman adjusted to the college game — he shot just 35.3 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from three-point range for the season — Ames got better with experience. In his final 16 games, the guard’s shooting splits ballooned to 46.3 percent from the field and 45.5 percent on three-pointers as he got his feet under him. Percentages anywhere near those would be welcomed for a Cavalier offense that is looking to reignite itself in 2024-25 — a task that Virginia’s new addition will surely play a role in completing. 

Ames is joining a backcourt that appears wide open in regards to playing time for the upcoming season. Sophomore guard Isaac McKneely figures to be a starter for Bennett, but besides him there remains a flurry of uncertainty about who will enter the starting five. Junior guard Jalen Warley transferred from Florida State earlier this month, while returning players like junior guard Taine Murray, sophomore guard Andrew Rohde and freshmen guards Elijah Gertrude and Christian Bliss will also be battling for minutes. Ames’ role could end up anywhere from a locked-in starter to a limited bench piece — the next few months will determine where on that spectrum he falls when November comes around.


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