Team chemistry will be big for a Virginia basketball team with high expectations this season. No two Cavaliers know chemistry quite like Akil Mitchell and Anthony Gill.
The two were high school teammates at Charlotte Christian School in North Carolina. After graduation, Mitchell came here to Charlottesville, while Gill headed to South Carolina a year later.
A coaching change at USC prompted Gill to leave the program in search of a new basketball home, and his former teammate was instrumental in making UVa that new home.
"Akil was definitely a big part of my decision to come here because like I've said before, I saw his growth as a player and I saw everything they were doing with him and I really liked that," Gill said.
Gill had to sit out last season because of NCAA transfer rules, but the now redshirt sophomore is ready to get started.
"I'm ready. Ready as I'll ever be. It's an exciting time for Virginia basketball and I'm really glad I could be a part of it.
A reunion that's been a year in the making will become official when the Hoos tip off their season at John Paul Jones Arena November 8th against James Madison. And like most reunions, there's been some change since the last time Mitchell and Gill were teammates.
"He's taken leaps and bounds since he's gotten here and he still has a ways to go," Mitchell said of Gill. "His work ethic and everything makes us all really hopeful for the future with him and he'll be a special player."
"He's a totally different player," Gill countered when asked about Mitchell. "Not saying he wasn't a hard worker before but he's definitely one of the top in our program here at UVa."
Mitchell and Gill are just two of the reasons Virginia will enter this season with the deepest roster in Tony Bennett's time as head coach.
They'll also start the year with some lofty expectations. And for Gill and Mitchell, their on-court reunion adds even more excitement.
"Akil's just a great guy to be around on the court and off the court," Gill said.
"I know he's a blast to be around and it's exciting to have him back," Mitchell added.