Virginia's Casey Morsell is Ready to Take the Next Step

Casey Morsell #13 of the Virginia Cavaliers. Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images/AFP

Virginia sophomore Casey Morsell had some issues as a freshman but his second season should be much better. We go over why while breaking down what to expect from Virginia.

Virginia’s Performance Last Season

Virginia caused headaches for those backing them with NCAA Basketball picks. The defending national champions struggled at some points and were even out of the AP Top 25, to the point that they were very close to the NCAA Tournament bubble. This was unexpected, to say the least.

The Cavaliers eventually turned things around, winning 11 of 12 games to find themselves back in the rankings. The offense improved significantly, which really made a difference in the last month of the regular season.

Scoring, particularly from beyond the arc was challenging for them and their defense had nothing to do with most of their losses.

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Reasons to be Optimistic

The Virginia Cavaliers ranked just 234th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, averaging 99.3 points per 100 possessions according to Still, there are valid reasons to feel good about what they can do next season.

The way this team came together at that side of the court down the stretch last year, especially during their 11-1 stretch has to be encouraging.

Tomas Woldetensae feeling more comfortable as a wing had a lot to do with this resurgence. Woldetensae made 39.0 percent of the 6.8 3-point shots he attempted over his last 12 games. If he carries that level of efficiency to next season and truly rediscovers his shot then this team will have a massive weapon on offense.

Marquette sit-out transfer Sam Hauser can be a difference-maker right away. Spending a whole year learning from head coach Tony Bennett will do wonders for him. Having Kihei Clarke and Jay Huff back shouldn’t be overlooked as well. Both can play an integral role next season.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – DECEMBER 29: Casey Morsell #13 of the Virginia Cavaliers. Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images/AFP

Why Morsell Can Improve

Sophomore Casey Morsell can be the missing piece that Virginia needs to contend. Morsell is why I really like Virginia at +1000 to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament at BetOnline.

Morsell entered his freshman season as No. 56 in the 2019 recruiting class. That was a relatively high rating, so of course the expectations for him were big. He has impressive physical attributes and was a decent scorer in high school, which also added pressure to deliver right away.

Virginia expected so much from him that he received big minutes as part of a backcourt that had to replace Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. Ultimately this wound up hurting him.

Casey Morsell averaged just 4.0 points in 21.8 minutes over 30 games (13 starts). He shot 27.7 percent from the field and 17.6 percent from 3-point range. His ability to hit shots from distance in high school was praised but he clearly disappointed on offense.

His defense is why he played in every game and even got 13 starts. That defensive ability did live up to expectations and this was actually very impressive considering how proficient Virginia was on that side of the court.

Morsell’s freshman tells us that we can expect superb defense from him and that he can only get better on offense. It all starts with better shot selection. Virginia has a deep roster that improved and Morsell may end up being their sixth-man. I like this role for him and he can be exactly what this team needs to go far next season.