Not even three months ago, Bishop Miege forward Francesco Badocchi was on the court at Tony's Pizza Events Center in Salina, Kan., surrounded by teammates as they raised a Class 4A-Division I basketball championship trophy.
Badocchi had played a key role in securing the Stags’ second straight state title, scoring 21 of his 48 tournament points in the finale.
Now the 6-foot-7, 195-pound senior, who came to Miege from Italy as a junior, will head to Charlottesville, Va., to play for Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers. He announced his decision on Twitter (@frankiejones23) late Sunday night:
Badocchi’s numbers — he averaged 13.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game — don’t stand out among the Class of 2017 recruits. His steadiness blended evenly with senior Semaj Ray, who announced last week he will play at Kirkwood Community College (Iowa), and four-star sophomore recruit Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
Badocchi was one of the best-kept secrets in his senior class. Because he returned to Italy between his junior and senior years, he didn’t play on the AAU circuit. He also missed most of the 2016 state tournament with a knee injury. If scouts didn’t catch him in regular season play, they wouldn’t have seen him much at all.
But at open gyms this winter, recruiters flocked to Badocchi, who’d come back bigger and stronger. By mid-April, he had offers from UMKC, Miami (Ohio), East Tennessee State, Boise State, Illinois and Virginia. Ultimately the Cavs (23-11, 5th in Atlantic Coast Conference), who lost to Florida in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, won his favor.
“We had no idea what we had here. We knew he played a little bit of international ball, but we didn’t know how good he was,” Miege coach Rick Zych said. “He’s a very skilled basketball player. ... Recruiters all liked his athleticism and the fact he could cover a 1 to a 5. He’s extremely intelligent, well-mannered and a down-to-earth young man. They all know he’s going to work hard for them.”