As expected, the Virginia Cavaliers have had a rough season. While they have not been racking up W's on tobacco road, UVA has had a couple bright spots this season with the play of their freshmen. Everyone familiar with the ACC has heard plenty about stud guard Sylen Landesberg, but you may not be as familiar with his backcourt mate Sammy Zeglinski. Zeglinski is quietly having a very solid freshman campaign for the Hoos, which certainly bodes well for them as they look to add more pieces to the puzzle over the next couple seasons.
I chose to do the player profile on Sammy Zeglinski for a couple of different reasons. First, I really enjoyed watching him play in their upset win over Clemson a week or so ago. Prior to that game, I did not realize exactly what Zeglinski brought to the table. He really surprised me with his speed and quickness, making several nice moves in transition as well as dishing it off to Mike Scott, who was ready to finish strong. Zeglinski finished that game with 15 points and 6 assists, by far his best effort in an ACC contest to date.
While his play that game impressed me a great deal, there was another important detail that convinced me to write today's feature on him: Sammy has Demon Deacon roots. His father, John Zeglinski, was a two sport athlete (football and baseball) for Wake Forest in the late 1970s. The fun facts do not stop there either. According to long-time Deacons on DeaconSports.com, Ziggy's, the popular concert venue that closed last year in Winston-Salem, was named after Sammy's dad. Now that's information that you are not going to find on ESPN.
Getting back to the topic at hand, Zeglinski entered this season with more experience than your average freshman. As Leitao's first commitment as Virginia head coach, Zeglinski was supposed to team with the great Sean Singletary during his freshman season. Unfortunately, Zeglinski injured his ankle only eight games into his initial campaign. After the healing process did not go as planned, he had surgery on his ankle that ended his season prematurely. Luckily, he was able to save his season by applying for a hardship waiver, which allowed him to redshirt and retain four years of eligibility.
This season Zeglinski joins another great guard in the UVA backcourt in freshman Sylven Landesberg. Zeglinski, standing at six feet tall, is third on the team in points (9.0) and minutes (26.4) per game and averages a team-leading 3.5 assists per game (10th in the ACC). As he showed in the Clemson game, he excels at pushing the ball in transition and dishing it off to the open man. A weakness for Zeglinski appears to be his shooting accuracy, as he is making only 57% of his free throw attempts and just under 40% of his shots overall. Furthermore, the last two contests have been shaky for Ziggy, scoring only five points combined against Virginia Tech and N.C. State.
Despite his recent struggles, he has the potential to do some damage against the Deacons if Wake's guards do not do a better job of stopping penetration. He will likely be guarded by less-than-spectacular defenders Jeff Teague and Ish Smith for the entire game Saturday, so it would be a good idea for Sammy to be aggressive tomorrow. Hopefully, the length of the Deacons' second layer of defense will be enough to bother the driving Virginia guards.
If UVA can get Landesburg to stick around next season, the Hoos have a nice core to build around. Mike Scott is having a solid sophomore season in the paint and Zeglinski has definitely surprised many people this season by playing more minutes than the more experienced Calvin Baker and Jeff Jones. If Leitao can grab some top talent from the high school ranks, Virginia will be back soon.