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Billy Baron commits to Virginia, search for 6th scholarship begins

Worcester (Mass.) Academy guard Billy Baron has committed to play for Virginia next season, becoming the sixth member of Tony Bennett's first recruiting class. What makes Baron's commitment most interesting is that Virginia only has five scholarships available, so Baron's decision is an indication that Bennett anticipates a departure of some variety.

As the son of Rhode Island Coach Jim Baron, Billy Baron originally intended to play for his father at URI, where his brother starred. Bennett picked up his interest during the autumn, offered Baron a scholarship in early December and Baron visited Virginia for the Dec. 30 victory over Alabama-Birmingham. He officially switched his commitment on Tuesday.

"I'm blessed to have the father I have and the family I have to give me the opportunity to reach the decision I made and go for the best opportunity,' Baron said. "Virginia is one of the best academic schools out there, along with being in the ACC. The facilities, the people around there, everything was tremendous when I went."

Bennett is also a coach's son, so Baron said the two can relate. In fact, Bennett led Baron's recruitment. Baron said that Bennett and his father did not have a previous relationship, but that Bennett was "very up front" throughout the entire recruiting process.

Baron's coach at Worcester, Ed Reilly, said Baron suffered an injury early in the fall, which caused Baron to fall off the radar of some teams. Baron improved throughout the season in one of the top prep school leagues in the nation, averaging 28 points per game, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.

Baron considers him a point guard, which is a position of need for Virginia. He has combo guard abilities and will add shooting to the Cavaliers.

Baron said it was "very tough" to bypass Rhode Island, adding he's sat in the same seat since he's 10-years old. Baron emphasized that Tuesday's decision has nothing to do with Rhode Island's relative struggles this season. (The Rams have lost four of their last five games and could go another season without reaching the NCAA tournament.)

"My dad could be 26-1 right now, and I would have done the exact same thing," Baron said. "It came down because I couldn't wait anymore. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I couldn't make Coach Bennett wait any more."

By Zach Berman  |  March 2, 2010; 9:41 PM ET
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