St. Augustine Prep rising senior Jayson Hoopes committed to play baseball on a partial athletic scholarship at the University of Virginia on Wednesday.
The 17-year-old Northfield resident will pitch for the Cavaliers’ NCAA Division I program after he finishes his senior scholastic season in 2019.
Hoopes, who initially committed to Wagner College last year, decided to choose Viriginia after visiting the campus for an overnight stay Tuesday into Wednesday.
“It was defintiely a tough decision, but I realized it was better for me to face tougher competition in a setting where kids are just like me,” Hoopes said.
Hoopes said he also had offers from other DI schools, including Tulane, Texas Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina and North Carolina State.
The Hermits pitcher with a 93 mph fastball said he chose Virginia because of the school’s impressive baseball facilities, the campus as a whole and the plentiful academic opportunities.
His biggest reason for choosing to join the Cavaliers, though, is to prepare for what he hopes will be a chance to play professional baseball.
“That’s my main goal, probably not right out of high school, but by my junior year of college that’s what I want to do,” Hoopes said.
Last month, UVA had six players chosen in the MLB draft, making it the fourth time in program history the Cavaliers had six draftees in the first 15 rounds.
UVA finished its 2018 season with a 29-25 record (12-18 Alantic Coast Conference). Brian O’Connor has coached the Cavaliers for 15 years and led his team to its first NCAA championship in 2015.
While visiting UVA, Hoopes met with pitching coach Karl Kahn. Hoopes said talking with Kahn helped him make his decision.
“He’s a straight-to-the-point guy, and he’s a good guy. I liked him, and I liked his philosophies and what he’s teaching his players,” Hoopes said.
St. Augustine coach Mike Bylone said that despite a minor injury to his arm this past season, Hoopes was a crucial member of the team, pitching mostly in relief.
“He’s blessed with some really good off-speed pitching to go with a really good fastball,” Bylone said. “His fastball has a lot of pop.”
The Hermits won the state Non-Public A championship with a 1-0 victory over Delbarton that capped their 26-4 season.
“He’s had some really great games for us this year,” Bylone said. “I’m proud of him and happy for him. It’s a big-time ACC program, and he’s going to do great.”
Fully recovered from his injury, Hoopes looks forward to his senior season with the goal of repeating the Hermits’ state title victory.
“We’re expecting big things from him next year,” Bylone said.