There is great reason for optimism around the Virginia basketball program. The Cavaliers have an ACC Player of the Year candidate in Joe Harris and a strong supporting cast around him, which includes Mike Tobey.

Tobey is a 6’11”, 245-pound rising sophomore center at Virginia. He’s still a young player who needs to continue to build his strength, but Tobey has some great talent.

He played in 30 games last season as a freshman and provided Tony Bennett with some quality depth on his bench. He also started in two games for the Cavaliers. He was sidelined for part of the season because of a bout with mononucleosis, but he was very productive when healthy.

Tobey finished the season averaging nearly 14 minutes and 6.8 points per game while shooting 53-percent from the field. He also shot 79-percent from the free-throw line, which is unusual for a freshman big man.

The solid production made it easy to see why Tobey was ranked as a Top 100 recruit by ESPN and when he was coming out of high school.

Then, Mike Tobey made the most of a great opportunity during the offseason. He was invited to tryout for Team USA’s U19 World Championship Team and ultimately earned a spot on the 12-man roster.

He spent two weeks practicing with some of the best young players in the country and then competed against some of the best players in the world and helped the United States bring a gold medal from the U19 World Championships. It also gave him extra time to work with Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, who was an assistant for Team USA’s World Championship Team.

Tobey will spend the rest of the offseason improving his skills and adding weight to his 6’11” frame. That experience from the World Championships has also given him added confidence as he prepares for next season.

That confidence will be critical, because Tobey will have an opportunity to be a significant contributor for the Cavaliers in the 2013-14 season.

Virginia will have one of the best trios in the ACC in Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell and Justin Anderson, but Tobey will be the guy who needs to step up to give the team an impact presence in the paint. He has the ability to stretch the floor with his range from the perimeter, but he will be most effective near the basket.

Establishing Tobey in the paint will help create great spacing on the floor for Joe Harris and Justin Anderson, who are better when they’re attacking from the wings.

Tobey can also serve as the anchor of the tough defense Virginia has become known for under Tony Bennett.

The rising sophomore’s confidence is growing. Now, his impact is ready to grow along with it.