Local Cavaliers Enjoying NCAA Tournament Experience

By: Lindsay Joy Email
By: Lindsay Joy Email

Fans who have grown up rooting for the Virginia men's basketball team are relishing the run UVa has been on in the last few months. For two UVa players, it has been even more special.

Freshman forward Jeff Jones and junior guard Malik Frazier both grew up in UVa's backyard, now the two walk-ons are in Raleigh as members of the top-seeded Cavaliers, enjoying this historic run on the team they grew up watching.

"This is everything I've dreamed of, it's been awesome," Frazier said. It's basketball all day, so it's been really cool."

Frazier played basketball at Covenant, and says he has always rooted for the Cavaliers.

"I've grown up a UVa fan and just having the opportunity to play for the team has been a true blessing. The year we're having has been really good this year, so it's been even better, making this whole journey even more exciting."

Jones is a St. Anne's-Belfield graduate, and the son of former UVa head coach Jeff Jones, who led the 'Hoos to the Elite 8 in 1995.

"It's been a lot of fun getting to hang out with the guys," he said. "The ACC Championship was a lot of fun too, just a good bonding experience with everybody."

As the 'Hoos have grown stronger as a team on and off the court, the buzz around Charlottesville has gotten louder. Now Frazier and Jones are members of the team that their hometown can't stop talking about.

"Just walking around grounds or around Charlottesville, everybody just wants to talk about basketball," Frazier said. "That's the first thing they ask me about. It's been really exciting to see everybody so excited about the season."

"There are a lot of people who I've never even met before who will come up and shake my hand," added Jones. "They'll be like 'yeah I knew your dad, I was here when you're dad played,' so that's pretty cool."

On Friday, the top-seeded Cavaliers survived a matchup with No. 16 Coastal Carolina, coming away with a 70-59 win. UVa advances to play the 8th-seeded Memphis Tigers on Sunday, which means Jones and Frazier will get to keep enjoying this historic run.

"It's hard to put into words, it's been truly amazing," Frazier said. "It's an experience I don't think I'll ever forget for the rest of my life. I don't think I can put it into words though."

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