For the first few months of 2014, Cavalier fans watched closely as the Virginia men's basketball team went on a run to the Sweet 16. More than 8,000 miles away in New Zealand, a future Cavalier was watching too.
"The coverage in New Zealand wasn't so good, but every game that was on ESPN I watched," says UVa incoming freshman center Jack Salt. "I got to watch the Syracuse game, the Duke games, so that was awesome. I had an app on my phone to keep me updated. I was like play by play watching it."
A few months later, Salt arrived in Charlottesville, nervous but excited for the opportunity to join the reigning ACC champions.
"Everyone's made it really welcoming for me, like the team, coaches, and just the people of Charlottesville are really nice," he says. "Everything's been good so far."
Standing at 6'10", Salt has already been challenging the 'Hoos big men in summer workouts.
"He's real physical, and he's a lefty which is a little bit different to play in the post," says rising junior center Mike Tobey. "He's definitely really physical, just constantly hitting you in the post."
As he's adjusting to life in a new country, the New Zealand native is also adjusting to a new team and a new system.
"They've got a really good defense, so I'm trying to work on that," Salt says of his summer workouts with the team. "I'm getting post advice playing one-on-one against these guys every second day, so that's really good, with Mike [Tobey], [Anthony Gill], and other guys like that. They're strong guys, so it's good."
While Salt has added international flare to the team, Tobey says the new addition fits in well with the current squad.
"I think he's been a great addition to the team," he said. "I mean, really great character. Everyone on this team is like focused and has a goal. He wants to work hard every single day, and he brings that level of passion and also just brings another happy guy in the locker room, which is nice. Every once in a while he'll say a word that's kind of weird. But for the most part it's pretty nice."
As the team gets used to Salt's vocabulary, the first year is getting used to life in a new country.
"I like the beach and I live right near a beach so it's a little bit different not having that," he said. "There's a creek here that I went swimming in the first week here, but somebody said there were snakes, so I got a bit worried. We didn't have any snakes or spiders in New Zealand so I was pretty nervous when they said that."
Snakes and spiders might take a little getting used to, but for Salt there are upsides to life in the U.S.
"The food portions. I'm so happy with how big the food is here. You get like one portion that's like two New Zealand portions, so that's been good."