Last year, I wrote that Virginia’s administration needed to retire the jerseys of a few more Cavalier basketball greats. They didn't listen. And I'm outraged. So here I am again telling them to get off their rear ends and hang some jerseys in the rafters!
Here's how I see it. Retiring jerseys is a great way to cultivate tradition. It helps current teams and fans connect with the teams and fans of the past. Virginia’s basketball tradition continues to flourish with every win, title, and national ranking the team achieves. What better time to further the program’s historical connections?
With that in mind, here's a list of players who deserve consideration for jersey retirement.
1) Mike Scott, Class of 2012. Here’s what I wrote last year: "Scott was a 2012 All-American, earning third-team honors by The Sporting News and Basketball Times. He's 3rd on Virginia's all-time rebounding list and 17th in all-time scoring. He was first-team All-ACC in 2012. Scott led the Cavaliers to an NCAA tournament that year, their first in 5 seasons. He was also a 5-time ACC Player of the Week"
My Latest Take: Scott’s career at Virginia was certainly significant enough to merit consideration for jersey retirement. Virginia has only had 9 All-Americans and 13 ACC First-Teamers. Scott's on both of those lists. But his recent arrest and felony drug charge complicates things. I can’t imagine a situation where Virginia puts Scott’s name in the rafters while jail time is a possibility.
2) Junior Burrough, Class of 1995. Here’s what we wrote last year: "Burrough is 4th in all-time rebounding and 6th in all-time scoring. He was on the NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team in 1995. He made the All-ACC team twice as a third-team member in both the '94 and '95 seasons. He played in 3 NCAA tournaments and was one of the captains of the '95 Elite Eight team."
My Latest Take: Burrough was the best Virginia player in the 15-year period between Bryant Stith and Sean Singletary. He’s one of the most prolific Cavaliers ever statistically and he played on Virginia’s most successful team in nearly 30 years. His place in the Cavalier record books is secure. His jersey should swing from the JPJ rafters.
3) Joe Harris, Class of 2014. Here’s what we wrote last year: "Harris is 11th all-time in scoring and 2nd all-time in three pointers. He was first team All-ACC in 2013 and third-team All-ACC in 2014. He played in 2 NCAA tournaments and was a captain on Virginia's ACC Champion and Sweet Sixteen team in 2014."
My Latest Take: Last year, I suggested it was too early to consider Harris. I think that might still be the case. But if Virginia continues on its current path, Harris will soon be a no-brainer. He’s been a cornerstone of the Tony Bennett Era. He was the best player on one of Virginia's two ACC Championship teams and was a two-time All-ACC team member. I think it's a matter of "when" for Joe's jersey. Fun stat alert: Joe also holds the record for games played by a Virginia Cavalier with 135!
The Prediction: Last year, I would have argued that Mike Scott would be the next Cavalier with a jersey retired. His pending legal battle changes that. I also don’t see as much hope for Junior Burrough, who graduated 20 years ago. I don't know what the hold up has been for him, but the window may have passed.
My guess is that either Harris or current senior Malcolm Brogdon gets his jersey retired next. Malcolm was a 2nd-team AP All American last year and could repeat that feat in the coming season. He’d be a no-brainer if that happens. It also won't surprise me if Brogdon gets the Sean Singletary treatment and has his jersey retired on Senior Day. Either way, I think Uncle Malcolm and Joey Hoops will soon be together again in the JPJ rafters.