When they opened JPJ in 2006, Virginia administrators started the tradition of retiring the jerseys of significant former players. On opening night against Arizona, they retired the jersey of former shooting guard Curtis Staples. They soon followed with Sean Singletary in 2008. Since then, however, there haven't been any other player additions.
Retiring jerseys is a great way to cultivate tradition. It helps current teams and fans connect with the teams and fans of the past. So with that in mind, here's a list of 3 Cavaliers who deserve consideration for jersey retirement. To be sure, I'm not wholly clear what the difference is between a "retired jersey" and a "retired number." But I firmly believe that Virginia doesn't have enough of either.
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2014 HOOps Week
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1) Mike Scott, Class of 2012. 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. Scott's enjoying some solid success in the NBA as a prominent member of the Atlanta Hawks' rotation.
My Take: Scott was a late bloomer who only achieved his potential in his last season. But his career was significant enough that his he deserves his jersey retired. In its basketball history, Virgina has only had 8 All-Americans and 10 ACC First-Teamers. Scott's on both of those lists. His name would look great next to Sean Singletary's and a jersey-retirement ceremony would blow the roof off of JPJ. It's time to get him up there.
2) Junior Burrough, Class of 1995. 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 Take: One could make the case that Junior Burrough was the best player Virginia had for the 15-year period between Bryant Stith and Sean Singletary. It's always irked me that the 1995 team isn't better celebrated. While Curtis Staples has had his jersey retired, he was only a freshman that season. Burrough's career coincided with one of the best eras in Virginia basketball history. His place in the Cavalier record books is secure. His jersey should be secure on the rafters at JPJ as well.
3) Joe Harris, Class of 2014. 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 Take: It might be a little too early to seriously consider Joe. But he was the best player on one of Virginia's two ACC Championship teams and was a two-time All-ACC team member. Harris could have had higher stats as a senior if not for the selflessness that endeared him to his fans and his teammates. He's a cornerstone of the Tony Bennett Era and could be seen as one of the most the program's most important players in 30 years if Virginia continues to ascend nationally.
If you ever visit the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, spend a little time looking at the ceiling. There, you'll see that the rafters proudly display the jerseys of former ACC greats like Ford, Jordan, Worthy, and Jamison. Those jerseys add to the aura of the place and underscore the richness of Carolina's basketball tradition.
While Virginia doesn't share Carolina's tradition of success (or its academic scandals, to be sure), the UVA administration could do a better job honoring its past by getting more of the program's great names up on the banners at JPJ. To date, only 8 names hold places in the rafters. In my opinion, it's time to remedy that.